For Bend Adventure Race, held this weekend, the challenge is to complete a scramble over land and water to reach certain checkpoints—and, ultimately, a finish line somewhere out there in the woods. The rules are both simple and vague: Like a rugged connect-the-dots game sketched across Central Oregon, each team has 30 hours to complete a series of navigational challenges—an amount of time which, again, sounds both generous and painful.
There is no prescribed route, explains Jason Magness, the race director. "Navigation is a huge thing," he explains calmly. "Get lost, and it is on you and your team to get found again."
Because finding your way is such an important part of the race, the course—as it were—is kept as secret as a pirate's map: Magness simply says that it is a "multisport" race. Their website is a bit more specific, but just: explaining that the required forms of transportation will be mountain biking (generously tipping their hand to detail, "an approximate ratio of 60 percent single track, 25 percent double track, 15 percent road"); some trail running; and, bushwhacking, with an appropriate altitude gain of 5,000 feet and a loss of 2,000 feet. And, oh right, don't forget the 12, or maybe it is 18, miles of class I, II and III rafting.
"It is bad-ass, exhausting, beautifully difficult, transformative, oh, and of course, wet and muddy," quips Magness. Last year's course traversed the lower Deschutes before competitors looped back south, finishing on Mrazek trail. "After a course full of biking and trekking ascents," recalls Magness, "the final 20 miles was a screaming downhill." He adds that one of his favorite memories from last year was "seeing the exhausted, sleep-deprived smiles."
"For many," says Magness, "the goal is just to finish." But, he adds, over the past couple years, the event has become more about competition—and finishing fast and first.
Although rustic and rugged, and emphasizing self-sufficiency, the event does demand a remarkable amount of bureaucracy and coordination with federal agencies, like the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Magness assures that each successful year that they host their event, those relationships strengthen—and, in the process, offer opportunities for more exciting and remote courses.
"The top team gets cash," concludes Magness. "Oh, and of course, beer and cider from great local breweries. But, best of all, pride and bragging rights for winning the hardest multisport race in Oregon!"
Bend Adventure Race
Saturday, September 27
To register, www.BendRacing.com