thisABILITY Adventure’s Virtual Adventure Challenges (VAC) are the closest thing to Adventure Racing as you can get - with all of the challenge and competition as the real deal, but without the mass start and the flags (and without the COVID). There are options for all levels of adventurers, high quality maps and as much competition as you want. Sign up, receive your maps in the mail and complete the course using only map and compass to navigate. If you want to see how you stack up, send in your GPX file from the tracking device of your choice (not provided) and we'll verify your score and share the results. Fun, right?
In thisABILITY Adventure's VACs, there will be no typical checkpoints (CP) or controls to physically punch. Points are scored when a participant's GPS / GPX track crosses through a virtual CP as represented on the course maps.
The checkpoint placement and clues are based off topographical data, published park trail maps, strava global heat map and satellite images. Use your judgement to locate the virtual CP circle given the info you have on the map and what you see in the physical environment while you are on the course. Be sure to consult the clue sheet, as most points are placed on a distinguishable topographical feature such as a high point, reentrant confluence or stream crossing. All points will have a distinguishable feature such as a rock cairn, s stick teepee, or a unique physical feature.
To sign up for any of our VACs, go to the specific VAC page on this website and follow the link to the corresponding Run Signup registration page. Runsignup.com is super easy to use and secure.
Go here to see our VACs in progress.
Typical adventure races are priced at about $10 per hour, our challenges are an affordable way to train at less than 1/2 of that cost. Prices will range based on length, but for example, a 6 hour Challenge is $25.
What you get
You will be mailed your high-quality, color topographical maps with checkpoints printed on all-weather, Rite in Rain paper enclosed in a resealable, 8.5 x 11 clear plastic bag
Race rules and course details
Race clue sheet
Once you've completed the challenge, you will receive your race results and map overlay of your track via email.
Option to be ranked against the other participants who also participated during the competitive time frame (usually the first 3 months after the course is launched)
Option for any footage you submit to be included in our future videos
Like adventure racing, our VACs will include a variety of disciplines that may include biking, trekking and paddling, but may also include others like packrafting. Requirements for each challenge may vary and will be described in further detail in the description of the specific challenge.
These challenges are designed to take you off the beaten track and to mimic adventure races as closely as possible. For that reason, we feel strongly about the gear you should plan to take. You will need the basic gear required for each discipline dependant upon the specific challenge, ie. a mountain bike for any challenge the includes single track, and you will need basic sustenance and first aid for all VACs. Go to our gear specific page for a detailed list.
thisABILITY Adventures designs our VACs to be accessible to any adventurous athlete regardless of adventure racing experience or skills.
For this reason, participants have two choices in regard to navigation:
Participants / teams who choose to use GPS enabled devices for navigation will be scored and ranked, but they will be ranked in the GPS division.
Participants / teams who choose not to use GPS enabled devices for navigation may be scored and ranked in the Adventure Racing division.
More details on ranking can be found here.
Complete the Challenge
Participants are ranked based on the most points in the shortest time.
thisABILITY Adventures' VACs have three types of points:
Endurance / “Enduro” Checkpoints = 3 points each
Enduro points are all on trails and designed for athletes who want a multi sport ultra challenge but new to Adventure Race navigation. These courses are perfect training for athletes who typically race on an AR team with a navigator. Enduro courses can be physically challenging and have “on the clock” transitions but lack the off trail navigation skills and experience necessary to successfully complete the Adventure course. It is recommended to be familiar with basic map and compass skills. Participants attempting to clear the Endurance course should have enough fitness to sustain continuous activity for the duration of the event. That being said, enduro participants may choose to do as much or as little of the course as they want. Limited gear is necessary to complete the shorter duration, on-trail course.
Adventure Checkpoints = 4 points each
The Adventure course is designed for participants / teams that have some adventure racing experience in races that are 4 to 8 hours. They should be proficient with a map and compass, be comfortable trekking off trail and able to hold a bearing for at least 200 meters in raw woods. These intermediate points are between 30 and 150 meters off the trail. Racers will likely have to bushwack, bike-whack, cross streams or traverse elevation to obtain the point. Participants attempting to clear the Adventure course should have enough fitness to sustain continuous activity for at least 8 hours. Additional safety gear and first aid training is recommended due to extended duration and potential for an off course accident or injury.
