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National championship for extreme racing coming to Badlands

Press Photo by Colton Pool Eric Boxrud takes his mountain bike on June 25 through the Maah Daah Hey Trail. Biking through the trail is expected to be a part of the North American Adventure Racing Series that is making plans to hold its national championship in the North Dakota Badlands in October.

A national extreme racing championship is going from tropical Belize to the North Dakota Badlands.

The race, said Dunn County Jobs Development Authority economic development director Carie Boster, will show others “not only legendary North Dakota but legendary Dunn County.”

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The North American Adventure Racing Series coming to North Dakota is no small feat — the 2013 championship is in Belize, which for weather reasons takes place next month.

“This year’s event is in Belize — it’s not like it’s something that’s held just around the area all the time,” said Sara Otte Coleman, director of tourism for the state Department of Commerce.

The 30- to 36-hour race scheduled for October will include biking, hiking and canoeing over western North Dakota’s most famous terrains. Parts of the race will cover Little Missouri State Park, the Little Missouri River, the Killdeer Mountains and the famed Maah Daah Hey Trail, said Andy Magness, producer of the race and president of Grand Forks-based ENDRacing.

Race headquarters will be in Killdeer.

At the Dunn County Commission meeting Wednesday, Boster updated commissioners on the race and suggested they help Magness as he routes his course — which may traverse through some private property, like near the Killdeer Mountains.

If Magness doesn’t get a landowner’s approval, he will change the course.

He said he has received mixed reactions from landowners who must give approval for a race to go on their land, but that he’s more successful with the backing of a local official.

Landowners can get the misconception that racers will return to their land often after the race, but Magness said that’s not the case for the simple fact that they won’t want to endure that again.

“They’re so difficult that you don’t go back,” he said.

“That’s what these people are looking for, is this unknown challenge and confronting it.”

On the NAARS website, series founder Doug Crytzer said he’s thrilled to have the championship in a location “that will challenge and ‘wow’ participants with its beauty and terrain.”

Scoring is based on checkpoints and time — of the teams that make all the mandatory checkpoints, those that got to the most of the optional ones rank higher. Teams are of two or four people. If two teams hit the same number of optional checkpoints and all the mandatory ones, the one with the shorter time ranks higher.

“It’ll bring some folks in that maybe have not looked at North Dakota before and don’t think of us as having extreme terrain, so it’ll definitely open their eyes to what we have,” Otte Coleman said.

Since adventure racing is relatively new to North Dakota, having the national championship here will level the playing field because the usual participants won’t already have experience navigating, Magness said.

For the same reason, the exact course is kept secret until the race.

More than oil

The race, state officials say, can show outsiders that there’s more than oil in western North Dakota, despite that being the reason for all the attention the state has recently received.

“We want everyone to know that (the boom) hasn’t take away — it has just added to the quality of it,” Boster said.

And it’ll work for the national championship. Magness said the more extreme the race, the farther people will travel to take part.

“Because this is a national championship, we do expect to get teams from well spread out,” he said.

Otte Coleman said with the negative stories people hear about the oil boom, the race will help improve awareness and educate on what is still in the state.

“It’s still very scenic, very beautiful and not overrun,” she said.