Kids Adventure Games begin Wednesday | VailDaily.com

Kids Adventure Games begin Wednesday

The eighth annual Kids Adventure Games returns to the village this week, bringing nearly 900 kids to the trails, creeks and mountain faces of Vail.

The event starts Wednesday with skills clinics to prepare the 6-14 year olds for what they will be facing, which includes features like a Tyrolean traverse across moving water, a slackline over a mud pit, and an inner tube float down Gore Creek.

By Friday, the entire village core of Vail will have been transformed by the games, which require 80 to 100 volunteers per day to put on. Events take place on the streets of Vail Village and the slopes of Vail Mountain, and volunteers will be welcome right up until the start of the games.

For many, volunteering is the next best thing to actually participating.

"Imagine if we had something like this when we were kids," Vail Mayor Dave Chapin said while volunteering at the slope n' slide in 2014.

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Getting to test out the slope n' slide, which transforms the area next to the bottom of the famous Pepi's Face run into a giant waterslide, is among the perks of being a volunteer. Other volunteer benefits include an official event T-shirt, socks from national sponsor Darn Tough Vermont and an entry into the volunteer raffle.

"We could not provide such an incredible experience for our racers and their families without the many volunteers that come back annually to watch these kids compete, race and have fun in Vail," said Vail Kids A.G. Director Beth Pappas.

To volunteer, visit the Vail Rec District's active.com page.

MUD RUN STILL OPEN

In addition to the volunteer opportunities at the event, adults and kids who weren't able to register on time are still able to participate in the games by joining in on the Keen Family Mud Run on Saturday.

"The mud run is open to all ages and is the perfect opportunity for those who are too young or too old to participate in the Kids A.G., but still want to join in on the activities," Pappas said.

The run will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 12 at the base of Gondola One in Vail Village. The one-mile, mud-filled race course is open to the whole family, and the Vail Fire Department helps out with rinsing off participants. In addition, all racers will receive a fun commemorative race gift from the sponsors.

"The mud run has become a popular choice during the week, as we are always looking for fun ways to get younger and older participants involved in the event that may not be within the age requirements of the Kids Adventure Games," said Pappas. "It's also a great way for visitors, who may not have the whole week to spare, to get down and dirty on Saturday afternoon."

Costs for the race are $50 for a family of four (two adults and two children) who preregister by Friday, Aug. 11 or $60 day-of registration; $20 for individuals 15 years and older or $25 day-of; $10 for children 14 years and younger or $15 day-of.

For those happening upon the event, check out the Family Adventure Zone, which will be held at Solaris in Vail Village.

BIGGEST YET

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.

Pappas said after watching it expand over the years, the 2017 event will be about as big as it can possibly get without expanding to another day. Including the skills clinic, it's a five-day event, with different age competitors competing on different days. The oldest kids will compete on Friday, on a course which was revamped last year to include a gondola ride up the mountain and some singletrack mountain biking descending back down.

"It was a really legit course for adventure racing," Pappas said.

Those features will again be a part of the action this year.

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."