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!
Who are you and why did you want to do an adventure race?
I’m Mark Lattanzi and I started adventure racing at 34. I volunteered for a 24-hour race down at Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) in North Carolina. A freak blizzard hit western NC and the race fell apart and we ended up nursing twenty teams until their support crews came. After twenty hours of that, I went and loaded canoes on a trailer and drove it two hours back to HQ. I decided the racers were having more fun, so I signed up for a twelve-hour race a few weeks later.
How did you find your first race?
I signed up for the next one that took place at NOC.
Did you create your own team or did a team recruit you?
I created a team with, interestingly, my now-wife Lora, and two of her friends.
Did you need to get any new gear, what did you need, where did you find it?
We didn't have to buy anything for the race as we were all 24-hour mountain bike racers. But after the first adventure race, I did get better lights for trekking.
How did you train for your first race?
Life. I was very active - biked to work, played tennis in the evenings or went to the gym, did yoga, and ran 4-5 times a week, so I just needed to add in some climbing and paddling.
Did you need to gain any new skills for the first race?
No, but climbing was not my forte. A few years later, I started climbing with some friends in order to learn the "ropes," as it were.
How did your first race go?
We finished in the mid-pack. The one thing I remember was there was a swim across a wide river and one of our teammates couldn't swim. We towed him across in a rescue-style carry and his eyes were huge the entire way across the river.
What hooked you on AR?
The navigation aspect. I found it fascinating. I love getting a new map and having to figure out all the nuances of it. And there's nothing better than being lost and having to figure out where you are.
Since your first race, name one or two AR highlights you’ve experienced.
In the 2012 AR Worlds Championships in France, we were climbing up this monster mountain for 7-8 miles. You could see the ridge line way up above and it looked to be easily many more miles. We went around a corner and there was a 3/4 mile tunnel through the ridge to a spectacular ten miles of downhill biking into the TA. And in the 2009 Patagonia Expedition Race, we were in the middle of a 3.5-day trek and decided to camp on a remote beach. In the morning, we were greeted by a local fox who wanted to have breakfast with us, and shortly after that, a large sea lion. It was sleeping on the beach and we thought it was a large rock, when it suddenly reared up and roared. Pretty sure we all jumped about six feet into the air. It then lumbered into the surf and we carried on filled with a healthy bit of adrenaline.
Stay tuned for more from USARA! Visit www.usara.com for more information on adventure racing in the United States.
A space for AR musings from the USARA team and guest authors. Ready to race? Check out the rest of our resources on the USARA homepage.