Rootstock Racing (A Pennsylvania-based race company) has a great explanation of exactly what an adventure race is and what it entails:
"Simply put, Adventure Racing is the best-kept secret in the world, or at least we at Rootstock Racing think so! Unlike most other events in which participants follow a marked course on set roads or trails, adventure racing is a journey in which racers travel an unknown landscape. It is an exploration, an expedition, a scavenger hunt. It has its rules, of course, but this is a sport that rewards creativity, mental ability, teamwork, and experience. It’s not about who is fastest or who is strongest. Adventure Racing is about community and family. Rather than being one among tens of thousands, adventure racers start and finish each races with tens, or hundreds.
Adventure Racing is story-telling; it’s not about personal records or pace or heart-rate; it’s about the journey, the encounters along the way with people, nature, wildlife, and history. It is about perseverance, overcoming Mother Nature, understanding the land, confronting personal demons and mental challenges, and working together as a team so that everyone crosses the finish line together. Simply put, while adventure racing requires physical training and preparation, it is about more than the body. It is about living life to the fullest and bonding with your teammates and the world around you like you never have before."