If you've ever watched the CBS reality series The Amazing Race, perhaps you've fantasized about racing from Beijing to Bakersfield with your muddy-faced teammates. But who really has time for that? Well, adventure racing is no longer the exclusive preserve of the "put me on TV, Mark Burnett" crowd. Thanks to the explosion of shorter "sprint races" (of the 350 adventure races that were held in 2005, the majority were sprints), these jaunts needn't be weekend-sapping affairs. Here's your typical Saturday: Hike, bike, kayak, and complete some "mystery event" (anything from solving a riddle to traversing a ropes course) over four to eight hours, and be home for dinner. A lot of folks use the sprints both to blow off steam and to energize their Monday-to-Friday routine. "We don't discuss work when we're out there," says Ross Willis, founder of regulatory compliance training provider AdvancedOnline, who races with two of his work colleagues. "But I use what I learn with my racing team in meetings, like that the fastest group doesn't win if they're running in the wrong direction." December and January are light months for events but perfect times to train for the spring season. For race information, visit: www.usara.com.
Upcoming adventure sprint races
The Texas Dare
Where, When, What Greater Houston · December · three-hour mountain bike, trail run, and mystery water event
The Vibe Designed for getting your feet wet--literally--over relatively flat terrain
More Info www.texasdare.com
Where, When, What Greater Philadelphia · April · six-hour trail run, mountain bike, paddle, and "team challenge"
The Vibe Money raised by each team goes to the American Cancer Society
More Info www.goalsara.org
Blue Ridge Mountain Adventure Race
Where, When, What 90 miles north of Atlanta · April · seven-hour trail run, kayak, mountain bike, and mystery event
The Vibe Large-scale, real-deal race in deep-wilderness environs
More Info www.adventureracega.com