As many of you have likely heard, the World Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) Federation recently announced a collaboration with the A1 series of adventure races and the inclusion of adventure racing under the OCR federation banner in many countries around the world.
In the press release announcing this new partnership, OCR and A1 outlined a new “ "Adventure Racing World Series" and "Adventure Racing World Championship" (since changed to "World Cup"), and in doing so recognized the A1 series as "the official world cup partner for adventure racing."
Many racers have reached out to us or taken to social media with questions, concerns, anger, joy, or confusion.
After talking to many of the parties involved and trying to clarify these new developments ourselves, we (as the North American Expedition Race Series) wanted to offer a brief statement about what we know and where we stand.
What we know
Expedition Canada, Expedition Oregon, and the Endless Mountains Adventure Race are part of the ARWS (Adventure Racing World Series), which was established nearly two decades ago and has been coordinating a comprehensive series of expedition-length adventure races that culminate in a World Championship ever since. Currently, none of our three races (and to our knowledge, none of the other ARWS qualifier races) is connected to the A1 series. The Adventure Racing World Championship that is part of ARWS is also completely different from the announced championship that will be hosted by A1.
In its twenty years in existence, ARWS has:
Organized expedition-length events across six continents.
Hosted a yearly world championship that has brought together many of the best and most experienced teams from around the globe.
Established consistent standards for:
Rules and regulations
Gear and equipment
Created a clear and longstanding world ranking system.
A1 is still in development as a global project; currently, the series includes scheduled races in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. At this point, there are no announced series races in North or South America, Europe, or Asia. The OCR federation has hinted that this will be changing soon. They have also suggested that A1 races will range from short sprints to 48-hour series finale or championship events.
From our understanding, the A1 series - like ARWS and USARA - exists as a collaboration of independent race directors and organizations, linking a number of races into a global, regional, or national set of rankings and culminating in a championship event. It is not, despite what OCR and A1 announced in their press release, the “premiere international race producer.”
These distinctions are significant as they position the A1 series and championship event to be a very different endeavor from the ARWS expedition races. Expedition-length adventure races, like those in the ARWS series, modeled in the image of Eco-Challenge, the Raid Gauloises, and Primal Quest, have long been considered the pinnacle of our sport, with such factors as sleep deprivation and sleep strategy playing a significant role in a team’s success or failure to reach the finish line.
Where we stand
The North American Expedition Race Series was created in an effort to give North American racers the chance to take on the unique mental, physical, and team challenges that expedition races provide. As both racers and race directors, we have all had tremendous personal and physical growth through the exploration of this "edge" of the sport of adventure racing.
Expedition Oregon, Canada, and Endless Mountains are proud to work together to grow the continental opportunities for expedition racing, and to work with ARWS as part of a global race series that has been inspiring, challenging, and rewarding athletes for the past twenty years.
We are also curious to see how the parallel racing series play out in both the USA and Canada, in North America more broadly, and around the world. Our hope is that adventure racing - as a sport and as a community - will continue growing, and that new adventurers from around the globe will continue to find a welcoming place through the exploration, challenge, and teamwork that adventure racing demands.