Adventure Racing is a sport which is now becoming more and more popular internationally and the competitions in SE Asia are some of the best in the world. This multi-disciplinary sport is one of the few sports where just finishing a race can be thought of as a victory. Both mental and physical endurance are put to the test and many sports people are drawn to it because it is a great cross-over for those looking for the ultimate challenge.
Adventure Racing usually consists of four disciplines: running, mountain biking, river or sea kayaking and swimming. However different races often incorporate extra events such as orienteering, navigation, rope climbing and even white water rafting.
It is a team sport, usually consisting of groups of 2-5 people. The way the team works together is an essential part of the competition so the focus isnt on individual achievements. Teams can consist of women, men or mixed, and winners will come from all three categories. Often the rules will state that team members must be within 100 metres of each other at all times in the race which means the team is only as strong as its weakest member.
Teams can choose between the Adventure or Extreme categories. The Extreme race is for experienced competitors and usually consists of a similar course to the Adventure, with the same events but is longer with a higher difficulty level. The Adventure race can include amateurs along with those who enjoy competing for a hobby.
The rules are very strict regarding safety and equipment. Participants must carry a large camel pack of water, a bicycle pump and repair kit and a helmet. All of this weighs a lot and the mistake many people make during training is not taking this into account. Carrying an extra few kilos in the actual race can make all the difference between finishing in a good position and not even making it to the finish line.
Recently a new adventure race was held in Koh Samui. The Koh Samui Trophy drew in teams from all around the world as well as local people keen to give the sport a try. One hotel even sent all of their staff on the race as a team building exercise.
The ultimate challenge however must be the Sabah Eco-Challenge Adventure Race which is held in Borneo in April each year. This is a three day competition and is the longest running, multi-day race in SE Asia. It includes swimming, river and sea kayaking, running, rope work, navigation, mountain biking, white water rafting and a mystery discipline which is only revealed at the start of the race. This is the highlight of the racing year and people travel from far and wide to take part in the challenge.
Adventure racing is a very sociable sport, as teams will often train together and even help each other out at moments during the race. The race circuit isnt that large so the real enthusiasts meet each other again and again all over the region and often choose to have a holiday based around the race. Pre-race dinners, lunches, meetings and gala presentations also add to the companionable aspect.
If you are going to take up adventure racing it is a good idea to do some research first, find out exactly what equipment you need to have, the disciplines involved, the length of each leg of the race and these vary considerably from competition to competition and the cost of entering as it isnt a cheap sport. But once you have completed one race you are almost guaranteed to be hooked on the adrenaline rush and the feeling of confidence that completing it brings. Then you will be straight back to the travel agent to book your next flight and back in training for the next grueling event.