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 Dusty Caseria and I race on Team Quest. I did my first AR in 2013 when I was 26. As a competitive ultra runner at the time, I was looking for a new type of challenge.
How did you find your first adventure race? Which race did you pick and where was it?
A friend (and now teammate) of mine, Brent Molsberry, had been bugging me for a couple years about doing a twelve-hour AR that he put on near our hometown of Bellingham, WA in the San Juan Islands. I'd always been interested, but was too busy with my ultra running races to fit anything else in... until I hurt my achilles. I spent a lot of time on the bike while recovering. Around the time I was beginning to run again, Brent reminded me that Island Quest was just around the corner... and, having pulled out of all my running races, I had no excuse to give it a try!
Did you create your own team or did a team recruit you?
I asked Emily, a good college friend and former XC running teammate, if she'd want to race with me. We'd been doing lots of adventures together and we always liked trying new things, so naturally, she was as excited as I was to give it a go. I'm now happy to call her my wife and we still race together!
Did you need to get any new gear, what did you need, where did you find it?
We needed a map case to keep the maps dry during paddling, which we were able to find online... and speaking of paddling, I don't think I'd ever sat in a kayak. Luckily, a local kayak guiding company had partnered with the race organizer, and if you didn't have a boat or paddling gear, you could rent for a very reasonable price. They would deliver it to wherever the paddle stage began, and then pick it up after, so all we had to do was show up and paddle. So, luckily, I didn't have to buy much new gear for that first race.
How did you train for your first race? Did you need to gain any new skills?
I didn't change up my training a whole lot for that first race. I would run or bike almost every day already. We did rent a tandem kayak a couple times before the race to get the hang of it, but it's not like we gained much paddling fitness from two short paddles. It was helpful to get the feel of being in a kayak before race day, though.
Were there any resources (online or in person) that significantly helped you prepare? Please provide links if applicable.
Talking with Brent during weeknight trail runs gave us a bit of an idea of what to expect, but we really didn't dig into any other resources for that first race. We just decided to wing it.
How did the race go?
We were hooked. It was the most adventurous type of race we'd ever done. On race day, Seattle broke it's all-time record for the most rain in a single day. I have no idea how much rain we got in the islands seventy miles from Seattle, but it was A LOT. The race started on bikes. I think we were in about third after the bike stage. Then, despite some navigation errors, we took the lead on the trek, and to our advantage, the kayak leg had to be significantly shortened due to the nasty weather, so we held on for the win!
What hooked you on adventure racing?
The challenge and team aspect. Before trying an AR, I figured that they might not be that fun since the team would always be waiting for someone, and would always be traveling the speed of the weakest link on that particular discipline. After doing a few races, I realized that was completely wrong. Even if I were the strongest physically on a team, there is no way that I could complete some of these incredibly difficult courses as quickly if I were alone. Maybe I wouldn't be able to finish at all. You absolutely need a team around you to provide encouragement or carry some extra weight during the low moments that each team member will inevitably have. That to me was intriguing, and the fact is, team dynamics is often what separates teams more so than fitness.
Since your first race, name one or two AR highlights you’ve experienced.
There are so many, it's difficult to choose just two! My first 24-hour race in Cle Elum put on by Krank Events (raced with Emily and Brent) was the first time I'd raced through the night non-stop. It was really hard, but also was a pretty cool experience to be way out in the mountains, watch the sun go down, keep moving all night, and watch the sun come back up as we neared the finish line. Another highlight was winning our first AR World Series race at Expedition Oregon 2019. After several years of training hard for AR, making lots of mistakes in races, learning from them, and coming back to the next race more and more prepared, this was our team's first big win.
Stay tuned for more from USARA! Visit www.usara.com for more information on adventure racing in the United States.
Official USARA Media Partner
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.