The Slovenia Times

More Than a Race



Between 23rd and 25th June, Velenje hosted the fourth Adventure Race Slovenia (ARS), which is organised by the local Scouts movement. It attracted 19 teams from Slovenia (10 teams), Holland, Poland, Italy, the Czech Republic, Austria, Romania and France. For the first time, the race results counted towards the European Cup of adventure racing called Euroadventure, which includes events in Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Germany. This year, the fastest team completed the 265-kilometre race in less than 50 hours. The challenge consists of several components; swimming (3 kilometres), biking (164 kms), caving (2 kms), trekking (75 kms), kayaking (20 kms) and canyoning (1 km) and, in this type of racing, the trekking, biking and swimming components are usually broken down into several, more manageable chunks. Additionally, the race includes sections that require specialist mountaineering skills such as scrambling, scaling and abseiling. Teams also need to include skilled orienteers, as they need to plan and develop their own routes and tactics. The race as a whole is held over one single stage so the serious teams more or less forget about sleeping for two nights. Teams have four members and must include at least one female. The awards are hardly behind the teams' decisions to take part. There were no cash rewards on offer in Velenje, however, there were goods and trophies valued at more than EUR 5,000 to be won. For more information about the ARS, check out the website. Both organisers and participants are all too well aware that exhaustion and injuries take their toll, but, to paraphrase John F. Kennedy's words about going to the Moon, "they are doing this not because it is easy but because it is difficult". The competition is only part of the philosophy behind the race. The physical effort is more to do with personal challenges, teamwork and paying homage to nature. Although the rules are strict, they are not very strictly applied because fair play is at the core of the competition. It is also taken for granted that any team in trouble can count on help from other teams. "Besides fair play, ecology, team work and the promotion of cultural and natural features, there are other items that we place at the very top of our priority list," says the ARS director Peter Vrckovnik. "Last year, members of the participating teams cleared rubbish around a nearby lake before the competition started and this year, they were introduced to the culture and history of the area. The race also takes the teams along points of cultural and historical interests. It is a competition and teams take it seriously but the final results are almost the last consideration," Vrckovnik added. Two shorter versions of the race (40 or 80 kms), called the Velenje City Adventure, were organised ahead of the main event. It gave adrenaline junkies and weekend athletes an opportunity to experience what the real race feels like. It is suitable for everyone, requires similar basic skills and teams must have at least two members). A similar event is scheduled to place in Maribor in October. A short history Some point to the two-day Karrimor International Mountain Marathon (now known as the Original Mountain Marathon) first held in 1968 in the UK as the birth of modern adventure racing. In 1989, the modern era of adventure racing arrived with Raid Gauloises in New Zealand, inspired by the Paris Dakar Rally. Building on this concept, the inaugural Southern Transverse was held in 1991, also in New Zealand. But it was the US spin-off, the Eco Challenge, made popular world-wide by the Discovery Channel in 1995, that kick-started this type of contest. The last Eco Challenge was held in 2002, a year before the birth of Adventure Race Slovenia.


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