Top 10 Adventure Races Across the Globe

Last week, we discussed seven overlooked essentials to adventure racing and this week we’re following up with a list of the top 10 adventure races from all over the world. The races range in levels of difficulty, distance, and all-out gnarliness, but all share the common theme of challenging adventure.

10. Red Bull Divide and Conquer- Vancouver, British Columbia.
New to the adventure racing circuit, Divide and Conquer challenges teams on the mountains, rivers, and beaches of north and west Vancouver, British Columbia. In a split format, one member from the team will compete in trail running, the other kayaking, and the final member will mountain bike. This race is not as long as it is fast and challenging. It’s level of intensity is a true test of each participant’s fitness.
Highlight-Enjoying the mountain views as your teammates compete in their respective disciplines.
Experience Level-Intermediate
Gnarly Factor– Moderate
Length of Race– 5 to 7 hours
Teams-Teams of 3

9. Expedition Africa 2012-South Africa
Teams mountain bike, trek, kayak, swim, and rope through South Africa’s wild landscape. The diverse terrain offers pure beauty that humbles the most gnarly adventure racers.
Highlight-South Africa’s wildlife is on full display. Be prepared to re-route several times as you’ll need to avoid exotic animals such as lions, elephants, and rhinos.
Experience Level- Advanced to Expert
Gnarly Factor- High
Length of Race- 5 to 6 days over 500km
Teams- Mixed teams of 4


8. Adventure XStream Series- Moab, Utah

Held in the spring, in Moab, this event has racers trekking through the beautiful Southern Utah landscape, exploring canyons, caves, whitewater. Plan on mountain biking, running, canyoneering, whitewater kayaking, and rappelling.
Highlight-
Canyoneering through Moab’s red canyons
Experience Level- Intermediate to Advanced
Gnarly Factor- Moderate
Length of Race- 1 day
Teams- Solo, 2 person co-ed, 2 person open

7. Eco Endurance Challenge- Halifax, Nova Scotia
This eco-challenge is a hybrid of classical orienteering, ultra-distance running and the navigational training practices of search and rescue emergency responders. Racers trek through the challenging backcountry of Eastern Canada, testing their navigational skills on more than 200-km of thick forests, extremely wet bogs, fast flowing streams and miles of backwoods trails and cart tracks.
Highlight- Navigating through the dense Nova Scotia forest, which adds a challenge of maintaining one’s bearings.
Experience Level- Intermediate to Advanced
Gnarly Factor- Medium
Length of Race- 24 hours over 200-km
Teams- 2 or more people

6. Dusk ‘Til Dawn Adventure Race-Central California

An ideal adventure race for those looking to get their feet wet is the 12-hour dusk ’til dawn adventure race in Central California. The race is long and challenging but Santa Margarita Lake and San Luis Obispo provided the perfect playing field for all levels of racers. The race consists of kayaking, trekking through the hillsides, running through vineyards, swimming over obstacles, and mountain biking uphill.
Highlight- Racing through the the hillside vineyards.
Experience Level- Intermediate to Expert
Gnarly Factor- Moderate
Length of Race- 12 hours
Teams- Solo, teams of 2, 3, or 4

5. Godzone Adventure Race- Queenstown, New Zealand
This lengthy 500-km race is suited for the experienced adventure racing team. New Zealand’s stunning landscape provides the perfect playground for teams to navigate, trek, mountain bike, kayak and canoe. There’s no designated time for sleep, forcing teams to weigh the balance between rest and pushing forward.
Highlight- The “unsupported” format of the event leaves competitors to make the best decisions for themselves.
Experience Level- Expert
Gnarly Factor- High
Length of Race- 6-7 days of racing 500-km
Teams- Teams of 4

4. AXS GlenWood Springs- GlenWood Springs Colorado
Adventure racers are immediately attracted to this race due to the exciting and difficult nature of the natural obstacles. This shorter race includes river-boarding on class III rapids, mountain biking epic single track, rappelling, caving, and whitewater kayaking. Event organizers even throw in a few mystery challenges along the way.
Highlight- River-boarding Class III Rapids
Experience Level- Intermediate to Advanced
Gnarly Factor- Intermediate
Length of Race- 6-hour to 12-hour
Teams- Solo, 2 person co-ed, 2 person open

3. Gold Rush Mother Lode-Sierra Nevada
This event takes place in the Sierra Mountains of Central California, where racers will hike, run, mountain bike, paddle, and do rope work. Gold Rush Mother Lode is one of only two North American qualifiers for the Adventure Racing World Series.
Highlight- Web tracking for spectators. Follow your family and friends live on the Internet as they make their way through the course with the use of GPS tracking.
Experience Level- Advanced to Expert
Gnarly Factor- High
Length of Race- 5 days
Teams- 3 to 4 person teams

2. The Coastal Challenge- Costa Rica
The slogan of this ultra-adventurous race is “Be ready for anything.” Boasting one of the largest fields of like-minded adventurers, a finish in this race will be one of your greatest achievements. Overcoming your fears of jungle reptiles, gnarly cliff-drops, and getting completely lost is the key to success. Competitors will face jungle and rainforest trails, mountain trail, and a single track across ridgelines, highlands and coastal ranges; other parts of the course move across beaches, rocky outcroppings, reefs, and estuaries.
Highlight- Crossing the crocodile-infested rivermouths.
Experience Level- Advanced
Gnarly Factor- High
Length of Race- 6 days over 225-250-km.
Teams- Solo or teams of 2, 3 and 4


1. Patagonia Adventure Race- Southern Patagonia, Chile

It’s considered the ironman of adventure racing– the world’s ultimate expedition through the unknown territory of Southern Patagonia. Racers receive minimal assistance as they trek, climb, rope, kayak, mountain bike through mountains, glaciers, forests, swampland, rivers, lakes and channels. There’s no more difficult challenge in all of adventure racing.
Highlight- Earning the ability to say, “I’ve completed the toughest adventure race on the planet.”
Experience Level– Expert
Gnarly Factor- High
Length of Race- 6 to 8 days of racing over 500-km
Teams- Teams of 4