Adventure Race Receives Wisconsin State Grant
MADISON – Wisconsin Department of Tourism awarded the Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge a Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) Grant. With JEM Grant funding, the 7th Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge will be marketed to new audiences in 2021. Racers in 2019 traveled from eight states to participate in the event and race directors Tim Buchholz and Anna Nummelin want to draw even more out-of-state racers. So far for the 2021 event, nearly one-third of registrants will travel from outside of Wisconsin for the event, representing nine states.
Outdoor recreation has been a point of emphasis for the State of Wisconsin, with Governor Evers creating an Office of Outdoor Recreation in July 2019, the first state in the Midwest to do so. “The Office works to connect the dots between Wisconsin’s natural resources, how we enjoy them, manufacturing of outdoor gear and the economic health, and overall well-being of our state and its residents, providing a central resource to support and uplift the growing industry,” said Mary Monroe Brown, Director of the Office of Outdoor Recreation. “We’re thrilled to see the connection between the Office of Outdoor Recreation, the Department of Tourism, the JEM grant program and the great economic activity that Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge provides to the area communities.”
According to data from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, Wisconsin’s outdoor recreation industry supports over 93,000 jobs and contributes $7.8 billion to the state’s economy. In other words, $1 for every $40 generated in Wisconsin comes from outdoor recreation related activity.
“We have so many beautiful trails, waterways, and other outdoor amenities in Central Wisconsin to showcase. Over the years, we have brought racers from all over the Midwest who have come back again and again,” said Buchholz.
The Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge course changes every year, with past courses showcasing Rib Mountain State Park, Nine Mile County Forest, Sunnyvale Park, Dells of the Eau Claire, the Ice Age Trail, and Big Eau Pleine County Park.
“We love how the race directors infuse the whole event with positive energy, and how welcoming it is to beginners,” said one returning racer.
And the timing to grow the sport is perfect. The USARA Adventure Race National Championship race will be coming to Wisconsin for the first time in 2021. Also, Amazon Prime resurrected the Eco-Challenge, a multi-day adventure race that sparked interest from new racers in the sport. Eco-Challenge is considered the start of reality TV, launched in 1995 by producer Mark Burnett. Burnett went on to bring reality TV to mainstream with the premiere of Survivor in 2000.
With Buchholz’s and Nummelin’s solid track record and additional marketing, this year’s event eclipsed the most participants in its seven year history two months prior to the event. To ensure a safe experience in 2021, Buchholz and Nummelin plan to implement COVID protocols similar to those applied during the inaugural Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge – Winter Edition, which was held in January. Buchholz and Nummelin also race directed. The verdict: every racer and volunteer responding to the anonymous post-event survey said they would recommend the race to others and felt safe at the first-year event. “Safety is the top priority for both racers and volunteers,” said Nummelin.
Co-workers, friends, and even family members are encouraged to participate as teams in the 2021 Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge. Proceeds from the event benefit the UW Wausau Campus Foundation and UWSP Student Scholarship Funds.
The Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge is held every Memorial Day weekend, with the exact location remaining a secret until race day. More details available at: https://www.
IRONBULL is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that promotes outdoor adventure sports in Central Wisconsin. IRONBULL aims to drive economic development, benefit community organizations, and attract and retain a talented work force through the production of high quality races and events that promote healthy living in our community.