01 October 2020

Adventure racing: the more exciting way to stay fit

May 10, 2010

Fancy an adventure? Fed up with pounding the pavements and bored of the gym? Try the ultimate challenge that will supercharge your fitness and the fun factor…adventure racing.

adventure-racing-teamAsk most active women what sport they do most regularly and nine times out of ten their answer will be running.

Yet what starts off as jogging and progresses to 5k races and eventually marathons can become repetitive after a few years. It could be the reason why increasing numbers of women are now beginning to turn to adventure racing which has exploded in terms of its popularity in recent years.


Related Stories:

Getting Started – Adventure Racing

Nicola MacLeod talks adventure racing

Adventure racing: Team Helly Hansen become Adventure Racing World Champions


Traditionally seen as a rugged, extreme race for the ultra fit, adventure races now come in all lengths and variations from five hours to a weekend and upwards making them accessible for any level of fitness or ability.

So, what is adventure racing?

According to Rob Howard managing editor of www.sleepmonsters.co.uk a website dedicated to adventure racing it is, “A sport for any number of people who want to do anything over any period of time” – a useful definition.

It encompasses the adventurous element of the sport which can see you doing anything from rock climbing to abseiling. That said it more typically comprises a mixture of off road biking, running and kayaking.

This means it is excellent for working out the entire body and much like a triathlon it is more forgiving on the body as it does not rely on training in just one area, such as running.

Training for these events adds variety to normal work outs and can improve your overall running performance since it requires you to be able to run off road and on hills.

The thing that most sets it apart though from other sports is the fact that most adventure races include an element of navigation.


Before a race you are given a map with various checkpoints, all which are worth varying numbers of points, making the race not just a test of fitness.

Current World Champion adventure racer, Nicola MacLeod (pictured above)  of Team Helly Hansen backs this up, agreeing more than fitness is needed to be successful, she says, “A lot of the success in adventure racing comes from racing intelligently so it is as much about strategy as fitness.”

Nicola who works for the Army when she’s not racing, also points out that unlike sports where you are pitting yourself against competitors this is a team sport so group dynamics are another vital component to consider.

“It’s really important to choose your team mates well.

“You’ve got to be both compatible physically but also be able to have a laugh.

“When you’re cold and tired and you’ve got hours left of a race it will be your team mates who will pull you through.”

And team co-operation will be a factor that first timer adventure team, Fitbitch Boot Camp (pictured below) will be hoping they have got right.


They set themselves the goal of doing the Questars Q2 in the The Quest Challenge, a two day event in Dorset (look out for the race review coming soon on Sportsister)  involving a total of 18 miles running, 40 miles biking and 8 miles kayaking, one element of which will include a night run.

Having only kayaked and cycled recreationally the team will be needing all the support they can get in their first ever adventure race.

Having met through a fitness boot camp the longest race any of them  have ever won is a half marathon.

So, how should they train for an adventure race?

“Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses so it is good to train individually on those disciplines that you are weak at and basically build up endurance” advices Nicola.

“Always ensure the team have good technical skills on the bike, so go out and mountain bike and most of all train for navigation. It isn’t just about fitness.’

The team will be reviewing adventure race gear and will report on their race so watch out for future updates.

Aleks Krotoski, 36, journalist

Dreading: Finishing one stage and knowing I’ve got to do the next bit!

Can’t wait: Feeling a fantastic sense of accomplishment when I’ve finished

Rachael Woolston, 38, fitness expert

Can’t wait: For the challenge of doing something totally new and as part of a team.

Dreading: Waking up on Sunday and realising I’ve got to do it all over again!

Nancy Lee, 36. policy advisor

Can’t wait: For the physical challenge whilst having a laugh at the same time.

Dreading: Discovering she’s read the map wrong and set the team the wrong way!


Dynamic Adventure Racing have a series of one day events, the Dynamic Challenge in April, October and November. Visit www.dynamicadventure.co.uk

Helly Hansen Adventure Challenge Series also run a series of one day events. Visit www.trailplus.com/hellyhansen

Bit more of a challenge​?

Questars Q2 Quest Challenge over 2 days www.questars.co.uk

Endurance Life Coast 2 Coast www.endurancelife.com

Want to go extreme?

adidasTerrex Adventure Race, a four day NON STOP race in Cumbria in August   www.addidas-ar.com

Rachael Woolston, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

Select a sport

Find out how to get started, training plans and expert advice.