Pro Checkpoints = 5 points each
The Pro course is only recommended for participants / teams with experience adventure racing in races more than 12 hours. For safety reasons, the pro course is not recommended for beginners or inexperienced solo racers. Points usually require advanced navigation, plotting points, measuring distances, pace counting, changing course strategy and excellent time management. Typically, pro points are more than 75 meters from the nearest attack point. Participants attempting to clear the Pro course should have enough fitness to sustain continuous and strenuous activity for at least 10+ hours. Robust safety gear and first aid training is recommended due to extended duration and potential for an off course accident or injury. Pro points are NOT printed on races maps. Participants must plot the pro points themselves.
Participants who wish to be scored must submit their gpx file (Strava, Garmin, Polar, etc.) and their start and end times. This may be from any GPS enabled device that is accurate enough to show the virtual CP has been obtained once the gpx track is overlaid on the race map. Consider using devices that “ping” their location every few seconds so the GPX track is accurate. Trackers that only “ping” every 2 to 5 minutes may not be accurate enough to obtain points in a VAC. A GPX track and activity summary may be submitted for each team mate as long as the team participated in the challenge at the same time.
Because GPS devices are not perfectly accurate, racers who are at a CP location should consider making sure their device is in clear view of the sky and lingering in the virtual CP area for at least 30 seconds to be sure their track is accurate enough for scoring.
Each Challenge will be designated with an official length of time allowed for completion. Since course strategy is a lot of the fun of adventure racing, our challenges are designed to be difficult to "clear" (obtain ALL the points) and will involve some time management to maximize the points obtained in the given time frame. In other words, most teams are going to need to choose which points to go for and which points to give up if they are going to complete the course in the time allotted.
Clock time is used for official ranking. On your score sheet, document the actual clock time for the start, transitions and finish from a cell phone or other accurate timekeeping device.
Start time begins once you leave for the challenge from the virtual start point. The GPX track of the participant / teammate must also pass through the virtual finish feature indicated on the map upon completing the race. Basically, don’t head straight back to your car after getting the last CP.
Each VAC will have a competitive period. From the date the race is launched, participants can choose any day within the competitive period to complete the challenge and submit their results. However, participants must complete the challenge in one 'go'.
To be ranked in the AR division, participants may not use any GPS enabled device for navigation during the event such as a watch or phone to review their track, locate their position, review online maps, measure distance, obtain altitude or gather any other navigational info or to check if the CP was obtained. Checking the time, starting / stopping your tracking and taking pictures / video are the only allowable activities on a GPS enabled device. Because you are likely training for a typical Adventure Race, it is recommended to use a watch / device that is typically allowed in “official” ARWS and USARA adventure races. Only barometric pressure altimeters (non GPS) may be used during events. Only magnetic bike computers (non GPS) may be used during events.
Participants in the GPS division may use smart watches, cell phones, handheld GPS devices, GPS enabled bike computers to complete the course. The only limitation is that they may not preplot event checkpoints in their GPS devices.
All participants may research the route prior to the race using digital or printed literature readily available to the general public. Once participants have received their maps, they may not “prerun” the course or otherwise purposely familiarize themselves with the physical location prior competing in the event.
Please be respectful of people’s property! thisABILITY Adventures LLC designs races in such a way that participants will not be encouraged to cross private property. In most cases, private property will be out off limits and penalties will be incurred if a participant’s track encroaches into the off limits zone.
Be respectful of park hours! Park open / closed hours will be covered in the specific race details as well as the race brief. Be sure to plan your course and timeline so you can be out of areas/parks by the time they are closed.
Leave no trace. Be respectful to others enjoying the area and behave in such a way that it is not obvious to the general public or park staff that you are participating in a competitive event. Be discrete if you venture off of official park trails.
The safety of VAC participants is extremely important to the team at thisABILITY Adventures. Similar to typical Adventure Racing, virtual adventure challenges are inherently dangerous. It is critical that participants know the limitations of their skills, experience, endurance, navigation and gear. Because many areas do not have reliable cell service, participants (especially solo racers) are encouraged to use GPS safety devices such as Spot trackers, Garmin inReach or other one or two way satellite communication devices. In our VACs, Adventure and Pro points require participants to navigate through raw forest to obtain checkpoints. If an injury occurred, participants may not be within sight or shouting distance from a trail. A satellite communicator could save your life.
thisABILITY Adventures LLC. assumes no responsibility for your safety while on the course and should not be relied upon for a participant’s emergency contact or support.
