The extremest of extreme adventure races
The term “extreme adventure race” is redundant, we know. So let’s call these the extremest adventure races of all: 10 courses to test the hardiest teams. (And yes, we realize we probably omitted something from this list, but still should be a fairly decent sample of the world’s greatest challenges in adventure/expedition racing…)
The Patagonian Expedition Race – Chile plays host to this contest established in 2004 and promoted as the “Adventure at the End of the World” and the “last wild race.” Race organizers promise a different course every year but always include “unexplored territory.” At a whopping nine to ten days, the Patagonian is probably the longest adventure race; events typically include kayaking, mountain biking and orienteering. The sickest thing about the Patagonian is that no prize money is awarded – just bragging rights, we suppose…
In the Carolinas, the Odyssey Blue Ridge Bear Epic has been running for nearly 30 years, but has only relatively recently joined the proper adventure racing mould. Formerly known as the “Odyssey Blue Ridge Bear One-Day,” this adventure race was born an ironman-style triathlon, only becoming “Epic”, i.e. with wider range of sports involved, in 2013. The Epic is also interesting for its compressed format: This one starts at midnight and runs 24 hours. This contest is the flagship event of Odyssey Adventure Racing, which organizes events from 5K races to ironman competitions.
The Sabah Adventure Challenge held in Borneo is called “South East Asia’s Multi-Day Adventure Race.” Though not entirely correct, the Sabah organizers can certainly take pride in being the first to bring international adventure racing to the region, first running the race in 1998. Competitors do mountain biking, hiking and rafting, all at the foot of Mount Kinabalu.
The River Kwai Trophy Adventure Race – Organizers AMA Events may have founded their Kwai River adventure race five years after the first Sabah was run, but nowadays the promoters lay claim to the title of “South East Asia’s largest adventure race.” We’re not exactly sure how “largest” is defined here, but we can say that the Kwai competition habitually draws many times the number of competitors as does the Sabah: Some 200+ teams competed in May 2017. Disciplines in this adventure race include mountain biking, running, swimming and kayaking.
Untamed New England – Played out in Maine, this one requires four days’ worth of mixed disciplines to get through the Central Highlands region at the northernmost bit of the Appalachian Trail. The nav is reckoned to be *the* key player on the four-person teams of this race, as the ‘Trail is incredibly, well, untamed. Stages within the race involving mountain biking, trekking, rope work, orienteering, paddling, rafting and whitewater rafting.
The Wilderness Traverse and The Actif Epica – with rugged countryside and ruggeder winters, Canada seems an ideal country to host some seriously extreme adventure racing. The provinces of Ottawa and Manitoba are the respective sites for these two races – and you betcha both are held in winter, thereby making “winter navigation” an enumerated item on the list of disciplines required for each. The Wilderness Traverse rules specifically call for trekking, canoeing and mountain biking, whereas the Actif Epica has an interesting wrinkle in that racers (solo only, no teams!) may choose to use any combination of bicycling, skiing or just plain old trekking to make their way through the 81-mile course in 24 hours.
The most insane Canadian adventure race of all could well be the Yukon Territory: The Yukon Arctic Ultra, however. Teams of two to six can compete on 100-, 300- or 450-mile (!) courses which follow the statewide dogsledding tracks used in winter. At least race organizers aren’t quite sadistic enough to put these events in the dead of the Great White North winters, but it’ll be plenty cold in “autumn.” Mountain biking, cross-country skiing and trekking are included disciplines.
When you’re ready to thaw out after competing in Canada, check out the Jungle Marathon - Floresta National de Tapajos held in the Amazon River rainforest in Brazil. Technically, this is only a marathon, but in four-stage 63-mile and six-stage 150-mile varieties, racers must also sleep on the course, i.e. *in the damn rainforest*, so “survival skills” can definitely be included as a necessary skill for this extraordinary “marathon.”
The Red Fox Adventure Race – Russia’s entry into the adventure racing milieu is naturally incredibly difficult, but as appealing as it is challenging: After hosting more than one race per year since the inaugural event in 2003, the Vuoksi River site was chosen as the course for the 2017 European Adventure Racing Championship