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Apr 29

JCPRD’s first-ever Shawnee Mission Park Adventure Race set for Saturday, May 22

Posted on April 29, 2021 at 10:37 AM by Becky Burnside

For more than 35 years, JCPRD has successfully produced triathlons and duathlons, but this year a new competitive athletic event is being added to the mix.

The new Shawnee Mission Park Adventure Race is scheduled for Saturday, May 22, starting at 9 a.m. from the Beach House in Shawnee Mission Park, 7900 Renner Road, Shawnee and Lenexa. Both courses are open to solo athletes and teams of up to four. Along the way, participants will get to see some lesser-used areas of the 1,600-plus-acre park.  

“This event is all about orienteering,” said Special Events Coordinator Katy Renner. “Currently, JCPRD does not host a specific orienteering event so this is a first of this magnitude for our organization. Our Safety and Outdoor Education Division partners with the Possum Trot Orienteering Club to teach folks the basics of orienteering but prior to this event, we had not gotten into the adventure racing world. We are excited for the opportunity to get people out in all areas of Shawnee Mission Park and not just along the paved trails. It’s a great way to showcase the entire park and portions that people don’t normally get to see.  The team that completes the most checkpoints with the fastest time will win the race. There will be several checkpoints that are mandatory (transition areas), but most are not.”

Two different courses are being offered: a two-hour course, and a six-hour course. 
“The two-hour course consists of trekking alone,” Renner said. “The six-hour course will have three different elements: paddling, mountain biking, and trekking. Participants in the six-hour course will cover much more distance than those in the two-hour course.”

She estimates those on the two-hour course will cover four to six miles of trekking (both hiking and running), while those on the six-mile course will cover five to seven miles of trekking, plus 15 to 25 miles of mountain biking, and one to two miles of paddling (canoe for teams and kayaks for individuals). There may also be surprise challenges for both courses.

It is also important to note that during the event, athletes will have access only to the gear, food, and drink that they carry on their bike or in their pack.

JCPRD is partnering with local Girl Scout groups to host this race. As of late April, Renner said 106 people and three teams for the two-hour course had registered and she expected around 250 or more. Because this event will take place outdoors and participants will be socially distanced, this is a perfect activity to take part in during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the two-hour course, solo registration is $35, while registration for a team or family of up to four is $60. For the four-hour course, the cost is $60 for solo athletes, $120 for teams of two, $180 for teams of three, and $240 for teams of four. Registration for the six-hour course will be Saturday, May 15, while registrations for the two-hour course will be accepted until race day. Register at RunSignUp.com. For more information, contact Renner at kathryn.renner@jocogov.org or by calling (913) 826-2964.

Renner concedes that there’s probably not a “typical” participant for this kind of race.
“If you enjoy adventure or are just looking to try something new - this race is for you,” Renner said. “I recently completed the two-hour race at Milford Lake put on by the Off Road Rage Adventure Racing organization, and was surprised to see the variety of people I saw there. There were families with children as young as one being carried on the backs of their parents, all the way up to couples in their 80s. Participants need to have an open mind, a great attitude, a compass, and a sense of adventure. I expect the range of people participating in this event to be even larger than our other events.”

For anyone who is interested in participating in this event, but is a little intimidated, Renner recommends they get very familiar with using a compass and topographical map. 
“That was a big mishap for me during my first and only adventure race,” she said. “I literally googled ‘how to use a compass’ as soon as I picked up my race map. It might seem easy to pick up your phone and use Google© maps to find directions to where you want to go, but adventure racing teaches you how to navigate without technology, and taking a break from technology is a great thing!”

For those who might like to practice map and compass skills on their own, JCPRD offers Orienteering Course Packets for both Shawnee Mission Park and Ernie Miller Park, 909 N. Kansas 7 Highway, Olathe. The packets include color topographical maps of each park and are available at the JCPRD Administration Building in Shawnee Mission Park or at the Ernie Miller Nature Center in Ernie Miller Park. The packets, which do not relate specifically to the upcoming adventure race, are $4 for the Shawnee Mission Park version or $2 for the Ernie Miller Park version.  Volunteers are also being sought for the Shawnee Mission Park Adventure Race.