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What is Adventure Racing?

AR is the sport of navigating with a map and compass through a course to locate checkpoints via trekking, mountain biking, and paddling. There may also be other disciplines that highlight special features of the venue, like caving, rappelling, climbing, coasteering, sailing, packrafting, and other special team challenges.  Some events allow solo racers in addition to teams, ranging in number from 2 to 5.  The format is flexible and will vary a lot from one organizer and venue to the next.  You will always be provided with written instructions (or a "passport") that outline the rules of travel, and a method for recording your successful location of each checkpoint along the way to the finish line.

What is a checkpoint?

Checkpoints are locations marked on your map that your team must find by reading the map and using a compass.  In the field, the CPs are marked by a bright orange and white flag or other highly visible marker used by the organizer.  There will be a punch with a specific pin pattern with the flag, which you use to punch the CP box on your punchcard, proving you were at the right location.  Some organizers will use an electronic timing chip instead, as in orienteering.  You may also be required to plot the CPs on your map, using UTM coordinates.  For the Unbridled Women AR, your maps will be plotted already and you will not be required to do any UTM plotting, although there will be some optional points available to you if you are familiar with UTM coordinates.

Do I need to know how to navigate?

You need to have at least one person on your team who is comfortable reading a map and using a compass.  Depending on the difficulty level of the race, CPs may be located on or off trail, on obvious features in the terrain, or on more subtle features.  It is typical to be given a topographic map, which allows you to read the land by way of contour lines.  Often, you'll also receive supplemental maps, like a park map, mountain bike trail map, or the like.  For the Unbridled Women AR, you will receive a park map that depicts all of the hiking and biking trails and other park infrastructure, and will be able to complete the race using only the park map.  There will be many optional CPs available that will require the ability to read a topographic map, however, and so we encourage you to familiarize yourself with this type of map, in order to make the most of your race experience.  Orienteering Louisville will be sponsoring one leg of the race, where you will have the option of locating CPs on an orienteering map.  Visit the OLOU website for information about upcoming orienteering events in the Louisville area where you can practice. 

How can I learn to navigate?

There are orienteering clubs around the country that are a great resource for learning to navigate. Kentucky is fortunate to have three clubs that offer events around the state: Orienteering Cincinnati (, Orienteering Louisville ( and Bluegrass Orienteering Club (  Unbridled Women will also be offering navigation clinics throughout the year, so join our mailing list if you want to receive information about those opportunities.  You can also find navigation workshops through your local outdoor retail store.  There are all kinds of instructional videos on the internet, as well.  Here are some good basic ones to get you started.  

AR Navigation

AR Navigation