An outdoor adventure is taking shape with a new run-bike-paddle race to hit North Idaho. The NIChallenge, an adventure race organized by the NIC Student Activities department, is set for May 7 at 9 a.m. at Farragut State Park. It will be the first race of its kind and scale in North Idaho, requiring about three- to six hours to finish different navigation and sporting events.
The race will be 10 to 15 miles of mountain biking, 4 to 6 miles of trail running and 2 to 5 miles of kayaking. Along the way, teams will face four obstacles, including a 12-foot-high climbing wall. The course will be as new to the players as it is to the area. Teams will start off by opening a sack with passports to be stamped at checkpoints, and basic navigation tools.
“It’s a multitude of different sports all together,” said Jon Totten, assistant coordinator of NIC’s Outdoor Pursuits department. “It doesn’t matter if you can do really well in one event because if you can’t do well in all of them you’re not going to win.”
Totten said the race will have an anticlimactic start with the sound of paper shuffling and a scramble to find the first checkpoint. He said the race course has been mapped out, but details won’t be released until the gun goes off.
“It’s part of the adventure,” he said. “It would take all the challenge out of it if you could do it ahead of time.”
Totten got the idea for the race from a friend, and went with a small group of students to try one in Leavenworth, Wash. When he returned he saw a chance to organize one here, and worked with organizers from the Challenge Adventure Race Series offered in Western Washington to get the race off to a good start.
“We’re trying to do something in the spring that the college can get behind,” he said.
In addition to arranging paramedics, getting permits and other race necessities, Totten helped design the race course.
The adventure element separates the event from a triathalon. Rather than having all summer to train and learn every hill and bump on the course, racers won’t know what direction to turn from the start.
“It’s an adventure because you don’t know where you’re supposed to go,” Totten said. “You’ll have some idea, but not in between.”
As for prizes, NIC is keeping the event from getting too competitive and will raffle larger prizes so all competitors have the same chances.
Totten said he’d like to build the race to a point where Outdoor Pursuits will need to limit registration. But for now, they’re signing up amateur racers in good shape and professionals in the Northwest.
“Adventure racing is challenging, but it’s also a lot of fun, so we have no doubt that there will be a lot of people here interested in participating,” Outdoor Pursuits coordinator Paul Chivvis said in a prepared statement.
Chivvis said the wall’s pitch may be reduced to accommodate novice racers, and many professional racers are looking forward to the race as a practice for larger races to come later this year.
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