Beginning this summer, four Kentucky state parks will each host a combination biking, trekking, and paddling competition. It’s called the 20-12 Unbridled Adventure Racing Series.The first of four races will be June ninth at General Butler State Resort Park in Carrolton. Gil Lawson, with the State Department of Parks, says each race includes mountain biking on trail and road, plus paddling on slow moving water.
“Adventure racing usually includes some sort of mountain biking, paddling a canoe or some other type of watercraft..and then using a map and compass to find your way to a series of checkpoints,” said Lawson. Races are open to individuals or teams of two, three, or four people. Stephanie Ross is with Flying Squirrel Adventures. Ross says well over a hundred athletes could participate in each event. “Route selection, navigation..those sorts of things are just as important as speed and endurance.. You certainly test yourself physically..but you test yourself mentally as well.. it doesn’t matter how fast you are going…if you’re going the wrong way,” said Ross. Each adventure race grows in length. The first contest takes just a few hours, but last in the series is a 12 hour contest and it’s not recommended for inexperienced athletes. Still, if a person’s fit, Ross feels he or she can compete. “Anyone who is reasonably fit can run a five k..bike ten to 15 miles and..isn’t scared to try paddling..would be able to complete one of these races,” added Ross. Bringing the Adventure Race Series to Kentucky might also mean a boost for local economies. Gil Lawson says the impact extends beyond a park’s boundaries. “They have overnight accommodations..they have campgrounds..they have restaurants..and of course that spreads out into the area,” said Lawson. A six hour adventure race is August eleventh at Barren River State Park. Carter Caves State Park hosts an eight hour race in September. The final race is November at Natural Bridge and is a 12 hour competition.