Adventure racing is
big risks and endorphins
Definitely Extreme
Psychology of Adventure Racing
Competence and Responsibility
Code of Conduct
Personal Equipment Check-List
Foot and Shoe Assessment
Interview with SA's Team
Practical Guide to Seconding

Adventure sports

Adventure sports, also known as "extreme sports", is a relatively young sport, covering a group of endurance competitions where the participants are not necessarily aware of the course and the disciplines of the race can be any non-motorized way of moving in nature, such as running, orienteering, cycling, mountainbiking, climbing, mountaineering, abseiling, jumar climbing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, caving, swimming and in-line skating.

The races are physically extremely demanding (competitors burn ca. 11.000 calories/day), but in addition to technical skills and the outstanding physical shape of the individuals, the very essence of the race is teamwork.

Team dynamics are essential, as the competitors attempt to solve problems and overcome obstacles with little sleep, little food, and under the constant stress of being in a race against time and against other teams. The entire team has to arrive at the finish in order to win.

The length of the races range from a few hours up to several days. The big competitions usually last from 5-8 days, time running without breaks from start to finish.


The canoes used in competitions are usually of hard plastic or inflatable and made for 2-3-persons. Usually it?s compulsory to use blade paddles but in some competitions you are allowed to use doubles. With canoes it?s possible to navigate in quite big rapids (class 3-4), particularly inflatable canoes forgive you even big steering mistakes. Paddle and helmet are compulsory equipment sometimes a wetsuit is recommended if the water is gold.


Canyoneering is a discipline where you have to use many different skills. In the race you usually follow the canyon downstream. Swimming in the stream and sometimes diving under big rocks give special flavour to this discipline. Jumps from big cliffs into the water can be and where it?s not possible to jump the team uses ropes for abseiling. In "safe" places you also use ropes provided by the organizers , these special ropes have knots to make the ascending easier. Walking/running in the river beds can also be difficult due to the poor banks/slopes which can be very bushy or rocky.


Caving is similar to canyoneering and done properly it is no more dangerous than crossing the street. In caving you have to overcome tasks in proper speed in places you are not familiar with. In the cave you are confronted with cliffs which you have to abseil or ascend with jumars. Sometimes the places are so tight you have to crawl to get through. Navigation can also get very challenging in the caves because the maps are poor and the orientation with help of headlamps and torches sets its own complications. Especially when you do caving in the eastern part of the world you must be very careful not to get in contact with bat excrementies because it can spread leptospirosis virus.

Ice trekking

Ice trekking is one of the most frightening disciplines in adventure racing. You have to practice a lot in order to move safely and to be able to find the best routes where you are not in avalanche danger. You must also be able to manage a self rescue if your team is faced up with an accident. The equipment needed in these sections are usually harnesses, helmet, crampons, ice axe, carabiners, prusik ropes and rope. Your team will be attached to the same rope when you move - the rope is your best insurance.

In-line skating

In-line skating is one of the fastest growing disciplines in adventure racing. To be able to use skates the surface must be good. We have also used skates made for rough surface but the skating is no more fun if you are not able to move fast. In-line skating is also a discipline where team work is very important. Normally the team skates in line in order to cut the air recistance also pulling of tired teammembers is common. It is also allowed to use ski poles which can be very useful if you have long uphills to climb. With the help of skipoles you are also able to move faster and your body will work better.


Water sports is one of the main disciplines in adventure races. Kayak legs are usually done with double kayaks and the legs can be over 100 km long. Also kayaking downstream with small rapids is common. For kayaking you need a spray skirt, paddle and a PDF vest.

Mountain biking

Biking beside running and paddling is one of the main sports in adventure racing. Usually all top teams use bikes with front suspension. Bikes with suspension in front and back are too heavy and technical. Sometimes you have to carry your bike and that?s why you should have a light bike, good weight of your bike is 11-12 kg. All top teams use gears made of XT or XTR pieces which give you a good and safe feeling. Longest biking legs can be up to 200 km long and they normally have several difficult and hard carrying Sections. Like in many other disciplines also in biking team work is very important. Every team ride in line always when possible and different pulling systems are very popular. It is also important to know how to repair your bike if something brakes or technical problems occure. It can be worth to carry some extra gramms of tools and spear tubes for each team. In Southern Traverse November 2000 we had five flat tires at the same time! It took us 35 min to repair them and without beeing able to repair we would have lost several hours.


We can't emphasize enough the importance of navigation. Although much of the race may pass over marked trails, the destinations of your travel will not necessarily show. You need orienteering skills in every adventure style race. Without these skills you will make many bad decisions. In some races you can use a GPS navigator but you should have practiced a lot in beforehand - the race is not the right place to start with practising. The most important equipment is of course your compass. Always check your compass so that you have the right wolrd zone where ever you are racing. One important equipment is also the altimeter. With altimeter and compass orienteering is quite easy also in bad weather conditions like fog, rain, snow and during the night time. In adventure racing you should trust your equipment more than maps! Maps are always poor and you should never trust them 100%. Once again - above skills are crucial for you to make it to the finish line.


Rafting is the fastest and most frightening water discipline. In rapids up to class 5-6 no steering mistakes are forgiven. Good team work is essential to be able to manage big swallows, rocks and steep rapid steps. A helmet and a PFD vest with good floating capacity are always compulsory equipment.


These sections are usually the most challenging ones with lenghts up to 200 km. A good advice is: when the leg is short - it is fast, and when it is long - it is slow. In shorter competitions you are not forced to carry so much weight with you so the running is faster with only small backpacks. In long adventure style races it?s usually compulsory to carry many kilograms with you starting from your sleeping bag, cooking accesories, climbing gear and food. One of the most important things to avoid on these sections are blisters and other muscular pains in your feet. You need to be an experienced adventure racer before you know what is best for you. Proper strength training before the race especially when racing in high altitudes and mountain sections is a must.


Sailing is a quite common and one of the "technical" disciplines in adventure racing. Usually you find sailing only in longer races where legs can be over 100 km long therefore it is good to be familiar with basic sailing skills because you might find yourself in a totally strange vessel. Sailing is also a lot of team work, everybody has to know what to do to get the boat go as fast as possible.


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