Choices and Controversy about the Future of Adventure Racing

Rob Howard / 16.03.2023

The debate about the future and organisation of adventure racing is moving quickly at the moment.  Here’s what has been happening recently.

The AR Countries Consultation

The AR Countries working group took over the process of consulting the wider AR community following the FISO meeting on Feb. 18th.  There are over 20 countries now involved and the group is managed by Lisa De Speville (South Africa), Damon de Boor (UK), Lars Bukkehave (Denmark) and Cormac MacDonnell (Ireland).

This group is extremely active at the moment as existing AR organisations and representatives around the world are holding meetings and polls to decide on the options listed below.  (Look out for notices and polls in your country and ask if you don’t see any.)

On the link below there is also a concise and informative presentation on the options,which was used at their first information meeting on March 2nd, and which they would like everyone in the AR community to read and consider.

The options are;

1. Join World Obstacle 

2. Explore joining another International Federation such as Orienteering, Rogaining and Triathlon.  (The French Federation is affiliated with Triathlon and the Spanish with Orienteering for example.)

3. Establish an independent international Adventure Racing association / federation. 

4. Do nothing. No international Adventure Racing organisation is required right now.

The slides on the presentation give pros and cons for each option and the group is getting as many countries involved as possible, and aiming to get first results to the consultations as early as the end of this month.

There is an excellent video about what is happening made by Lisa de Speville, which you can watch at:

Watching the video is the quickest way to get an overview of everything.

Ian Adamson Meetings

Last weekend Ian Adamson (former racer and FISO/World Obstacle President) held informational meetings about the process of sports governance for adventure racing.

He made clear he was holding the meetings himself, and not in any official role relating to FISO, and the comprehensive slides and information he presented will be of interest to those setting up new associations and federations.

One of his comments in the discussion afterwards expressed the opinion (very crudely) that FISO had zero interest in adventure racing.  

Even though he was speaking privately, and added that he cares about adventure racing, it was a shocking statement, especially when the FISO website says;

The Mission of World Obstacle is to promote the Obstacle Sports including, but not limited to Ninja, OCR and Adventure Racing throughout the world, to lead Obstacle Sports, and meet the requirements as specified by the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee. We promote World SeriesWorld Cups, and World Championships in each sport for our member federations and their athlete members.”

Lisa De Speville of the AR Countries Group challenged him at the meeting on why World Obstacle can say they represent Adventure Racing with “no mandate”, and was told having a mandate from the adventure racing community didn’t come into it.  “FISO is just a platform and is there if the community wants to use it” and that “it will not go away until there is a vote of the (FISO) congress.”

There was a lot more to the meeting, it wasn’t all so fractious, and you can see the recordings and videos to get the full context at the following link. (The comments mentioned above start around 1 hour 7 mins.)

You can see all of the videos and recordings from both of last weekend’s meetings held by Ian Adamson, and from the FISO meeting of Feb. 18th at this link;

International AR Conference (IARC 2023)

It’s worth mentioning as well that an International conference to discuss these issues has been organised to take place after this year’s Adventure Racing World Championship in South Africa in October.

The event will be the biggest gathering of adventure racers ever and details of IARC 2023 can be found at:

It’s early days, but there is a proposed schedule on the page and an invitation form as well.  (It will be hosted online as well.)

This is an important, and perhaps transformative, time for the sport, and adventure racers are being asked to make their voices heard before decisions are made.

The actions of World Obstacle have got many involved in the sport talking and thinking, and that, at least, everyone agrees is a good thing!

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