Adventure Racing | 10 Of The Best Adventure Races In The UK
Looking for some adventure in the UK? You need to check out these events.
Adventure races are perfect for outdoor athletes, bored of competing in normal events. These people want to push themselves to the absolute limits of their mental and physical capabilities; they went their bodies to ache, their skin to sweat, and that sweet rush of adrenaline which only comes from accomplishing extreme objectives. Picture a fitness nut. You've just pictured someone that's primed and ready for these adventure racing events.
Taking part in these type of events is a growing phenomenon in the United Kingdom, and around the world. Official events can be seriously varied but, in a nutshell, adventure racing is a multi-discipline team sport that can take place in the wilderness or across specially built urban assault courses. Some races do offer solo entry but, for the most part, they're all about working together as a unit and helping each other out.
Races can go on for anywhere between two hours and two weeks. The principle disciplines of adventure racing are trekking, paddling, mountain biking, climbing, abseiling, skiing, white water rafting, yachting, and even horse riding (although obstacle course sections and other sporting challenges often feature). If this pick 'n' mix bag of sports sounds like you're cup of tea and you want to know about the best races in the UK, get your eyes on this list and absorb its informative goodness.
1) C2C Adventure Race - St Bees To Robin Hoods Bay
The Coast to Coast Adventure Race has built upon the legacy of C2C founder Alfred Wainwright. It starts at St Bees and finishes in the truly spectacular Robin Hoods Bay. Like with so many other adventure racing events, competitors can expect a mixture of mountain biking, kayaking, open water swimming, running and tactical navigation. The aim of the race, which can be guessed from the name of it, is to be the fastest to make it from one side of the UK to the other.
The event is for solos and mixed teams of three (with only two allowed to compete at any one time). Each night of the race ends in a market town where organisers provide showers and a campsite for participants. Competitors are given the chance to sample the local food, socialise with other racers (or sabotage them with laxative, if that's your style) and there's a prize awarded every night for the first team up that particular day's big hill.
This is a self supported event, and is run by Open Adventure. It's normally on at the end of August. With that in mind, why not make a mark on your calendar and pencil this one into your schedule?
2) Men's Health Survival Of The Fittest
As this video (see above) proudly states, "THERE ARE ADVENTURE RACES...AND THEN'S THERE'S...MEN'S HEALTH SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST." Men's Health Survival Of The Fittest Is a huge urban based obstacle course that takes place in five cities across the UK. It asks participants one simple question: "Are You A Survivor?"
Competitors can expect to face a wide variety of obstacles called things like Johnny's Balls, Radiator Descent, Big Rig, and Drunken Monkey. This event has got some pretty hardcore components to it and, as such, you'll need to work out a suitable training regime for it. Fortunately, the chaps over at Men's Health are on hand with this seriously useful Survival of the Fittest Training Plan.
The events occur in the Autumn months of every year in big cities such as Nottingham, Manchester, London, Cardiff and Edinburgh. Event distances are 5km, 10km, or half marathon (depending how extreme you are). If you've got mates who possess similar levels of extremeness, there's a nice £10 discount for anyone in a team made up of between 10 and 19 people. Get on it!
3) The Hever Castle Triathlon
If you like your outdoor challenges to be served with a dollop of picturesque and historical setting, you'll love the increasingly popular Hever Castle Triathlon. In recent years, this triathlon has firmly established itself as an essential destination for both British and international triathletes alike. This event has it all. A venue worthy of a million postcard photos, high levels of intense action, a wide range of age groups, and a feel good festival atmosphere.
The Hever Castle Triathlon offers participants 16 category choices. In 2015, an eye popping 7,000 triathletes took part and with entry numbers increasing year on year since it first began, it looks like this pattern is only set to continue.
Hever Castle's most extreme discipline event is The Bastion - Full Iron Distance. This intimidating challenge of outdoor endurance includes a 3.8km lake swim, 180km bike ride around the Kent countryside, and a 42km marathon run. The Bastion is widely considered to be Britain's toughest and most rewarding long distance event.
Depending on what event you'd like to enter, whether you're competing in a team, and whether you're an adult or a child, prices for participating can vary between £30 and £240. For more information on this, and the event as a whole, visit the Hever Castle Triathlon website (part of the Castle Triathlon Series).
4) The Cumbrian Commotion
The Cumbrian Commotion is an event designed for teams of three. The first thing you should know about it is that it's packing more action and adrenaline than a video of mountain biker Ludo May riding downhill with exploding fireworks strapped to his head. The second thing you should know about it is that, as the name suggests, it's held in Cumbria (more specifically, the Grizedale Forest).
This event has got a real three musketeers mindset, requiring teams to stay united at all times. While participating, your squad of weekend warriors will face a myriad of challenges (including running, mountain biking, and kayaking). The challenge will take you across off-road and multi terrain environments, potentially bringing to mind all that quest malarkey from The Lord of the Rings...minus the Elves, Hobbits, and Wizards of course.
