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America’s Largest Adventure Race explores the Wisconsin Northwoods

Press Release / 22.05.2024See All Event Posts Follow Event
Riding the Wisconsin Wilderness trails at the Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge
Riding the Wisconsin Wilderness trails at the Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge / © Ann + Les Photography

The largest adventure race in the United States, the Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge, has competitors trekking, biking, and paddling through the pristine waterways, beautiful trails, and serene wilderness of the Northwoods of Wisconsin. 

The event started in 2015 and is held over Memorial Day weekend.  The event is capped at 500 racers, which drew racers from 19 states last year.  Every year, the course changes with recent editions headquartered in Rib Mountain, Brokaw, and Stevens Point; however, this year’s course will be taking place in the land of the iconic hodag, Rhinelander, for the first time. 

The adult version of a scavenger hunt not only draws hard-core racers, but the event invites newcomers with about half of the field being new adventure racers.  Additionally, the family division attracts multi-generational teams, encompassing an age range from 7 to 70.
“Rhinelander is excited to welcome the Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge to the Northwoods end of Central Wisconsin,” said Lauren Sackett, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce CEO.  “Events like the Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge help showcase the natural beauty and sense of adventure you can find in Wisconsin and we look forward to welcoming the adventure racers to Live the Legend of Rhinelander."

Since racers use a map and compass to navigate on an unmarked course, the course remains a secret until race day.  The race has incorporated a variety of "special challenges" throughout the years including a 3-legged race, making paracord survival bracelets to donate to Operation Gratitude, and solving puzzles at a local dairy farm.  Over the years the event has grown, bringing on IRONBULL as the event organizer and adding a 18-hour course to the existing 3-hour and 8-hour courses in 2021.  With the 18-hour race starting in the dark, even seasoned navigators are challenged through the night.
“We love making it an entire weekend of fun,” said Jamie Borglum, who will be traveling from Iowa to compete at the event for the third time.  Jamie’s wife and younger kids volunteer at the event and his oldest daughter will be racing alongside him.  “As a dad it's an amazing experience to help your kids attempt hard things and push themselves through their own self perceived limits. "
In addition to challenging new and seasoned racers alike, the event was founded to give back to the community.  Over the course of the event, $80,000 has been awarded to University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point student scholarships.  Race directors also recognize the team that picks up the most litter along the race.  To further reduce carbon footprint, food trays and scraps from the post-race celebration are composted, resulting in a single bin of garbage in 2022.
“We are so happy to be able to share our love of this unique sport, and to be able to give back to the community,” said Anna Nummelin, the event’s co-founder and co-race director. “It's exciting to see how much it has grown, and how much we've been able to accomplish over the years."

The Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge has grown in popularity such that event organizers added a spin-off in 2021, the Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge – Winter Edition.  The spinoff offers the only winter adventure race in the Wisconsin Adventure Racing Series.  Both events are sanctioned by the United States Adventure Racing Association (USARA).  The Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge is part of the ARWS N. America calendar.
For more information about the Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge, including how to volunteer, go to the Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge Facebook page or https://www.ribmountainadventurechallenge.com/

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