Ramble On

Friday, April 22, 2011

Adventure Racing in the Valley

Epic shot of Gary crossing the low water bridge in Shenandoah River State Park.

Howard preparing for the biking descent from Edith Gap.

Page County has a wonderful combination of assets – mountains, country roads, and the river – that make it perfect for adventure tourism. It’s proximity to the DC area and other mid-Atlantic population centers make it an attractive venue for triathlons and bike races, and after just a few years of developmental efforts, we already have events on a half dozen weekends annually. I’ve written about this before, but I think this is an exciting addition to the area’s economic mix – it’s something that planners should carefully integrate into any forward looking strategy for the area.

A new event came to town last weekend – adventure racing. Our local folks at Appalachian Outdoors Adventures (AOA) were sponsors, and they fielded a four person team in the event. The sport mixes biking, trail running, trekking, and water sports with navigation skills, making for a very challenging adventure that the word “epic” perfectly communicates. As you can see from the pictures AOA’s Gary Drum shared with me here, it’s a very rewarding experience that brings out the best in the individual and team participants.

The team at the finish...something like 3am, I'm told.

Another team shot, working out a plan.
 The AOA team was comprised of Gary, Howard, Kris Haynes, and Chris Spiller, and they were signed up for the Epic race, which staged from Shenandoah River State Park. There was a canoeing stage of the event that was cancelled because of the rain – I’ve spent a few minutes to myself thinking of all these folks out on the race course while that weather was going on around them, probably not realizing for the most part how dangerous that system was on the whole. It was a relief to hear that the participants made it in safely – still looking for confirmation of one possible storm related injury.

AOA’s sponsorship included providing maps for the navigation challenges, and the store served as the packet pickup location for the nearly 300 participants. Gary tells me there were 33 teams in the Epic event, and the AOA team completed the course in in 19 hours for 16th place overall – pretty good for only their second race.

Waiting for the shuttle at the River checkpoint, since the canoe portion was cancelled.
  Gary said that being in last year’s race provided some important lessons about how to prepare, including being sure that you’d provided proper nutrition – comparing some of the photos from last time to this, which you can do by checking out Gary’s or Howard’s blogs (links below) will show how far they’ve come with the sport already. Granted, only three teams even finished that first race they were in!

I asked Gary what his favorite memory of the event was, and he said the slog through deep water and mud on the state park’s Bluebell Trail was best. The most challenging part was the mountain bike course there in the park; this biking portion was in addition to a 40-mile extension that was added to the course to replace the canoeing when it was cancelled.

Gary says that AOA is looking forward to sponsorship activities for future races, and that yes, with all of the fun they had as a team in this race, they’ll likely do another when the time comes!

Here is a link to some addition photo highlights:  http://www.daddiophoto.com/AdventureRacing/Rev3-Adventure-April-16-2011/16655105_2sRS49#1255610238_QBG8fjm

Here’s the homepage of the race organizer:  http://www.rev3adventure.com/

Gary’s blog (often includes reviews of gear and adventures): http://runtechinthevalley.blogspot.com/

Howard’s blog (often includes reviews of events and other adventure activities): http://adventuresinthevalley.blogspot.com/


posumcop said...

From the looks of the picture and the water running over the low water bridge...the bicycle portion of the race should have been cancelled too!!

posumcop said...

From the looks of the river running over the bridge...the bicycle portion of the race should have been cancelled too !!

Howard in Luray said...

The race is a rain or shine event, and the cycling portion is a major part of the race. The canoe portion was canceled because the river was flooded, with dangerous debris floating around. Each racer signs a waiver prior to the race and fully understands the inherent dangers of an adventure race that lasts 26 hours. Overcoming the elements of nature is simply part of the adventure.