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WHAT IS ADVENTURE RACING?

WHAT IS ADVENTURE RACING?

Adventure racing is an endurance sport which involves travel on foot (trekking or running), mountain bike and by water (canoe, kayak, raft, occasionally swimming).

What differentiates AR from other racing sports is the inclusion of wilderness navigation using a map, compass and common sense. There is no set race course; participants must find their own route from one checkpoint to the next. The checkpoints (CPs) are marked on maps which the racers receive shortly prior to or at the start of the race. AR also differs from other sports in that racers are part of a team of 2-4 people who travel together the entire time.

The races can last from several hours to many days and are unsupported, for the most part, which means that the racers carry what they will need (food, water, gear) in backpacks for the duration of the race.

To succeed, racers will need athletic endurance, navigation skills, mental toughness, good pre-race planning, strategic decision making as well as a strong and supportive "team" mentality.

Sound intimidating? While it's true that longer races can test even the toughest outdoor athletes, AR is a very open and inclusive sport. Beginning racers will feel welcome at nearly every event. Most races are organized so that anyone at any level of experience and fitness can participate. You can find a race near you on the calendar at the USARA website.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dover Raid - 12/8/12 Dover NH: Untamed Adventure Racing

This race was a late add-on for the 2012 season. It was a 6 hour all on-foot race in and around the town of Dover, NH. It seemed like it would be pretty low key, but the reputation of Untamed Adventure Racing plus the orienteer-friendly (no bike) format drew a nice crowd including some top local (and national) AR teams and local orienteers. There were about 60 entrants in teams of 1-4 members.

As Nick was conveniently overseas, that left me (Mason) with the task of trying to keep up with Rob as we spent the bulk of the day running on trails and roads.  The race started with a short bus ride to the Kingman Farm area in Madbury where we were tasked with finding 11 CPs in the woods. The race was in a Score-O  format so you could get any of the points in any order and skip whatever ones you wanted to. There were a few 3-point CPs and one 4-point CP. The early part of the race was fairly linear and there was not a ton of strategizing to be done as far as the order. We found these points with relative ease except for some moderate delay in locating one CP that was along the Bellamy River. Leaving the forest for a little while we traveled east on Knox Marsh Road eventually back to Bellamy River to pick up a few points, then crossed over the river on a decaying log to get another point and then across the Dover High School football field for another. Since there was a pretty obvious path through these points, there were a lot of teams clustered together. At CP 31, Rob found a dropped passport - oops. He asked around to all the local teams but the owner couldn't be found.  Luckily race organizer Grant Killian was nearby and we could turn over this problem to him rather than worry about what to do with the passport.

Next we headed across Spaulding Tpk into the town of Dover.  There were a lot of CPs in town, about 18, with no obvious way to sweep through and pick them all up, so a strategic path was key. Some highlights of this section included a sketchy, pointy 6-foot chain-link fence climb and reading a tombstone date.  We had some delay based on what constituted the "most northeastern" of several baseball fields and then headed down to the banks of the Cocheco River to pick up a few more points before crossing over into proper downtown Dover.  At one of the river points, there was another CP, cheekily placed in plain view, tantalizingly close, across the placid river which would require either a 50 foot swim or a solid mile of running to reach. This was December in New Hampshire and so the latter was the obvious option, although at least one team decided on the swim (hats off to them).

Unpitching the tent at Nemo Equipment.                  Photo stolen without permission from cmorse.

Highlights of the next section included a steep Garrison Hill (us) and firetower (Rob) climb, climbing 4 stories to successfully pitch and unpitch a tent (with pneumatic "poles"!) in the offices of Nemo Equipment and the beginning of a lot of running as we passed out of town traveling northwest along 6th street and then the paralleling portion of the Dover community trail to pick up 5 more CPs that were a lot more widely spaced. Just running back to town from this jaunt was an uninterrupted 2.5 mile run on the sidewalks of 6th St. Our hope was that we would have time to mop up some of the close points clustered in town after finishing this long loop, but we arrived in the vicinity of the finish line with only about 30 minutes left to race, which allowed us to grab only 3 more CPs before ducking into the welcome confines of Weeksie's Pizza, the finish line, 10 minutes shy of the time cutoff.  Registration included a pitcher of beer and all the pizza you could eat at Weeksie's and we greatly enjoyed both.

In the end we bagged 55 out of a possible 62 points, good for 6th place out of 34 teams and ran 24.1 miles.  Thanks to Grant and the Untamed crew for a fun day of racing!

Race Map: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3617730/o/DoverRaidFrankenmap.jpg

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