it was the marathon, then the triathlon; now it’s adventure racing
for thrill-seeking athletes. Adventure racing takes the running,
biking, paddling and distance from other endurance sports, but ramps
up the challenge for participants, from drill sergeant "encouragement"
to overnight races and mud pits.
of an adventure race is that each one is slightly different,"
says Andy McCarthy, race director for Wisconsin Adventure Racing
Society, known as WARS. "While adventure racing is truly a
tough endurance sport, adding navigation into the mix of the race
gives the event a mental challenge along with the physical
challenge," McCarthy says.
Ready to mix up
your race season in 2012? Here are some adventure races on this year’s
Stubborn Mule Adventure Race
or 30-hour courses with teams of two to four people racing through the
core adventure racing disciplines — biking (road and
mountain/off-road), trekking/running, land navigation/orienteering,
paddling, and team challenge events
There is no set
course for these events. Teams must work together using only a map and
compass combined with their physical and mental strength to choose
their own routes to get their team as quickly as possible from point A
to point B, says Paula Waite of Stubborn Mule and 180 Adventure.
"The best teams are those that can help each other pull through
the most challenging parts of the race," says veteran adventure
racer Beth Liebhardt of Wauwatosa. "I really enjoy training and
pushing myself to do things that I didn’t think were possible. It is
mind over matter, and everyone on the team struggles during different
parts of the race."
Southern Kettle Moraine Challenge Fall Adventure Race
Course: Seven to
nine miles of mountain biking, 35 to 45 miles of road biking, five
miles of paddling, trekking and some running with the aid of two
Four-person coed teams or two-person teams
is normally a 10- to 12-hour event, however we occasionally will have
overnight races of 18 to 20 hours of length, which makes the event a
bit harder with night navigation," says Andy McCarthy. Race
participant Daniel DeBehnke of Hartland says he has gained lots of new
skills since his first adventure race 10 years ago, such as kayaking,
riverboarding, navigating and climbing ropes. "The thing that I
love about adventure racing is that it’s unpredictable. You often
are unsure of what the race will entail until the day of the event.
That adds excitement," he says. "I also like the fact that
it’s a team sport. The team can only go as fast as the weakest
member, and it’s the team support of one another, carrying gear,
helping with food, etc., that makes the race so rewarding."
Madison Mud Run
Participants encounter about 15 obstacles over the five-mile course
Madison’s dirtiest race, the mud run is held twice a year and
challenges participants to climb walls and cargo nets, navigate water
crossings and inflatable obstacles, and survive the famous mud pit.
Aminda O’Hare made her adventure race debut last year — and her
first race ever — at the mud run. "I loved the mud run because
it was like being a kid again, especially with everyone running in
costume," she says. "Everyone was cheering everyone else
along and helping with obstacles when needed. For someone who wasn’t
even sure if she’d be able to finish the race, it was a great
environment to keep me going!"
three miles, bike 13.5 miles, three miles of trail running,
military-style obstacle course
benefit Bethesda Lutheran Communities
was among the 248 participants from nine states in last year’s
inaugural race. A seasoned triathlete, O’Malley says the obstacle
course at the end of the race was a challenge. "They even had
drill sergeants in fatigues generously dishing out verbal abuse to the
participants. One in particular spurred me on by telling me to
‘Get going grandpa.’ I think that did agitate me enough to pick up
the pace," O’Malley jokes.
Otter Ultra Trek
Date: Jan. 21
Moraine State Forest — Northern Unit
What They Say:
The Frozen Otter Ultra Trek is by far one of the toughest races in the
Midwest and with roughly a 2 percent completion rate, possibly the
country. Racers traverse 64 miles of Wisconsin’s hilly terrain left
in the wake of the great Wisconsin Glacier. As if the sheer feat of
conquering the mileage isn’t enough, racers must do it completely
self-supported, on trail, in the dead of winter.
Date: Aug. 18
What They Say:
This female-only, 5K mud run is designed for women of all fitness
levels. The 11 military-inspired obstacles are fun and unique but with
just enough challenge to keep your palms a bit sweaty. The entire
event is designed to be organic and eco-friendly. In fact, many of the
obstacles are recycled back into the earth.
Date: Oct. 13
Head Resort, Merrimac
What They Say:
Tough Mudder is not a race. It’s supposed to be a personal challenge
— the goal is simply to complete the course. The race tests
all-round toughness, strength, fitness, mental grit and camaraderie in
every environment imaginable.