adventure racing in the Pacific Northwest  
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What Is Adventure Racing?

adventure racing checkpointAdventure racing is a sport where coed teams race together on an unmarked course with only a map and compass to guide them. The race is continuous through multiple disciplines. The fastest team to visit all checkpoints is the winner.

The three primary disciplines of adventure racing– mountain biking, trail running, and paddling–are, in many races, supplemented by other disciplines including ropes courses, roller blading, sailing, or riverboarding.

Teams and Teamwork

Each team normally consists of 2-4 individuals, including at least one man and one woman. Although there are other team configurations, the premier adventure race category is a 3- or 4-person coed team. Teams must remain within 50 meters of each other during the race and all team members must visit the checkpoints together. The team aspect of adventure racing allows participants to develop teamwork and problem-solving skills, and increases safety for everyone. For example, with four teammates of different abilities, faster team members may help slower members by carrying their pack or towing them.


Adventure races can last anywhere from 4 hours to multiple days. Teams are responsible for providing their own gear during a race. This includes food, water, proper clothing, first aid kit, and any other safety equipment. Transition areas throughout the race, where teams switch from one discipline to the next, allow access to their gear. This can include food, water, clothes, or any other gear needed for the next race section.

topographic mapGenerally, no course details are provided prior to race day. This is to ensure that participants do not scout the course prior to the race. Although physical endurance plays a large part in being successful, navigation, teamwork, and good judgment are also important skills.


On race day or the night before, teams will be provided with maps. These may be pre-marked with checkpoints or each team may be required to plot checkpoint locations using UTM coordinates. Each team must plan its route to visit each checkpoint in order.