Welcome to our series “15 First Adventure Races” which interviews veteran adventure racers on how they got started in the sport. If you’d like further resources, check out our New to AR? page on usara.com for additional material!
What's your name? How old were you when you did your first adventure race? Why did you want to participate?
I'm Peter Jolles. I was 28 for my first adventure race. My friends and I thought it would be a fun new thing to try.
How did you find your first adventure race? Which race did you pick and where was it?
I had a friend that had done a Raid Gauloises, among other things, and he knew of a few events going on. I think the first race I did was called the Big South Fork Adventure Race, along the Kentucky/Tennessee border.
Did you create your own team or did a team recruit you?
My friends and I created a team together. We already ran and biked together on a regular basis so doing a competition was a no-brainer for us.
Did you need to get any new gear, what did you need, where did you find it?
I don't remember needing any new gear except perhaps a compass. I think I went to REI to get it.
How did you train for your first race? Did you need to gain any new skills?
I don't remember doing anything special to prepare other than the running and riding I'd already been doing 3-4 times a week. For one of the other early races I did, I needed to learn to rappel but that is fairly uncommon. I knew the basics of navigation but didn't go out of my way to practice them.
Were there any resources (online or in person) that significantly helped you prepare? Please provide links if applicable.
I had a friend who had done several races before, including several expeditions, and he provided guidance and motivation.
How did the race go?
We had a blast. I remember getting into the main TA sometime in the middle of the night and folks were asking if we were going to stop and sleep for the night. I thought it was a crazy question; we were racing! I think we ended up third in that race.
What hooked you on adventure racing?
What got me hooked was the combination of mental and physical. I'm not the fastest runner or biker, but I found that I could follow a map pretty well and when all that was combined it became a full body and mind experience. I also liked the team aspect of the sport, where we had to look after not just ourselves but others, too. I find that very motivating.
Since your first race, name one or two AR highlights you’ve experienced.
The most recent highlight was competing in Eco-Challenge: Fiji in 2019. Through the years I've been able to race all around the world and see places that many people never go.
Stay tuned for more from USARA! Visit www.usara.com for more information on adventure racing in the United States.
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