Tired of being cooped up indoors this winter? Grab a friend and explore this West Michigan adventure!

As the entire state of Michigan is under a snow pile at the moment, some Michiganders are taking the opportunity to celebrate the snow and embrace the winter weather. The Michigan Adventure Racing team, known for creating urban races like their Zombie Edition and their ArtPrize Edition, are among those looking to give Mother Nature a great big hug.

This February, the Michigan Adventure Racing team will be presenting a Winter Edition for those excited to brave the elements. The Winter Edition of the Urban Adventure Race takes place in Grand Rapids at the Cannonsburg Ski Area on February 8th, 2014. The race is considered to be the largest winter race in the United States!

The race takes about three hours to complete and includes challenges of Amazing Race caliber, running, snowbiking, snowshoeing, and orienteering. Teams are made up of either two-person male, two-person female, or two-person co-ed. Each team will run to various checkpoints to accumulate as many points as possible in the three hours. Some challenges are kept secret until right before the race; however, others include snowbiking and snowshoeing (fat bikes and snowshoes will be provided). Registration is still open and more information is available on Facebook and the race website.

Mark VanTongeren, director of Michigan Adventure Racing, has created a new facet of the racing industry in West Michigan. These races combine athletic ability, scavenger hunts, scenic backgrounds, and other outdoor skills. As VanTongeren explains, “[The Winter Edition] came about after realizing how many people were showing up to our warm weather adventure races! We were pleasantly surprised to find that the race is even more popular than our summer race.”

fatbikingThe racing culture in West Michigan has grown exponentially in the past few years, and the Urban Adventure Race plays a large role in such growth. “Every big city in America has a Color Run and a Warrior Dash and a Starbucks and a Target. No one has our adventure race or Founders Brewing Company or sandy Lake Michigan beaches. These events are a key part of the quality of life of residents here,” notes VanTongeren. Certainly not overlooked, these races encourage participants to get outside, be healthy, and enjoy Michigan.

VanTongeren and his team hope to increase the visibility around adventure racing and educate others on using a map, compass, and staying more active. Additionally, each race highlights a certain charity partner with ten percent of race profits used as a donation. The Winter Edition Urban Adventure Race charity partner is Summer Journeys, an organization offering educational programs for students. The race profits will be used for scholarships.

“We are very grateful for how people in West Michigan have fallen in love with the race. It’s like nothing anyone has done before as most races are repeated over and over again. Our adventure races are done nowhere else, and each year every checkpoint is different than the year before,” summarizes VanTongeren. Not ready to participate in the race this year? Friends, family, and the public can experience the race by taking copies of the race maps and walking the challenges as they happen in real time.

Are you going to brave the February elements at this winter’s Urban Adventure Race?

Photo credit: Michigan Adventure Racing: Jamie Geysbeek

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