Adventure races: when running meets kayaking, cycling and orienteering | Functioning
I I kayak around Sugarloaf Rock on the Isle of Man, watch murre nesting, and explore the Magic Bird Cave and Fairy Room. Upon reaching the Sound, a spectacular promontory overlooking the tiny Calf of Man, I stop for a delicious picnic at the Patchwork Cafe. Then it’s time for a fun bike ride, gentle jog, and a dip in a waterfall, before dining at 14 North in Douglas (Queenies Manx and Lamb Loaghtan, if you’re wondering).
As races went on, it’s safe to say this one wasn’t too taxing. But then again, it wasn’t much of a race: it was an easy taste of the real thing. On Saturday, around 50 competitors in the Isle of Man Adventure Race will tackle a similar course, but at full speed – without stopping for sightseeing or snacking. And maybe I downplayed the difficulty: the actual race, including kayaking (6K), mountain biking (22K), hill climb (12K) and two âmystery challengesâ, like waterfall swimming, takes between four and six hours.
This event, now in its fifth year, is one of a growing number of grueling multidisciplinary races. If 2013 was the year of obstacle course style obstacle course, then 2014 is all about adventure racing. The main differences are the number of disciplines (at least two, usually running, cycling, kayaking and / or swimming) and the element of orienteering: you have to navigate from checkpoint to checkpoint. the other, by recording points. The winner is the person with the most points in the fastest time.
The Isle of Man has to be one of the most picturesque settings for such a race, with stunning stretches of coastline, mountain biking trails through lush green plantations and rolling hills around beautiful valleys, but there are many more. routes to choose from. For example, Questars runs several races per year in the UK; Open Adventure offers a series of five UK events; Tri-Adventure organizes events primarily in the Chilterns; and Burn Series has an annual race in Cardiff.
I found my introduction to adventure running quite intimidating, despite the relaxed pace. The paddling and the bike were great, but I had nothing left for the hill climb (which isn’t exactly my strong suit anyway). But that’s the beauty of these events: you can team up with a friend and take on two disciplines each, without missing out on your weakest event. Some events also allow teams. Of course, elite runners compete solo.
So, have you been tempted by an adventure race – and if so, which ones would you recommend? Do you like the idea of ââsailing, or are you happier with clearly marked routes and marshals? And do mysterious challenges add to the fun or hinder serious racing?