The Endless Mountains Adventure Race will be making its way to Williamsport next summer. Williamsport will be the host city in June 2023 for the race. This past summer, the five-day adventure race was in Clarion and its surrounding areas.
Adventure racing consists of teams traveling a five-day course by foot, bike and boat using a map and compass. The mixed-gender teams are primarily of 2 to 4 people. The boat portion can be by kayak, canoe or pack raft. The course has the racers collect checkpoints along the way. The primary focus of the race is on teamwork, athletic skill and navigational strategy.
Endless Mountains is the sole American race in this year’s Adventure Racing series. The Endless Mountains Adventure Race is in its second year and is produced by Philadelphia’s Rootstock Racing, which has successfully directed races in and around Pennsylvania for the last several years.
Last year’s race, held in Clarion, saw 32 teams composed of two to four racers.
“Often times, events of this magnitude are lucky to have 15-20 teams in their first edition, and even well-established ones sometimes do not see more than 30 teams competing,” said Brian Gatens, Director of Community Outreach for the Endless Mountains Adventure Race team. “Directing a race for 32 teams in our first year was an honor and speaks to the long history of the sport in the Mid-Atlantic Region and the vibrant community that continues to grow.”
Adventure Racing is somewhat of a niche sport, but it’s also something that has a passionate following from its competitors. Those competitors help make the races successful, and so does the word of mouth they provide to get more people interested in other events.
“The word-of-mouth and racer experience following last year’s inaugural edition surpassed all of our expectations. As a result, we expect that momentum to flow into this year’s team count,” Gatens said. “As adventure racing grows in popularity, racers have more than one choice when it comes to big, multi-day races and some may head to other venues this year, but regardless, we expect to come close to matching last year’s number.”
The Endless Mountains Adventure Race also has a lite version, a 30-hour version of the race for those who want to partake, but can’t commit to the multi-day experience.
Rootstock Racing was founded by both Abby Perkiss and Brent Freedland. The two have been directing races for more than a decade not just in Pennsylvania, but elsewhere. Rootstock was formed in 2015 and the two have been envisioning a multi-day event ever since.
“For various personal reasons, the timing felt right to start working on this project back in 2020 when they discovered the PA Wilds brand and designation for this unheralded region and outdoor mecca,” Gatens said. “Showcasing the region over four or five editions became a primary goal of the event, and each race will highlight a different part of the Wilds and as many amazing parks and forests as possible.”
Gatens admitted that organizing a five-day racing event like this is essentially a full-time job for not only him, but others involved in the Endless Mountains Adventure Race.
Gatens noted how Adventure Racing is a tight-knit community and a niche sport, and one that people grow to love.
“This is a blessing and a curse in that it can be challenging to entice new racers in the sport, especially for an event of this magnitude. At the same time, it is an incredibly unique and supportive community. There are few sports that literally see the top teams in the world standing alongside brand-new racers on the start line,” Gatens noted. “They know they are there with different goals and have different expectations, but they interact, support one another and often are best friends.
“Regardless of fitness, experience or technical expertise, adventure racers are people that thrive on adventure, exploration and travel while being part of a tight-knit and supportive community,” Gatens added. “It’s an amazing sport full of the most amazing people.”