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Adventure race in Clarkston



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Marcia and Gary Harrington bring adventure racing to Depot Park. Photo by Trevor Keiser (click for larger version)
April 13, 2011 - Teams of two will bike, run, and paddle to the finish line in The Blast Adventure Race, June 4 in Depot Park, but there'll be no lines to follow.

Instead, they'll have to rely on a map and compass.

"It is pretty much like a triathlon only they choose their route and they canoe instead of swim," said Gary Harrington, a member of Southern Michigan Adventure Racing Team (SMART). "You might as well plan on getting your feet wet."

The Blast lasts about six hours. Depending on route chosen, racers will bike 10-16 miles, paddle 3-6 miles, and walk 4-8 miles. Racers get maps and team passports to punch at checkpoints along the way, an hour before race time to study and strategize.

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"The other thing is they have to carry their own food and water and then we have a mandatory first aid kit," he said.

Racers will have a "gear check" somewhere along the course, said Marcia, Gary's wife.

"We won't tell them where," she said. "They have a long list of gear they have to carry with them, first aid, ibuprofen, antihistamines, a knife, food, and water."

Strategy is key, she said.

"How to carry your food so you don't have to get to it, how do I carry my passport so it's really handy? Keeping your map dry, things like that," she said. "The race will happen rain or shine. The only time it's ever called off is for lighting or something life threatening."

Also along the race will be special events, which racers must perform.

"We're looking forward to the special events to see how the racers react to it," Gary said. "I think it will be fun."

Marcia agreed.

"We have some special events I don't think any adventure racing directors have ever done," she said. "It's been done but not around here."

Gary said they also give back to the community.

"This year we have a fellow adventure racer whose son was born with kidney failure," Gary said. "He lost both kidneys and lost a leg, so we promised so far $640 from the race to their family to help them out a little bit."

Gary and Marcia, both triathetes, started adventure racing in 2002 after a friend told them about it.

"You go from racing an hour and half to 10-12 hours in adventure racing," he said. "Six hours is the shortest one."

"We've done 24-30 hour racing," noted Marcia.

Sponsors include American Cycle and Fitness, Running Gear, VIP Training. LaVida Massage, and Rainforest Café.

Gary and Marcia said they invite racers to bring their families to the race to enjoy the day.

"I just want everybody to have fun," Marcia said.

Prizes will be given to first, second and third place winners for men's team, women's team, and coed team. The grand prize will be a Trek Bike.

Beginner adventure racers can check out SMART'S free clinic, 6 p.m., April 29, at American Cycle and Fitness in Pontiac.

"We've had racers every year from Canada to Chicago and all over the state," Marcia said. "Adventure Racing pulls people in from everywhere, people travel to do these races because they're few and far between."

Check www.smartblast.org for more.

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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