An Introduction to Adventure Racing!

Adventure Racing 101

By Fletcher Hamel, Capt. Team Torti/Aquabound.

It has been awhile since I’ve been asked to give an introduction to the sport of adventure racing.  Even with the sport’s exponential growth on the recreational level in the last several years, I find most people still give me a confused stare when mention adventure racing.  My quick elevator pitch to them goes something like this:

“AR is a team multisport event in which teams travel together by foot, bike, and boat over an unmarked course using only a map and compass to navigate between required control points to the finish line.”

This may sound simple enough, but these races can last anywhere from 3hrs to 12days and are governed more by the terms of the local permits and insurance than a standard set of association rules, making required gear, travel logistics, team dynamics, and training/nutrition/sleeping plans specific strategies dependent on any given race.

The sport first gained a national following with televised international expeditions, most notably Mark Burnett’s ECO Challenge.  Now there are literally hundreds of smaller, but no less completive races across the US and world.   In the United States there are a few different organizations leading the charge with national rankings and 24hr championships including USARA (United States AR Association), Checkpoint Tracker, and the newly formed North American AR Association.  Higher rankings and titles within these bodies help elite teams garner support and sponsorship.  But, while most racers chose to compete in shorter events, it is still the multi-day competitions that hold the allure.

The most recently formed circuit of international expedition events is the ARWS (Adventure Racing World Series).  These are a rotating selection of 6-10 international races per year that culminate in a world championship.  The world’s best racers go head to head against a grueling course, a cadre of local teams trying to break into the longer competitions, and unforgiving Mother Nature herself.

One such race, and the only North American world championship qualifier in 2013, is the Gold Rush Mother Lode.  Held in the Sierra Nevada region of central California, it challenges teams with mountains, high desert, alpine lakes and old growth forest.  This is where a untested Team Torti/Aquabound earned its “dirt” and won the respect of fellow racers, the race staff and volunteers for our valiant effort in 2012… and it’s where we intend to return in force in September! Thanks to ENO and all our sponsors for your support!

The 4day Gold Rush commences on September 18th, 2013 and will have live coverage, through a series of social media outlets and gps tracking software on its website:

To learn more about Team Torti, go to  or visit/like us on Facebook:

Look for another AR post from the team following our big training camp later this summer… maybe a little more on “how-to” and specific skills ,  as well as a follow up race report in mid-October.


Fletcher Hamel

Capt. Team Torti/Aquabound