Trekking through Patagonia in the Tierra Viva Race. Photo: Tierra Viva

If you’ve ever watched The Amazing Race, you’ve likely wondered how well you would fare on an around the world adventure- navigating unfamiliar cultures, communicating in foreign languages and taking on challenges unlike anything you’ve ever done at home.

If you’re serious about it, and don’t like your chances of being selected for a prime time television show (and getting all that vacation time from work), here are six of the world’s best adventure contests. They may not be televised, but they’re sure to push you to your limits and provide an unforgettable experience.


Big Blue Lake Tahoe 36

Photo: Squaw Valley Lodge / CC

Every August, adventure racers head to Nevada for the Lake Tahoe 36, put on by Big Blue Adventure. Each team is given a map and must find the route they think best, stopping at check points as they travel 20 miles by kayak, 50 miles by mountain bike (with a 12,000 foot altitude gain) and 20 miles on foot.

There are no cash prizes for winners; everyone competes for pride (and a commemorative prize for the top three finishers).


The Global Scavenger Hunt

Photo: William D. Chalmers

The annual Global Scavenger Hunt lasts three weeks and sends the savviest of globe trotters around the world in 25 teams of two. For a $9,900 entry fee (per person), and provided you’re selected, you’ll visit ten different countries and be an “active sight seer” in each. Solve riddles, taste exotic dishes and explore new sights, everywhere from Dubai to Iceland to Athens.

If you think you’re up to the task, apply today – and see where the 2012 event takes you!


Coast to Coast

To win Speight’s Coast to Coast, racers have to travel across New Zealand’s South Island. The distance is 150 miles: contestants bike 87 (including a mountain state), run 22 and kayak 42.

The 30 year old event includes three races: the Longest Day challenges individuals to complete the course without stopping. The Two-Day event, with a night’s rest, has individual and team categories.


Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic

The Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic takes a minimalist approach to rules. Racers choose how to travel, whether by foot, ski, or even paraglider (nothing motorized) – but they must carry all their equipment and leave nothing behind.

A new course is chosen every three years; they usually run about 150 miles and go  through at least one of Alaska’s mountain ranges.


Primal Quest

Photo: Primal Quest

Primal Quest is a race- and an endurance race at that. Around 50 teams of four head into the wilderness with only a map and a compass for navigation and fight for $150,000 in prize money.

They’ll have to climb, paddle, bike and swim- without resting- through South Dakota’s Badlands. The last Primal Quest took place in 2009, but rumor has it that there will be a 2012 race.


Tierra Viva

Photo: Tierra Viva

In the Tierra Viva, four person teams trek more than 300 miles in no more than six days, through the mountains, valleys, lakes and rivers of Argentina’s Patagonia. No required stops means they can hike, climb, bike and kayak day and night, through some of the most beautiful and difficult terrain on the planet.

Considering the $10,000 first place prize, it’s unlikely anyone will stop to rest for long.


If you think this level of adventure is for you, KMS Events has a calendar of upcoming adventure races around the world. Also check out the United States Adventure Racing Association for resources, information and racing clubs by state.


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