The trail running aspect of the event requires competitors to cover somewhere in the region of 10km plus. The mountain biking - 25km, and the kayaking part - approximately 1km. There's also the promise of some surprise challenges along the way as well as the signature finish known as 'The Slippery Wall'. Most teams take somewhere between three and five hours to complete the whole challenge.
If you're a bit ropey when it comes to maps, don't worry because The Cumbrian Commotion has got you covered. The whole route is marked out and while you won't always know what's coming round the corner, you'll always know where that corner is. Thinking of entering, but don't have the required gear? That's cool. The event offers equipment hire for all participants.
5) The Three Peaks Yacht Race
The Three Peaks Yacht Race is one of the oldest and most incredible multi-sport events in the entire world. It's a landmark on the calendar for outdoor enthusiasts, especially in the United Kingdom, and attracts people from a variety of backgrounds towards it.
With "Yacht Race" in the title, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this is all about boats and nothing else. But, as the "Peaks" bit in the name offers a hint for anyone with half decent observational skills that this adventure race also features a fair old bit of mountaineering (at speed). Throw in some intense running and cycling elements on top of that, and you've got yourself one seriously multi-layered challenge.
The event starts in Barmouth and finishes in Fort William. En route, two members of each crew must climb the highest mountains of Wales, England and Scotland. Things to note. Engines, during the sailing segments, are not allowed although rowing is encouraged during light winds and calmer moments. Cycling is allowed during the epic land journey to Scafell Pyke, although participants must dismount at the base of England's tallest peak and head to the summit on foot.
The Three Peaks Yacht Race requires tactical thinking from those involved, as well as great reserves of physical stamina. The entry fee for each boat is either £800 or £900, depending on how organised you are with the entry forms. For more information on how to enter, why not visit the relevant section on the TPYR website.
6) Tough Mudder
If someone walked right up to you in the street and started talking to you about adventure racing, there's a fair chance that the first thing that would pop into your head is the Tough Mudder logo. That's because Tough Mudder, in the words of anchorman Ron Burgundy, is "kind of a big deal."
But, who knows, maybe you've been living under a tiramisu for the last few years and have never even heard of Tough Mudder? If that's the case, allow us to fill you in and tell you what it's all about.
In a nutshell, Tough Mudder is a team-oriented obstacle course designed to challenge both physical and mental faculties. It's world famous, and encourages team spirit over rankings and finishing times. TM is not about how quickly you get to the end, or beating another team, it's about the feeling of accomplishment you get from crossing the finishing line.
In many respects, TM isn't really a race at all. The official pledge states as much when it asks potential participants to state their understanding that "...Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge." Moving that to one side however, it does seem more than fair to talk about it here.
Taking part in Tough Mudder might not be about coming first, but it is about overcoming fears and doing things you never thought you could do. It's about putting your body on the line, and proving to yourself what can be achieved if you put your mind to it.
7) Zombie Evacuation Race
These days, zombies are pretty mainstream. TV shows, multi million pound movies, t-shirts, hoodies, books; you name it, zombies are getting in on it. Believe it or not, this also goes for adventure races as well. If you thought adventure racing was already pretty stressful, both mentally and physically, imagine what it's like when you throw in a load of brain eating monsters.
The Zombie Evacuation Race is a 5km fun run designed to give you a horrifying experience you'll never forget. The company that runs the events take over well known landmarks and transform them into something fresh out of 28 Days Later or The Walking Dead.
All participants start the event with three lifebelts. During the run, merciless zombies will try and snatch these lifebelts from you ("hypothetically biting you", as the website puts it).
There are multiple entry options for those wanting to give this a shot; solo, teams of four plus, teams of eight plus or teams of 25 plus. On top of that, there's also a "Dusk till Dawn" option for anyone who fancies racking up the fear factor to even more unbearable levels.
8) Cardiff Burn
If you feel like your outdoor fitness skills are so damn hot they're capable of setting the very soil of the United Kingdom on fire, you might be interested in giving Cardiff Burn a shot. Run. Bike. Kayak. That's how the official website puts it, in the most simplistic terms imaginable.
The Cardiff Burn features a 10km run, a 30km MTB segment, and a 3km kayaking segment. There's both solo and pairs categories, and a t-shirt for all the heroic finishers. Not only will you need to have good physical stamina to compete, you'll also need to possess some decent compass and map reading skills. Bring on the burn!
9) Yorkshire Dales (Open 5 Series)
There's vast expanses of moorland, forest and dale for you to get your teeth stuck into, as well as some genuinely cracking mountain bike trails. It's £35 to enter if you book beforehand, or £42 if you show up and enter on the day.
10) Tuff Enuff
Are you tough enough? No. Sorry. Correction. Are you tuff enuff? This question might be misspelt but scratch beneath the surface, dig a little deeper, and what you'll find is one of the gnarliest outdoor challenges in the whole of the United Kingdom. These events aren't multi-disciplined in a sporting sense but the extreme obstacle courses contained within them are sure to test your body and mind with their extremeness of their extremities.
Designed by military experts, the Tuff Enuff courses are purpose built to test your stamina, strength, fitness and nerve. As their official website states, quite ominously it has to be said, when it comes to Tuff Enuff "...you can choose to compete or complete - it's up to you."