You’ve chosen a good time to start cross-training: Adventure races that combine a variety of sports are on the upswing. Spurred in part by the success of shorter, high-intensity cross-training regimens, the popularity of multisport races has exploded in recent years, especially at the amateur level. Last year alone, nearly 60,000 Americans competed in events across the country, says the Austin, Texas–based U.S. Adventure Racing Association (USARA). Ten years ago, there were only 11 sanctioned multisport races in the U.S. Today there are more than 400, most about four to six hours long and tailored to teams of amateurs.
Public interest in adventure racing seemed to plummet around the same time Mark Burnett ditched his popular Eco-Challenge for Survivor. Once out of the spotlight, though, multisport events became more accessible than ever thanks to grassroots efforts. "Our sport grew backward," says the USARA’s Chance Reading. "We started with the biggest national television contracts and huge races and have since boiled down to a smaller core audience of loyals. Burnett is definitely credited with bringing mass appeal to the sport, and when he left, the masses did lose interest. But as the numbers show, he sparked a movement." Here are some of the best events in the U.S., ranked from beginner level to badass.
—Text by Devon O'Neil