Competition heats up at annual Kids Adventure Games in Vail Village

Racers kick off the race by climbing the slick wall in the Kids Adventure Games on Friday, Aug. 11, in Vail. More than 300 kids 10 to 14 years old participated in the games.
Lindsay Bribiescas | |


Kids who weren’t able to get into this year’s Vail Kids Adventure Games, as well as those too young or old to participate, are welcome to join in the Keen Family Mud Run on Saturday, Aug. 12, at 4:30 p.m. at the base of Gondola One in Vail Village. The 1-mile run is presented by the Vail Valley Medical Center and the Steadman Clinic and takes place on a mud-filled race course, and the Vail Fire Department helps out with rinsing off participants. All participants will receive a commemorative gift from the sponsors. Registration takes place from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, in Mountain Plaza, and the cost is $60 for a family of four (two adults and two children), $25 for individuals 15 and older; and $15 for children 14 and younger.

VAIL — While the Vail Kids Adventure Games look like they’re about as much fun as a kid can have, they’re also quite competitive.

The competition portion of the event began Friday with the 12- to 14-year-olds, the oldest age category at the Kids Adventure Games.

The course has evolved over the years and now involves a ride up the gondola, followed by some singletrack descending, a hallmark of any competitive adventure race. That portion of the course is limited to Friday’s competitors. The younger sets — which start today in Vail Village and continue throughout the day Sunday — race on an abbreviated version of the course that doesn’t involve the 2,000-vertical-foot gondola ride.

Nearly 900 kids are expected to take part in the games this weekend, not including today’s Keen Family Mud Run event, which is open to kids of all ages and adults, as well.

That’s about as big as the event can possibly get without expanding to another day, said Vail Kids Adventure Games Director Beth Pappas.

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“We run the kids in waves throughout the day and try to get done before the afternoon thunderstorms roll in,” she said. “We are at about the size where, if we added any more kids to those groups, it could start to diminish the experience a bit for those competing.”


The Kids Adventure Games started in Vail as a spin-off of a birthday party backyard obstacle course and has blossomed into a nine-race summer series that is sponsored by Toyota and takes place in destination venues across the country from Vermont to California. Vail, the home venue, remains the biggest race in the series.

Following last year’s Kids Adventure Games, event founder Helene Mattison said she wouldn’t be surprised to see it expanded even more.

“After years of now being established, my vision is to have a national championship, possibly even a world championship” she said.

Mattison said she has had contacts from England, France, New Zealand, Mexico and Canada express interested in hosting Kids Adventure Games events.

Vail Mayor Dave Chapin said he wouldn’t be surprised to see it continued in Vail for decades to come.

“I can picture it, during the 25th or 30th annual event, when we have second-generation families coming here whose parents also competed,” Chapin said. “I feel like every kid who competes has a high potential of being a future customer here in Vail.”

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