You're dropped off in the middle of nowhere on the Russia-Finland border. Sure, the scenery is pristine and the air is fresher than anything you've ever breathed. But you aren't there to sit back and soak in the breathtaking scenery. You have mountains to climb, rapids to kayak and caves to spelunk. You're taking on the Red Fox Adventure Race, and you're going to need those breaths.
Extreme adventure races, like Tough Mudder, Spartan and Warrior Dash, have taken the American fitness community by storm. But this is another, more complicated animal. Adventurers have been facing the Red Fox, Russia's most popular and prestigious adventure race, for ten years. The tenth anniversary race was held June 10-12 in the beautiful Karelia region. Many of the popular races in the U.S. involve man-made obstacles, like barbed wire crawls and fire pits. But the Red Fox Adventure Race uses the unforgiving topography of the region to challenge competitors, who race in teams of two or four, in kayaking, white water rafting, spelunking coastering, mountain biking and rock climbing.
Organizers expected even the top participants to take at least 36 hours to finish the course, which takes place over about 186 miles and numerous checkpoints. But the winning team of Red Fox 2012 -- Igor Klepcha and Irina Safronova -- finished in less than 25 hours.
"We rode bikes, pedaled in the river and in the White Sea and climbed mountains, and that all happened in 24 hours," Klepcha told Russia Today.
More than one third of the 64 teams never reached the finish line, which just goes to show, you don't need fire pits to make a challenging race. Sometimes you don't have to change a thing about the terrain, and nature will provide the most unforgiving challenge.