Adventure racing is a fast growing sport not just in Australia, but Internationally, with adventure races being held regularly for eager fitness fanatics looking to test themselves.
And for good reason… combining several physically challenging exercises with fierce competition and a clock to beat, it makes for an exciting event!
If you’re looking to take your fitness to the next level and challenge yourself at an individual level or work as part of a team, adventure racing is for you.
Let’s discuss what they’re all about and some adventure races you can take part in…
Co-Founder Exercises.com.au, Work Stress & Anxiety Expert, Health Hacker, Digital Nomad
Outdoor Addiction: Why Adventure Racing Rules
Adventure Racing is a sport that is carried out by teams and involves several disciplines. Among these disciplines are cross-country running, trekking, rowing or canoeing and mountain biking. There are also adventure races that include rappelling and other rope-based challenges.
The origins of Adventure Racing have been traced with the Karrimor International Mountain Marathon in 1968. This race required a team of 2 to navigate mountainous terrain which measured the length of 2 marathons while carrying their supplies.
Its popularity is tied up with the reality show “Eco-Challenge” which ended its run in 2002. Since then many other events have sprung up that mirror the features of traditional Adventure Racing. For purists, to qualify as an adventure race, it must involve teams.
They are given a map to the finish line and the journey requires them to overcome many interesting challenges or obstacles. The first team to arrive at the destination point wins the adventure race.
Adventure Racing Types
Sprint – Usually completed in 2 to 6 hours; features minimal navigation and mostly physical challenges.
6 to 12 hours – Minimal navigation; several tests of teamwork and physical challenges.
18 to 30 hours – More complex courses; includes UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) navigation, rappelling and a support crew to help transport gear.
36 to 48 hours – Involves advanced navigation and more complex course challenges. Competitors have to deal with bouts of sleep deprivation.
Expedition – 3 to 11 days or even longer. This is the ultimate adventure race. It features interesting course challenges such as horseback riding and unconventional rowing events.
The rules covering these adventure races may vary but contain similar provisions.
Among the standard rules are as follows:
- No use of motorised vehicles;
- No use of GPS;
- Teams must travel together and should not be separated by more than 50 meters;
- No outside assistance;
- Teams must carry their own gear.
Adventure Racing has grown increasingly popular over the years. There are more than 50 Adventure Races all over the world. Given its incredible physical, emotional demands and the importance of maintaining sharp mental focus throughout the race, why are so many people into Adventure Racing?
The Thrill Of Victory
Of course, in every competition there will always be a winner. But in Adventure Racing you win as a team. There are other team sports and victory will always be sweet. What makes a victory in Adventure Racing sweeter is the feeling of overcoming different obstacles which you may not believe you could beat.
And you are able to do this with the help of your team. Adventure Racing helps foster greater trust among friends and fosters stronger relationships.
Have you ever joined a marathon? There are thousands jockeying for position at the start of the race. Even in Obstacle Course races such as “Tough Mudder” there could be hundreds participating with thousands more cheering you on.
With Adventure Racing, it is just your team and others into the wild! This helps competitors strategise without being pressured by the usual frenzy that accompanies a race.
The Challenge Of Navigation
Adventure Racing is not just a physical challenge. You have to use your intellect and navigate through tough, often treacherous terrain with only your wits about you.
It will also place you in situations where you will have to solve problems or puzzles. Thus, it is not just about the physically fit but requires competitors to work together and overcome natural obstacles with their understanding of basic survival techniques.
There Are Many Surprises
When you do an adventure race, there are no marked courses. If you had just done an adventure race a few months ago, today might be present a different course. Did you practice your knot-tying skills? Well, maybe you should have because your team would need those skills in this race.
No two adventure races are alike. The course may feature a challenge which may require you to learn a skill on the spot! The pressure is on but you have to deal with it for your team to win.
The Great Outdoors
Why do so many people spend thousands of dollars and risk lives for the climb to Mt. Everest? In addition to the prestige, the view atop Everest is a sight to behold. There is strange beauty in all its snowy splendour!
The same goes for Adventure Racing. You could be going through many dangerous obstacles and tricky terrain but despite the pressures, you will better appreciate the beauty of Mother Nature and the Great Outdoors.
Adventure Racing is a fast growing sport. But it is more than just the adventure that lures people into joining one. It is the opportunity to build better, stronger and long-lasting relationships with people you care about the most.
If you can overcome an adventure race, you can overcome anything in life. With Adventure Racing, there are no losers!
Prepping For An Adventure Race
Given the intensity and duration of an adventure race, it’s not just a matter of showing up on the day and thinking you can finish the race, let alone compete with the front of the pack.
Adventure race training takes time, self-discipline and a combination of training, from cardio to weight lifting to the specific exercises you’ll be doing during the race such as mountain biking, canoeing and trekking.
Here’s what you’ll need to focus on for your adventure race preparation…
Timeframe And Goals
Take note of the date and how long you have until the event. Your performance will be determined by your current fitness ability and the amount of time that you have to improve it.
Set a goal for yourself whether it is just to have a fun day, improve previous time or to make it to the end of your first triathlon!
Create A Training Plan
Take an honest look at where you are now and highlight things that you need to work on before race day. It might be helpful to enlist a fitness professional who specialises in your event sport/s to put together a training schedule for you.
They will also be able to give you tips on how to improve your technique, monitor and motivate you along the way and develop a strategy for race day. Regardless of the type of event, developing your body strength will allow you to move easier and faster while taking longer to fatigue.
