That's my title, not Jordan's. This was the letter we received
when we asked about information concerning the new team he was
putting together. It's not for the faint of heart or limp of wrist....
This document serves as my "form" letter so that I don't
have to repeat myself via email for every question. I
hope no one is offended by the lack of personal touch.
My name is Jordan Reece, I'm a Marine in my 6th quarter of the
Computer Science Curriculum. I started adventure racing
about a year ago following several years of competing in endurance
and multi-sport competitions. The following information
should give you an idea about what the sport involves and where
I'd like to take the team once formed. If this letter
doesnít answer your questions, feel free to contact me with
Adventure Racing 101:
Adventure racing is an ultra-endurance event that requires
coed teams to compete in many disciplines through a variety
of ecosystems: running, biking, paddling, climbing, swimming,
sailing, riding horseback through forests, mountains, deserts,
bogs, lakes, plains, and oceans. You may race days or
even weeks. Racing tests your outdoor and problem solving
skills. Map and compass navigation is considered a necessity.
Knowledge of the natural world is required. Rope tests are common.
Formats for races are usually broken into three echelons:
1) Sprints: races done in 3-5 hours
2) 1-Day events
3) Endurance: 48-72 hour
4) Expedition: 72+ hour (often 5-10 days)
About this race:
The race this August is called the California Eco-Adventure
Series. We'd be racing in the final race of the season,
which is a 48-72 hour race. The Dates for the competition
are August 1st-4th and it will be held at an undisclosed location
near Lake Tahoe. The events for the race haven't been
released yet, but they will likely be mountain biking, trekking
(hike/run), kayaking, climbing (basic ascending/descending rope
work), and navigating. They keep most of the details a
secret so that teams don't gain an unfair advantage by figuring
out which terrain to recon prior to the race.
Distances on the events can vary greatly. I've raced
two 24-hour races in this series and they seem to like to break
up the events pretty evenly. That means an expected full
day of each event (each event probably being broken into two-halves
to break monotony). For example, one day of mountain biking
would probably mean 60-80 miles over rough terrain. They'd
probably break it up so that you may go 30-40 miles at two different
times. The winner of last yearís finals took 45 hours,
11 minutes to finish. Since they're a professional team,
I'd guess we'd come in closer to 60-70 hours.
Training for an adventure race is a tricky thing and takes
quite a bit of time and dedication. Luckily, we've got
5 months until race time so there's plenty of time to get yourself
together if you're not a super-athlete. If you've raced
triathlons you know that balancing the various events in your
training is the toughest part. As a team, we'll have to
sit down and decide how we'd like to approach the training issue.
For the 24-hour races I usually biked 20-30 miles 3 days/wk,
ran 7-13 miles 3 days/wk, weight trained 3 days/week and rarely
kayaked for lack of time. I think since this race is longer
we'll have to approach it much differently. I'm pretty
average on everything and I always do fine, so that proves that
you don't have to be a stud to race these things. Most of the
training would be done individually, especially early on.
As we get closer to race time, Iíd like to schedule more team
events for training so that weíre used to one another.
Cost is a big issue for these races. The team entry
alone is $1200. That's before you buy one piece of gear.
I have a gear list with some estimated costs if you're interested
in looking it over. We have three basic options for lessoning
the cost. Some of them can be in combination with the
1) Sponsorship. My team was sponsored
for a race I did last year, so the entire race was free, gear
and all! This is obviously the preferred method.
I do have a couple of potential sponsors I'm working with and
it is a real possibility that we may be able to sponsor all,
or at least some of the race.
2) MWR Sponsorship. MWR does have
a program where they will pay for a portion of the entry fee
of a race (with a list of constraints and strings attached).
They've done it before for me, but not for this much.
I would be surprised if they'd agree to let me soak them twice
in one year.
3) Beg borrow and steal. If you're
reading this, you've probably already got at least some of the
gear thatís required. What you don't have, we may be able
to borrow since I know at least a handful of guys who have done
this before. That doesn't help kill the entry fee, but
the equipment is actually the most expensive part!
Bottom line on cost, there are no guarantees! I would
ask that if you decide to commit to the race, you be prepared
to part with the $300/head entry, team/individual equipment
costs, travel costs, and crew expenses. You'd probably
want to set aside $600-$700 or so, assuming you already have
a mountain bike. Keep in mind that we can rent gear as
well. I intend on using this option for the climbing/kayaking
equipment. I've already worked deals with some local businesses.
Oh, and Aquarian Bicycles is a former sponsor so they'd probably
get us any soft goods we need for cheap.
What Iím looking for:
I'm looking for motivated people with desire above strength.
You need to be in good shape for these things, but you don't
have to run Ironmans or 2hr marathons to do well. If you're
weak in some of the events, get in line. Every team has
folks weak in some things and strong in others. The team
pulls you through your weaknesses and you pull them through
theirs. The MOST IMPORTANT THING with adventure racing
is mental endurance. If you can stand being hot, cold,
wet, covered in poison oak, bleeding, hungry, thirsty, saddle-soar,
and blistered, then this is for you.
These things are all about sucking-it-up. Iíd prefer
people with endurance experience so if youíve done marathons,
triathlons or adventure races, great. Iíve raced with
guys who donít have any experience with pushing their bodies
to their limits. Itís not a great idea for you to find
those limits during one of these races. Keep in mind,
itís easy to say that youíre able to handle it, but once you
get out there itís usually a different story. Injury and illness
can happen to anyone, but you can be assured that youíll piss
off the team if you decide you canít complete a race simply
because youíre miserable. Just something to think about.
Thanks for your interest. If you think you might still
be interested, please send me another email with the subject:
ďStill InterestedĒ. Let me know if you have any more questions.
I'll probably hope to have a team together by the end of March,
so it will be around then that we'll probably have our first
History of Adventure Racing (if you're curious):
It began with the inspired thought of a French reporter
called Gerard Fusil. While reporting on some of the top
endurance races in the world, like the Whitbred, the Marathon
De Sables and the Paris-Dakar Rally, Fusil dreamed of a sport
where mixed sex teams of endurance athletes traveled through
remote areas and cultures by multiple human disciplines.
The Raid Gauloises and adventure racing were born.
The success of the Raid spawned other races like the Southern
Traverse and the Beast of the East. In 1995 a former Raid
competitor, Mark Burnett, started a race called the Eco-Challenge
and through savvy marketing built adventure racing recognition
in the US. The success of the expedition length adventure
race has led to many smaller multi-day and sprint races.
Last year, in the Hi-Tec sprint series alone, thousands of Americans
got a taste of adventure racing. New races continue to
pop up all over the world. Adventure racing appeals to
a broad spectrum of competitors from other sports like mountain
bikers, runners and triathletes, but the largest appeal is among
the passionate watchers with adventurous spirits who enjoy marvelling
at the spectacle of televised expedition competitions from the
comfort of their homes.
Ten years ago when Fusil gathered a handful of crazy endurance
athletes in New Zealand to attempt the first Raid Gauloises,
prize money wasn't a thought. Racers raced to race,
to test limits, to experience other cultures and to push the
human envelope. Today they do the same, except teams sponsored
by drug companies; dotcoms, SUV makers and outdoor gear manufacturers
are common, where team budgets may reach $60,000 per expedition
race. And the sport continues to grow by leaps and bounds.