Spring 2003 Forward to a Friend

adventure racing such a dynamic and fast-growing sport worldwide? What has attracted young people in their twenties to compete alongside teammates old enough to be their parents? There are many answers to these questions, but the truth is that nearly every individual has a unique reason and motivation to become an adventure racer.

The sport began with a cadre of eclectic individuals who loved the outdoors and exploration, and, yes, they were a bit driven and competitive, too. They would climb mountains, cycle or ski to the bottom, kayak a bit, and then down a few beers together when it was all over. It was fun, exhilarating, and competitive – all while doing what they loved in the outdoors. Today, this type of camaraderie and friendly competition still attracts many people to adventure racing.

For some, adventure racing is the chance to learn new sports and develop new skills. If it weren’t for adventure racing, the two of us may never have learned to scuba dive (for the Eco-Challenge 2000) or had the opportunity to “hydro-speed” (whitewater swim) for the Raid Gauloises 2000. Many adventure racers have learned to kayak, ascend and descend ropes, and navigate using a map and compass since becoming involved in the sport. Others, such as those with a military background, enjoy the sport because they can continue using some of the skills they learned while in the service.

Triathletes, endurance runners, and others seeking “the next thing”: the activity that will test their abilities, their mental as well as their physical strengths, and keep them active in something new, exciting, and cutting edge. A number of these individuals have helped take the sport from an “expedition” mindset to a more competitive one, creating a demand for shorter, faster adventure races, while pushing the limits of physical ability in the longer races.

For many, doing an adventure race provides a challenge that is not only physical but mental as well. Adventure races contain three interrelated components: 1) the race itself – the competition, race course, format, and exploration of new areas, new cultures and nature; 2) the team – both intra- and inter-team dynamics; and 3) the individual – the self and the ego. All three related components provide an opportunity, each time you race, to learn something new about your surroundings, either in foreign lands or your own backyard, to work together with others to reach a goal, and to stretch your perceived limits beyond what you thought possible – to discover that you can do more than you thought you could. A number of top competitors have referred to adventure races as a microcosm of life – pretty heady stuff, but certainly an appealing aspect of the sport to many racers. Some competitors describe the race experience as one in which the body is finally broken down enough to begin to discover our universal connectedness and true existence as “more than just a body,” namely, the beginning of the letting go of ego.

The beauty of adventure racing is that there is plenty of room for all competitors with different backgrounds and athletic abilities – those who are still seeking the beauty and thrill of pure exploration while pushing their bodies physically, as well as those seeking good competition. The Salomon X-Adventure Race, a successful European race series held in seven different countries, came to the United States for the first time in 2000. The race featured world-class teams racing to win alongside many beginner teams whose goal was just to finish and have fun. Adventure racing allows each level of team, from the most experienced and competitive to the beginner, to have the experience they want.

Adventure races take place throughout the world. The opportunity to travel to new destinations is another appealing aspect of the sport. Top adventure races in 2000 were set in such exotic locations as Tibet, Nepal, Borneo, New Zealand, Brazil, and China. The perspective you gain for a country, its land, and its people is unique as you race through on foot, by bicycle, or on water. Traversing the countryside unlike an ordinary tourist, going through jungles or caves few people ever see, and interacting with the local people as you pass through their villages gives the adventure racer a view like no other. Even doing an adventure race in an urban area, such as downtown Chicago, or in a familiar place, like a state park near your hometown, allows racers to see the area in a new way – perhaps, in a more “primitive” or unencumbered way.

Historically, many of the top competitors in adventure racing have been in their late thirties and early to mid-forties. This is certainly appealing to lots of us “older folks.” Maturity, experience, and skill in interpersonal relationships combined with a base of endurance goes a long way in adventure racing. Much of what is sought and gained by participating in an adventure race is also not always predicated upon speed or winning. It is often the experience, the achievement of a goal, or just doing something fun with friends.

From Adventure Racing: The Ultimate Guide by Liz Caldwell and Barry Siff. Copyright © 2001 by Liz Caldwell and Barry Siff. Reprinted by arrangement with the publisher. Available from your local bookstore, or call Velo Press at (800) 234-8356 or visit the company’s Web site at www.velopress.com.

For many, the team aspect of adventure racing is one of the most appealing features of the sport. The opportunities and challenges that each team member might face during an adventure race help that person to grow and better understand him- or herself. Sometimes you might be the team member in need of support, whereas at other times you will be the supportive team member. Traveling with a team throughout a race allows you to see others in a novel setting; you will observe how they respond to different situations and challenges, and see emotions, including your own, that otherwise might be kept hidden or rarely seen. All of this adds up to an incredible journey of self-discovery while doing something you love.

Whether it’s acquiring new skills, exploring new lands, discovering more about yourself, or just doing something that looks fun and exciting, adventure racing has a broad appeal and offers something unique to each of its participants.

The 2003 Subaru Primal Quest Expedition Adventure Race will take place in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada on September 5-15. One of the world?s premiere adventure races, it will challenge 100 coed four-person teams with a 10-day, 400-mile grueling back-country course with elevations ranging from sea level to more than 11,000 feet. Racers will draw upon a variety of skills during the course of the event, including caving, hiking, white-water paddling, night navigation and rappelling, among others.

No one understands the rigors of Subaru Primal Quest better than Dan Barger. The owner and manager of California Sports Marketing, Inc., he?s the event?s race director, responsible for planning the event and coordinating the more than 180 volunteers and staff members who keep the race running smoothly and safely.

A world-class adventure racer himself, Dan brings rare insight and a unique perspective to the position. And when his agency?s not involved in organizing an event, Dan joins the competition as captain of Team Subaru.

A longtime ?solo? athlete, Dan appreciates the team component of adventure racing, and credits it with the sport?s growing popularity. ?In adventure racing, you can?t just drop a member of your team if they twist their ankle,? Dan says. ?You start the race with four people, and you have to finish with those four people. You have to stay together the whole time. The ?team? aspect is one of the things about adventure racing that really intrigues me, and I think it?s one of the main reasons more and more people are getting involved.?

Despite Subaru Primal Quest?s remote back-country course, spectators will be able to follow the teams? progress through Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. Each team carries a GPS transmitter, and their progress will be plotted via satellite through the event?s Web site as the race unfolds. To follow Team Subaru as it challenges the 2003 Subaru Primal Quest Expedition Adventure Race, visit the event?s Web site at www.subaruprimalquest.com.