Race Varieties: Journey Race Codecs Defined

From expedition-length occasions to 4-hour ‘sprints,’ the game of journey racing is available in many sizes and shapes. Right here, we discover its varied codecs.

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Editor’s notice: This text was initially revealed on USARA.com and has been modified for GearJunkie.


It’s true that each racecourse will look completely different in AR, and every race director could have their very own spin on a selected self-discipline. However the parts and language are typically fairly related.

Not like a working occasion, you may’t simply present up initially line of an journey race and observe the markers. You might want to perceive how a course is laid out, what these complicated directions imply, and learn how to communicate some primary language.

Amongst different issues, journey races range in period, terrain, and the endurance essential to compete. They will additionally contain many alternative actions apart from working and navigating, comparable to mountaineering, horseback driving, and even caving.

You don’t want to coach 10-20 hours per week to take part in ARs that final a day or much less. However for races that stretch longer than in the future, you’ll probably must do intensive coaching to make it to the tip.

Learn on for a breakdown of journey race varieties and constructions to decide on the fitting one for you — or simply to be taught extra about this fascinating sport.

Woman waiting for a USARA Nationals Adventure Race to start with a hat on with bikes in the background.
(Picture/Ann Ilagen)

Journey Race Varieties

The very first thing to determine is what kind of race you’re stepping into. Journey races are likely to fall into certainly one of three major classes: dash races, one-day occasions, and multiday expedition races.

Ask 10 journey racers what constitutes a dash race or how lengthy a race have to be to be thought-about an expedition, and also you’ll probably get 10 completely different solutions. A kind of racers may also insist that it’s not an journey race in any respect except it takes 10 days to complete, consists of leeches and flesh-eating micro organism, and is located within the jungles of Fiji.

Don’t get sucked into this banter: Choose a race that feels manageable to you. If 6 hours is sufficient, search out your native dash. If 12 feels manageable, go to the USARA calendar to see what’s in your area. You’re an journey racer whatever the size of the occasion! As you determine what makes probably the most sense for you, contemplate these key variations.

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Dash Races

Sometimes, dash races are typically shorter occasions, often with a most period of 6-8 hours. (Journey races are typically outlined by their period relatively than distance, as navigation, route selection, and technique can radically alter the size of any given staff’s race in comparison with what the race director intends.)

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Many dash races are billed as beginner-friendly occasions, and a few have particular divisions to encourage households to return race as a staff. Such occasions are often hosted in native parks which are extra accessible to rookies. Odds are good that you just’ll by no means be removed from a path, there received’t be any huge climbs, and you can soar into one with comparatively little coaching.

Don’t be deceived, although. Groups coming to compete are quick, and racing on the pointy finish of those occasions could be more durable than competing in an extended occasion. Navigation can nonetheless be fairly tough, and mountain biking could be technical. Nonetheless, the challenges have a tendency to return and go earlier than you understand it, and a great angle is often all you want.

Twenty years in the past, these kinds of occasions had been arduous to search out, and plenty of journey racers jumped into the deep finish with Eco-Problem or one other main expedition as their first race. Now, dash races are typically an effective way to enter the game; they’re extra reasonably priced and far much less gear-intensive.

And except you need to take a shot at profitable, these races actually could be accomplished by anybody with the essential expertise and the fitting angle so long as they’ve a primary stage of endurance health.

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One-Day Races

Some purists argue that you just’re not journey racing till you’re 5 days in. However a 12- to 36-hour occasion actually gives you extra of a “true” AR expertise than a dash race.

Levels in one-day races are greater than a rapid-fire run round an area park. Race administrators can take you to extra fascinating, wild, and difficult environments. And in most occasions, you not less than deal with nightfall or daybreak, if not outright nighttime racing. Your physique might be taxed, and also you’ll must deal with extra of the psychological challenges that make journey racing distinctive.

