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UW-Eau Claire and Area Adventure Racers Ready for Oct. 23 SCARD

RELEASED: Sept. 14, 2009

Al Wiberg
Al Wiberg

EAU CLAIRE — The challenging sport of adventure racing is becoming increasingly popular at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and in the Chippewa Valley, according to Al Wiberg, program director for UW-Eau Claire's Environmental Adventure Center.

Wiberg and the EAC teams up with Eau Claire's YMCA to organize an annual adventure racing event, the Super Cool Adventure Race of Doom (SCARD), to be held this year Oct. 23-24, beginning at the Y's Camp Manitou in Chippewa County.

Adventure racing is a multidisciplinary sport, usually involving off-road running, biking, paddling and orienteering (using a map and compass to navigate from point to point in diverse terrain), but some races include climbing, horseback riding, inline skating and puzzle or scavenger hunt challenges. Participants typically compete in two-person or four-person teams.

This year SCARD includes a puzzle challenge; a 1.8 mile run/hike; orienteering; mountain biking, both single track and off road; and canoeing, Wiberg said.

"Last year we had about 70 participants, with UW-Eau Claire students, some high school students and area adventure racing enthusiasts competing," Wiberg said, noting that the races he organizes always start off with a puzzle challenge. "I give each team a new 100-piece jigsaw puzzle and the team has to put that together before they can start the rest of the race. It's a good way to get some separation between the teams so that they aren't all starting off together in a bunch. It's safer that way," Wiberg said.

SCARD participants can race in either two-person or four-person teams, and although all the teams race together, they compete only against others in their own division. So, for example, a two-person female team competes only against other two-person female teams, and co-ed teams compete only against other co-ed teams. A four-person co-ed team can have various make-ups, as long as it includes at least one person of the opposite gender. Participants must be at least 16 years old, but anyone under 18 must be racing with a parent, guardian or older sibling.

Teams check in to Camp Manitou for SCARD the night before the race for a mandatory gear check, orienteering refresher and pre-race meeting. The race fee includes lodging at the camp the night before the race.

"It's all about making the race safe and fun, so we do a lot to ensure that everyone knows what to expect and has everything they need before the race starts," Wiberg said.

More than 20 volunteers also help to make the race go smoothly, waiting at transition points to hand out section maps or administer first aid if needed. The transition points are where racers switch from one type of race activity to another; they are sometimes required to successfully make it from one orienteering point to another to get to the bikes or canoes they need for the next section of the race. Racers must finish the SCARD competition in 8-10 hours, but some bigger adventure races last as long as two weeks. .

The mental as well as physical challenges of adventure racing were what attracted one UW-Eau Claire alumna, Anna Nummelin, to adventure racing when she was a nursing student working part-time for Wiberg in the EAC. Nummelin said she saw her first adventure race on television, became interested and started competing in local races in 2004. Five years later, the four-person team she races with, which includes her husband, is rated third in the nation by Checkpoint Tracker, one of two organizations that organizes races and ranks teams on a national level. The other is the United States Adventure Racing Association, which ranks Nummelin's team, Shake-A-Leg Miami, ninth in the nation. Nummelin's team will compete in the USARA national championship in Texas this October.

For more information about SCARD and how to participate as a racer or volunteer, contact Wiberg at 715-836-5601 or wibergad@uwec.edu, or visit the SCARD page on the University Recreation and Sports Facilities Web site. The registration deadline is Oct. 16.

-30-

NW/JP

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