The Adventure Racing World Championship gets underway today in Spain, where 53 coed teams of four will begin a six day, 450 mile non-stop race across some of the most challenge terrain in all of Europe.The incredibly demanding sport requires that the athletes master multiple disciplines while balancing their sleep and eating schedule to maximize their performance out on the course over days of racing.
For those not familiar with adventure racing, the sport is one of the most challenging endurance activities in the world. Races vary in length from a few hours to a few days, with teams of between two and four competitors covering sections of the course on foot, mountain bike, and kayak. Typically the racers must navigate through checkpoints that are often hidden in remote areas, requiring them to not only read maps, but plot the fastest course through the wilderness between those checkpoints. Occasionally races will mix in other disciplines as well, with climbing, rappelling, inline skating, and paddle boarding being popular options.
One of the more challenging aspects of adventure racing is that the races are often non-stop, with teams racing for hours, or even days without much rest. Because of this aspect of the sport, knowing when and where to sleep plays a huge role in the overall strategy for the event. Because the racers often go for long periods of time without sleep, they’ve been known to hallucinate while out on the course. This occurs often enough that it has spawned the term the “Sleep Monsters” as a result.
This week’s AR World Championships are expected to take the fastest teams approximately 4 days to complete, with slower teams arriving as much as two days later. Over the course of that time, they’ll be required to navigate through 22 checkpoints and contend with more than 68,000 feet of vertical gain along the way. Did I mention that this sport was demanding?
While most of these racers are unknown to the casual sports fan, they are amongst the most amazing endurance athletes on the planet. Their skills and conditioning will be on display all week long, with updates and online tracking allowing fans to follow the action at home.