By Becky Killian / Managing Editor
A national adventure race competition at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park this fall could draw about 240 racers as well as their families, supporters and spectators.
State tourism and parks officials held a press conference at the park Wednesday about the United States Adventure Racing Association’s 2011 National Championship that will be held Oct. 6-8 at the park.
The non-stop 24 hour race has coed teams from across the country trekking, mountain biking and paddling canoes. Going into the race, all teams will know is that the race will begin and end at the park. To navigate, they will use a compass and a topographical map as the course is revealed to them at checkpoints.
It is the first time the national race will be held in Kentucky and state officials said they expect those attending the race will be drawn back to the area due to its rugged beauty and challenging terrain.
“This park is an absolutely perfect place for this race,” Gerry van der Meer, Kentucky park commissioner, said as he opened the conference.
Stephanie Ross, race director and a veteran competitor of about 150 races over the past eight years, said the race being held in Kentucky is the culmination of “years of wandering in the wilderness.”
Ross said the course racers will follow will be interesting and engaging.
“The course that we’ve designed, people are going to see a lot,” Ross said.
Racers will all start at the same time and Ross said the top teams are typically only minutes apart. Teams must stay together as they travel the course.
“You’re only as fast as your slowest people,” Ross said.
Prior national races have been held in Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and California, Ross said. Kentucky is a good central location for the race since Ross said large clusters of racing teams are located in Tennessee, Michigan, Indiana and St. Louis.
“This is a great area for teams to cross train,” Ross said.
Over the course of the competition year, about 40 qualifying races are held and the top teams are invited to the national competition. Masters and collegiate teams also can race.
Other national races have seen the number of teams vary from 50 to more than 80 and Ross expects about 75 to participate in this year’s competition.
“I hope we have a record crowd,” Ross said.
Spectators will be provided maps that will designate viewing areas for the race, Ross said. They will also have the opportunity to enjoy interpretative hikes to local scenic areas.
By Becky Killian / Managing Editor
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