Time for adventure: Shenandoah Epic Weekend set for Saturday

Two participants ride their bikes in the Shenandoah Family Adventure Race held last year. This year's race is held on Sunday in Front Royal. Courtesy Alan Bushnell/Bushnell Photography

The Rev3adventure Shenandoah Epic Weekend is almost here.

The four-race weekend will be held Saturday and Sunday in Bentonville for the fifth consecutive year. There are expected to be around 500 participants in the four races — the 26-hour Shenandoah Epic Race, the 13-mile AquaBlaze, the 12-hour Shenandoah Strong and the Family Adventure Race.

“It’s one of the biggest races in the country, because we have so many races going on the same weekend,” said Margo Harris, Director of Marketing and Communications for Rev3adventure. “We always hold it at Shenandoah River State Park, that’s where it starts. Then the races go all over George Washington National Park and Massanutten mountain and around Woodstock tower.”

Harris’ husband, Mark, is race director for Rev3adventure along with Mike Spiller. Five years ago they thought the area would be a great place to have adventure races, and it’s been a big hit.

Adventure racing typically involves trekking, mountain biking and canoeing. Rev3adventure has races all over the country throughout the year.

Two participants in last year's Shenandoah Epic, check out their guide during their race. The Shenandoah Epic will be held on Saturday at 9 a.m. Courtesy Alan Bushnell/Bushnell Photography

The biggest of the four races is the Shenandoah Epic race. It starts Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Downriver Canoe Company, just outside the Shenandoah River State Park. There are three categories, soloist, two-person team and four-person team. The race is over 100 miles and features various check-in points.

“Most of our racers are repeat racers,” Margo Harris said. “So we have elite adventure racers who come and they come from all over. Then we have people who are trying it out or people who have done shorter events, who are now trying to do the longer version.”

The Shenandoah Strong, which used to be known as the Sprint, is now longer than before. It also starts on Saturday at 9 a.m. at Downriver Canoe Company and covers 40 to 50 miles. The Shenandoah Strong features about 12-15 miles of canoeing, 15-20 miles of trekking and 15-20 miles on a mountain bike. Racers have 12 hours to complete the race. There are three categories: soloist, two-person teams and three-person teams.

The Shenandoah AquaBlaze is just canoeing and trekking. The race begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Downriver Canoe Company. It starts with 13 miles of canoeing, followed by 13 miles of trekking. There are two categories: soloist and two-person team. The race starts on Saturday at Downriver Canoe Company.

Margo Harris said the most popular event is the Family Adventure Race, which is held on Sunday. Parents team up with one or two family members age 5-16 and follow the provided map via canoe, bike and foot to a variety of checkpoints. Teams have three hours to find as many checkpoints as possible. Each checkpoint and challenge is given a different point value. The rankings will be determined by the highest point accumulation in the shortest amount of time.

At major checkpoints teams will have mystery challenges and questions to answer before they can move on to find additional checkpoints. The race starts Sunday at 10 a.m. at Downriver Canoe Company.

“That’s fun and that’s exciting, because that’s families getting outside and doing cool stuff and they’re doing it together,” Margo Harris said of the Family Adventure Race. “They’re out participating together, which is really nice. Probably in a way they’ve never done before — running through the woods and reading a map and paddling on a canoe and hopping on their bike, running around finding check points.”

Maps are provided for each race, and there are prizes for each event as well. Registration for each race ended on April 12.

Margo Harris said that she and her husband moved to Front Royal from Chantilly in the last 18 months because they enjoy the area so much. She said the area is a great place to have the four-race event.

“It’s beautiful out here,” Harris said. “It’s perfect. It’s got the river, the biking — it’s all right there in Front Royal.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com