Put some adventure in your life

It's Hammertime: Virgin-friendly adventure race brings your inner child into the great outdoors

It's Hammertime: Virgin-friendly adventure race brings your inner child into the great outdoors

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On the longer courses — six and 12 hours — navigation is a key part of an adventure race. Judy Jones finds and punches a checkpoint, proving she's been where she's supposed to be. Courtesy of Bobcat13 Photography
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Mountain bike your way to happiness! It's one of the three major disciplines featured in an adventure race. Jeff Hankins and Pam Rea zoom down the beginner-friendly trails at Huntsville State Park. Courtesy of Bobcat13 Photography
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You never know what special test may arise over the course of an adventure race. Patricia Bourassa and her teammate attempt to fill a pipe without letting the water escape through tiny holes. Courtesy of Houston Fit Adventure Racing
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Texas Adventure Racing owner and Huntsville Hammer race director Wade Woehrmann holds up finisher medals — for those lucky enough to complete the Hammer. Courtesy of Houston Fit Adventure Racing
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Do you ever see images like this from triathlons? David Sandoval, Melissa White, and Kevin Bowen can attest to the fact that adventure racing makes fitness fun. Courtesy of Bobcat13 Photography
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Unlike triathlons, adventure racing is a team sport at its core. Sure, you can race solo, but why? Jennifer Riley, Wendy Rea, and Ryan Rolston gear up for the Huntsville Hammer 2010. Courtesy of Houston Fit Adventure Racing
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Lake Raven, Huntsville State Park's resident paddling paradise, is an excellent place to kayak. Gabe Haarsma and Helena Finley zoom through the lake's cool waters. Courtesy of Houston Fit Adventure Racing
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Lake Raven won't be this peaceful, come the Huntsville Hammer. Courtesy of Houston Fit Adventure Racing
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Let's go back to the good ol' days of your youth for a moment. Remember when you were a kid — your energy unlimited, the great outdoors your oyster? Remember when you could play all day and never get enough?

Fast forward to, well, right now. What if we told you that you could recapture your inner child and swap lives with him for one day? It's possible.

What do you get when you combine your adulthood with a day in the woods and — gasp! — childlike fun?

You get adventure racing — the best day you've ever spent doing your body good, that's what.

Or, in other words, this Saturday's Huntsville Hammer adventure race 70 miles north of town.

Now in its eighth year, the locally run and locally hosted Huntsville Hammer makes the season between warm summers and cool winters one to look forward to. With three race lengths — two hours, six hours, and 12 hours — featuring the disciplines of mountain biking, kayaking, trail running and orienteering, it's easy to understand why the Hammer is one of the most anticipated autumn races in the Houston area.

"We are probably the biggest adventure race in Texas," said Wade Woehrmann, race director and owner of Texas Adventure Racing, the Houston-based race company that hosts the event. "The race has uncannily found its way to a beautiful fall day every year, and the location is hard to beat."

 "We are probably the biggest adventure race in Texas," race director Wade Woehrmann said. 

Nestled in the lush and leafy forests of Huntsville State Park, this beginner-friendly adventure race — think triathlons, but add kayaking, add teammates, go off-road, and subtract swimming — has something for everyone.

"There's a large portion that it's their first time out," Woehrmann said. "It's a great race for beginners because it's close to town. We have the sprint leg, which is a flagged run, so there's no navigation needed. There will be several fun special challenges throughout the race."

"Special challenges" is adventure racer code for "mystery events" — unconventional skills tests outside the biking, paddling, and running genres that'll really make you wonder whether you're having too much fun to call this "exercise."

For Houstonian Leanna Gatlin, the Hammer will be her first adventure race.

"I did running races and triathlons before starting adventure racing this year," said Gatlin, who trained with a local adventure racing club, Houston Fit Adventure Racing, this fall. "I'm looking forward to being in the woods, playing and having fun. I expect to have fun, be tired, and possibly scared."

But there's nothing terrifying about running around in the woods, is there?

Not for beginners, anyway. "Seasoned adventure racers will find themselves challenged," Woehrmann said. "The race director does have to temper his penchant for setting out challenging courses, though."

We're not scared if you're not.

With almost 200 racers already registered for Saturday's competition, this year's Hammer should prove to be one of the largest to date.

Are you ready to take your exercise out of the gym and off the road? The race begins at 8 a.m., but you'll want to be ready to go by the pre-race meeting at 7:30 a.m.

Race day registration will be available. Why not put a little adventure in your life?