Races of the Year 2011: Adventure Races

Find the five fun and fearless races you rated the best

brooks hellrunner series
Brooks Hellrunner Series Picture credit: Steve Bateson

1. The Trionium Wife Carrying Race, Dorking, Surrey
Date in 2012: March 18
The shortest race in this year’s guide, the Trionium Wife Carrying Race is just 250m. But you’ll face obstacles and cover 10m of ascent – all while carrying your ‘wife’ (who can be male or female, and not necessarily married to you). Enter online.

2. The Sodbury Slog 8.5
Date in 2012: November 11
This welcoming race is a firm RW favourite and could have made the Atmosphere top five. It’s very scenic, but you won’t have time to enjoy the views: there’s mud to plough through, plus stiles and other obstacles to negotiate. Enter online.

3. Race the Train, Tywyn, Gwynedd
Date in 2012: August 18
Runners travel from all over the world every year to race the Talyllyn Railway choo-choo. The Abergynolwyn route comprises 14 steep and muddy miles of roads, fields, stiles and tracks. Book family and friends tickets to ride the train you’re racing so they can cheer (or heckle) you.

4. Brooks Hellrunner Series, various locations and dates
Ten or more miles of muddy madness and mayhem, the Hellrunner series is trail running at its most fun. This immensely popular race series has spread nationwide, with events ‘up north’, ‘down south’ and ‘in the middle’ providing twisting trails and the famous Bog of Doom, which we’re sure needs no explanation. Enter online.

5. X'Treme Challenge 10K, Altrewas, Derbyshire
Date in 2012: February 5
Join 1,000 other runners and challenge yourself to natural and manmade obstacles, water features and even personal trainers en route for Sergeant Major-style ‘encouragement’. Enter online.

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Discuss this article

The Wife Carrying Race is a definite challenge - all 'wives' must weigh at least 50kg (yes, there is a weigh-in), and the 10m ascent doesn't sound like much, but it is very tough indeed. Participants win beer, while the last-placed finishers win the ceremonial pot noddle and tin of dog food. Thanks for the nod, RW!

There's a popular video of the 2011 Wife Carrying Race here:


Posted: 11/01/2012 at 15:03

All no doubt fantastic races - but it's a shame RW uses the term "adventure race" to cover these events.

I think the term "adventure race" should still be  kept to describe that broad school of multi-discipline events ( often including elements of biking, running, paddling, skating,swimming etc) that take place over hours, or days and requiring competitors to make navigation and route choices. 

Posted: 15/01/2012 at 20:42

It seems Runners World and its readers don't have any idea what an adventure race is. Maybe you should rename this category to "muddy and wacky".

Dr Robert - the wife carry might be a challenge to you, but I'm not sure you'd consider it that if you'd done a proper adventure race (covering a lot more than 10m ascent over many hours or days). 

Posted: 17/01/2012 at 09:42

Perhaps it depends on the wife...

Chris... if Wife Carrying isn't challenging enough for you, perhaps you could use it as a warm-up for the Leith Hill half marathon (as some runners do), or enter any of the other Trionium races.... perhaps The Picnic would be a good start (26.2 miles, +6000ft of ascent and descent, in mid-summer).

Seriously though... can you come up with a good definition of an adventure race, that RW can use in the future? I don't expect the Wife Carrying Race to feature on the list of 'adventure races' again (although it was nice to be included this time!)

Posted: 18/01/2012 at 19:35

carlos pretty much covered the definition already. Basically nothing which just involves running (even if that includes carrying wives, bales of straw etc.) would count. It has to be multisport at a minimum, and I think most people would also exclude any event which takes the winners less than 2 hours - I'm having to err lower than I'd prefer there to allow in some events I'd definitely consider to be AR.

The Picnic doesn't sound like a picnic, but I've done adventure races covering hundreds of miles with 5 times that much ascent (not that I'm up to that sort of thing any more due to injuries).

Posted: 21/01/2012 at 01:34

Hmm... so that would exclude things like Tough Guy, Tough Mudder, Rat Races.... but would include half and full Ironman triathlons... hmm...

Wikipedia says "Adventure racing (also called expedition racing) is a combination of two or more <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endurance" title="Endurance">endurance</a> disciplines, including <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orienteering" title="Orienteering">orienteering</a> (if an <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orienteering" title="Orienteering">orienteering</a> map is used) and/or <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navigation" title="Navigation">navigation</a> (when non-orienteering maps are used), <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-country_running" title="Cross-country running">cross-country running</a>, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_biking" title="Mountain biking">mountain biking</a>, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paddling" title="Paddling">paddling</a> and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climbing" title="Climbing">climbing</a> and related rope skills. An expedition event can span ten days or more while sprints can be completed in a matter of hours. There is typically no suspension of the clock during races, irrespective of length; elapsed competition time runs concurrently with real time, and competitors must choose if or when to rest." 

So, for the purposes of RW's adventure races of the year, running (but not just running) plus another challenge/sport, where the winner takes at least two hours to complete the course. Fair enough!

Posted: 24/01/2012 at 18:32

Gah! It's not letting me edit that post!

Anyway, just a thought: none of the five races named would fulfil your definition, I think. 

Posted: 24/01/2012 at 18:38

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