Adventure races come to Grand County
Grand County is a place for adventures, of all kinds.
From skiing to mountain biking to river rafting our home in the high Rockies offers more opportunities to recreate in a centralized area than most people living in other places even dare to dream. This summer folks living and visiting Grand County will have a unique opportunity to combine many of the activities folks flock to the mountains for in the first place. A pair of adventure races are being planned for later this summer and outdoor enthusiast can take full advantage.
The first annual Never Summer Adventure Race is scheduled to take place August 6 and 7 and is being organized by Katie Ferrington, a seasoned adventure racer. The race is part of the US Adventure Racing Association’s series of regional qualifier races.
Adventure racing, sometimes referred to as expedition racing, is a team based contest wherein participates navigate a wilderness course, often cross country and with few trail markers, using a variety of modes of travel from mountain bikes, river rafts and even on foot. Participants are typically required to engage in some form of independent land navigation to stay on course during the race.
This summer’s adventure races will be held in the Three Lakes Region. The Never Summer Adventure Race will feature two separate races, a moderate to advanced 24-hour race for more seasoned adventure racers or those with extensive outdoor experience; and a beginner’s six-hour race designed for families and those brand new to the sport. The 24-hour race will start and finish in down town Grand Lake while the six-hour race is scheduled to begin and end at the Cutthroat Bay Campground area on the shores of Granby Reservoir.
Race organizer Katie Ferrington was tight lipped as to specifics of each race’s course. Adventure races prefer to keep routes a secret from racers until race day when participants are provided with a map of the course. Ferrington said both the 24-hour and the six-hour race would feature mountain biking, paddling and trekking portions.
Trekking portions of the races could involve anything from trail running to cross country bushwhacking. Most of the sections for the six-hour race will be held on paved or gravel road surfaces.
Ferrington said the routes for the races have essentially been completed but she is still working to secure use permission for a few sections of the course. The majority of the course will be within the boundaries of the Arapaho National Forest, Ferrington said.
“One of the cool things about this sport is it is a team sport,” Ferrington said. “The teams stay together through the whole course. It is not a relay. It is exciting to have to work together to strategize the best route to take.”
Ferrington went on to explain how the team dynamic of the sport means that stronger team members must often help carry the burden for other team members who may be struggling through the course. Adventure races are a kind of mad dash where all teams are released in a single go. In a typical race teams begin spreading out within the first few hours.
The Never Summer Adventure Race initially reached out to local tourism and commerce organizations in Grand County to gauge local support for the idea. The Grand County Tourism Board provided aid to the race in the form of a $4,300 grant for advertising and marketing purposes.
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West Grand seniors Rene Dominguez, right, and Angel Dominguez pass the baton during one of the nighttime relays at the 2021 Joe Shields Invitational at WGHS.