What is Adventure Racing?
At its core, adventure racing is a multi-day, non-stop, multi-sport, mixed gender event. It has been called ‘an expedition with a stopwatch.’ The goal is to be the first group to cross the finish line as a team. Courses typically take place in remote wilderness where teams may not see race officials or other teams for hours at a time. Navigation decisions are left to the team; they simply have a map and directions telling them where the next checkpoint is.
Navigation, pace, and choice of supplies all play crucial roles in getting to the finish quickly. Race information is not given ahead of time; often teams do not even know the start line until the day before or the day of the race. As a result, actual decision making must happen under pressure during a competition.
Adventure racing is the chance for people to challenge themselves. Racers learn early on that the competition is less with the other teams and more with the course, less about beating the competition and more about beating your own goals. Less than a quarter of first time racers finish an adventure race, and it is this level of difficulty that drives and excites many adventure racers.
There are three main ways to learn more about competing in adventure races. Taking any of these actions will dramatically increase the odds of success for first-time racers.
Join an Adventure Racing Club – The best way to learn is to be involved with other adventure racers. Most clubs host regular learning events where you can pick up a new skill as well as brush up on old ones. Chatting with club members who have experience is the single most valuable step a potential racer can take to become more knowledgable and improve their chances of success.
Research – There is a great deal of information on the web relating to adventure racing, as well as several excellent books. The wikipedia article actually has some helpful information.
Volunteer at an Adventure Race – Witnessing a race first-hand is a fantastic way to witness why teams succeed and fail. Volunteers sometimes have a better view than teams in a race; teams only catch glimpses of other teams and their strategies, while a volunteer sees all the teams’ progress. This is also a great way to get to know other adventure racers, making the search for future teammates that much easier.
What to expect from a GMARA race
Nettles and icicles. Great people. Wet feet. Awesome dinner.
Seriously, we’re planning to write this section soon, but if you have questions now, read the past race writeups on the news page!
Here are things a few of our racers had to say about our races. One of our favorite parts of putting on these events is talking with racers afterwards. Messages like this make it all worthwhile.
Thank you so much for organizing the adventure race on Saturday! It was my first one and I had so much fun. I enjoyed getting to know all the wonderful people who participated in or facilitated the event and could not be more proud of what my teammates and I accomplished. Thank you so much for making this past weekend so memorable, successful, and exhilarating. It was fabulous!
– Abigail Bliss, Team Knights
We have been adventure racers for many years and have a great deal of respect for the people that organize the races. GMARA, in particular, does a great job making all the participants feel like they are part of an elite group of athletes. From the first timers to the veterans, it is well-known that the experience will not vary. It ranges from nervousness at the beginning of the race, exhilaration at the sound of the gun, pain at the onset of the first hill, cursing at the sight of the second hill, joy on the downhill, smiles at all of the checkpoints, a sense of accomplishment at the finish, and gratefulness to the people who are willing to spend hours upon hours setting and vetting a course to give you every emotion on the spectrum.
Without question GMARA provides this type of service and they are some of the best in the business. Our many thanks for an exceptional race this year, and we look forward to August and the BITTER PILL.If you get a chance and are in the area during one of their races – give it a try. I promise you will do well and have a great time.
– Team Granite AR
Thanks again for a great race. I was amazed at how fast results were posted with such detail! Although the hills on the bike portion really tested us, the views of the rolling hills were spectacular. We are in for next year and also for the winter race!
– Don Hess, Team D Cubed
I wanted to send you a quick e-mail to thank you for organizing such an incredible event. It was my teams first adventure race and we left beaten battered and bruised but with smiles on our faces. I have to say the bike portion was insane, by the end I didn’t want to see another hill in my life.We learned quite a bit through the race and know what we need to remember and improve on for next year! Cant wait to do it again.
– Chris Thiesen, Team The Professional Amateurs
Just wanted to thank you for a wonderful race and excellent introduction to adventure racing. Yes, it’s a great sport and I can’t wait to do another one. Your staff, your organization, and the volunteers were all first class. Nice work! Loved the tyrolean crossing, bonfire, smiles everywhere. Cozy, family, straight-on attitude by all. Nice.
– Robyn Metcalfe, Team Young and Younger
Hey GMARA gang, thanks for putting on another great show. Your races are pretty much our favourites now, so those dates are solid in our calendar once you’ve posted them! There’s so many things that make your races a success:
– the price is reasonable
– the atmosphere is friendly
– the navigation is challenging
– the terrain is interesting
– the scenery is beautiful
– extremely well-organized
– an army of motivated, fun, like-minded volunteers
– the courses are excellent, providing challenge to experienced racers and newbies alike (and allows for tactical decisions — this is hard to accomplish in a short race format)
– the after-race party is fantastic, and the food is second-to-none
– free massage!!
