Gerard Fusil, a French journalist and explorer, in 1989 created a race that he called the Raid Gauloises (literally "French Race" but usually anglicized as "Challenge of the Warriors"). In the process he invented a sport that has become generally known as adventure racing, though it's also sometimes called expedition racing or multi-sport endurance racing.

The original race was held in New Zealand. It was a ten-day event covering more than 500 kilometers through rainforest and over mountains, with teams of four to five persons each traveling by mountain bike, canoe, and on foot.

Subsequent Raids were stages in Costa Rica in 1990; New Caledonia in 1991; the deserts of Oman in 1992; Madagascar in 1993; Borneo in 1994; and the mountains of Patagonia in 1995. They were all based on Fusil's idea of simulating an expedition over a variety of terrain, requiring endurance and navigational skills and using non-motorized transport.

Mark Burnett captained the first American team to compete, in 1992. He also captained teams the next two years and, in 1995, he decided to bring adventure racing to America. Burnett and Brian Terkelsen, a former New York investment banker, teamed to conduct a 1995 adventure race in southeast Utah, the Eco-Challenge. Later that year, a second Eco-Challenge race was held in New England. Later races were staged in British Columbia, Canada (1996); Queensland, Australia (1997); Morocco (1998); Patagonia, Argentina (1999); Sabah, Malaysian Borneo (2000); New Zealand (2001); and Fiji (2002).

To Fusil's original concept, Burnett added a strong ecological component. Each Eco-Challenge race was preceded by an environmental service project in which all racers were required to participate.

In June of 1996, Dr. Bill Lionberger and Karen Livesay conducted the first Four Winds Adventures Race. This event, from Durango, CO, to Taos, NM, focused on learning about the land and the native American peoples who have lived along the route.

Although the last Eco-Challenge was held in 2002, Four Winds Adventures is still going strong. The company operates a variety of adventure races for two- and four-member teams throughout the Western and Southwestern United States and also conducts training camps for those who are interested in competing.

There are three basic types of adventure racing: Sprints, short-course races, stage races, and full-scale expedition races.

The sprint adventure race, usually for three-person teams, is sometimes called the off-road triathlon. It typically lasts three to eight hours and includes mountain biking, paddling, and trekking oveer a course of up to 100 kilometers. Sprint races commonly include surprise events such as paintball target shooting or a Marine-style obstacle course. Balance Bar sponsors an annual series of about 10 sprints across the country.

Short-course races, sometimes known as "weekenders," range from one to three days in duration. They're often held over a weekend to allow racers to get a taste of the sport or prepare for longer races without losing time from work. That doesn't mean they're easy, by any means, since they involve 30 to 50 hours of continuous racing. As with sprints, teams are usually made up of three people. Navigation skills are typically required in short-course races but not in sprints.

Stage races are particularly popular in North America. A stage race is patterned after cycling stage races such as the Tour de France. On each day, competitors race from one point to another and then they stay for the night.

One of the biggest stage races is the Mild Seven Outdoor Quest, held annually in Asia. The 2004 race will take place Oct. 28 through Nov. 2 in Malaysian Borneo and will include mountain biking, sea and river kayaking, in-line skating, canoe and raft paddling, running, a team biathlon, and other adventure skills.

The full-scale expedition race is the original form of the sport and still the biggest challenge. An expedition race requires a variety of skills, including navigation, and involves four-person teams, usually of mixed gender.

Bike and Run Adventure Racing on a Budget

Gerald Fusil is a man who always puts his ideas into action and others follow. The founder of the Raid Gauloises, The world's first true expedition race is always on the lookout to expand the sport. The cost of competing in adventure racing has reached a level that few teams can now afford. Organisers and adventure racers are faced with high travel and insurance costs. One way to attract racers is to offer large sums in prize money, and top teams can make a living, but what about the average racer.

Last Year, During the annual Reunion D'Aventures race, Gerard Fusil added a bike and run discipline which required the four person team to share two mountain bikes during a couple of legs of the race. The trial was a success as teams were forced to think of tactics to complete the legs in the fastest possible way. Some teams doubled up on the downhill sections, others stayed, whilst the more successful set up a relay system with the rider going a set distance before leaving the bike at the edge of the track for their team mate, who would get on and then leapfrog them.

Gerard Fusil saw an opportunity to return once again to the basis of Expedition Adventure Racing. Providing teams the chance to explore a country, interface with the local population and race in exotic locations with out the need to transport large amounts of gear. Gerard Fusil announced his ideas at the Reunion D'Aventures prize giving and the world waited with bated breadth.

September 2005 saw Gerard Fusil Launch the Bike and Run Concept to the World with the Oman Adventure. Details were brief, two person teams to share one bike with only one person to be on the bike at one time. The race would be run in a number of stages including a night stage and teams had to be prepared to camp in the wild. Time was short so Gerard Fusil used the course notes from the 1992 Raid Gauloises for parts of the course.

Gerald Fusil made one other departure from the norm by pre-announcing the lengths of each stay and the names of the overnight camps. The race was to take place on the East Coast of Oman, however some of the place names were only known to the locals.

December 2005. A barmy evening camped by the sea saw Gerard Fusil briefing the gathered teams from France, Oman, UK, Réunion, Austria, Holland and Australia. Most teams had arrived in the morning so had little time to prepare. Support vehicles were shared by two teams, so competitors spent the night poring over maps and packing gear into the vehicles by torchlight.

The following day at dawn a convoy of vehicles transported the team to the start line in a nearby Wadi. The first day included a section of running only along goat tracks and this proved to be decisive as the Australian and one local Omani team got lost allowing a French team to build an unassailable lead.

Later in the week Gerard Fusil had mapped out the course with a 17k twisting climb from the sea to 1500 metres and also a section of canyoning with a number of swims.

Gerard Fusil had arranged camping or bivouacs in a number of scenic areas, with the stages starting in the early morning most teams would finish around mid-day or early afternoon.

The terrain in Oman is varied from lush oasis to harsh rocky hillsides and of course seas of sandiness where the teams finished the race. Gerard Fusil held the prize giving in Muscat the winners being a husband and wife team Wilsa Sport Helly Hansen from France. Second place went to the Australians and a Local Omani team came in third.

Teams came from many different backgrounds, Adventure racers, tri-athletes, marathon runners, mountain bikers; the final count saw adventure racers however leading the way.

Virtually all teams adopted the general tactic of leap frogging, however there were at least a couple of incidents when teams missed the bike, including one on the long climb for an all female team which required an extra 4k to be covered to collect the bike!

The Inaugural race proved to be a success and now Gerald Fusil has announced the second race of the series which will return to a different area of Oman at the end of November.

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