Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge holds largest adventure race in the United States
“Finding a COVID-19 friendly special challenge that could also be done by over 150 teams of one to four people proved to be a challenge in itself,” said Kris Berge, special challenge coordinator since the event’s inception in 2015. “While searching for paracord projects, Operation Gratitude provided a great opportunity to help another cause.”
Racers started and ended at Nine Mile County Forest with racers paddling the Wisconsin River, biking on mountain bike trails maintained by CWOCC, and trekking at Nine Mile and Wausau School Forest. Some racers also biked to Burma, Leathercamp, Kronenwetter, and Ringle Forest Units as part of the adventure. Since the course changes every year, and is unmarked, racers must plan their own routes. This year, they received the details of the secret course just before the race and had an hour to plan their route prior to toeing the start line.
Three races took place with the event: 3-hour, 8-hour, and 18-hour adventure races. These events challenged top adventure racers in the United States yet welcomed newcomers to the sport, which comprised the majority of the field (58%). Nearly half of racers were women (45%), significantly higher than the average adventure race.
One team of female first-time adventure racers includes eight-year-old Rowan Jilek and her mom Shay Jilek, competing in the family division. They thought the event was well-geared for Rib Mountain Adventure Challengeoutdoor enthusiasts, such as themselves and can’t wait to return in 2022.
“The Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge put all of our skills to the test,” said Shay Jilek. “While we didn’t make it to all of the checkpoints, it left us craving another race to gain more experience.”
Despite record cold temperatures, 75 18-hour racers paddled through the night including a one mile portage. The biggest challenge for even the most experienced racers was the fog that persisted throughout the night.
“No doubt that the Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge will teach something to every participant,” said Chris Plansky, Army and Wisconsin National Guard veteran and returning Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge racer. Our team learned how to persevere through unexpected adversity on a 12 mile night canoe paddle section with freezing temps, zero visibility fog, and a determination to clear the section. Our humor, positive attitudes, and determination paid off!”
The Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge is part of the Wisconsin Adventure Racing Series and helps earn teams points to qualify for the United States Adventure Racing Association National Championship, taking place in Wisconsin for the first time later this year. After a year without a single adventure race in Wisconsin, 2021 has seen more adventure racers than ever before.
Fifty volunteers were needed to orchestrate the overnight event, which benefits the UW Wausau Campus Foundation, UWSP Student Scholarship Funds, and the Wausau and Marathon County Parks Foundation. Racers also stopped to pick up over 700 pieces of trash along the race course.
“This event was so well organized from the pre-race communications to the finish line. The directors and volunteers were encouraging and brought a ton of positive energy!” said Jilek.
Pictures and results available at: https://www.
IRONBULL’s next event, the Ironring River Float will also utilize the Wisconsin River. Participants may paddle or float down the river on June 26. For more information go to https://www.ironbull.org/
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.