Posts Tagged ‘adventure racers’


Adventure Racing and its dangers

June 23, 2009

Adventure Racing is one of the extreme sports that we blog about regularly, and it is best to remember that it is an extreme sport – witness the tragic death of 3 participants in the Raid du Mercantour last weekend, 21st June.

Adventure Racing is an example of how the mixture of terrain and weather conditions can catch out even the most experienced of runners and trekkers.

When I first started writing about Adventure Racing, the first thing that crossed my mind was that, whilst physically and mentally challenging, a long hike through difficult and varying terrain was a bit ‘tame’.

I apologise profusely to all Adventure Racers – and hasten to add that that thought lasted less than 10 minutes as my research broadened.

Since then I have been impressed and amazed at the antics that the sportsmen (and women) get up to, and think that, as an extreme sport, it is probably one of the best.

Don’t shoot me down in flames if you don’t agree… but Adventure Racing is quite something.

For those of you who are not too sure what Adventure Racing is all about, it’s a combination of two or more disciplines, including orienteering  (if an orienting map is used) and/or navigation (when non-orienteering maps are used), 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.

You need to be superfit. You need to have a team you know well and trust. You need to have mental and physical stamina. And you need to know how to do all the above disciplines … and more.

It’s many sports all rolled into one…

The first official Adventure Race was “The Raid Gauloises”, held in New Zealand in 1989, and consisted of 400 miles of mountaineering, horseback riding, kayaking, canoeing and rafting over a two week period. The first U.S. race was the Eco Challenge, held in Utah in 1995.

Adventure Racing has become so popular that it has even had a TV series made in its honour – the Odyssey series (trainingsept ):

So why do it? Well, it has been said that Adventure Racing is one’s own personal road to self-discovery as it allows an individual to find his or her limits and push through them because the ‘Race’ often takes participants out of their comfort zone by challenging them with unfamiliar surroundings, often while sleep deprived and physically exhausted.

Anyone can become an Adventure Racer. It’s  an easy crossover for cyclist, runners and water sport enthusiasts. Many former tri-athletes, marathon and ultra-marathon competitors looking to add more spice to their chosen fields have taken it up.  Some sportsmen found themselves suffering recurring injuries in their sport and so turned to Adventure Racing as an alternative. Aging athletes, on the other hand, discovered that while they can no longer keep up with 20-somethings in a foot race, in a 24+ hour races, they have some competitive advantages!

As with ALL sports, accidents and tragedies DO happen.

This is the  RAID season in France and there are many keen participants.

“I’m used to hiking in mountains since I’m a kid, doing a lot of alpinism, skiing, climbing…I’ve discovered adventure racing about 10 years ago and I love it!” says Carine Porret.

“I like adventure racing because I’m a racer, I like the spirit and the race parties!….” says Franck Salgues

“I’m Brasilian living in Miramas,France,in a beautiful winery,I travelled the world for the past 7 years to compete in diferents AR,” says Karina Bacha.

I could give you hundreds of quotes.

“I was born with a compass in the hand! I participate in a lots of orienteering competitions with all my family…my three daughters and my wife are like me: addicted to!….” says Michel Denaix.

But I won’t!

As I said above, this is the Grand Raid season in France, but on Sunday in the Grand Raid du Mercantour in the South of France about 80kms north of Nice, the region suffered adverse weather conditions and three runners died under tragic circumstances.  It was the ‘running stage’ of the race and had already been reduced from 100kms to 80 because of the abundance of snow still around. The alarm was raised as a number of competitors had not returned by the 6pm cut-off time, and emergency services were scrambled in an attempt to locate the missing people. All 3 were in their 50’s and it is suspected that they died of  hypothermia and hypoglycaemia. Our sympathies go out to their families.

This is not an extreme sport for nothing…


2 Adventure Races coming up in Europe this month (May)

May 15, 2009

The Bimbache Extrem Castilla y León (or, simply, the Bimbache Extrem) begins on 18th May. This promises to be a very dynamic race, with continuous changes of activity.

There will be 17 sections and more than 60 control points that will test the physical force, capacity of orientation and strategy of some of the best adventure racing teams in the world.

The total time estimated for the first teams will be 65 to 70 hours. All teams will be expected to cross the finish line before Friday 22nd at 5 p.m.

The race will start on 18th May at 9.00a.m. at the village of Vegacervera, in the province of León, 35kms away from the province’s capital city. The finishing line will be at Aguilar de Campoo, in the province of Palencia, on the 21st and 22nd May.

This is the 7th time this race has been held and it will challenge the teams’ mental and physical abilities. It covers a distance of about 450kms and NO GPS’s are allowed – only a compass and the maps supplied by the race organisers.

As in the past 6 Bimbache races, a combination of disciplines will have to be undertaken including trekking, mountain bike, roller skating, canoeing, speleology, rappel, tyroline and canyoneering . The novelty this time promises to be an amusing and exciting rafting descent in torrential waters.

What with the beautiful landscape, mountain scenery and charming villages this promises to be an event worth participating in – if not this year then next.

