Robert Annis (For Custom Publications)
I told people I was going to do an adventure
race, I heard one of two responses: 1. What's
an adventure race? or 2. Are you crazy? Navigational
skill were one of the many test Rob's team was
put through in the Indianapolis Adventure Race.
adventure race is like a triathlon on steroids.
You're biking, running, canoeing and more. Unlike
a triathlon, you're part of a team, generally
using a map and compass to find where you're
heading, and race organizers like to throw in
surprise activities. In this race, our surprise
event was coasteering I'd never heard of
it either. It's a nice way of saying you're going
to wade through chest-high water, nearly break
your ankle on submerged logs and absent-mindedly
fry your cell phone you stashed in your Camelbak.
teams are usually co-ed. My team was made up
of my boss, Leigh Hedger, who's as good an athlete
as she is an editor, and our co-worker Braden
Nicholson. I hate Braden. It's not fair one person
should be that good looking, funny and athletic.
Whereas someone like me is happy to be barely
competent at one thing, he excels at everything
and I were a bit worried when Braden only made
it to one practice before the race, but it turns
out, he didn't need it. He's our Edgerrin James he
doesn't like to play in the preseason, but can
go out and turn it on at will. He carried the
participated in last weekend's fourth annual
Indianapolis Adventure Race, put on by Shackleton
Adventure Racing and
presented by The
Extreme Outfitters in
Carmel. Proceeds for the event went to Morning
Dove Therapeutic Riding,
a local charity that uses horseback riding to
help people with mental, emotional and physical
disabilities. This year, 66 teams a total
of 198 people participated.
race started shortly after 8 a.m. The first event
was the triad, one team member inline skated,
another biked and another ran. The goal of this
activity, as with almost all of the others, is
finding hidden controls. (A control is basically
a lampshade with a hole punch hanging from it.)
You're given a passbook to record the punches,
a map with the locations on it and a pat on the
back as you head out.
was canoeing. After putting in our boat and jumping
in, we realized we were backward. After carefully
switching places in the boat, we proceeded to
paddle in a circle for a few moments. This would
be a common theme throughout the day.
biking. I was excited about this because I'm
actually fairly good at it. Alas, fate turned
against me. First off, I spent my excess energy
within the first 20 minutes. After an hour, I
started to bonk an outdoor sports term
for running out of fuel. While Leigh and Braden
munched on energy bars and gels, I abstained
because I wasn't feeling hungry yet. That was
whoever complains about Indiana being flat needs
to go to Eagle Creek and Zionsville. Each pedal
stroke was a testament to sheer will and a determination
not to let my teammates down. As we made it back
to our site, I devoured any fruit and energy
bars within an arm's radius.
a quick break came the coasteering, then orienteering.
Five minutes into the orienteering course, my
legs started cramping, a possible bonking side
effect. I continually lagged behind Leigh and
Braden, trying to keep up with those two human
is where many adventure races are won and lost.
One missed control in a massive patch of forest
can cost you precious moments of time. Luckily,
Leigh was good with the map, and Braden had good
eyes and quick legs. I tried not to get in the
came the rappelling. While I'm not particularly
afraid of heights, zipping down the side of a
four-story structure was a little nerve-wracking.
Of course, the rappelling instructors were bragging
about their safety record: "We only had
two people fall today ... so far."
we started, the Shackleton guys told us the winning
team would probably come in at four hours and
the average team at six hours. We completed the
course in eight. We didn't come in last, which
is a victory in itself. Of course, the true victory
was finishing at all.
you're thinking about doing an adventure race,
here's some free advice: Train really hard
and build up a tolerance for suffering and
you want to build up a tolerance for pain,
I'd suggest running until you feel like throwing
up, and then running some more or hopping on
a bike for a two-hour ride. And to do an adventure
race next year, start training now.
it worth it? I was eaten alive by mosquitoes,
have yet another sunburn and, three hours after
the race, can barely walk. But whenever we'd
pass other teams, many of them would have huge
smiles on their dirty faces. It may be grueling,
difficult and painful, but it's also a blast.
We'll be back next year, I'm sure.
