Posted on: 15 February 2024

ARWS Rule and Mandatory Gear List Changes for 2024

The ARWS Rules and Mandatory Equipment List have been updated for 2024 following consultations amongst ARWS Referees and Race Directors.

The following is a summary of the changes made and all competitors are advised to familiarize themselves with the rules and equipment list, particularly before competing.  

Fair Team Competition

An additional rule regarding assistance between teams has been added. AR is intended as a competition between teams. While teams should encourage and show sportsmanship to other teams, it is not the intent that teams work to aid another team for long sections of the event, use pre-planned strategies or sacrifice themselves for another team. Each team should be competing for its own eventual placing. See rule 5.72.

Cancelled Sections

Additional guidance on cancelled sections has been added. This is intended to make teams aware of the way in which cancelled sections may be handled. Not every circumstance can be defined in advance, but this should give some guidance. See rule 3.14.


Paddles are no longer mandatory gear. Clearly, teams should take paddles (in the same way as they would take, perhaps, cycling shoes) but removing them from the mandatory list solves the issue of lost and broken paddles. These situations are already an additional challenge for teams.


Mountain Bike Definition

The ‘Mountain Bike’ has been given a definition. Generally an adventure race course should be designed so that a ‘mountain bike’ is the best choice. A team should not have local knowledge and arrive at a race with full gravel bikes that give them an advantage. Since there is no definition of a ‘mountain bike’ the following specifications will be used:

Any bicycle with approximately straight handlebars. (Not drop bars) and one of these two features should be acceptable:

• Mechanical suspension front or back or both (not just a flexible frame).
• Tire size of 44mm (1.75inch) or greater.

This would allow a mountain bike with narrow tires or a cyclocross style bike with flat bars and wide tires. Additionally, if a team has difficulty finding a bicycle because of expense or lack of supply, or as a replacement for a damaged bike, before or during the event, then any bicycle may be used, provided it clearly gives no competitive advantage.

Rear Bike Lights

Rear bike light, a very important safety issue, has additional language to ensure that it is clearly visible from behind.

Missing Gear

Penalties for missing gear have been standardized. Organisers, referees and teams will be aware of the standard penalty for missing equipment. In full ARWS qualifying and Championship events the penalty is 1 hour for most items but 2 hours for items that are directly related to safety such as a ‘Strobe’, ‘First Aid Kit’ or ‘ Throw Rope’. Also, progress on the course may not be allowed without certain gear, such as PFD or helmet or bike lights.

ARWS Referees and Race Directors apply the rules, sometimes with variations for a particular event, to ensure fair competition across the series and they are continually monitored and updated to reflect changing circumstances and racing styles, with the assistance of racers, Race Directors and the global ARWS Referee panel.

The updated Rules and Mandatory Gear List can be downloaded from the Resources Section and any questions regarding them can be sent to ARWS Head Referee Adrian Crane at