With the decision by Geocentric Outdoors to wind up their Adventure Racing QLD (ARQ) sprint series of races at the end of 2008 to focus solely on the longer events like XPD and GeoQuest, the options for sprint races in Queensland looked to be under jeopardy leaving only In2Adventure and Max Adventure with just a couple of races to choose from. The shorter sprint races, while possibly representing smaller returns for time investment by a commercial event organiser, are vital for the health of AR in that they provide an avenue for new racers to try the sport and build up their confidence before getting in to the longer, more challenging events. Indeed, the loss of races appeared to be a national trend with AR mainstays AROC based in NSW also pulling the pin on their Paddy Pallin sprint series and Rapid Ascent dropping their longer Keen stage race at around the same time.
However, fast forward four or five years, and the health of sprint adventure racing in Australia has never been better. Not only have In2Adventure and Max Adventure continued their national series of professionally run races along the eastern seaboard, but a number of other events companies have emerged with their own sprint AR options. These include iAdventure with races in NSW, ACT and QLD, Sunshine Coast based Dare You Adventure with Australia’s first all womens race and Gold Coast based Ridgeline Adventures who have adopted the old ARQ sprint race series model. Our southern cousins have not been left behind with Adventure Junkie also offering up a series of races in Victoria. Even the Rogue is set to have it’s own version of a spint Adventuregaine in 2014.
Now, to top it all off, there is a new kid on the block in the form of Active Adventures. Still in its infancy, Active Adventures is a new Gold Coast events company run by experienced adventure racer Brett Stevens. Promising quarterly events, the first race kicks off on September 1 as the Creek and Tunnel Guantlet. Entries can be found here.
One of the advantages of having so many races on offer is that each event company offers up their own unique perspective on course design, race format and inherent challenges. These can vary from bonus time check points, rogaine formats, different categories for course length, non-traditional disciplines, provision of boats, locations, map types, timing systems, team size, volunteer incentives, sponsors and social media interaction. Hopefully race directors will be organised enough to avoid timetable clashes and see an even spread of events over the calendar. One thing for sure is that as a racer there is no excuse for not getting out there and competing in the dirt.