The Indianapolis Star]
fun mixed with pain, exhaustion mixed with exhilaration
and a feeling of finding oneself while getting
lost at the same time. That's the sport
of adventure racing, which combines trail-running,
orienteering, biking, paddling and other sports
into a marathon-length -- or longer -- competition. Fifty-six
teams will compete Saturday in the third annual
Indianapolis Adventure Race at Eagle Creek Park. Though
teams have three members, it is not a relay race;
all teammates must gut it out together during
the teams will be competing in the obviously
misnamed "short" course, which will
be about 25 miles long and take an average of
four hours to complete. The long course
will stretch up to 50 miles, and take competitors
eight hours or longer to finish, according to
race director Michael Sapper. In addition
to the standard events, long-coursers will be
rock-climbing and rappelling and will have to
carry about 15 pounds of gear with them during
the entire race.
the long-course competitors will be Team Ragged
Glory, with teammates competing together in their
fourth adventure race. Ragged
Glory member Leslie Shafer said that despite
the hardships, it's the feeling of living in
the moment that makes the sport so rewarding. "And
being with my teammates, of course. And having
fun. Actually, I can think of a million reasons
why," said Shafer, 25, marketing director
for a local document-management company. She
said the team has experience in rock-climbing
and rappelling, and has been training with 30-mile
bike rides and lengthy canoe outings. They've
also been working on their orienteering skills,
which involves using map and compass to navigate
through the woods. "We're getting
better at that. We've gotten to the point we're
more on target where we're going rather than
just guessing," she said. "I
think we're ready." Team Ragged Glory
finished seventh in last year's long-course event.
Saturday's race will be significantly harder
than last year's, according to Sapper, the event's
year is really going to emphasize navigation.
I changed some things with the course design.
People are going to have to figure their own
way around rather than me giving them specific
directions," said Sapper, an experienced
adventure racer. He'll compete in the National
adventure racing championships in North Carolina
in November, although he's serving as race director,
not a competitor, at Eagle Creek.
new course will involve more opportunities for
getting lost, specifically while orienteering
around the hilly, wooded and undeveloped west
side of Eagle Creek Park. Sapper
won't say much more about the course, however.
In the spirit of adventure racing, competitors
will be kept in the dark until the race begins. That
usually means an hour before, when competitors
get more information on where they'll be going
and what order the events will be in. This year,
competitors won't find out how the race begins
until after the starting horn sounds.
always said adventure racing is as much a test
of the mind as it is the body," Sapper explained. "What
I'm going to do at the start is really going
to possibly panic people. It's going to mess
with people right at the beginning. . . . Anything
you can write that will make people even more
anxious at the start is fine with me."
added: "The rest of it will be a pretty
clean, straightforward race."
The Indianapolis Star]
is like a cross-country race with one big difference. Actually,
it's more like a lot of little differences. Instead
of just running the course to cross the finish
line, orienteers use a map and compass to find
control points out in the woods. Each time they
find one, they get to punch a control card to
show they made it.
have a mini reward several times along the course.
That kind of entices you to keep going," said
Peter Murphy, president of the Indiana Crossroads
Orienteering club. The group will offer
a formal clinic on the sport at 9 a.m. Saturday
at Camp Belzer, 6102 Boy Scout Road, on the Northeastside. "We're
going to spend an hour or two talking about techniques,
then walk through a small practice course," Murphy
the clinic, three orienteering courses will be
open for competition, starting at 11 a.m. Typical
courses range from 1.5 miles to 5 miles. Clinic
participation is not required to enter the orienteering
meet, and anyone who shows up will be able to
get brief, informal instruction on how to tackle
one of the courses, Murphy said.
said the club expects a big turnout
for the clinic, including Boy Scouts and competitors
in an upcoming
adventure race at Eagle Creek Park on Sept.
14. (For more details on that, see the Outdoor
page in Indiana Living in The Star on Sunday). The
Camp Belzer course offers varied terrain.
are wide-open fields, wooded areas with some
trails, some pretty steep ravines in the woods," Murphy
said. "They'll see a little bit of
variety out there." Some orienteers
are top-flight athletes who dash through the
course in a race against the clock. Others
simply like to meander through the woods, taking
their time and enjoying the challenge of finding
the control points.
fun of it is, it's a thinking sport, it's not
strictly an athletic event," Murphy explained. "It's
kind of like playing chess, a little bit; not
everyone is going to choose the same route. The
fastest person isn't always the winner. It's
the one who makes the best route choices."