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Adventure Racing: An Interview with the Happy Mutant

To some, adventure racing is a new concept, but to others, it’s a way of life. Almost everyone you meet who does adventure racing says it’s addictive, with every course offering its own unique elements. Without a doubt, it’s a test of endurance and sheer resilience until the finish line. The craze is sweeping the nation, and Bug Protector has been excited to sponsor and donate product to several adventure races in the last two years.

We recently spoke with one of our favorite adventure racing partners, Toby Evans, who serves as the director of Happy Mutant Adventure Race Series (thehappymutant.com):

Q: When did you start the adventure racing series and why?
I started in the fall of 2009. I opened up a brick and mortar store in Burlington, IA and was trying to build a retail following. I love this sport. When I moved from California, there wasn’t adventure racing in this area and I wanted to create a sport following.

Q: What makes this race series different from others?
When we first started in 2009 (through 2014) everything we did was local, within an hour of Burlington, and I had an idea to put together a national series. There was a lot of trial and error leading up to it. We tried a lot of things at the local level that we thought would possibly work on a national scale. I closed the retail store in 2014 to focus solely on the national race series.

A lot of people don’t know this, but I’m the only director in the country to produce races nationally. Over the last three years, we’ve held events in Utah, Nevada, California, New Mexico, Iowa, Illinois, Montana, Virginia...we span every time zone and climate, from incredibly steep mountains to vast desert to farmland.

Q: What advice do you give people who want to participate?
It’s an expensive sport, which is why when I plan an event, I’m looking at how affordable it will be, if it’s accessible and what the adventure is. Those three A’s are my guiding force. I try to set my courses within a relatively short distance from an airport to cut down on costs for racers, but I look for locations that still offer a great adventure.

From a race standpoint, we’re trying new things as far as time. I use a 72-hour model — there are a lot of 6-8 hour courses, a lot of 24-hour courses, but there are only so many people who will do a 72-hour race. So we’re trying some new things. For 2018, we’re looking at some races geared toward college communities, and we’re doing urban races. We’re [also] going to do what’s called Adventure Racing Lite, where you still use a map, but it will be a marked course so you don’t have to navigate as much. That will cut down on the amount of gear you need. 

Q: So far, what race is your favorite and why?
Oh man…that’s hard. Every course has such a different flavor. St. George, Utah from a scenic standpoint is crazy ridiculous. In Toas, New Mexico, there were locals participating and the feedback we received from them was outstanding. I had someone say, “I didn’t even know the state was like this.” That was super cool coming from someone who lives there. Mojave Desert has a completely different topography but is completely beautiful.

We don’t just go over the mountains and through the woods. We take you through historical areas because the more you know, the more you’re excited to tell your family and friends when you get back. That’s why I’m pumped for the Las Vegas course: the Sin City Adventure Challenge. We’re doing seven days of tourist activities jammed into 24 hours. 

Bug Protector is thrilled to be associated with such a great company and the amazing outdoor passion of adventure racing. What better way to discover the outdoors than to traverse through it with teammates, pushing your limits and feeling that rush of adrenaline?

Click here to learn more about the Sin City Adventure Challenge taking place Sept. 1-4. Registration is still open!