Thirty-two teams will line up at the start of Rootstock Racing’s inaugural Endless Mountains Adventure Race today. Over five days and 550 kilometers, the 108 racers lining up at the start will paddle scenic waterways, climb and traverse rocky ridges, and trek and bike through some of the state’s most remote forests. To complete the full course, teams will have to travel 283km by bike, 130km on foot, and 137km on the water – using only a map and compass to guide them.
The event is a part of the United States Adventure Racing Association’s National Points Series, sponsored in 2022 by Toyota Tundra, and a Demonstration Race in the Adventure Racing World Series, which unites the premier multi-day adventure races around the world and culminates in a World Championship every fall. The field, the largest among North American ARWS events this year, represents a wide swath of the US adventure racing community, with a few international racers on the line as well.
The 2022 Endless Mountains Adventure Race began to take shape in November 2020, when – needing an escape from Philadelphia, but with state borders shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic – race directors Abby Perkiss and Brent Freedland decided to rent a little cabin over Thanksgiving. That weekend, they encountered the Pennsylvania elk herd, and they knew they had found something special.
“I’ve lived in Philly most of my life,” said Perkiss, “and I had no idea what an incredible outdoor playground our state offers. It was one of the silver linings of the pandemic, to get to explore it.”
Over the year that followed, Perkiss and Freedland worked hard to create a journey for racers that highlighted the unique land, wildlife, and heritage that the PA Wilds offers. They were particularly drawn to the area’s rich history, and the relationship between its complex industrial past and the powerful pull of the natural world.The race course, which remains a secret until teams receive their maps, hours before the start, takes teams through the heart of Elk Country.
As they developed the route, they were met with energy and enthusiasm from the local communities at every step. Town officials, business owners, and local institutions welcomed them with open arms: granting land access, offering logistical support, and pulling together resources.
Each stage of the race is sponsored by a different entity: Pennsylvania American Water; MRS Microrafting; Visit Clearfield County; Janney, Montgomery Scott, LLC; and the PA Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau. Other partners for the event include Clarion University, the Clarion
Area School District, Clarion River Brewing, Blackbird Distillery, Dirtbags Bikepacking, Lupine Lighting, and Pasokin Peanut Butter Snacks.
The result of this widespread support is a community effort guaranteed to make racers feel as welcomed as Perkiss and Freedland have while developing the event.
Racers will likely also be struck by the terrain through which they will travel. “We expect many of them to be surprised,” said Freedland. “People don’t necessarily think of Pennsylvania as an outdoors destination, but this race will bring racers to incredible scenic spots, and I think it will test them physically in ways they aren’t necessarily expecting. Our mountains are subtle compared to the big peaks out west, but they’re deceptively challenging because the elevation changes are unrelenting. They’re, well, endless.”
The 2022 Endless Mountains Adventure Race begins Monday, June 20 at 10:00am EST. For more information, visit www.endlessmountainsar.com. During race week, following along at www.facebook.com/rootstockracing. Live tracking will be available through the race website and at http://live.enabledtracking.com/endlessmountains2022/.