Road To Adventure: The Best Adventure Races

Best Adventure Races

Adventure racing is a multidisciplinary sport where racers navigate through backcountry terrain – often without the benefit of trails – using map and compass, and all manner of transport from stand up paddle boards to mountain bikes. In September Austin Parker is tackling the Adventure Xstream Series adventure race in Glenwood Springs, CO to get a taste of this grueling sport. As part of his training, we are documenting the best gear for paddling, running, biking, and recovery, as well as keeping track of all the (mis)adventure along the way.

It seems that in the last few years the endurance sports community has exploded with mud runs, obstacle courses, boot camp beat downs, and ultra marathons. While each of these events have their highlights, for a complete athlete, they are just a small piece of the puzzle. If you’ve finished an Ironman, and survived the beat down of a GORUCK Challenge, you’re probably looking for a different kind of beast entirely. For multisport athletes, the format of an expedition style adventure race is the best test of endurance and brains you can enter. In our research and training to navigate through the wilderness in our own race, we put together a list of the best adventure races around the world that will punish you from a dozen hours to over a week in length.

Related: RtA: Backpacking Gear | RtA: Mountain Biking Gear

Adventure Xstream Series

With races in Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico every year, this series is one of the longest running adventure races in the Southwest. Formats range from sprint races that last a few hours to 50+ miles of trekking, biking, kayaking, and rappeling. This is the perfect introduction to destination racing, and allows you to explore some of the best backcountry in the world with every step.

Equinox Traverse

Crossing the Laurel Highlands mountains in Western Pennsylvania, this 44-hour race challenges particpants to navigate rough terrain on an out-and-back course that covers over 160 miles of orienteering, biking, canoeing, and trekking. If you’re itching to race through the night (twice) and really test your mental and physical endurance this is the race for you.

Cameco Cowboy Tough Expedition Race

This stage race is broken down into sixteen and twenty-four hour segments over four days as you cross a huge portion of Wyoming. Depending on how many bonus events your team does along the way (earning you not only bragging rights, but extra points for the win), you will cover 360-550 miles, all of them human powered. After you’ve successfully bombed Class III whitewater and ridden your mountain bike for well over a hundred miles, you’ll understand what it means to be Cowboy Tough.

Expedition Alaska

This week-long beat down will test every ounce of strength and endurance of every member of your team. Crossing up to 410 miles of the toughest terrain on the planet, you’ll packraft down raging rivers, climb huge peaks, canyoneer through cold water slot canyons, and bike and trek countless miles through primeval wilderness. If that wasn’t enough, Expedition Alaska only accepts 100 racers every year. The lottery is based on previous events completed to keep beginners out (and trust us, this is the last place you’d want to learn hard lessons). Time to start training for this bucket list race.