More than a dozen Eli thrill-seekers took to Hartford yesterday to compete in the Balance Bar Adventure Race.
The 20-mile competition was no leisurely saunter through the streets. Participants could not simply power-walk their ways to the finish line. Teams of three demonstrated their athleticism through special tests, including a one-to-three mile kayak segment, 10-15 mile mountain bike course, a five-to-eight mile trail run, and up to 10 other special team challenges. These “tests” were interspersed throughout the course, and teams were unaware of what they would encounter. The only constant among these special tests was The Wall — a 12-foot military-style barrier that required the ultimate test of teamwork.
“Adventure racing, you know, isn’t a sport for the meek or for untrained,” David Griswold ’07 said. “But in the two-fly bandana crew — that’s our team name — we make adventure racing look good.”
Yale participants heard about the Balance Bar Adventure Race through Yale Outdoors, a student organization for nature lovers founded in 1995-96 that facilitates a wide variety of outdoor recreation trips.
Though the competition offers prize money upwards of $5,000 to an amateur team, prior to the event Eli participants considered this enticement inconsequential.
“We’re taking things one at a time, and we’ll think about that when the time comes,” Griswold said Saturday. “I mean, we’ll probably donate it back to Yale. And by that, I mean throw the hugest party ever.”
Teams generally finish the competition in between two-and-a-half to six hours, and all three team members must cross the finish line simultaneously.
“The best teams finish in three hours or so,” Griswold said. “We’re just happy they hand out T-shirts before the race. I just got my helmet for the race tonight [Saturday], at 10:50 p.m., and I haven’t ridden a bike in a couple of years. But I figure, if I eat enough carbs, it should all even out.”
Such enthusiasm helped the team overcome the mentally and physically demanding course.
“It was incredible,” Henry Harding ’06 said. “Though we did listen to Sunday Bloody Sunday on the car ride back, and found it oddly appropriate given our conditions, waded across rivers, and got messy in general. There was also a great sense of camaraderie among the teams.”
Although Yalies did not capture the gold medal yesterday, there will likely be more adventure races with prize money and the potential for an extravagant campus party in the future.