Adventure Race/Family Duathlon

Imagine spending up to 12 hours hauling butt over 50 miles of rugged terrain via foot, bike and canoe. Now imagine keeping pace with your teammates as you go — and having only a map and compass to help you find your way. Sound like fun? Then maybe adventure racing really is for you.

Mountain Sports Festival Adventure Race

As a seasoned adventure racer, Norm Greenberg knows that one of the most challenging aspects of the sport has nothing to do with stamina.

“Probably most people have difficulty with the navigation,” says Greenberg. “They don’t take that part seriously enough. They train — they bike and they hike. They don’t pick up a map and train that skill.”

Greenberg and his wife, Tracyn Thayer — former Bryson City residents who now live in Maine — serve as co-directors for the Mountain Sports Festival Adventure Race through their company, Racing Ahead Inc. (They met while Thayer was competing in the 1996 Eco-Challenge and Greenberg was serving on the support team.)

“It’s a great sport,” Greenberg exclaims. “It’s not just a one-dimensional sort of sport. There are all these things going on at the same time that you have to problem-solve.”

Besides the navigation element, there’s the issue of setting the right pace for the team as a whole — which sometimes sees one teammate towing another with a bungee cord. And then there’s the challenge of remembering to eat and drink along the way, so nobody just bonks.

“People are so focused on going fast that they don’t take care of themselves,” notes Greenberg.

Along with the thrill of victory, the race serves as a U.S. Adventure Racing Association Eastern Regional Qualifier. (The event is sponsored by Montrail, Deuter, Princeton Tec, LEKI, Ecaps/Hammergel, Ultimate Directions, Suunto, Outdoor Xposure, Southern Waterways, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Adventure Racing Association.)

The strongest teams reach the finish line six or seven hours after the race begins; the race concludes at the 12-hour mark.

“No matter how bad people look, there’s always a smile on their face when they cross the finish line,” Greenberg observes.

Who to watch

As of press time, Greenberg was pinpointing the following as teams to watch (with the caveat that other powerhouse competitors might not have signed up yet): Blurred Vision (team captain: Steve Deis); the Soggy Bottom Boys (Robert Johnson, captain); Lightspeed (Jay Curwen, captain); and Quad Plus (Dwight Shuler, captain).

Best viewing spots

The finish line at Mountain Sports Festival Center; the first team will lope in around 12:30 or 1 p.m.

Family Duathlon

One of the best parts of the 5K runs I’ve done in the past — apart from the satisfaction of completing the course myself — is clapping for the little kids who cross the finish line either on their own or with mom and dad running by their side.

That same spirit of family fun is what appeals to Race Director Joe Lanahan, who’s organizing the Family Duathlon for this year’s Mountain Sports Festival presented by RBC Centura. (The RiverLink Triathlon is no longer a part of the MSF; triathlon organizers didn’t want to change the date of their event when the festival moved to May this year, notes Lanahan.)

Although awards will be given at the Family Duathlon, prizes are not the focus of the contest. “This is more of a family-outing type of event,” he observes.

And since it takes place on Mother’s Day, the veteran race director thought it would be fitting to make the duathlon something parent and child could enjoy together. Each two-person team (made up of one parent and one kid) will decide between them who’ll do what. The race includes two legs of running and one leg of cycling; the only requirement is that the child compete in two of the three segments.

The older the child, the longer the race. For example, children ages 7-9 and their parents will run a total of one mile and bike 1.5 miles. The age of the parent doesn’t matter.

“If you’re stuck with an out-of-shape parent, you’re in trouble,” jokes Lanahan.

Family Duathlon

In the Family Duathlon, two-person teams made up of one parent and one child compete in biking and running in a spirit of friendly competition. Kids ages 7-14 (in three age groups) tackle two legs of the relay, and parents compete in a third. The event takes place from 2 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 9 at French Broad River Park IV (informally known as the old speedway park) on Amboy Road in Asheville.


From downtown Asheville, take Interstate 240 west to the Brevard Road exit. Turn left at the stoplight, cross the bridge and make an immediate left onto the ramp for I-240 east. Stay on the ramp, which exits to the right onto Amboy Road. The park will be just ahead on the right. On-site parking is available.


Online (; by phone (253-3714, ask for Joe Lanahan) or until 1:30 p.m. on race day. Cost: $30/team.


Prizes will be awarded in each age division.

For details, contact Joe Lanahan at 253-3714.

Mountain Sports Festival Adventure Race

The Adventure Race on Saturday, 6 a.m.-6 p.m., features three-person teams competing on challenging terrain in mountain biking, trekking and paddling — all while navigating with map and compass. Competitors are free to form coed, male or female teams.


Nice try. The route is top secret until 6 a.m. on race day. It ends, however, at the Mountain Sports Festival Center at City/County Plaza in downtown Asheville.


$390/team. Preregistration is required. Register through Wednesday, May 5 at You can also call (207) 836-2772 and the event hosts will mail you a registration form.


Cash awards are given for the winning coed and single-gender teams; there are also plenty of prizes.

For more info, contact Norm Greenberg or Tracyn Thayer at Racing Ahead Inc. at (207) 836-2772; you can also check out

Who to watch

Since this is a first-time event for the Mountain Sports Festival, it’s anybody’s guess.

Best viewing spots

Both the running and cycling will happen in French Broad River Park IV (site of the former Asheville Motor Speedway). Cycling takes place at Asheville’s velodrome (aka the Mellowdrome), and the runners will compete on an 800-meter loop just a stone’s throw away.


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