After leaving a flagged rock at their original location, participants follow a series of instructions that should bring them back to their starting point. As you can see, participants came up short of their starting points. (Chelsea Novak/Castlegar News)

Adventure race to pit participants against elements

An adventure race is coming to the Kootenays.

An adventure race is coming to the Kootenays.

The Four Elements Adventure Race, or FearBC, will pit participants against the elements (fire, earth, air and river — or water) over a 50-plus-kilometer course.

“People are going to get the course the morning of the race. That’s sort of the beauty of adventure racing,” explains John Ford, owner of Swamp Donkey Adventure Racing and an organizer of FearBC.

Ford and other FearBC organizers held a free navigation clinic last Wednesday for anyone who was interested in brushing up on their navigation skills before the race. The clinic built on just some of the skills that racers will need to complete FearBC, like taking a bearing with a compass and how to locate UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) coordinates on a map.

“They’ll be given UTM coordinates and that will correspond with the checkpoints that they have to find throughout the course, and that will also correspond with their bearings or direction of travel that they have to go on the 50-plus-k,” says Ford.

Adventure races are multidisciplinary backcountry races, usually for teams.

For FearBC, teams of three will carry a passport that will be stamped at each checkpoint. Each team will also receive a topographical map and may also receive more detailed maps of sections of the race. There will also be written instructions on how to get from one checkpoint to another.

Participants must be able to use a compass and plot UTM coordinates to participate in the race, but those are just some the skills they’ll need.

“Biking and we’ll have some trail running, trekking and navigating,” says Ford.

The FearBC website also gives a cryptic warning about special tasks: “Through out the race course you will be given instructions to complete ALL FOUR ELEMENT special tasks. No special skills will be required but FEAR will be present.”

Asked what fitness level racers need to be at to participate, Ford said, “We have had racers over the past 11 years in our events everywhere from 14-years-old all the way up to 74. Various fitness levels. A lot of people think, ‘Oh, I could never do this’; They go out and they do and it’s probably the greatest adventure or greatest accomplishment that they’ve had in their life.”

FearBC takes place on Saturday, Sept. 30 and registration is open right up until the week of the race.

Those interested in participating can visit or find FearBC on Facebook (@fearbc), Twitter (@fearbc) and Instagram (@fear.bc).


Participants used all the skills they’ll need during FearBC to travel through the bush. (Chelsea Novak/Castlegar News)

John Ford (left) led the exercises at the FearBC navigation clinic last Wednesday. (Chelsea Novak/Castlegar News)