Sunday, December 13, 2009

Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge - Report

Team member Eric reporting...

My first adventure race seemed a lot like a reality TV show. It was a situation where their isn't any point in asking how far away is the end or how much longer the suffering may last. You know you are in it for the duration-you will finish, and you will finish together as a team. End of story.

The race was a 6 day stage race, which means that unlike an expedition-style adventure race, there is the assurance of a meal and at least some rest at the end of every stage. On the other hand, it means that the entire field is hammering hard during the entire racing period, and that the harder you push, the earlier you finish the stage and the more rest you get prior to the start of the next stage. "Keep the motor running and the wheels on" became my mantra throughout the race...

See the race website ( for details and video clips of this amazing course.


The first few days were heavy with paddling. I've never paddled like this, but the rest of the team wouldn't let that get in the way of completing the whole paddling course. Drill-sargeant Dan spent the better part of two hours calling out timing, tips, and techniques. Towards the end of the ~90km paddling course, I started to get it! Sink or swim really does work.

After the amphibious prologue and the following paddle days, it was out to the desert, for a 120km romp through the desert. What better time than December for a unforgiving romp through pure desert? Chelsea joked (she seemed pretty serious about it...) that she was paying for her sins, but wouldn't tell us what they were. I just kept repeating to myself, keep the motor running and the wheels on. By the end of it, all we could think about was the mysterious place where all of our water was coming from: Al Ain.


The rest of the race was a blur, charging through the same desert on bikes, a stumbly desert night section, the climb to the top of the 3000ft Jebel Hafeet, the ?group ride we almost missed back down, and the 5k jog to the finish...

An amazing experience for me, this race had moments of visual grandeur, physical exhiliration and exhaustion, comedy and frustration, growth of friendship, and redefinition of personal limitations...


As I write this, two of our teammates, Jason and Chelsea, are still in Abu Dhabi after their passports were stolen while relaxing on the beach after the race. Such a bummer, but really the only mishap of the trip. Team Yogaslackers ended up with a 19th place finish out of 38 teams, and second of four American teams. They also received the "Rookie Team of the Year" award for Western hemisphere teams.

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