After all, when you cross that 12-hour threshold, you’re sometimes confronted with an evening of racing and the hurdles that include sleep deprivation, extended nighttime navigation, and the challenges of managing your staff. In some unspecified time in the future, somebody will probably bonk, decelerate because of the regular aches and pains that accumulate over 12-24 hours of racing, or wrestle with sleepmonsters (see the USARA glossary for in depth explanations of AR lingo).

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Whereas these occasions can really feel daunting, they’re extra accessible than you may assume. Fewer folks can soar off the sofa and get by them than they do a dash AR. However the truth that you’re altering disciplines and that the tempo tends to be slower signifies that you continue to don’t must be knowledgeable athlete coaching 10-20 hours per week to finish a one-day occasion.

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Expeditions

Something over a day, and also you’re coming into into the realm of expedition races. It needs to be famous that defining races which are within the 36- to 48-hour vary is difficult. They’re distinctive, as they supply further challenges past the one-day occasion, however they don’t fairly match into the expedition race class both. Some would even argue {that a} race isn’t a real expedition race except it’s a minimal of three days lengthy, and even 4.

Regardless, expedition races are the top of the game. Most contributors by no means expertise a real expedition race. However for many who make this closing leap, they get to expertise journey racing because it was initially conceived.

Which means epic programs, overlaying huge swaths of terrain, full with various ecosystems, and extra disciplines like caving, superior ropes work, mountaineering, or horseback driving. It additionally entails distinctive strategic issues together with sleep technique, darkish zones, and physique and kit administration that transcends what’s needed to finish a shorter occasion.

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Expedition races are typically much less accessible to the less-experienced competitor, with steeper entry charges, important journey bills and logistics that may be daunting, extra strong gear necessities, and a necessity for extra experience to stay secure — and easily end.

Anybody can get off a sofa and full a dash race, and most opponents can work their approach by a one-day occasion. Nevertheless it’s significantly tougher to complete an expedition race, not less than these on the stage of an Journey Race World Sequence occasion or an Eco-Problem. It’s not unprecedented for a rookie staff to complete these races. However, extra usually, less-seasoned groups find yourself on considerably shortened programs or fail to succeed in the end line.

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This isn’t to say that less-experienced groups shouldn’t contemplate signing up for certainly one of these epic adventures. Nonetheless, that is the place setting lifelike objectives, doing all of your homework, and gaining as a lot expertise as doable by one-day racing can actually influence your expertise.

Bin of maps at a USARA Adventure Race.
(Picture/Ann Ilagen)

Race Construction

All journey races are damaged into levels, typically known as “sections” or “legs.” These levels sometimes revolve round one of many core disciplines of journey racing: mountain biking, paddling, or working/trekking. All typically embody navigation, starting from newbie to superior ranges of terrain administration and map-and-compass work.

After all, there’s important selection inside these disciplines. For instance, a biking part may embody massive stretches of paved roads, nothing however singletrack path, or prolonged hike-a-biking. A paddle leg may see you in a sea kayak within the open ocean, rafting by class V rapids, or flatwater canoeing on a starry night time.

Levels could be organized in any order, and there could be as many levels because the course design calls for or permits for. Shorter races are likely to have fewer levels than expedition occasions, however that’s not at all times true. Some brief, city occasions have 10 or extra levels, and a few 10-day races have been divided into 5 levels or fewer.

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Sometimes, levels are designed in such a approach that they require groups to take part in a number of disciplines inside a single stage. There is likely to be an embedded foot part inside a motorcycle stage, a detour off the water to finish an ascent and rappel, or a caving part inside a protracted trek.

What tends to be true whatever the format of the occasion is that every stage will embody checkpoints that must be discovered whereas on that stage. In between levels, groups often verify right into a transition space, and there you often have entry to your gear.

After you have accomplished a stage, you not often can return to that stage to discover a missed checkpoint. Regardless of the format of the race, this is among the traits of journey racing that makes it so enjoyable and thrilling. With few exceptions (the native race director that makes use of the identical park yr after yr and doesn’t combine the course up a lot), each race appears like a singular, unexplored journey.


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