We need to bring Classic-style racing to the lower 48. Insofar as that is possible. We should because it’s awesome, and because I think it’d be reasonably possible to approximate the experience in many important ways (but definitely not all). We because I reckon there aren’t too many essential players in that process who don’t read this at least occasionally.
Ryan got the ball rolling very well with Le Parcour de Wild, which had a silly name (sorry Ryan) and a perfect course.
Acceptable Modes of Travel: Foot, Bike, Packraft, Ski, Snowshoe, or other human-powered means, so long as all gear and supplies are carried throughout the duration of the trek (no dropping, or caching) and all land use regulations are observed. Bikes may not be rolled in designated
Wilderness Areas. Northern Boundary: The red line on the map indicates a northern boundary, north of which travel is not allowed to post a FINISH. FROM W TO E: From the latitude line near the southern tip of Lake Couer d’Alene, ID W to the E Boundary of the Flat Indian Reservation; from the Reservation boundary NW of Seeley Lake, that boundary follows the National Forest boundary NE to the Wilderness Boundary, the Wilderness Boundary N to Inspiration Pass, the County Line N to the latitude line intersecting Hungry Horse Dam, the latitude line E to the Glacier National Park boundary, the Glacier National Park / Flathead River / Summit Creek / Highway 2 boundary (whichever is furthest north) E to the Reservation boundary, the Reservation boundary SE to Heart Butte and then S to the Wilderness boundary and then NE to the Marias River, and the latitude line E to the Montana-North Dakota Line. 1. You may travel anywhere you like along the S and N boundaries of the route — Highways 200 and 2, but no other designated paved highways. Of note: Highways 89 and 287 (Eastern side) and Highway 83 (Western side, the Swan Valley Highway) are OFF LIMITS. Lots and lots of other dirt and some minor paved roads in there to get where you want to go.
A wilderness race in the lower 48 would provide an immersive wilderness experience, with multiple competitive route options, and would not merely be a mountain biking or trail running affair. Ideally packrafting would feature prominently, and out-of-the-box modes of travel would be possible. There are very few places in the lower 48 which would work for all of these.
Duration is a trickier issue. We found out with the Arizona Endurance series that there’s a sweet spot insofar as length goes, where a course is both challenging and accessible (at least relatively). And while I’d be inclined, if I jumped back into being a race director, to keep my reputation intact (a la KMC) and never have more than 3 finishers nor more than 10 starters, that might well limit the fun a bit. The idea here is to provide accomplished backpackers with a catalyst to take things to the next level.
Under summer conditions, the Parcour course could be done in ~3 days at race pace (even without the possible east side mtb option). Cool, but a bit too much of a pure biking affair. Do the same course in late May, and things get quite a bit more serious, and slow. Might want to trim it down.
The Bob is perfect for this. Surely there are possibilities in the Teton Wilderness as well, the Frank Church complex, etc. I’ve been trying to think of a route in southern Utah that wouldn’t be an obvious mountain bike course, and haven’t come up with anything good.
Ideas for a wilderness race course?
Would you do one in the lower 48?