If you aren’t familiar with the concept, Adventure Racing (AR) is a variation on the sport of human-powered racing. Aside from the “standard” skills of swimming, bicycling, running or hiking, an adventure race might also involve orienteering, rappelling, rock-climbing or even scuba diving. Basically, race organizers draw a line through the roughest terrain possible and turn the participants loose.
The sport is also set aside from other types of racing by running for long periods, frequently 24 hours and sometimes even over several days. In some cases, the participants must carry a full backpack of gear to deal with the challenges.
We have never participated in such a race but have been intrigued about the possibilities. We are seriously considering entering what seems like a great way to figuratively and literally get our feet wet in AR: the 18-hour MISSION Lite race May 7 in scenic (and rugged) Brown County. The race is sponsored by DINO (Doing Indiana Off-Road)
According to DINO:
The MISSION Lite offers beginner adventure racers a chance to see what it’s all about. A shorter, 4-hour cutoff; less complex navigation; and reduced gear list allow an introductory taste of AR.
Participants travel by foot, bicycle, and canoe in teams (or in the Solo division), using map and compass to find checkpoints. Each team must stay together the entire race. Along the way, they will encounter various natural and manmade challenges that test physical and mental ability and creativity.
For those up to the challenge, a solo division is offered.
The course is designed to keep most participants going all 18 hours, creating a dramatic finish line setting where family and friends can cheer for their team as they emerge from the darkness.
While winter is descending with a vengeance, let’s hope that by this weekend we might be ready to go afield. Well, actually we will all be ready to get outdoors but we will see if the weather conditions allow us to get further afield than our mailbox.
Assuming travel is safe, consider hitting Spring Mill State Park this weekend for a geocaching challenge. As both regular readers know, we are HUGE fans of geocaching and highly recommend it as a great family activity.
Read more from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources below:
Spring Mill State Park will host its fifth annual geocache challenge on Saturday, Feb. 5. The challenge is a multi-stage quest that will take participants on a unique tour of the park.
Participants can begin the challenge anytime between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. This year’s theme is “Big Trees.” Geocachers should bring their own GPS unit.
Instructions and coordinates to the first cache will be given out at the nature nook, located next to the game room of Spring Mill Inn. The first individual or team to complete the challenge will receive a special prize.
“The geocache challenge is designed to be completed in less than three hours and is a great way to explore the park,” said Coletta Prewitt, program coordinator.
When I saw the long, jagged rip across the formerly pristine face, I cried out…
She lay there, unconscious on the rug, staring blankly at the ceiling. I knew she was gone. Rushing to her side, my worse fears were confirmed.
A glimmer of recognition briefly flashed then faded into unseeing blackness.
My Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver was dead.
OK, I’ve overplayed the incident a tad but I needed a bit of melodrama to attract readers away from the bowling league news brief. The editors are getting surly because the volume of hate mail from both regular readers has diminished, but I digress.
I didn’t really cry when I saw the heavy paperweight fall squarely onto the GPS but did say a bad word loud enough to startle the dog when I saw the smashed screen of my beloved navigation instrument. To Yours Truly, there is nothing worse than losing a valuable piece of equipment to the whims of common stupidity, in this case by simply being too lazy to put the receiver away after my last outdoor jaunt.
Because of the annoying habit of allowing things to accumulate on my desk, one of my favorite pieces of outdoor equipment is now sitting on the closet shelf, as useful as a personal flotation device in the middle of the Mojave Desert.
I was unhappy but tried to move forward onto the next lurking crisis of everyday life by placing the incident squarely in the mental “dumb things I’ve done” file. I had successfully moved past that aggravation until my deer-scouting trip of this past week when hunting partner Ken and I ventured out into the big woods to see what changes had taken place since last December.
Among the abundant sign, rubs and scrapes in the forest, we also found treestand of a possible trespasser.
It was the discovery of this last item that had me involuntarily reaching into my jacket pocket for the GPS that normally accompanies every trip. I intended to mark the treestand in order to verify with the landowner that we were indeed on his property. As my hand reached the bottom of the empty pocket, I felt a sudden sense of loss that hadn’t occurred days before when the accursed paperweight had fallen.
We moved onward but I commented later to Ken that for perhaps the first time, I actually felt a deep and emotional tug at the loss of a piece of equipment. It was as if my favorite hunting dog had run off.
As I have noted many times, I don’t get all warm and runny about equipment. To be sure, I am a major “gear-head” as my overflowing garage, barn and assorted closets will attest. However, I have never felt the deep emotional connection that some people have for outdoor gear such as firearms.
The closest I have come to this is when shooting one of my grandfathers’ guns. The rifle and shotgun that I acquired after their passing are some of my most priceless possessions but the deep feelings involved come from the connection with their spirit rather than the rather nondescript firearms themselves.
Now, I found myself in the rather odd position of mourning a black plastic box full of integrated circuits, diodes and batteries. At that moment I realized how much our world had changed, possibly not for the better.
On the other hand, I could understand my feelings. That particular GPS was elderly, bordering on senile compared to current models but it had seen me through so many incredible adventures that it truly seemed like an old friend.
That black box had gotten me back to port from the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, helped find my way in a sudden dense fog on springtime Lake Monroe and navigate through the watery expanse of sprawling Lake Moultrie in South Carolina.
The GPS had extracted me from the wilderness so many times that I couldn’t begin to count all the “saves” that had occurred. It had accompanied me from the high desert outside Las Vegas to New York City to the most remote corners of Hoosier National Forest. The receiver had ridden too many airplanes, bicycles, backpacks, fishing boats, canoes, kayaks, passenger trains and whitewater rafts to count.
The collection of coordinates stored in the memory serves as a chronicle of my journeys over the last ten years and I enjoy periodically browsing the list of waypoints locked into the receiver. In case you are headed that way, I can supply the latitude and longitude for Hoover Dam, Greyhound Bus Stopper rapid on the New River and The House of Blues in New Orleans.
Darn; I just remembered that those coordinates are gone forever. Here’s a tip of the AA battery to my lost, lamented microprocessor friend.