Shenandoah Adventure Weekend continues to grow

Participants in the AquaBlaze race pose with their medals after last year's race. The Shenandoah Adventure Weekend will be held for the eighth straight year this weekend. Courtesy photo/Bushnell Photography

The Shenandoah Adventure Weekend is back for its eighth year.

The event is being held in Bentonville this weekend and includes four different types of adventure races for four different levels of adventure racing.

Adventure Enablers, run by Mark and Margo Harris, is putting on the event once again this year. Margo Harris said she’s seen it grow with each year.

“We have about 100 participants in each event,” said Margo Harris, Director of Marketing and Communications for Adventure Enablers. “Every year it grows a little bit. We don’t see huge growth, because the adventure racing community is kind of small. But with our beginner adventure races, those are the ones that are really growing, and so that just means we’re getting more and more people to learn about the races.”

Adventure racing typically involves mountain biking, trekking and canoeing. Adventure Enablers has races all over the country throughout the year. Harris said they do around 100 races each year, usually doing at least two races per weekend.

Two participants in last year's AquaBlaze race ride through the course. The AquaBlaze is one of four races that will be held this weekend in the Shenandoah Adventure Weekend held in Bentonville. Courtesy photo/Bushnell Photography

Registration for this weekend’s races ended Tuesday.

There are three races on Saturday. The Shenandoah AquaBlaze, the Shenandoah Epic Adventure Race and the Shenandoah Strong Adventure Race. The Shenandoah Tenderfoot Adventure Race will be held on Sunday. All four races start at Downtown Canoe Company in Bentonville.

The races go through Shenandoah River State Park, George Washington National Park, Massanutten Mountain and around Woodstock Tower.

The Shenandoah Epic Adventure Race is the longest-running event of the weekend. It is a 24-hour race, which starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday. There are three different categories: soloist, two-person team and three/four-person team. The race is over 100 miles with various check-in points.

The Shenandoah Strong covers about 50 miles and also starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday. It features 12-15 miles of canoeing, 15-20 miles of trekking and 15-20 miles on a mountain bike. There are categories for soloist, two-person teams and three-person teams.

A participant in last year's Tenderfoot Adventure Race walks through the course. The Tenderfoot Adventure Race is one of the most popular family events in the Shenandoah Adventure Weekend. Courtesy photo/Bushnell Photography

The Shenandoah AquaBlaze, which Harris said is the fastest growing of the four races, starts at 10 a.m. It involves 10 miles of paddling and 13.4 miles of running or trekking. There are soloist and two-person team categories.

On Sunday, the Tenderfoot Adventure Race will be held. It is for families and beginners. There are two types of courses for the Tenderfoot Adventure Races. One is the Family course for families of two-and-three person teams and must include one member 16 years or younger. The other type is the Adventure Class course, which is a little longer and more challenging.

The race will be six to 20 miles and starts at 10 a.m. on Sunday. There are prizes and awards given for each race.

Harris said she’s noticed more local people taking an interest in adventure racing over the last few years.

“We are seeing more and more local people, especially since we also have our Shenandoah Leaf Peeper event, it’s a festival of leaves race that we have in October,” Harris said. “And that’s out at Skyline High School. That definitely is very local focused. So people have started to see more of what we have to offer and come to more of our events.”

A participant in last year's Tenderfoot Adventure Race walks through the course. This year's Tenderfoot Adventure Race will be held Sunday, starting in Bentonville. Courtesy photo/Bushnell Photography

Harris said that they have a lot of different races in the area throughout the year, including the Shenanduro that is held on May 12 in Bentonville. The Shenanduro has several different types of races, including a 5K race, a 10K race, a half-marathon and a six- to 12-hour mountain bike race.

Harris said the best part about adventure racing is that there are so many different levels for it.

“The whole point is to enable people’s adventures whatever they may be,” Harris said. “So we’ve got something for everyone because we start off with beginners adventure races or a one-mile trail run to a half marathon, mountain bike events. So you really can start from the beginning and keep finding the next level with us if that’s what you want to do.”

Competitors paddle through the AquaBlaze Race in last year's Shenandoah Adventure Weekend. This year's event is being held Saturday and Sunday in Bentonville. Courtesy photo/Bushnell Photography