Over the weekend, one of the most demanding and exciting sporting events on the planet got underway in Costa Rica. That country is playing host to the Adventure Racing World Championships, a competition that will pit some of the best endurance athletes in the world against one another on a wilderness course that is designed to test their strength, determination and skill. In this case, that course is more than 435 miles in length and could take as much as 9 days to complete.
For the uninitiated, adventure racing often seems like organized insanity. The sport features coed teams of four racing against one another on foot, mountain bike and kayak – often for days at a time. Other disciplines can include climbing, rappelling, rafting, spelunking and orienteering, amongst others. Navigation is an important element as well, as the racers must find there way through a series of checkpoints on the course using nothing more than a map and compass.
The ARWC in Costa Rica features a field of 60 teams from 26 different countries. They began the race yesterday at a starting point along the country’s Pacific Coast and they’ll have nine days to reach the finish line along the Atlantic Coast. In between, they’ll have to complete a course that is more than 435 miles in length, mostly on foot and mountain bike.
The teams that are expected to contend for the win are projected to finish the race in just four days. That means they’ll be averaging more than 100 miles per day under their own power and on little sleep. Because the race is non-stop, the racers themselves will determine when they want to stop for a rest. Sleep strategy often plays a key role in who wins an expedition length adventure race, with teams that can continue to race hard, on just a few hours rest, often doing well.
Each of the teams that are entered in the ARWC had to first qualify by competing in one of the Adventure Racing World Series events that have taken place over the past year. Those events are held on six continents as the organizers look for the best teams on the planet to take part in their year-ending event. The teams to keep an eye on over the next few days are Team Seagate from New Zealand, Adidas TERREX Prunesco from Great Britain and the Thule Adventure Team from Sweden.