On a warm winter’s morning I found myself in an unfamiliar place: lined up next to 300+ ambitious souls preparing to begin an organized trail run. My buddy Brian and I were running in a half marathon trail race. Our benevolent employer, Travel Country, sponsored us and we were outfitted with the latest gear (Brian in the New Balance Minimus and me in Inov8 F-Lite 195).
There’s something primal about adventure racing. It’s basic. Natural. One step above breathing; two above sleeping. Combining orienteering and all-out speed, adventure racing is like being a 'hunter-gatherer' who’s chasing down dinner. The only difference; dinner is a checkpoint and survival is (generally) expected.
Saturday morning I woke up at 7 am, stretched my legs out of bed, wiggled my toes and took note to remember how comfortable they felt, because in six short hours I would be starting an eighteen-hour adventure race by Pangea Adventure Racing. I assumed my body would take quite a beating in this race, the longest I’ve attempted to date by ten hours. My prediction was by the end they would need to carry me off the finish line in a stretcher. I packed up all my gear, made sure I had plenty of food and hydration, and then went to pickup my teammate. We drove to Florida Forever/Eco Safaris in St. Cloud, Florida arriving a little bit early for the Nocturnal Challenge Adventure Race. We set up our tent and ate some food and while sitting there we immediately began to notice something… Florida is hot!
I've been participating in Adventure Races with Pangea Adventure Racing here in Orlando for over a year now. My first one was a wakeup to how out of shape I was, but I still managed to complete the 5 hour race. We didn't place great in that race, but we weren't at the bottom of the rankings either. After that race I was crazy enough to sign up for more and attempt to increase my fitness and endurance level. It's hard to say if I have been improving since you can always continually work on muscle strength and endurance, but each race I felt better and better at the finish line. Now I'm approaching my biggest milestone in Adventure Racing, an 18 hour race, mostly through the dark called the Nocturnal Challenge.
On Saturday May 1st, 2010 theTravelCountry.com employee adventure racing team competed in our longest yet adventure race. For 8 hours we biked, ran, hiked, and canoed through River Rise Preserve State Park, which is just North of Gainesville. It was an incredible experience for all of us that tested our bodies and devotion to the team and sport.