Give in to the thrill of adventure |

Give in to the thrill of adventure

Shauna Farnell
Daily file photoLocal Team Freewheel/Vail Nordic, from left to right, Steve White, Dawes Wilson and Sari Chwalk hustle down the Colorado River during last year's 24-hour adventure race at Beaver Creek. This year's race will feature a six-hour and sprint course, both of which kick off July 31.

BEAVER CREEK – For the multi-sport, competitive athlete, or people who just like to pretend they’re Indiana Jones for a few hours, there’s one surefire fix.From July 29-31, Beaver Creek’s Adventure Weekend will provide outlets for everyone from the curious adventurer to the seasoned pro racer.According to statistics from the Ohio Adventure Racing Club, the sport of adventure racing has increased in participation by 600 percent in the last two years and has gone from 80 competitions worldwide in 1999 to 400 in 2002, and several more today. Combining athletic prowess in disciplines like mountain biking, trail running or trekking, water sports and rock climbing/rappelling, the fastest athletes don’t necessarily win in adventure racing. Navigation is a big part of the game, as well as teamwork. Courses are unmarked and racers must navigate with a map to reach checkmarks throughout the race.”Navigation is really the bread and butter of it all,” said local pro Mike Kloser, of world champion adventure racing team, Nike ACG/Balance Bar. “Orienteering is kind of an offbeat, unknown activity in the United States. In Europe, they have more orienteering competitions than we have skiing and biking competitions.”

Professional adventure racers typically come into the sport through their existing interest in the individual disciplines.”I think it brings out the best in a well-rounded athlete,” Kloser said. “Some athletes are well-rounded in their skills in technical trail running, kayaking and biking, or whatever else (adventure racing) throws at you. I’ve always felt I’ve never been a master at any trade, but I’ve been able to excel in adventure racing.”Some up-and-comers, such as local athlete Sari Chwalk – the newest member of Kloser’s team – were lured into adventure racing after one-sport competition just got tiresome.”What got me into it is, naturally, I’ve always run. I’ve always mountain biked. I’m still learning to paddle. … After I raced mountain bikes professionally for a year, I got burnt out. It got boring,” she said. “For me to get out there and combine all of those, just the challenge of working as a team, it’s a whole different way to be competitive.”The aspect of backcountry exploration is another draw for beginners. Also in adventure racing, just completing the race is a victory unto itself.

“I have not been a big part of the navigation, but that will definitely make or break a race for you,” Chwalk said. “There’s something to be said for guys who are running at the same pace as me while staring at a map. After a long trek or a ride you’re thinking, ‘I’m worked. I’m done.’ But, whether you’re transitioning into a bike or a paddle, it revives you. You get a second wind. All the people around here, they all do so many activities. Most people I know are bikers, runners or kayakers. People start adventure racing because they figure it’s a great way to see the area. It’s a great way to see the backcountry and hang out with some friends. The camaraderie in the sport – whether you’re the best team or the last team – everyone is so supportive. Once you’ve seen and experienced that once, once you finish and you’ve done it, it’s a huge sense of accomplishment.”Adventure FridayKloser and his teammates Michael Tobin and Ian Adamson will conduct an adventure camp July 29 for thrill seekers interested in learning more about adventure racing. The camp will be followed by an orienteering contest, offering a shorter course for beginners and a long course for those with experience. Filmmaker Michael Brown will be on hand following a free Vilar Center viewing of “Farther than the Eye Can See,” about blind climber Erik Weihenmayer’s summit of Mount Everest.

Adventure SaturdaySeasoned mountain bikers can try their hand in the Ultra 100 bike race beginning at 6:30 a.m., July 30. Started seven years ago in Vail, the Ultra now features 100-mile and 100-kilometer courses, plus a team division. The race typically yields a field of about 500 racers, including pro riders from throughout the United States. Local racer Jay Henry won the 100-mile race last year with a finish time of just more than 8 hours.This year’s course will be almost identical to last year’s, taking racers up and over Beaver Creek Mountain, down Arrowhead, across the highway to Singletree, up Berry Creek to Lake Creek, from Lake Creek to Red and White Road to Piney Lake Ranch, from there to 4 Eagle Ranch, up Muddy Pass, down June Creek and back to Beaver Creek.Those who prefer conducting their adventures on foot can sign up for the Vertical Ascent. The event invites individuals or teams of three to run or hike up Beaver Creek as many times as they can in six hours, riding the chairlift down at the end of each summit.”You really pick your poison Saturday,” Kloser said. “The three-person team format will be enticing. Saving energy riding down on the descent will help the trashed leg factor.”

Adventure SundayReplacing last year’s 24-hour race, which Kloser’s team won, this year, the Adventure Weekend will feature a six-hour race spanning about 40 miles, and a sprint race spanning about 18. The six-hour race will feature a prize purse of $10,000 and will include a boogie board/paddle section, while the sprint race will combine orienteering, biking, hiking/running and other challenges. The race will also include a family division, in which families can enjoy the excitement adventure racing has to offer, while witnessing the genetic phenomenon of the bionic Kloser family.The weekend will also offer free activities for children including obstacle course and slack line competitions, a running race and a biking race.For more information or to register for any adventure weekend events, call 845-9090 or visit Competition registration can also be done at Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or, Colorado

Support Local Journalism