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?
My name is Glen Lewis. I was 24 when I participated in my first adventure race. My two best friends and I had completed a pseudo-adventure race six months prior (a marked course with no navigation). We liked the idea of competing and wanted to push ourselves.
How did you find your first race?
I found the race through Google. Fortunately, there were a few races with a couple hours of us. We started with GOALS ARA's Savage Adventure Race at Lake Nockamixon in Pennsylvania. It was a six-hour race with a central TA (each leg started and ended at this transition area). It was the perfect length for us to extend ourselves physically from what we were currently doing.
Did you create your own team or did a team recruit you?
I was fortunate to have friends who had a similar interest, so I raced with one of them.
Did you need to get any new gear, what did you need, where did you find it?
When I started racing, the gear we needed was not that extensive. My mountain bike was horrible (15+ years old and from Walmart), so I got the cheapest bike that I could find at REI (about $400) - it ended up serving me well for five years. I also had a small Camelbak. Most everything else was old gear that I found laying around. While all of that has been replaced over the years, it was perfectly suited for my first race.
How did you train for your first race?
I was not super fit beforehand, so I had to train myself to be able to be able to ride my bike for ten miles (the estimated distance). The only new skill I had to learn was being able to run after biking. The first time I tried, I could hardly get my legs to move!
Did you need to gain any new skills for the first race?
I thought I knew it all, so I didn't seek out much training help...
How did the race go?
Well...we were actually leading after the opening foot section. The navigation was incredibly easy in this race and we were stronger on foot than anything else. From there, I got tired, confused, and slower by the minute. We finished in the middle of the pack, fully depleted after five hours.
What hooked you on AR?
Wanting to do better! We approached AR from a "speed" angle (how fast can we do this?) as opposed to an "adventure." We wanted to go faster, feel less junky at the end, and have that mythical "perfect race" (eight years later, it seems further away than ever!).
Navigation was the other big hook. We had speed when we started, but I was a horrific navigator. Over time I've learned that I needed to slow down (to navigate better) before I could speed up. Navigation and maps are my main interest in racing.
Since your first race, name one or two AR highlights you’ve experienced.
Four years and fifteen races after my first try, I finally took first overall in a sprint race (again, the Savage AR). This felt like a culmination of years of hard work training physically and navigationally. My other highlight was navigating my team to victory at the 2020 Florida Sea to Sea. It was my first victory in a big race, and the feeling is still hard to describe.
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.