The setting was Cedar Hill State Park in Dallas. The mercury was
approaching triple digits, and a chain of sweaty humans seemed
to be trying, with little success, to scale a 12-foot-high
incline coated with vegetable shortening. No, this wasn't a
scene from a Bill Murray movie, but rather the Slippery
Mountain, one of 10 "special tests" that the 320 three-person
teams competing in the Hi-Tec Adventure Race had to pass between
stages that required mountain biking 10 miles, trail running
five miles and kayaking two.
Begun in 1996 by former triathlete Michael Epstein, the Adventure
Racing Series emphasizes teamwork. Contestants win by working
together, which might mean linking up with bungee cords to keep
pace during the run. "It's different from triathlons, because
you're not suffering by yourself," says Bob Schulz, 38, of Team
Balance Bar, this season's top-ranked coed squad going into the
last race of the eight-race series, on Oct. 22 in New York City,
"and the last thing you want to do is let your buddies down."
Derived from Navy SEAL training, Army manuals and the twisted
wiring of Epstein's brain, the tests vary from race to race and
can include Blindfolded Trolley's (walking on railroad ties with
the eyes of two teammates covered), the Mud Pit (on your
stomach, please) or the Inner Tube Exchange (from the front to
rear tire of your bike). The tests can take a couple of minutes
or, as one team found during orienteering in last year's New
York City race, a couple of hours. Fortunately for that trio,
former Playmates known as the Playboy Xtreme Team, series
spokesman Adam Fell says, "People were always coming up to me
asking, 'Where are the bunnies?'" Eventually they hopped past
the finish line.
yourself," says Schulz.
the twisted wiring of Epstein's brain.