Adventure 1 (A1) is the premier not-for-profit event promoter for adventure racing worldwide. With the goal of assisting the growth and management of the sport of adventure racing, it coordinates a series of national and international adventure racing events. Born in 2017 with a national adventure racing series in Australia, A1 has expanded to New Zealand, South Africa and is working with new international partners as part of the global A1 World Cup. On its journey to provide a coordinated approach to the sport with wider official international recognition, Adventure 1 and World Obstacle announced a partnership in late 2021. With the support of World Obstacle, A1 will run the first world cup of 24+ hour adventure races, culminating with the World Cup Final in New Zealand in December 2022, and the A1 World Championship in 2023.
Adventure Racing events include sprints of a few hours through expeditions of many days. Natural terrain obstacles such as mountains, deserts, rivers and oceans are common. Teams of 2, 3 or 4 use any means of non-motorized transport to navigate distances up to 1,000 km or more.
Sprint Adventure Races were popular in the 1990’s and 2000’s introducing man-made obstacles, fewer disciplines, less equipment and shorter distances. Originally popularized by the Raid Gauloises, Eco-Challenge and The Amazing Race,
Adventure racing participation experienced a decline after the last of the major races and global broadcasts left the sport in 2007. The 2019 Eco-Challenge TV show "The World's Toughest Race" exposed a new generation to Adventure Racing and caused a resurgence in the sport worldwide.
The official world cup and national series for Adventure Racing is Adventure1.
Download a history matrix here
1921 Sea to Summit Adventure Race (Seattle, USA)
1968 Karrimor International Mountain Marathon, OMM (UK)
1980 Alpine Ironman (NZL)
1982 – 2004 Wildtrek Spring, Summer and Winter Classic series (AUS)
1982 – current Alaska Mountain Wilderness Challenge (USA)
1983 – current: Coast to Coast and TV show (NZL)
1989 – 2008 Raid World Championships / Raid Gauloises (Worldwide)
1995 – 1997 first medal events at International Multisport Games: ESPN X-Games (USA)
1995 – 2002, 2019: Eco-Challenge World Championships (Worldwide)
1997 – 2000 HiTech Sprint US national series (USA)
1997 – 2004 Outdoor Quest Multisport World Championships
2000 – 2004 Balance Bar Sprint US national series (USA)
2000 – 2010 Muddy Buddy / OCR US national series (USA)
2000 Discovery Channel Adventure Race (NZL)
2001 Discovery Channel World Championship Adventure Race (SUI)
2001 – 2004 X-Adventure Raid World Series
2002 – current: Primal Quest World Championships, North America
2004 – 2010 Adventure Racing World Championships produced by Southern Traverse Ltd*
2011 – current: AR World Championships produced by Geocentric Pty Ltd*
2012 – current GODZone, New Zealand
2015 – current Geocentric AR World Series**
2016 – current Adventure 1 worldwide***
2021 – current Adventure 1 World Cup
* Southern Traverse Ltd received backing from the Discovery Channel in 2000 when Eco-Challenge changed broadcaster companies to USA Network. They renamed the event the Discovery Channel Adventure Race and again in 2001 to the Discovery Channel World Championships Adventure Race. The event was taken over by Australian event management company Geocentric Pty Ltd in 2011 adding to their portfolio of commercial races.
** AR World Series is a commercial property of Geocentric Pty Ltd.
*** A1 Series, A1 World Cup and A1 World Cup Final includes Exploration length races of 24 hours and up. The organization is structured and functions like a not-for-profit and does not charge participating events fees or dues.
In 1989, the modern era of adventure racing arrived with Gerald Fusil’s launch of the Raid Gauloises in New Zealand. Inspired by the Paris-Dakar Rally, Fusil envisioned an expanded expedition-style race in which competitors would rely on their own strength and abilities to traverse great and challenging terrain. The race included all the modern elements of adventure racing, including mixed-gender teams competing in a multi-day 400+ mile race. The Raid Gauloises became the Raid Adventure Racing World Championships which included a World Series, the “Raid World Cup” and ran until 2006. Building on Fusil’s concept, the inaugural Southern Traverse was held in 1991.
In the early 1990s, Mark Burnett read an Los Angeles Times article about Raid Gauloises and was inspired to compete and bring the race to the USA and promote the race as a major televised sporting event. After purchasing the rights from Gerald Fusil, Burnett launched the first “Eco-Challenge” race in 1995. Burnett promoted his event with Emmy-award-winning films (tapping the talent of Mike Sears to produce the films for the first two events). This incarnation of Eco-Challenge was last held in 2002 when Burnett shifted his focus to Survivor, the Contender, the Apprentice and other reality-based television shows. With the Eco-Challenge also came the name “adventure race”, a phrase coined by journalist and author Martin Dugard, to describe the class of races embodied by the Raid and Eco-Challenge. Eco-Challenge race reports can be found here: 1995, “Eco-Challenge 1996”, “Eco-Challenge 1997”, “Eco-Challenge 1998”, “Eco-Challenge 1999”, “Eco-Challenge 2000”, “Eco-Challenge 2001”, “Eco-Challenge 2002”, “2019 Eco-Challenge Results”, “USA Network 2001 Eco-Challenge Finish”, “2001 Eco-Challenge Video”.
