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Why are more and more people signing on to adventure races around the world?
Here are four reasons why.
1) You Get to Be a Part of a Supportive Community
When most people start adventure racing, they expect to be pushed beyond what they are capable of. They don’t necessarily to expect to be welcomed into an uplifting, supportive community-racing environment—but that is often what happens! The extreme nature of adventure racing wouldn’t be as enjoyable without the team spirit that the sport seeks to foster. Although participants usually compete as part of a particular team, most races help cultivate a supportive atmosphere even among competing teams. Regardless of training level, adventure racing pushes everyone to their physical and mental edge. Because of this, adventure racers recognize the importance of helping and encouraging one another during training and races. Sometimes we all need that extra word of encouragement to keep going!
2) Live Out Your Sense of Adventure!
Although it’s called adventure racing, the emphasis is often on “adventure” rather than the strictly competitive element of racing. Especially on longer multi-day races, participants can expect to get lost at least once in a remote location or encounter some other unexpected challenge that seems impossible at first glance. Many participants don’t even fully finish the racecourse. But that’s okay, because the ultimate purpose in adventure racing is to challenge yourself while having an adventure in a supportive, team-oriented environment.
3) It’s a Great Way to Develop New Skills
Typically, adventure races combine multiple endurance disciplines that many people have never tried before, like paddling, climbing and agility. In addition, participants usually need to have a decent grasp of orienteering (or map and GPS navigation, depending on the race). While many might view these new challenges as deterrents, but it is actually fun and exciting to develop new physical and mental skills—especially when doing so with others. Joining a local climbing gym or taking paddling tutorials, for example, not only sharpen one’s techniques in those areas, they also open up new avenues for community building. Adventure racing is a great way to develop new skills and meet other adventurers along the way!
4) Mental focus
As intense as adventure racing can be physically, it also challenges your mental focus in crucial ways. Problem solving, focus, mental endurance and orientation are just some of the skills that are put to the test on race day(s). In addition, people often find that developing one’s patience and emotional calm in the face of difficulty are as necessary to training as a physical regimen. Learning to keeping cool after getting lost during a race, or while facing an unexpected injury or broken piece of equipment, helps participants work more efficiently towards a solution. In fact, many would say that these mental skills are even more important than physical ability or endurance: if you need to stop running, you can take a break or walk for a while, but it is much more difficult to redeem a race when you’re impatient, frustrated, or disoriented. The mental grit that goes into racing, though, can be seen as a plus for beginners—you don’t need to be an Olympic triathlete to have a really positive racing experience, as long as you’ve got some patience and persistence.