Jun 17, 2022 - Sports

Adventure racing comes to NWA

Heidi Muller, CEO of Adventure Racing World Series, speaks Thursday to announce a race in NWA. Photo: Alex Golden/Axios

Northwest Arkansas is leveling up its outdoor recreation offerings.

Driving the news: Ozark Outdoor Foundation announced Thursday that NWA will host Expedition Ozark, a race for the Adventure Racing World Series, in April 2023.

Why it matters: This will bring teams from across the U.S. and worldwide to town to compete, and it'll give locals a chance to race.

Context: Adventure racing is a niche, extreme sporting event that can involve a myriad of physical activities, such as cycling, hiking, kayaking and climbing.

  • "As adventure race enthusiasts know, these races are tough, and there aren't a lot of them, and this event is one of only three expedition-level adventure races in North America," Michael Spivey, president and CEO of Ozark Foundation, said during an event at Blake Street House in Bentonville on Thursday.

Details: Groups of four will compete in a race that takes three to five days, depending on the teams' rankings. Some are professional and sponsored. Locals interested in racing may contact Ozark Outdoor Foundation to learn about what they should do to train, said Jason Wilford, director of strategic partnerships.

  • The event will also include a 12-hour race geared toward amateurs.
  • While teams of all one gender can race, teams must be a mix of genders to compete and be eligible for prize money.
  • The races are for people ages 18 and up.
  • The prize money amount and fees to compete are TBD.

What they're saying: Heidi Muller, CEO of Johannesburg, South Africa-based Adventure Racing World Series, said Thursday it's a long process to approve new race destinations and spoke of the "endless opportunities" in NWA, noting the region’s mountain biking and cycling trails.

The intrigue: Organizers will not release route details until the day before the race. No, we don't know what city or cities the path will entail. And participants cannot use cell phones to navigate during the race — only a topographic map, Wilford said.


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