Thanks to The Gear Junkie , this weekend I got to experience my first ever Adventure race. For those of you who are unaware, an adventure race generally consists of two elements: orienteering/navigation, as well as some form of adventure travel(running, boating, climbing, etc). Sundays event took place at Explore park in Roanoke, VA and was the first event of its kind put on by the Gear Junkie. Racers where provided a map which had numbered locations with a topographical hint and well as GPS Coordinates. Of course there was a purpose to this race, $40,000 dollars worth of gear.
We arose Sunday morning after a fulfilling night of sleep, well most of us at least(Aleya shared her tent with a restless pooch).We promptly broke down camp and whipped up a quick breakfast of apple cinnamon oatmeal before heading to Roanoke. We arrived at the Race venue at around 10am and we’re greeted by racers from the early race as they crossed the road.
Aleya, George and I gathered our water bottles and navigation equipment then migrated to the registration table. I noticed a pleasantly diverse crowd at this event; kids and adults, male and female, everyone was accounted for. Finally after a few minutes of listening to the sounds of Incubus blare from the PA system we were at the registration table where we signed waivers and were welcomed with a “swag bag”. The bag wasn’t the gift of the century, but I do enjoy Cliff bars, Stickers and the sort, so there was no complaining from this guy.
Registration quickly transitioned into pre-race briefing where the racers where briefed by Ronny Angel of Odyssey Adventure Racing and the Gear Junkie himself Steven Regenold. Racers were sent out in 3 waves 5 minutes apart from one another, we were sent out in the 10:45 wave. George, Aleya and I(along with Butter the Navigation dog) decided to combine are efforts after some Technical difficulties with our GPS units. It seemed many of the racers stuck to the trails, maybe that was the best strategy, maybe it wasn’t, bur we opted for shortest distance between two points for most of our stint in the race. We quickly ran from location to location punching our cards and stopping only briefly for the occasional drink of water or random doggy dip in the cool Virginian mud.
After nearly two hours of Jogging, Sprinting, Walking, and Two sprained ankles we began to quickly run out of time, and still had a ways to go to the finish line. We raced like we had everything to lose, crossing over trail after trail in an attempt to beat that stop watch to the line. Unfortunately in the end the stop watch beat us by 6 minutes, but that wasn’t enough to rob us of our pride, sense of accomplishment, and outright smelliness. Oh and we got some pretty cool gear to boot!
Ran our asses off: Check!
Crossed the Finish Line in one Piece: Check!
Got some free stuff: Check!
Enjoyed my our adventure race: CHECK!
We may have not walked away with the coolest prizes on the table, but I like to think that it was worth every ounce of energy we put force, and Im really glad we ended working together on this. Team efforts are much more fun and productive, even if its only for the sake of encouragement and morale. Hey who knows, maybe we have something like this in our future: http://www.patagonianexpeditionrace.com/
By Patrick Gensel
Check out the Official Gear Junkie event debrief here