Before participating in a thisABILITY Adventures VAC, please take all available precautions and preparations to obtain the skills, experience, fitness and gear needed to successfully participate in an outdoor adventure event. We are happy answer any questions and/or help participants with choosing the right course. Simply email us at thisABILITYracing@gmail.com.
Why suffer in silence? Take a go-pro along or just a cell phone and take a few minutes of video here and there to complain to the camera or better yet, to catch a glimpse of the beautiful scenery that you worked hard to get to. Make sure to get some actions shots, too! Decide later what you want the world to see and send to us. We'd love to include your footage to share what adventure racing is all about on our youtube page and other social media outlets!
Submit Your Results
Participants who wish to be scored must submit their gpx file (Strava, Garmin, Polar, etc.) and clue sheet via email to
Your track will then be overlaid on the map and scored. Scores and PDF of the overlay will be returned to the participant / team via email. You can expect your results within 72 hours if not sooner!
Since the course will be open for an extended time and because of the competitive nature of our VACs, please do not publicly share your gps activity.
To get credit for a checkpoint, the racer’s GPX track must have touched the outer circle of the CP.
Sometimes when GPS devices lose track of the satellites, they produce anomalies in the GPX tracks. For this reason, if a GPX track is a perfectly straight line for more than 400M and it passes through a CP circle, the CP will not be counted unless it is obvious to an outside observer that the underlying trail was followed resulting in a proper CP virtual punch.
For teams, only one participant’s track needs to pass through the point in order to obtain the point.
See examples below.
Participants / teams will be penalized one point per minute that they exceed the published event duration.
One point will be deducted for every 10 meters a participants GPX track is inside an off-limits section of the race if it produced a safety concern or added an advantage to the team. An example of a safety concern is riding a bike down an off limits road. An example of an advantage would be cutting through an off limits neighborhood instead of going around.
Share Your Experience
You're done! Indulge in your favorite guilty pleasure. You've earned it! And, if you've gotten the adventure racing bug, chances are you are going through the choices you made during the challenge and thinking about what you'd do differently if you could do it again. It's part of the draw! To help inspire others, we encourage you to write a race brief while the experience is fresh and share it on your social and the ARC website.
We'd also love to hear what you thought. Email us with the down and dirty or go old school and give us a call. We're always trying to improve our offerings, so honest detailed feedback is appreciated! And... don't forget to send us any photos and video you took along the way. A picture is worth a thousand words!
Sharing your results is optional, but isn’t it fun to see how you stack up? Your time might even become the time to beat! If you choose to be ranked, we will add your results to the results webpage.
When you register for a VAC, you will need to specify whether you’d like your results to be included and whether you are choosing to do the race with or without the aid of a GPS device for navigation. No need for confusion here. Everyone will need to track their activity with a GPS enabled device, but for those who also want to use GPS to help them navigate, let us know that you used it for navigational purposes when you submit your results. There will be separate divisions for both.
Coming soon! We are in the process of working with The Opportunity Center to design some sweet swag that will be available directly from them as an optional add on to our offerings. Stay tuned! In order to keep the cost of our challenges low, swag will not be included in the cost of the challenge. The Opportunity Center offers great prices and unique, quality items while also providing training and employment aimed at enabling individuals with disabilities.
We share as much as we can on our thisABILITY Racing Facebook, our Youtube channel, our Instragram feed and last but not least, here, on our website. It's our hope that by sharing, we will not only grow the sport, but also inspire others. And, integral to everything we do, we focus on what we can do instead of what we can't. Don't 'dis' your ability!
Find a Real Race
So, you've done a thisABILITY Adventures Virtual Adventure Challenge, now you're ready to take on a real Adventure Race! If you don't know already, you'll find out that there is no substitute for the rush of finding an orange and white flag in the woods. Hopefully COVID-19 will soon pose less of an obstacle for Adventure Racing. The Adventure Racing Cooperative (ARC) is a great resource for all things adventure racing. Check out the ARC's calendar to find an adventure race in your area.