And next up is the Raid in France, also known as the ‘Alps to Sea 09’, beginning 31st May to 6th June.

The race will start at the Chapelle en Valgaudemar in the ‘Hautes-Alpes’ and  will ascend and descend 15,000m down to the port of Fréjus on the Mediterranean in the South of France. As for what happens between Valgaudemar and Fréjus? That’s a secret – to be revealed when you participate…

However, the Route will be approx. 520 kms, including numerous activities to be carried out in total autonomy. The trekking + ropes + canyoning sections will represent 108 kms, mountain bike 241 kms, boats (canoe + raft) 133 kms, horse riding 27 kms.

As course designer and creator of the race Raid in France, Pascal Bahuaud, says “Course setting has been taking place throughout the winter in order to insure good transition and some sublime passages. The vast quantity of snow has made things difficult and we must wait a couple of more weeks in order to return and check out some of the high mountain passages. The decision to allow competitors to undertake some of these itineraries will be taken at the last minute in relation to the snow cover still remaining.”

The expected time for the first teams will be about 120 hours and the maximum time will be 147 hours.

To get you in the mood, here’s a brilliant video from vincerif69 of the 2007 Raid in France AR which took place in the Pyrenées.

It looks hard work… but WOW, what scenary, what an achievement, how one could pat oneself on the back with good reason at the end of it…


Sabah Eco-Challenge Adventure Race in Borneo

February 19, 2009

The sport of Adventure Racing is sweeping the world at a phenomenal rate. It is one of the most extreme competitions for a team to challenge, but it is because of these challenges that adventure racing has grown so rapidly in popularity over the last few years.

It helps that it is an easy cross-over for any sportsmen looking for the ultimate challenge.

The other extremely important factor about Adventure Racing is that it is a team sport. A team can vary from 2 to 5 persons. This is an essential element to the competition – the way the team works together. It is far more important than individual achievement.

Adventure Racing is one of the few sports where just completing a race is often considered a victory. The challenges that arise during any one race will test both your mental and physical endurance.

The Sabah Adventure Challenge 2009 begins on the 10th April, 2009 in Borneo and finishes on the 12th. This is a 3 day adventure race, the longest running, multi-day adventure race in South East Asia. Teams may choose between the Adventure or Extreme Categories of the race and compete in teams of 3 participants, either mixed, or all male or all female.

The disciplines included will be trail running/walking, mountain trek/run, ropework, navigation, mountain biking, river kayak, sea kayak, swimming, whitewater rafting, rafting and a mystery discipline.

There is certainly enough there to keep anyone from getting bored!

This is a volunteer organised race and will be the 10th time it has been run in Borneo.

If you are interested in taking up the challenge be warned that entry is limited to 30 teams and will be on a first come first served basis – as always.

Some things that you can look forward to from earlier Sabah Eco-Challenge Adventure Races, with thanks to ibor22 for posting them.

And if you really are just interested in going around the world from one adventure race to another, you might like to know that there is an earlier race in Chili from the 29th March – 4th April… known as the Atacama Crossing.  This is a 7-day, 6 stage, 250km foot race.


Adventure racers might like to know about the JANUARY RACE at Anisimovka, Russia.

December 22, 2008

We’ve talked quite a lot about Adventure Racing over the past few months, and browsing through upcoming events we came across this Russian race which might interest you.

Held in the Anisimovka area on January 9, the January Race will be organised by the Primorsky Territory Federation of Mountaineering and Rock Climbing.

The competition consists of three different events:

  • The “Sprint” is the 5km race which starts in Gribanovka ski resort and has a steep ascent,
  • The “Ring” route is 12 km long. It has a gentle ascent and falls off towards Gribanovka where the route starts, and
  • The “Traverse” route. This event is 30kms long and is for experienced sportsmen who will not only have to stand the extreme cold of a Primorye winter, but will have to ascend two mountains – Pidan (1332m)  and Falaza (1232m). The route starts in Lukyanovka, ascends, descends and traverses the two mountains, and finally descends again to the ski resort, Gribanovka.

Everyone who can walk, loves nature and is ready to climb the mountains is invited to take part in “January Race 2009”.

Looking to do something different next year??? What a way to start it: a ski holiday at the Gribanovka Ski Resort timed perfectly to take in a nice little extreme adventure on the way…

It’s location alone is fairly extreme  – the Primorye Territory is located in far southeastern Russia on the shore of the Sea of Japan. Vladivostok is the capital  and it is 9,259 km from Moscow – 6 days by train or 9 hours by plane!


Something to think about…

Apparently it’s an ‘awesome’ region and ‘awesome’ in all seasons.

I have had a lot of difficulty tracking this area down. It came down to one of 3 – Anisimovka region in the Ukraine, Gribanovka ski resort in southwest Siberia on the border of Kazakhstan or the one near the sea of Japan… and since the article telling us about this race came from a newspaper in Vladivostok I hope I have hit on the right one!!! Good luck and check it out carefully beforehand if you plan to go!