Race Sorts: Journey Race Codecs Defined

From expedition-length occasions to 4-hour ‘sprints,’ the game of journey racing is available in many styles and sizes. Right here, we discover its varied codecs.

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Editor’s word: This text was initially revealed on USARA.com and has been modified for GearJunkie.


It’s true that each racecourse will look completely different in AR, and every race director might have their very own spin on a specific self-discipline. However the elements and language are usually fairly related.

Not like a working occasion, you possibly can’t simply present up at the beginning line of an journey race and comply with the markers. It is advisable perceive how a course is laid out, what these complicated directions imply, and how you can communicate some primary language.

Amongst different issues, journey races fluctuate in period, terrain, and the endurance essential to compete. They’ll additionally contain many alternative actions in addition to working and navigating, akin to mountaineering, horseback using, and even caving.

You don’t want to coach 10-20 hours every week to take part in ARs that final a day or much less. However for races that stretch longer than at some point, you’ll possible have to do intensive coaching to make it to the top.

Learn on for a breakdown of journey race sorts and buildings to decide on the suitable one for you — or simply to study extra about this fascinating sport.

Woman waiting for a USARA Nationals Adventure Race to start with a hat on with bikes in the background.
(Photograph/Ann Ilagen)

Journey Race Sorts

The very first thing to determine is what kind of race you’re stepping into. Journey races are likely to fall into one among three major classes: dash races, one-day occasions, and multiday expedition races.

Ask 10 journey racers what constitutes a dash race or how lengthy a race have to be to be thought of an expedition, and also you’ll possible get 10 completely different solutions. A kind of racers may also insist that it’s not an journey race in any respect except it takes 10 days to complete, consists of leeches and flesh-eating micro organism, and is located within the jungles of Fiji.

Don’t get sucked into this banter: Choose a race that feels manageable to you. If 6 hours is sufficient, hunt down your native dash. If 12 feels manageable, go to the USARA calendar to see what’s in your area. You’re an journey racer whatever the size of the occasion! As you determine what makes probably the most sense for you, think about these key variations.

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Dash Races

Sometimes, dash races are usually shorter occasions, often with a most period of 6-8 hours. (Journey races are usually outlined by their period moderately than distance, as navigation, route selection, and technique can radically alter the size of any given crew’s race in comparison with what the race director intends.)

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Many dash races are billed as beginner-friendly occasions, and a few have particular divisions to encourage households to return race as a crew. Such occasions are often hosted in native parks which can be extra accessible to newcomers. Odds are good that you simply’ll by no means be removed from a path, there gained’t be any large climbs, and you might leap into one with comparatively little coaching.

Don’t be deceived, although. Groups coming to compete are quick, and racing on the pointy finish of those occasions will be more durable than competing in an extended occasion. Navigation can nonetheless be fairly tough, and mountain biking will be technical. Nonetheless, the challenges have a tendency to return and go earlier than you understand it, and a superb perspective is often all you want.

Twenty years in the past, these kinds of occasions have been onerous to search out, and plenty of journey racers jumped into the deep finish with Eco-Problem or one other main expedition as their first race. Now, dash races are usually a good way to enter the game; they’re extra inexpensive and far much less gear-intensive.

And except you wish to take a shot at profitable, these races actually will be accomplished by anybody with the fundamental abilities and the suitable perspective so long as they’ve a primary stage of endurance health.

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One-Day Races

Some purists argue that you simply’re not journey racing till you’re 5 days in. However a 12- to 36-hour occasion actually provides you with extra of a “true” AR expertise than a dash race.

Levels in one-day races are greater than a rapid-fire run round a neighborhood park. Race administrators can take you to extra attention-grabbing, wild, and difficult environments. And in most occasions, you no less than cope with nightfall or daybreak, if not outright nighttime racing. Your physique shall be taxed, and also you’ll should cope with extra of the psychological challenges that make journey racing distinctive.

