The word 'extreme' is bounded around a lot. But when it comes to adventure race events it's appropriate. That said, adventure racing is by it's nature extreme' so there's no need to put the two together - adventure race events will always be 'extreme'!
Events last days, include marathon distances in a number of disciplines, and commonly pit their masochistic competitors against the toughest natural obstacles and personal boundaries.
It's a nutters only sport, but one that appeals to all adventure sports lovers in some way. And with so many to choose from, it is possible to find one you could try without risking life and limb. But beware: Around the world there are some fearful challenges to try, so don't dare sign up without being prepared. Really prepared.
We recommend you start with something achievable before you take on the world. The Adventure 5 Races by Haglofs are a good challenge - and as equally suited to hairdressers in London as they are builders in Bognor.
These adventure races are restricted to 5 hrs duration, the aim being to get to as many checkpoints as possible in the allotted time - either running or riding.
At the other end of the spectrum are events such as the Siberian Black Ice Race.
As a short course it's 155 miles and the longer route 379 miles. Both are incredible challenges and for tougher types.
Leaving Irkutsk in Siberia you can choose to mountain bike, go unassisted (run, ski, walk and skate) or use a snow kite. Whichever you choose you've a hell of a challenge ahead.
Off the Scale
Way past what seems tough are events such as The Spartan Death Race. This 48-hr challenge is specifically designed to wear down your body and it's will to continue. By combining mud - not the sort you might get in spa and beauty treatments - trail races and testing mental and physical challenges, it's up there with the most extreme adventure race events.
And entrants start full in the knowledge that they have just a one-in-ten chance of completing the course.... interestingly, the url for the race is youmaydie.com!
Off the Richter
At the most competitive end of this spectrum of torment are the adventure race events organised as part of the Adventure Racing World Series. Taking place all over the globe, they attract teams created by the biggest brands in the adventure sports world. And both teams and their gear get tested to the limit.
The final event in last year's calendar was held in the Hautes-Alpes region of France. As well as the regular orienteering and mountainbiking, teams had to abseil, traverse via ferrata (climbing routes linked with metal cables), and paddle and raft through canyons flowing fast with white water.
To minimise danger, a planned high altitude glacier crossing was withdrawn before the start. Still, of the 65 competitors that started only 16 finished. Tough enough for you?
Want a taste of Adventure Race Events?
At a basic level, adventure racing is like an adventurous triathlon, with events more in keeping with traditional activities, such as running, swimming and cycling, than they are with adventure or extreme sports.
At the top level these really are events reserved for endurance athletes/ explorers and those missing a screw or two...
Make sure your fitness is up to scratch, put in the hours of training - perhaps plan ahead and look up the best spa and hotel breaks in the UK to treat yourselves for finishing - and do your research; preparation is everything in adventure race events.
And it's as much about the outdoor skills: map reading, cooking on the go, first-aid, and the all-important teamwork.
And bring a sense of humour - you'll need it!