What is Adventure Racing?
 
Adventure racing is the worlds fastest growing sport. While their are arguments as to just how it got started, you’re more than likely to follow a trail back to the original Raid Galoise back in 1989. The sport’s rise in popularity is in large measure, due to the Discovery Channels extensive support and television coverage of the Eco-Challenge. Recently, sponsorship by Hi-Tec, Salomon and Sierra Designs has added significantly to the status of the sport.  
Photo courtesy Canadian Quest
 
There are no hard and fast rules as to what exactly an adventure race is. A rather loose definition might be "a multi-discipline, multi-day, non-stop team race, through the back country". The objective is to be the first team to cover the whole course in the shortest length of time. For the front runners, sleep is an extravagance. Just to make things more difficult, teams usually don’t have prior knowledge of the course and must rely on their keen orienteering skills to find their way.

The disciplines usually (but not always) include mountain biking, kayaking, trail running/hiking, and rappelling. Any number of other activities might be included. A rather off beat example being camel racing. Some of the challenges encountered may be swamp negotiation, river and canyon traverses, and coasteering

While some races allow single entrants, most require teams of four, made up of both sexes. The kicker is teams must finish together or not at all. The soul of adventure racing is team work. Fitness, sharp thinking, endurance are all givens in this sport but the winning formula is a cohesive, supportive team.

Races can be of any length, but are usually from three to ten days. As a rule, the longer the race, the tougher, as exhaustion and sleep deprivation become increasingly significant factors. Injuries become more common as a race progresses into its later stages and teams are often forced to withdraw due to a members injury.

As the sport evolves, entry level events (don’t interpret this as easy) are becoming more common allowing more and more people to participate. Participants should be very fit, familiar with all the disciplines and have worked closely with their teams well before the race. Teams should be made up of individuals with complementary skills, good judgment and compatible goals. A team leader should be chosen well in advance since race day is not the time for a mutiny. Aside from being an athlete, a leader should posses all the skills associated with leadership, judgment, balance, resilience and drive.

Adventure racing is the sport of the new millennium. It reflects the challenges we all face as the accelerating pace of social and economic change, test our resilience and our resolve. A competitors spirit will ultimately decide the outcome in life and in the race.