In a recent race the best answer to the question “What is Adventure Racing was given…OR it might have been, but I didn’t hear it. I had scampered off the trail to snag a checkpoint, and when I caught back up a few minutes later, the dude was just finishing up his definition. Hardly a concise definition—whatever it was.
Completely missing his definition while punching a CP is completely apropos—adventure racing is hard to define. Sure, we describe the basic disciplines—trek, bike, paddle all while orienteering—but even those are fluid (are we trekking or hiking or trail running or rucking). In races, I’ve also jumped off cliffs, ascended, rappelled, ridden a horse, swam, caved, scootered, kayaked, canoed, rollerbladed, riverboarded, SUPed, packrafted, obstacle raced, shot a paintball gun, cross-country skied, snowshoed, and Tyrolean traversed. (OK, maybe I didn’t do all of these, but I know people who have done at least one in an AR).
USARA Executive Director Mike Garrison likes to tell a story about trying and failing to explain to his mother what adventure racing is all about. And he is the Executive Director of USARA. We often resort to the “Eco-Challenge” technique: “Have you seen this show on Prime? Watch that. It’s from the guy who created Survivor”
Of course, if you have raced through a populated city—like downtown Philadelphia on a Friday night (thanks, GOALS ARA)—you have inevitably been hit with “Are you on the Amazing Race?” But do we really want to resort to television shows to define our sport? Even if Nathan Fa’avae did a great job doing just that on a show that inspired many (most) of us to get into this crazy pursuit.
So how do you define adventure racing? What is it all about for you? Is it about teamwork and camaraderie? Is it about adventure? competition? challenge?
Let’s explore our definitions together. Chime in on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or the Comments below.
Show us your 15 second videos, adventurous pictures, or tweetable text of how you define AR.
And maybe we can come with something to tell Garrison’s mother.
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