Multi-day stage races took off and established adventure racing in Asia when the Mild Seven Outdoor Quest launched in 1997 in China. This race was created by IMG’s Nick Freyer and was the first race to offer a $200,000 prize money. The format and large prize purse attracted elite adventure racers, triathletes and endurance athletes. The last MSOQ was produced in 2004 in Malaysian Borneo. All races aired on ESPN Star Sports. MSOQ race reports and information can be found here: “MSOQ Sabah”, “1999 MSOQ”, “MSOQ Photos 1997-2001”, “2000 MSOQ”, “2003 MSOQ”, “2003 MSOQ NPR”, “2004 MSOQ on ESPN Star Sports”, “2004 Outdoor Quest on Mountain Zone”, “2004 Outdoor Quest on SleepMonsters”.
In 2002, Bill and Denis Watkins (of Seagate fame) launched the Subaru Primal Quest, the richest and adventure race to date, with a $250,000 prize purse. Echo Entertainment produced the show, now available on Amazon Prime. Primal Quest ran in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2015 to 2018.
Sprint Adventure Races were popular in the United States from 1997 to 2010, with national series and championships like the HiTec (“HiTec Adventure Racing Series”, “HiTec AR Series”, “HiTec 2001”, “HiTec images”), Balance Bar and Muddy Buddy (“2001 Muddy Buddy”, “Muddy Buddy review”, “Muddy Buddy Boston”, “Muddy Buddy 2009”, races attracting 1,000 or more athletes to each event. Muddy Buddy started as a sprint adventure racing series in 1999 with trail running and mountain biking, and was later branded as a mud run and Obstacle Course Race as these races gained popularity. Sprint races and the Outdoor Quest introduced man made obstacles called “adventure skills” in 1997 and these were adopted to some extent by Obstacle Course Races.
The 24-hour race format was popularized by the Balance Bar 24-hour Series and championships and many other stand-alone races emerged in the 1990s and 2000s. Each Balance Bar series race paid out $25,000 in prize money.
In 2001, Southern Traverse Ltd owners Geoff Hunt and Pascale Lorre held the Discovery Channel Adventure Race World Championships held in Switzerland with Team Nokia Adventure crossing the finishing line first. The concept of a world championship lay dormant until it was revived in 2004 by Southern Traverse Ltd as the Adventure Racing World Championships, with Canada’s Raid the North Extreme. Nike ACG Balance Bar won the inaugural competition. The race was taken over by event management company Geocentric Pty Ltd in 2011, and they now own and managed the AR World Series and the AR World Championships.
Adventure Racing went into decline starting in 2007 when most of the major international races and the associated media, advertising, and sponsorships left the sport. The last major race with international broadcast was the 2004 Raid Adventure Racing World Championship, which wrapped up in 2006, ending 18 years of world series and world championship races. Up to that point the international championship races and series, the Raid, Raid World Cup, Eco-Challenge, Outdoor Quest, Primal Quest, and Balance Bar Series’ paid over $950,000 in prize money each year. These events supported more than 100 teams that competed in the “Majors.”
The AR World Series started as the Adventure Racing World Championships Series in 2004 with seven international adventure races. This was an alliance formed by Southern Traverse Ltd included: Southern Traverse (NZL); Raid the North Extreme (CAN); Expedicao Mata Atlantica (BRA); Appalachian Extreme (USA); The Beast of the East (USA); Adventure Quest (RSA).
Adventure 1 Series (A1) launched in 2016 as a shorter, more cost efficient option for athletes without the resources or desire to compete in the longer, more expensive Expedition races. A1 includes national series, a World Cup circuit, World Cup Final, and World Championships.
Over 1,000 teams applied for 66 places in the 2019 Eco-Challenge “World’s Toughest Race” when it returned after an 18 year hiatus for it’s 10th show season, rekindling global interest in Adventure Racing. The event was held in Fiji on a course substantially the same as the 2002 event and is available on Amazon Prime. Nathan Fa’avae returned on on Team New Zealand for his second win, joining multiple winners Ian Adamson (USA 3x 1st, 2x 2nd, 1x 3rd), Mike Kloser (USA 3x 1st, 1x 2nd), John Howard (NZL 3x 1st, 1x 3rd), Keith Murray (NZL 3x 1st, 1x 3rd), Andrea Murray (NZL x 1st), Sarah Ballantyne (USA 2x 1st), Neil Jones (NZL 2x 1st, 1x 2nd). Second place Team Canada Adventure included Bob Miller, Scott Ford and OCR World Champions Ryan Atkins and Rea Koble. Third place team was Team Gippsland Adventure (AUS) with Rob Preston, Kathryn Preston, Tim Boote, Aaron Prince, and Patrick Howlett. Aaron Prince’s mother Vivan Prince won the 1996 Eco-Challenge on Team Eco-Internet with Ian Adamson, John Howard, Keith Murray and Robert Nagle. Full results of the 2019 race are available here.