Click on the image at the left to launch a slide show of kids taking on the KEEN Adventure Race obstacles. Photos by Kat Jahnigen
“This is not an amusement park,” says Billy Mattison. He’s addressing a crowd of kids, slack-jawed with anticipation and gathered in Vail this past Sunday. “This is a true adventure.”
The third KEEN Vail Kids Adventure Race is about to get underway. With obstacles such as a giant Slope-n-Slide down one of Vail’s ski runs, a Tarzan Swing, a heart-stopping zipline high above Gore Creek, a climbing wall, a tubing challenge, and tons more, it might be easy to think of it as an amusement park. But what kind of amusement park would have you slogging through a calf-high expanse of mud, trying to “catch” an incoming slingshot water balloon, or racing against time through frigid mountain creeks?
Kids came to Vail from as far away as Venezuela to participate in a challenging course not for the faint of heart. Over 100 teams of two competed for the best time, but also for special awards like Environmental Superstars (for picking up trash during the competition) and exceptional teamwork (not only within their own teams but for helping out others as well). Racers ranged in age from six to 12 years, and all participants received a certificate of accomplishment.
Vail Village and Vail Mountain swarmed with jazzed-up kids, hundreds of cheering family members, and several dozen volunteers, all buzzing with excitement. Still, it wasn’t the adrenaline-packed action that carried the day. Brother and sister running hand-in-hand through the finish line, multiple “opposing” teams linking arms to ease their tubes down the creek, kids boosting a disheartened competitor with a word of encouragement or advice—those are the memories that stick after it’s all over. —Kat Jahnigen
Visit the Vail Recreation District for more information about the race.