By Scott Jenson, Texas racer
Why do I choose to participate in a sport that is so exhausting and challenging?
Why do I come home scratched up from briars and have blisters on my feet and smile?
When I ask myself these questions there is no simple answer, but I really believe it comes down to the idea that Adventure Racing makes me a better person. It challenges me to the core physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Physically it challenges your endurance. You have to have a strong base of fitness, and skill at certain disciplines to succeed, but this is secondary to being tough physically. The ability to persevere when your feet ache, your legs a cramping, you are scraped and bruised are a greater asset in my opinion.
Emotionally get ready for a roller coaster of highs and lows. In most races you run there is one finish line. In an Adventure Race there may be as many as 40 finish lines. Every time you find a checkpoint that short race is over and another begins. The constant reward for achieving this small goal drives you forward to the next one.
Mentally you have to stay sharp. Success is not always achieved by being physically stronger, but by keeping your wits and making smart decisions. Sometimes what you don’t do has a greater impact than what you actually do.
I also see in Adventure Racing a small glimpse of how humanity should behave. We are all striving toward a goal, to achieve something. But there are times when we stumble, we fall, we are injured and desperately need help. On the course we will always stop, put aside our own achievements to aid a fellow competitor, it’s not a courtesy, it’s an unspoken expectation.
Adventure Racing has taught me humility and patience. An axiom of the sport is that a team is only as fast as it’s slowest member. That will be different members at different times. Friendships are cemented during these times. Your teammates are more important than the race. Sure there may be a prize for the team who collects the most checkpoints, or is the fastest. From my perspective the race is secondary, what makes this sport so captivating is the camaraderie and shared adventure with my teammates.
-- Scott Jenson, Texas adventure racer