Exploring Race Planning: Third Annual Gopher Adventure Race

I’m excited to share that race day is almost here! The 3rd annual Gopher Adventure Race (GAR) kicks off Friday at noon, presented by students enrolled in the Recreation, Park and Leisure Studies program at UMN CEHD.

Patterned after the popular Amazing Race TV show, 200 participants including students, staff and alumni will work in teams of two to trek across the beautiful campuses of the University of Minnesota, tackling physical and mental challenges. Where most adventure races in the Midwest reward the “fastest, strongest and muddiest” contestants who muscle their way to victory, the GAR raises the bar to highlight the unique experiences around the large University campus with an emphasis on exploration and sense of community. Racers visit stations where they must tackle a variety of mental and physical feats to get their next clue and move on to the next station. While we must keep this year’s stations under wraps until race time, challenges in the past have included:

  • A 60-foot rappel off the Armory Tower
  • Learning how to sign with the American Sign Language club
  • Wheelchair basketball
  • Fencing
  • Milking a life-like cow (on loan from the MN State Fair) and making butter

Curriculum Focus in Action

The entire race is planned, operated, promoted, supervised and organized by students in the Recreation, Park and Leisure Studies program. A race Board of Directors, comprised of seven students selected by former members and instructor recommendations, leads the event. As our students progress through a seven class series, they learn about the essential components of effective race planning, coordinating and evaluating. I like to say that the GAR initiates students “by fire” into the fast-paced industry where the ability to be nimble and flexible is key.

Environmental Practices at Work

The Gopher Adventure Race is an environmentally responsible event that incorporates “green” practices such as reduced paper use through online registration, reusable water bottles to use on race day and beyond, and the use of compostable materials. We’ve signed a Pledge of Sustainability through our partnership with FitPlanet. Top race sponsors include The North Face, Midwest Mountaineering, Wilderness Inquiry, Nice Ride, TCF Bank, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Minnesota Timberwolves and many other fantastic companies listed on our website.

The GAR is just one of the ways we inspire a love of the outdoors and a healthy lifestyle in our students at UMN CEHD. I also lead a freshmen seminar of 15 students around the theme, “go outside and play” to discover the great outdoors while bringing physical and mental balance to their busy lives. As the only campus in the U.S. that borders a national park, UMN students don’t even need a car to seek out adventures in their backyards.

We’ll share updates and photos of the race on our Facebook page and in the GAR Photo Galleries so check back soon!

Good luck adventure seekers!

Connie Magnuson

About the Author

Connie Magnuson, Ph.D.

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