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Adventure racers will run, bike, and paddle through the Northwoods this weekend

Teams must stay together throughout various disciplines looking for checkpoints in the Wisconsin wilderness using a map and compass.
Ann + Lee Photography
Teams must stay together throughout various disciplines looking for checkpoints in the Wisconsin wilderness using a map and compass.

Tim Buchholz and his wife Anna Nummelin have been adventure racing for 20 years.

“It's a sport we love and that we're passionate about,” said Buchholz.

Buchholz describes adventure racing as a kind of triathlon on an unmarked course.

Racers typically work in teams to use maps and a compass to navigate between checkpoints that they don’t know of until the race starts.

GPS devices are not allowed.

They go together by foot, bike, and canoe between the checkpoints.

“I love navigation. The harder and more challenging the navigation, I love the mental exercise of trying to couple that with physical exercise and trying to really push yourself to be the most efficient racer as possible,” Buchholz said.

Ann + Lee Photography
Teams in the family division comprise multi-generational members including children.

Buchholz and Nummelin love adventure racing so much, nine years ago they created their own: The Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge.

The location and course change each year. This year, it will be in the “greater Rhinelander area”, the exact location is kept secret to add to the challenge.

“Adventure race is kind of like an adult scavenger hunt, right?” said Buchholz. “It's this excitement of finding the thing you were looking for. Well, this is just that for adults in the woods. It's fantastic because the thrill of getting to those checkpoints and then getting to the finish line and seeing everyone still rewarded and enthusiastic of the accomplishment and adventure they just undertook was a really fun thing to see as a race director knowing that we helped make that happen and facilitated that.”

They’ve capped the race at 500 racers.

Buchholz says they’ll be far enough in the woods that people likely won’t come across the racers.

“It'd be a rarity to spot the racer on foot out in the woods because we're using remote wilderness and forest locations for the race itself, but certainly if you see some of the teams out, give them some encouragement,” he said.

Ann + Lee Photography
Racers must trek, paddle, and bike on the unmarked course in the Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge.

The racers will be wearing trackers. You can follow their progress on the Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge website.

There are three levels of racing.

The longest is the 18-hour race that begins at 11:00 p.m. Friday night.

The shortest is a roughly 3-hour race geared towards beginners and families.

“We really have something for everyone. Even if that three-hour distance seems long, you'll find by the time you transition between points, you stopped to look at the map, it's a really fun day out in the woods,” said Buchholz.

Registration is closed for this year. Buchholz encourages people to keep it in mind for Memorial Day Weekend in 2025.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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