Strength training should be incorporated into your training program and should be tailored to your particular sport. For example, marathon runners should try weighted squats and deadlifts to develop leg strength and obstacle course runners should focus on functional exercises such as burpees, lunges and pull-ups to improve total body strength.
Exercises such as sprint drills and high intensity interval training (HIIT) will also help you to develop your cardiovascular fitness. When coupled with your longer running, cycling or swimming sessions, your endurance should greatly improve setting you up well for race day.
Breathing exercises can also help to develop stronger lunges giving you a steadier stream of oxygen to fuel your body and improve your endurance.
Dial In Your Nutrition
Make sure that you are getting enough calories to fuel your training sessions and promote recovery. Your diet should consist of whole foods with quality sources of protein, complex carbohydrates, good fats and plenty of vitamins and minerals.
A nutritionist can put together a tailored plan for you to support you on the road to your event.
The week before the race should consist of easy training and/or rest days so that you arrive full of energy, ready to smash those goals!
Challenge Yourself With Adventure Race Australia!
If you’re looking for an adrenalin rush that will also test your ability to strategise and work with a team, signup for Adventure Race Australia!
This is a race that can be as unpredictable as Mother Nature. There are twists and turns everywhere. No lead is safe! You could be ahead of the race only to falter at the latter challenges and fall short at the finish line.
What Is Adventure Race Australia?
Adventure Race Australia is a challenging race that requires participants to navigate using a compass and a map if they decide to throw a marked path in your course.
There are 3 types of races in Adventure Race Australia:
- Sprint – Typically lasts 3 to 8 hours
- 12 to 24 Hour Races – Includes a cut off time for the finish
- Multi-Day – Sometimes referred to as an “Expedition”; these races can last 3 days or more depending on mandatory stops and changes in the course.
Adventure Race Australia is a race where nothing is what it seems. There are trails that are indicated on a map which are all of sudden nowhere to be found. What will you do?
You have to keep your wits about you and trust your ability to use the compass. This is a type of race that best personifies the saying, “It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish.”
Adventure Race Australia transforms the Great Outdoors into the Great Unknown!
What To Expect
When you sign up for Adventure Race Australia, the organisers will give you “an idea” of the general location of the starting point. This will give your team enough time to draw up a measure of racing strategy.
But the actual location will not be given to you until 5 days before the start of the race. This throws a curveball at all the assumptions, analyses and expectations made by you and your team!
In fact what you can expect from Adventure Race Australia is the unexpected.
Some of the curve balls thrown at you could be as follows:
- Different drop off point for trail bikes from the location indicated in the map;
- Maps might be provided just before the start of the race;
- Types of ground obstacles may change without prior notice.
The changes could be significant that you may have to ditch the map and trust in your teammates to find the next CP (Check Point). Thus, the best approach for Adventure Race Australia is to not expect anything and be ready for everything! Decision-making is a valuable asset.
Given the unpredictability of the course, you and your team may have to make decisions on the spot.
Events In Adventure Race Australia
There are many possibilities on the type and nature of events that could comprise the obstacles in an Adventure Race.
Here is a short-list of possible events:
- Paddling – Kayak, Canoe, Out-Rigger, Rafts and Tubings
- Traveling on Wheels – Mountain Bikes, Scooters, In-Line Skating and Roller Skates
- Beasts of Burden – Horses and Camels
- Hang Time – Paragliding and Hang-Gliding
- Terrain Trek – Orienteering, Mountaineering, Coasteering, Caving, Swimming, Canyoneering and River-Boarding
- Rope Work – Rappelling, Ascending and Zip Line
The number of events that may appear as obstacles on Adventure Race Australia would depend on the course, the distance or the time allotted. It is not expected that all of these events will appear in a single race. Or will they?
The Value Of Teamwork
If you own a company or work as a key executive and want an activity that would strengthen the relationships of your people, why not consider Adventure Race Australia as a team-building event?
The saying, “You don’t know who you can trust until you’re faced with adversity” rings loud and clear with Adventure Racing Australia. Although each team will nominate a Leader and a Lead Navigator, it doesn’t mean everyone is spared of these responsibilities.
In order to succeed you have to work, solve challenges as a team and most importantly, learn to trust one another. Give Adventure Race Australia a try at least once in your life.
Not only will it be fun and challenging but you will discover abilities you never thought you had. Best of all, it will strengthen the bond among friends.
Are you fired up yet to get into adventure racing? Even if it’s just to mix up your general fitness routine and test your fitness, adventure races are a fantastic way to challenge yourself, get outdoors, and gain a feeling of achievement.
You can prepare for an adventure race using many of the exercise videos we have on our website, because after all, strength is a huge component of adventure racing. It’s not just about cardiovascular fitness.
When you compete in your first (or your next race) be sure to tag us in on social media so we can share in your achievement!
Matt Adams is the co-founder of Exercises.com.au.
At 27 Matt suffered a severe stress and anxiety related panic attack which changed his life forever. For 3 months following the panic attack Matt was experiencing daily heart palpitations and lightning-shock feelings in his heart.
This triggered Matt to shift his entire focus on health and healing. He discovered a mind technique which reduced the heart palpitations and lightning shock feelings to nil. He started running for the first time in his life and within two months was comfortably running 5 x 5km per week.
A year later he joined a gym. Over the following 4 years he gained 15kg of lean muscle and trains regularly to this day. He co-founded Exercises.com.au in 2016 as a way to share his passion for health, fitness and well-being.
He’s currently writing a book about his journey from stress and anxiety to health and self-healing without doctors or medication.