Adventure Racing 101

⇐ Learn to navigate

What is Adventure Racing?

Adventure Races are multi-sport athletic races requiring navigation (as opposed to a marked course). While they can include all sorts of sports, the common sports in an Adventure Race include:

  • Trekking
  • Mountain biking
  • Paddling (canoe, kayak, raft, etc.)
  • Caving/Repelling/Climbing
  • Swimming

Adventure Races are commonly team sports with 2-4 participants. They range in duration from 2 hours to multi-day expedition races.

Check out this post for more details.


Are Adventure Races only for elite athletes?

No! This is a common misconception.

While Adventure Racing certainly attracts elite athletes for the challenge, most races are set up to accommodate people of varying abilities. Some races have specific categories for youths or beginners.  If you can trek, paddle or bike for the duration of the race, regardless of your pace, you are fit enough for the race. Not sure if you can handle it? Give it a try!

What if I can’t finish the race?

It is very common and completely accepted in adventure racing for teams to need to pull out of a race, especially in longer day or multi-day events. These can be physically and mentally challenging. We all understand that. Most teams have had to pull out of a race at one point or another because of fatigue, gear problems, etc.

The scoring for most races allows for partial race completion.


Do I need special equipment for Adventure Racing?

Most races will have a mandatory gear list that usually includes:

  • Water
  • Compass
  • Knife
  • Matches

They will also have sport specific equipment such as bikes or boats. Some races provide boats or other equipment. Check with your race director. You don’t need to have the best equipment for Adventure Racing as long as it will survive the distance.


How difficult is the navigation?

Most courses have a mixture of easy and difficult navigation. Most of the courses will be navigatable with just casual landmark navigation but you should also know how to follow a bearing and read a topo map.

⇐    Check out the links on the left for articles on navigation.


Is Adventure Racing safe?

Adventure Racing includes activities that have some risk, such as mountain biking and paddling, and they also often involve navigation in remote wilderness. So yes, there is definitely some risk. However, if teams stay within their personal fitness and skill limits, these risks can be limited.