MONTEREY, Calif. - Organizers of the 17th annual Sea Otter Classic, a Celebration of Sport, throw open the gates this April to the multi-sport crowd with the debut of the Sea Otter Classic Thule Adventure Race. The event will feature a sprint distance for teams of two; a traditional distance for teams of four; and, a coed 'Corporate Cup' for teams of three. The race will feature kayaking on Monterey Bay. Trail running, cycling, and navigational skills will be tested on the Fort Ord Bureau of Land Management trails. All racing will take place on lucky Friday, April 13, 2007. The Sea Otter Classic will be held April 12 - 15, 2007 at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area, Monterey, California, USA.
2006 National Adventure Racing Champion, Jennifer Shultis (R), and teammate
photo courtesy of Eastern Mountain Sports
Last November at the Adventure Racing National Championships in Santa Barbara, Calif., two teams crossed the finish line - arm-in-arm - to claim first and second place. According to Jennifer Shultis, team captain for the champion team, the one-two finishes bared the naked truth that most often it is the smartest team that wins at adventure racing.
"We were not the fastest team there but we were the most consistent," said Shultis. "We had good navigation throughout, we didn't waste time in transition, we were all properly trained, there was clear communication before the race, and we managed problems very well. We never let things deteriorate to the point of getting into trouble."
Adventure racing is - by its own definition - just that: an adventure. Most courses are kept secret up until the start of the race or, to keep things really lively, retrieving course maps becomes part of the race. Races generally consist of three elements: paddling, running, and mountain biking, which can mean that when suffering reaches its peak in one element, transferring to another element brings relief.
Entry-level adventure racing requires no special equipment; usually a mountain bike, helmet, some running shoes and maybe a personal floatation device (PFD) are what a racer brings along to a race. The race promoter typically provides boats and basic paddles. However, as the level of competition increases in this sport where every gram counts, racers are often seen assembling expensive caches of $500 carbon-fiber paddles, ultra-lightweight packs, climbing gear and running shoes. The adventure racing calendar typically offers Sprint Distance (2-4 hour), traditional distance (6-12 hour), and 24-hour races. The Sea Otter Classic Thule Adventure Race is a rare early season event that offers beginners and seasoned veterans several race options.
The 2-4 hour Sprint Distance for teams of two should attract curious athletes who have yet to try out adventure racing. There is also a 'Corporate Cup' for coed teams of three - perfect for inspiring fitness and team building in the workplace, starting with training for the Cup race. Kayak, paddles, and PFD's will be provided to competitors in the Sprint Distance and Corporate Cup categories. The traditional distance category (6+ hours to finish) will likely attract experienced racers but it wouldn't be unheard of for a new team to cut its teeth at Sea Otter's adventure race since coastal California, with its straight-forward trails and well-marked vegetation boundaries, could require less navigational strategy than a more confusing landscape.
Experienced course designer, Todd Jackson, brings his expertise to Sea Otter and will craft a racecourse emphasizing the distinct features of the Monterey Bay and the Fort Ord BLM trails.
"This unique course will give athletes an opportunity to participate in the Sea Otter Classic in a completely different way than in previous years," said Jackson. "Kayaking on Monterey Bay then running and mountain biking in Fort Ord will be the perfect entree to Adventure Racing at Sea Otter."
Racers in the Tahoe Big Blue Sprint Race
photo courtesy of bigblueadventure.com
While Jackson cannot reveal much more about the course, he might tell you that it's not so much about following one specific course; it's about finding the fastest route from A-Z. He also might tell you that given the event title and the kayaking element in Monterey Bay, don't be surprised if a few curious sea otters swim by to check out the action as your paddling.
During 2006 nearly 20,000 racers entered events sanctioned by the US Adventure Racing Association, the sport's governing body. Since the USARA's inception in 1998, the number of races has increased from 11 races in '98 to 300+ races in 2006.
Most members, like Jennifer Shultis, hold down full time jobs and train and race in the margins of their workweeks. There are a lucky few that are fully sponsored and while you can pour a lot of money into building brawn, ya' just can't buy brains!
"For a person who knows they might never be on top of the podium in a flat-out race," said Shultis, "this could be their sport."
Editors note: The correct name of the adventure race is "Sea Otter Classic Thule Adventure Race." Hi-res photos available. Interviews with Sea Otter spokesperson and athletes available.
Media kit: www.seaotterclassic.com/index.cfm/media_kit_sea_otter_fact_sheet.htm
About Sea Otter Classic LLC
The 17th Annual Sea Otter Classic will be held April 12 - 15, 2007 at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area, Monterey, California, USA. The four-day 'Celebration of Sport' is considered the world's largest cycling festival, hosting nearly 10,000 professional and amateur athletes and 50,000 fans. The Cypress Youth Fund is the Sea Otter Classic's philanthropic arm. The Fund provides funding to organizations that benefit their communities in the areas of youth, sport, education, and environment. More information can be found at www.seaotterclassic.com or by calling 800-218-8411.