Adventure racing has spawned schools, training
programs, and corporate adventure training, all of
which are as different as the people who run
them. They present opportunities to familiarize
oneself, in a shorter, less demanding setting, an
opportunity to get a taste of what adventure
racing is all about. Here we will preview three
very unique schools. This is by no means an
exhaustive list. We will profile other schools at a later date.
In many cases the schools are taught and run by adventure racers themselves, and serve to allow the racers some income, or at the very least a fun way to supplement their adventure lifestyles. The schools are useful for any level of experienced adventurer, from fledgling to expert. One of the most exciting aspects of attending schools is listening to the stories, advice, and instruction of amazing racers who have trekked, quite literally, to the ends of the earth.
||They rappel 150 feet off a cliff with the canyon lands as a dramatic back drop, then negotiate a dicey little tyrolean traverse...
Adventure racing schools seem to have found their way into three central categories: 1. Schools designed to train people specifically for future adventure races; 2. Adventure training, with a focus on corporate groups, team building, and team dynamics; 3. Adventure "experiences," less focused on racing but on attempting new challenges and experiences.
All types of schools use adventure racing as a model or metaphor for dealing with problems in everyday life, and all attempt to put participants in situations which lie outside of their typical comfort zones.
Ike Wilson, one of America's premier adventure racers and a first-rate
navigator, has set up an adventure experience in his back yard — right near
Arches National Park. Anne Wilson, Ike's sister, is the school's director and
logistical coordinator. Subsidized by Ike's sponsor Pharmanex/Nuskin, a
pharmaceutical company based in Provo, Sol Adventures is a weekend of
teamwork, discovery, and pushed limits. People from varied backgrounds
convene outside Moab for a three-day experience in which they will
navigate/orienteer during a trek through gorgeous canyons. They rappel 150
feet off a cliff with the canyon lands as a dramatic back drop, then negotiate
a dicey little tyrolean traverse. Small teams horseback ride dry arroyos and
draws, moving through areas containing ancient Anasazi cave paintings.
Next is a mountain bike on the serpentine (and rather grueling, depending on
the time of year) Porcupine Rim Trail; and finally, the weekend ends with a
docile little float down the Colorado River. The food at this school is quite
good, and the experience is run as a stage event, meaning that there is no
night navigation, so you get plenty of sleep.
|Most enjoyable is the camaraderie with the "instructors." Ike usually brings on Cathy Sassin, Rebecca Rusch, Tommy Baynard for ropes...
While not exactly hard core, there is a touch of dehydration to be had, and the trek and bike ride are long enough to get your attention. Most enjoyable is the camaraderie with the "instructors." Ike usually brings on Cathy Sassin, Rebecca Rusch, Tommy Baynard for ropes, and Stray Dog teammates Marshall Ulrich and Mark Macy. They are all very knowledgeable, funny, and safe.
Colorado Adventure Training
Based in Denver, Colorado
Director Ian Adamson of Team Eco-Internet needs very little introduction in adventure racing circles. He is the winner, at one time or another, of every one of the major races, and he is also in the The Guinness Book of World Records for his endurance paddling record of 217 miles in 24 hours. Ian has teamed up with Robyn Benincasa, a winner of the Raid Gauloises in Ecuador 1998, and group president Liz Hafer, an adjunct professor at Denver University and enthusiastic ultra marathon runner. Together, they are the core of Colorado Adventure Training (CAT), a group which focuses on training world-class corporate teams.
The in-state camps of CAT are held at several locations convenient to Denver International Airport in the Indian Peaks Wilderness area, and at a large private ranch near Durango. The training sessions vary in length from a few hours to several days, tailored to the needs of the clients. According to Adamson, "a typical weekend camp lasts three days (Friday-Sunday) and includes more in-depth mental, emotional, and physical challenges. We customize programs up to eight days in length, employing expert speakers and trainers to facilitate the learning experience and provide the necessary link to each client's business objectives."
|CAT is a corporate training center, so the emphasis is not on creating adventure racers...
CAT is a corporate training center, so the emphasis is not on creating adventure racers, but, as Adamson puts it, "on using the adventure race as a model to create a competitive environment that highlights the elements needed to work successfully as a team. Each group is broken into small groups that compete against each other using unfamiliar outdoor skills in an unfamiliar setting. This breaks down the preconceived barriers and allows us to build existing relationships, communication, and teamwork."
Odyssey Adventure Racing Academy
Camp Washington Carver, West Virginia
Don Mann and Joy Marr, two of the most likable characters in the sport, run the Odyssey Adventure Racing Academy (OARA). Their school is definitely a school, designed to train people in the skills needed to complete an adventure race. Additionally, the Odyssey Adventure Racing Academy culminates with a race, the Endorphin Fix. The Academy trains individuals, teams, and also support crews, which is unique. They tailor the training to the skill level of each individual student.
Kara Schaad, a journalist from Chicago and recent participant at Odyssey and in the Endorphin Fix 100 mile race that followed, said, "Odyssey was really helpful because you learned about adventure racing at the same time you were preparing for an actual race — that's a real nice feature. Don's school is definitely dedicated to racing. You can see that in their approach, in all facets of what they do."
Mann and Marr, team members of Team Odyssey, are veterans of many adventure races, including the fabled Raid Gauloises. They bring to the academy a deep knowledge of races and courses, since their company also produces a handful of races including The Beast of the East, The Odyssey Triple Ironman, the Odyssey Half Iron Triathlon, and The Seal Adventure Challenge. Mann is a retired Navy Seal.
Instructors at Odyssey include Don Mann and Joy Marr, Tommy Baynard, who helped set up many of the Eco-Challenge courses, and Dave Bauer and Dan O'Shea.
Buddy Levy, MountainZone.com Correspondent