Adventure Racing – “Just Can’t Get The Advertising”.

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Adventure racing gets a second wind as grass-roots sport

By Dave Philipps

The Gazette


If you judge a sport by TV coverage and advertising, adventure racing seems to be breathing its last breath. The unofficial World Series of the sport, the multi-day Eco-Challenge, died in 2002. It’s predecessor, Primal Quest, sputtered out this year. “The pro scene is getting quieter and quieter. Big races just can’t get the advertising they once did. The shock value is gone,” said Jeremy Rodgers, a sponsored adventure racer from Boulder, Colo.

“But the grass roots of the sport keeps getting bigger all the time. It’s huge. “When I started racing in 1998 there were probably 10 adventure races in the whole country. Now there’s probably that many just in Colorado.”

Rodgers was tuning up his bike at the start of an adventure race in Monument, Colo., last month. Race organizers expected 30 people. Almost 80 showed.

Adventure racing may have retreated from the national spectator scene, but the grueling, multi-disciplinary sport, which often combines trail running, mountain biking, paddling, navigation and rope work, attracts more amateur racers every year.

Like road bikers, soccer players and other athletes whose sports thrive largely unnoticed by mainstream America, most adventure racers do it for the love. Who cares if anyone else is paying attention?

“It’s like a smorgasbord of my favorite sports,” said Guy Babbitt, minutes before starting the April race. The Colorado Springs, Colo., engineer loves to bike, run, climb and kayak.

Technically, the 40-mile bike ride, two-hour orienteering course, and two-mile climb to the top of Mount Herman was not a race.

“We call it a training event. If we called it a race, we have to get all kinds of permits,” said nonrace organizer Brian Landis.

There was no clock, no prizes for first place – just 80 people getting together to pedal, jog and stumble.

Some were pros who had completed the 400-plus-mile Primal Quest race in the past. Many were first-timers.

“I love Primal Quest and Eco-Challenge.

“I’m a survival fanatic. So it’s exciting to actually get a chance to do that kind of thing,” said Monica Carlile-Granberg, who was doing her first adventure not-really-a race with her husband, Matthew.

“We have no idea what we’re doing.” she said. “We’re going to die out there. But at least we’ll die together.”

The couple was doing the “short course”: running four miles on a gravel trail, biking six miles up a steep dirt road to the base of Mount Herman, scaling the steep, rocky trail to the summit, running back to the bikes and pedaling down to the start.

Unlike standard running or cycling races, or even triathalons, adventure racing is a team sport.

Most races require teams of two to four. If one person can’t go on, the whole team must stop. Sometimes that means dropping out even when you’re feeling great.

Read the whole article at The home of multiday running news and events.

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