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Joe Kaiser, Sports Editor

 

Recently, there has been an increase in the popularity of obstacle racing. Many of you have probably heard of the Tough Mudder or seen advertisements for Spartan Races. These courses are usually around 10 miles long and can include such obstacles as a field of live electric wires. Yes, you can brag to your friends about how dirty and sore you were at the end of the race, but you’ve still come nowhere near adventure racing.

Adventure racing originated in the 1990s when Gerald Fusil started the Raid Gauloises race in New Zealand. This particular race has moved around quite a bit, with the 2003 race being held in Kyrgyzstan. The idea behind adventure racing is that a co-ed team of around five people (it can vary from race to race) must complete an endurance race without the use of motorized vehicles or GPS. Without outside assistance, the team must stick together throughout the race and carry all the mandatory gear.

The races can range in duration from six hours to more than ten days, and involve a mix of disciplines. Most include some sort of trail running, paddling and biking. Longer races can include even more interesting challenges, such as horseback or camel riding. Also, many races feature some sort of rappelling or even mountaineering.

Recently, the United States Adventure Racing Association held its National Championship in the Catskill Mountains. This race was over 100 miles long and it took most teams around 30 hours to complete. This particular course included canoeing, hiking, cycling and rappelling. The last team finished on the day after the race started, two hours after the official cutoff.

Obviously, not many students can afford the time commitment required for racing 100 miles over the course of a weekend. Obstacle races such as the Tough Mudder are probably a more realistic endeavor. If, however, you have completed a Tough Mudder and are looking for a bigger challenge – or perhaps you are just the adventurous type – Texas does offer some six-hour (17-kilometer) races.

Contestants run through mud and various obstacles in the anual Tough Mudder. –Photo courtesy of Tough Mudder

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