"Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all."
The sport of Adventure Racing (AR) is relatively young and first came to South Africa at the end of 1998 when B.I.G. Sports & Old Mutual presented the first Eco-Adventure in the south-eastern Cape. AR had been going for over a decade in the States, New Zealand and the UK with races such as the Southern Traverse, the Raid Gauloises and Eco-Challenge. South Africa was a AR playground waiting to be explored with her many wild places and unspoilt wilderness - it was merely a matter of time before someone realised this potential……
The Old Mutual / Hi-Tec AR Series ignited a burning interest from outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers alike during the 1999 season which ended with SA's first 500km AR in the Cedarberg - this race proved to be a huge learning curve for race organisers, teams, seconds and sponsors alike. It set the trend for greater things to come and the new millenium was a big year for AR. Several organisers began to realise the potential of the sport; both in terms of marketing and response from the sporting public. Races popped up in all the major centres ranging from shorter (sprint) series in urban centres to medium (75km - 180km) events and the longer (250km - 500km) ultra testers.
AR is a multi-disciplinary sport requiring extreme physical endurance and stamina combined with navigational know-how, team work at it's best and a desire to overcome unknown challenges. Teams are traditionally made up of four members, at least one of whom must be of the opposite gender. The major disciplines comprise hiking / trail running, mountain biking and canoeing but often include abseiling, traversing, horse-riding, climbing, sailing and any other activity the organisers may wish to throw at you. Without comprehensive map reading skills your race will be lost before the first checkpoint - AR is not about the best athletes; it's about the team who works well together and makes the fewest mistakes. It is an equipment intensive sport not only due to the range of activities involved but also depending on the climate of the race venue - anything from blizzards and snow to searing desert heat and tropical jungle humidity: sometimes all of these in one !