After all, when you cross that 12-hour threshold, you’re sometimes confronted with an evening of racing and the hurdles that include sleep deprivation, extended nighttime navigation, and the challenges of managing your crew. In some unspecified time in the future, somebody will possible bonk, decelerate as a result of regular aches and pains that accumulate over 12-24 hours of racing, or wrestle with sleepmonsters (see the USARA glossary for in depth explanations of AR lingo).

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Whereas these occasions can really feel daunting, they’re extra accessible than you may suppose. Fewer individuals can leap off the sofa and get by way of them than they do a dash AR. However the truth that you’re altering disciplines and that the tempo tends to be slower signifies that you continue to don’t should be knowledgeable athlete coaching 10-20 hours every week to finish a one-day occasion.

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Expeditions

Something over a day, and also you’re coming into into the realm of expedition races. It must be famous that defining races which can be within the 36- to 48-hour vary is difficult. They’re distinctive, as they supply extra challenges past the one-day occasion, however they don’t fairly match into the expedition race class both. Some would even argue {that a} race isn’t a real expedition race except it’s a minimal of three days lengthy, and even 4.

Regardless, expedition races are the top of the game. Most individuals by no means expertise a real expedition race. However for many who make this closing leap, they get to expertise journey racing because it was initially conceived.

Meaning epic programs, masking large swaths of terrain, full with various ecosystems, and extra disciplines like caving, superior ropes work, mountaineering, or horseback using. It additionally entails distinctive strategic issues together with sleep technique, darkish zones, and physique and kit administration that transcends what’s needed to finish a shorter occasion.

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Expedition races are usually much less accessible to the less-experienced competitor, with steeper entry charges, vital journey bills and logistics that may be daunting, extra sturdy gear necessities, and a necessity for extra experience to stay secure — and easily end.

Anybody can get off a sofa and full a dash race, and most opponents can work their method by way of a one-day occasion. Nevertheless it’s significantly tougher to complete an expedition race, no less than these on the stage of an Journey Race World Sequence occasion or an Eco-Problem. It’s not exceptional for a rookie crew to complete these races. However, extra usually, less-seasoned groups find yourself on considerably shortened programs or fail to succeed in the end line.

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This isn’t to say that less-experienced groups shouldn’t think about signing up for one among these epic adventures. Nevertheless, that is the place setting life like targets, doing all of your homework, and gaining as a lot expertise as attainable by way of one-day racing can actually influence your expertise.

Bin of maps at a USARA Adventure Race.
(Photograph/Ann Ilagen)

Race Construction

All journey races are damaged into phases, generally known as “sections” or “legs.” These phases sometimes revolve round one of many core disciplines of journey racing: mountain biking, paddling, or working/trekking. All usually embody navigation, starting from newbie to superior ranges of terrain administration and map-and-compass work.

After all, there’s vital selection inside these disciplines. For instance, a biking part might embody giant stretches of paved roads, nothing however singletrack path, or prolonged hike-a-biking. A paddle leg might see you in a sea kayak within the open ocean, rafting by way of class V rapids, or flatwater canoeing on a starry evening.

Levels will be organized in any order, and there will be as many phases because the course design calls for or permits for. Shorter races are likely to have fewer phases than expedition occasions, however that’s not at all times true. Some quick, city occasions have 10 or extra phases, and a few 10-day races have been divided into 5 phases or fewer.

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Sometimes, phases are designed in such a method that they require groups to take part in a number of disciplines inside a single stage. There is likely to be an embedded foot part inside a motorcycle stage, a detour off the water to finish an ascent and rappel, or a caving part inside an extended trek.

What tends to be true whatever the format of the occasion is that every stage will embody checkpoints that should be discovered whereas on that stage. In between phases, groups often examine right into a transition space, and there you often have entry to your gear.

After you have accomplished a stage, you hardly ever can return to that stage to discover a missed checkpoint. Regardless of the format of the race, this is likely one of the traits of journey racing that makes it so enjoyable and thrilling. With few exceptions (the native race director that makes use of the identical park yr after yr and doesn’t combine the course up a lot), each race appears like a novel, unexplored journey.


This text is sponsored by Toyota. Discover out extra concerning the 2022 Toyota Tundra on-line.

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