By Charlotte Underwood / Staff writer
Around 80 people will test their mental and physical limits in Laurel County this weekend at the inaugural Sheltowee Extreme 5 Adventure Race, which will be held at Laurel River Lake Recreation Area on Saturday, July 13. Hosted by the London-Laurel County Tourist Commission and Flying Squirrel Adventures, the 12-hour Adventure Race will combine orienteering, navigation, athletic skill, and endurance, as individuals or teams race to the finish line. Racers are coming to Laurel County from six states, with Miss., being the furthest distance away.
Adventure racing takes place in forest and mountainous areas. It forces the competitor to push their bodies to extreme limits, according to founder of Flying Squirrel Adventures Stephanie Ross. Racers must not only be in top physical condition but be able to use a map and compass type orienteering skills as well. Though the course design will be flexible to allow participants to tailor the race to their abilities, solid navigation skills will be needed to complete the course. This is not a race recommended for beginners, according to Ross. The race will begin and end at the picnic shelter north of the dam at the Laurel River Lake Recreation Area. The shelter will be race headquarters and a good place for spectators to watch racers transition from event to event. Racers will compete with little more than a knife, lighter, compass, map, headlamp and first-aid kit to see who can reach the finish line first. Check in for the race is from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., with the race beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 9 p.m. Rodney Hendrickson, Executive Director of the London-Laurel County Tourist Commission, will be the honorary official race starter.
Competitors of the Sheltowee Extreme can enter as part of 4 person teams or as soloists. Several local competitors will also be proving their skills, according to Ross. The event is a regional qualifier for the United States Adventure Racing Association National Championship.
“I am very happy with the number turnout for this race, especially that some local people are competing as well,” Ross said, adding that these type of races really “grow geometrically from the grassroots of those who participated.”
According to Ross, competitors will be given a list of checkpoints throughout the area and will be required to reach those points by a specific mode of travel.
“Some checkpoints will require the competitors to trail run, some will require mountain biking while others will require participants to kayak to the points. There is no specific order in which the teams or soloist much reach the designated points,” Ross said.
Ross said she made the decision to organize an adventure race in Laurel County because of the “natural beauty of the terrain, as well as the numerous options when considering where to place checkpoints for the race.”
Ross said that the Laurel River Lake Recreation Area offered an outstanding mixture of mountain biking, paddling, swimming and trekking over the scenic and rugged terrain of the Daniel Boone National Forest.”
“The location is great and we will definitely be bringing the race back to Laurel County next year. We have had great support from the London-Laurel County Tourist Commission,” Ross said.
Baymont Inn at exit 29 in Corbin is the official host hotel for the event. The awards ceremony will be held on Saturday night at 10 p.m., one hour after the race is over. There will be a used gear swap from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday evening in the parking lot of the Baymont Inn with plenty of used gear for sell. Spectators are invited to come out to the recreation area and watch as racers test their mettle against nature.
“People tend to be fairly amazed once they realize what these people are doing; it is a pretty impressive sight to see these people jump on their bikes or in their kayaks all geared out,” Ross said.