– the prizes are amazing
– results and pics are posted in record time
– your results page is superb for post-race analysis
We haven’t stopped telling our friends what a great time we have at GMARA races. It’s hard to think what could be improved.
– Scott & Pascale, Team Slow Transition
Thanks for another great race! The Frigid Infliction is becoming a tradition that I look forward to more than most holidays, and you guys put on another wonderful event this year. Thanks on behalf of all the kids we brought up, too…as I was talking to them later in the evening I got the distinct impression that they all had a real adventure, which I always think is the more important of the two elements in adventure racing anyway.
– Brian Staveley, Team UltraBambi
Thanks again for a great race. This is my second year (last year with “who brought the beer”.) Your race summary and results made it easy to share the experience with friends and family – thanks for such a description summary.Great fun with great friends. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
– David Dix, Team Dixie and Chicks
The Bitter Pill was awesome! (awesomely challenging that is – thx GMARA –“uphill both ways” makes sense to me now).It was an amazing experience. Our goals were (1) to live (2) to finish, and (3) to have fun. So as far as we are concerned, we won!
– Jenn Lee, Team Armadillo VooDoo Lovey DollsYeah, I really enjoy Adventure Racing. In the past when I’ve done long events, like 24 hr Mt Bike races, I’ve said “never again” during or right after the event. I thought that might be the case with AR, or at least take a couple weeks to get over it. But, with all the events so far I’m basically itching to go again the next day. It’s a LOT of fun.
– Geoff Elder, Team Santa Cruz
“I just wanted to add my voice to the thanks for a great event. It was my first ever adventure race – and your event turned out to be a good one to cut my teeth on. Just keep on ordering up that perfect weather!!Thanks again, and I’m sure I’ll be seeing you again. Hopefully by that time I will know how to nav. Oh yeah – the jerseys are great. Proudly wearing it for the 3rd day in a row!
– Scott Forsyth, Team Slow Transition “We had a great time at the Frigid Infliction, even with one geriatric teammate and one illin’ one that couldn’t speak. If it weren’t for getting lost for two hours on the first flag, maybe we would have even finished the whole course! You all deserve a lot of credit. It couldn’t have been a simple task to organize the race, and you guys did a great job. So thank you.
We’re looking forward to this summer already.”
– Clara Funk, Team Funky-mak
– Andrew Maki, Team Framptons Still Alive
“This was my fifth twelve hour race, and I found it to be the best
course, and best run race that I’ve participated in. “
– Dan Smith, Team Srgt Poncherello
“You put on a great race….not only because it is so well organized, but
because it incorporates both experienced and beginner racers without either
category feeling short-changed. It is obvious how much work you all put in
and it is very much appreciated by all of us. I can’t imagine ever doing a
race that feels more supportive to the racer yet challenges each person to
– Lisa Koitzsch, Team Hammerhead
“I want to thank you and your crew for the awesome job you did with
planning the race. This was our first adventure race and we were
impressed with the race itself and everything surrounding it – from the
pre-race info to the dinner/awards ceremony. Nice work! We’re looking
forward to the next one!”
– Greg Dean, Team 3M
“We had a great time. We plan to return, sharpen our backcountry skills
and return for additional doses of whatever beatdown you can give us.”
– Will Bohmann, Team Lost Boys
“Thanks for putting on a great race! Our team had an awesome time!! For us living in CT.,
we hardly saw any snow this year. So, WOW !!, traveling to Bolton Valley we found winter.
The snow was much deeper than we had imagined, which made for a very adventurous 10 hours
of racing! You put on fantastically challenging race and some how managed to keep it FUN!!
Oh yeah, I can’t forget to mention the post race food !! It was a great spread!!”
– Kerri Moore, Team Berlin Bike
“Thanks again for putting on an amazing race. This event was an unreal introduction to
adventure racing and I can’t wait to do it again. As a member of the Jackrabbit Jamboree,
I can tell you that it was a highlight of each of our college years.”
– Bernard Rocca, Team Hyperactive Jackrabbit Jamboree
“Sheila and I would like to thank you and your team for an excellent AR. It was amazing and we could not have
asked for better weather. It is such a great area.
We will be back, if possible,
for more AR with you guys in the future.
– Michel Pinault, Team Forest Wild Canucks