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Adventure Race- Anwatin and Nellie Stone take overland training one step beyond…

Bryce Holte, Shatara Shorter and Ashanti Wright lift the tire wheel into action.

You’ve seen photos of runners crawling out of mud pits, jumping barricades, and rope swinging across rivers to cross the finish line? Adventure racing has been sweeping the running scene in recent years and the middle school coaches of the Nordic Ski Foundation decided to put their teams through this true test of grit and intelligence.

Allie Rykken, coach at Anwatin, planned the race and its various components for weeks. “We were looking to do something that the kids could train for,” said Rykken who meets with Anwatin skiers three times a week for summer practices. “Adventure races have different components so we used those parts as mini goals to focus our training on throughout the spring. They worked on their map reading (orienteering) skills and endurance in preparation for the race.”

Rykken, along with the coaches at Nellie Stone Johnson, crafted an event that demanded all types of intelligence and athletic ability- both dynamic movement, strength, balance, and most importantly – team work. Nellie Stone and Anwatin skiers combined to make teams of four with each member assuming a different leadership role: captain (keeper of the map), medic (in charge of the first aid kit), and nutritionist (responsible for the distribution of the granola bars). The race took teams nearly an hour and a half to complete.

The race launched with a mountain bike ride nearly two miles to the highest point in Wirth where the participants found their race bibs hidden on the path. From there they traveled in hot pursuit of one another- trying to complete eight stations located around the park. Stations required the athletes to: complete six continuous volleys across the net at the volley ball courts, do twenty pull ups and go down twenty slides as a team on the playground, fix a flat, frisbee toss into a bucket, maneuver a tractor tire around cones, answer trivia on skiing and mountain biking on the trail, and ultimately balance for five seconds as a team on the skeeder todder without touching the ground.

Arenzo Jones, Jonathon Ramirez, Muaj Xiong and Issac Sonquist celebrate after balacing on the Skeeder Todder for five seconds.

The balance act on the Skeeder Todder proved to be the most challenging. As the first team hopped aboard the glorified see saw, they tried to find (and avoid) the tipping point. “Calm down,” demanded Muaj Xiong as his teammates ran from one side to another in a frantic balancing act. Issac Sonquist had a more calibrated approach, “How much do you weigh?” he asked everyone. “Lightest people on the end!” In second place, team captain Shatara Shorter tried to calm her team down as they struggled to balance. “Come on guys,” she encouraged, “you’ve got to find some peace with yourselves!”

Let’s see how you would have done at adventure racing. What is the longest level ground skid? Ideas? Answer: 374 feet. “We had to ask the skidding question,” said coach Rykken. “These kids love to skid.”