For the past couple of years the dedicated organising teams from Adventure Race Malaysia and NthAdventure in India have been trailblazers in developing The Adventure Racing World Series Asia calendar. Both are back in 2023 with more races (3 in India and 2 in Malaysia) and they are now joined by races in Nepal, Thailand and The Philippines in what will be a breakthrough year for Adventure Racing in Asia.
The 2023 ARWS Asia series includes 9 races, spread across 5 countries and embracing a huge variety of terrains and cultures. There is a lot of adventure racing to look forward to in Asia next year.
The series got underway early, with the recent Namma AR 2.0 in India, staged by NthAdventure and starting from the beautiful southern coastal town of Udupi in the state of Karnataka. It was a fantastic venue for the 120km ARWS course, and the race was notable for the collaboration with the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) who became the first University in India to support adventure racing.
Race Directors Ajita Madan and Sayeesha Kirani of NthAdventure have been working hard to engage more Indian athletes to try adventure racing; staging short races, orienteering classes and introductory AR weekends. They held an introductory meeting for students at MAHE ahead of the race, and also put on a 30km beginner race alongside the ARWS course.
NthAdventure have two more races scheduled in the series. The Odyssey AR takes place from March 17-19th, and the AR India Championship race will be held from 8-10th September.
Ajita said, “We love the sport and the people associated with it. From just admiring the sport to being part of the ARWS family, where our country and our teams get global recognition is beyond anything we imagined. Our incredible India is meant for Adventure Racing, and we can’t wait to welcome our friends from other countries here soon.”
One other country which has already welcomed her is Thailand, where she attended for the ARWS when the Krabi Adventure Race had an Observer status race this year. Next year the race is on the Asia regional calendar on June 24/25th and Krabi is another fantastic destination for racing. The coastal resort on the Andaman Sea is surrounded by hills, limestone karst formations, beaches and mangrove.
Ajita commented, “Thailand is home to some of the best trail running and MTB events, and there are so many possibilities for adventure racing, plus the Government is open to welcoming new events. The race organization at the Krabi AR are experienced in hosting many sporting events across Thailand and they are passionate about building their AR community and welcoming racers from other countries.”
Also returning to the series are the races from Adventure Race Malaysia.
Their marquee race is the ARWS expedition race and Qualifier, Adventure Race Malaysia, taking place from July 9-16th and it’s great to see the race back after the disappointment of covid cancellations in recent years.
Next year, the race will be based from Kuala Lumpur, so it’s a perfect opportunity to see one of Asia’s most vibrant cities before heading out into the surrounding hills and jungle on the 500km course. (The entry includes 3 nights at the official race hotel.)
There is a shorter racing option in Malaysia too, with the AR Rompin race taking place on October 14-15th. The first race this year proved popular, attracting 140 racers to the Rompin State Park for a really adventurous course including river tubing and a waterfall abseil and Tyrolean traverse. There is much more to explore in the area, and those who had a taste of AR Malaysia’s style of racing this year will surely be back for more next year.
A very different location to others in the series is the new Himalayan Raid which will take place in the Himalayan foothills of Nepal from Sept. 30th to Oct 1st. The new race will be staged by Rajiv Chand, who has organised adventure races for the Nepalese Army for the past 9 years, and adventure guide Anup Gurung.
The two have huge experience of riding, running, paddling and rafting in the Nepal Himalaya and Rajiv organised a team from the Nepalese Army to enter the last Expedition India. (The team had no expedition race experience but did incredibly well and showed the raw talent Nepalese athlete’s have.)
Chand declared, “Nepal is the best destination for adventure racing in the world!” He added, “Nepal has no real Adventure Racing culture, but we can make it happen.” (The last international race there was the Raid Gauloises in 2000.)
The race will be held from Nepal’s second city of Pokhara, famed for its stunning lake view, reflecting the peaks of the nearby Annapurna range. The course will cover 80-100km and include some rafting and the use of local boats on Phewa Lake.
The other new country to join the series is The Philippines, which will host two races, including the first ARWS Asia Championship race at the end of the year.
The new Malizord Wild Adventure Race will take place from June 16-18th in Iligan City in the south of the country. Iligan is known as the ‘City of Majestic Waterfalls’ and there are 23 major falls in the rainforest surrounding the city, some of which will feature in the course. The most famous are the Maria Cristina Falls, which is the symbol of the city and depicted in its official logo, and the highest are the two-tiered Limunsudan Falls with an 870 feet drop.
The Race Director will be Neil Estillore, who said, “I’m glad to be part of the ARWS family and we are thrilled to announce that the best endurance competition in the world will hold a race in Iligan City in the province of Mindanao.”
Neil previously raced in the country’s most famous race, Carrera Habagat, and he has also been a National route setter for the Sport Climbing Association of the Philippines, so maybe there will be some climbing in the course too.
Carrera Habagat ran from 2000 to 2009 and was the only 4 day non-stop race in Asia at the time, moving to a different island each year. The Race Director was Jason Garrido, who will organise La Routa Adventure Race, which will host the 2023 ARWS Asia Championship race from Nov 24th-27th.
When Carrera Habagat finished, Jason ran La Routa from 2000 to 2010 and revived it in 2019, and now he is bringing the race back as part of ARWS Asia series. The race is based in the Visayas region, where adventure racing is very popular, and the organisers plan to revive interest nationally and attract some international racers by holding the ARWS Regional Championship with the support of the Department of Tourism.
The venue is certainly an attractive one as the race will be based on Biliran Island, which has attractive beach resorts, waterfalls, rock formations and forests. One vlog on the island described it as the ‘Hawaii of the Philippines’.
Jason and his team plan to include local culture and activities in the race, maybe some pedicab racing, and perhaps some swimming too, as there are many outlying islands and rock formations in the archipelago. (Like Nepal, the country was also the location of one of Gerard Fusil’s great races; the ELF Authentic Adventure, which took place there in 1999.)
The Asia Championship winners will receive a free place in the 2024 Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador, and all of the teams participating will score ARWS Asia ranking points.
When announcing the series, ARWS CEO Heidi Muller, said, “We are so excited to welcome the new races to the ARWS Asia series and it’s inspiring to hear the enthusiasm all of our Asia organisers have for the sport. It is a tough challenge, but their commitment to growing adventure racing in the region is incredible and we will do everything we can to support them. Asia has so much potential for adventure racing. This is just the beginning!”
For the full calendar of ARWS Asia races in 2023 and to find website and social media links see; https://arworldseries.com/asia/
For inquiries about ARWS Asia please email; [email protected]