Does Adventure Racing Fit into Extreme Sports?

September 17, 2008

It’s quite a sport –  and certainly extreme, since so many of its disciplines, individually, come under the ‘extreme sport’ bracket.

Adventure racing (according to Wikipedia) is a combination of two or more disciplines, including orienteering and navigation, cross-country running, mountain biking, paddling and climbing and related rope skills. An expedition event can span ten days or more while sprints can be completed in a matter of hours. There is typically no dark period during races, irrespective of length; competitors must choose if or when to rest.

The vast majority of adventure races include trail running, mountain biking and (ideally) a paddling event. Navigation and rope work are also featured in all but the shortest races, but this is only the beginning. Part of the appeal of adventure racing is expecting the unexpected. Race directors pride themselves at challenging racers with unexpected or unusual tasks.

The United States Adventure Racing Association (USARA) states that this is a sport which is growing massively in popularity. It is one of the few sports where just completing a race is often considered a victory. Another driving factor in adventure racing is the emphasis that is placed on teamwork, rather than individual achievement…

Heyho – isn’t that one for the books. They’ve spent years dumping sport out of school curriculums saying that it wasn’t good for one and if you weren’t in a team it was demoralizing and all that sort of … stuff, and now one of the fastest growing sports is a team sport! When will the powers that be ever learn to leave well alone…

A direct quote from http://www.usara.com: “Adventure Racing offers an easy crossover for cyclist, runners and water sport enthusiasts just to mention a few. Adventure races can vary anywhere from 2-5 person teams, with some events now offering solo categories. The disciplines can also vary from race to race. Adventure racing can include shredding through tight single track on a mountain bike or orienteering and hiking through a dense forest. Adventure racers may find themselves ripping down rapids in a canoe and then rappelling off a 100 foot rock face. The races can last a few hours or several days and can cover 10 – 100 miles or more!”

Cruising through Google I see that many countries have one site or more on adventure racing or on a race to be held on their land – South Africa, Namibia, Australia, Canada, USA, UK, Costa Rica, Iceland … and if I spent more time on it I’d be bound to find plenty of other examples.

Enjoy this wonderful adventure racing promo video put on youtube by  SilverBullet1999


All the sites collectively assert that adventure racing is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, that it appeals to many people because it involves different disciplines, many of which people have done individually, but are now looking for a further challenge. Disciplines such as biking, running/trekking, canoeing, orienteering and mystery events. But what really makes this such a unique sport is that you compete as a team, not as an individual, and you do not have to be the best or fastest to be successful. These races test your will and endurance and success is achieved by crossing the finish line.

So what exactly is Adventure Racing?

It can be broken down into 3 types of races: Sprint races – 2 to 6 hours; Middle distance races – 12 to 48 hours; Expedition races – 5 to 10 days. The most common of these is the sprint race, with core events of trail running (2 -7 miles), mountain biking (6 – 18 miles), and paddling (1 – 5 miles). Sprint races also include “mystery events,” which test the team’s ability to complete physical or mental challenges as a group.



  1. […] unknown . Excerpt: The United States Adventure Racing Association (USARA) states that this is a sport which is growing massively in popularity. It is one of the few sports where just completing a race is often considered a victory. … […]

  2. […] Go to the author’s original blog: Does Adventure Racing Fit into Extreme Sports? […]

  3. Good concise explanation…….and YES it fits into Extreme Sports!

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