Open5 Adventure Racing in England’s National Parks

, September 12, 2011

Endowed with the bold slogan “Putting the Adventure into Racing,” the Open5 Series should excite any adrenaline-fuelled sport junky. Open Adventure and Open5 Series sponsor, Mountain Hardwear, have come up with five events that span from November through to April, each made up of running and mountain biking in an endurance adventure race. The events are set in some of the most scenic landscapes in the UK, including the Lake District, Peak District and Yorkshire Dales; perfect backdrops to aim for if you’re tired of your regular training routes.

The Open5 is perhaps the tamest out of the events hosted by Open Adventure, the other more gruelling ones being the Open 12 and 24 as well as the multi-day races and the Adidas Terrex, held over the August Bank Holiday weekend. If you’re looking for something to break you into endurance events, or are more used to competing on road over similar distances, the Open5 Series certainly is the one to go for.

Before you enter

The task is simple: you have 5 hours to visit as many control points as you can. Some controls can only be collected on foot and others only by bike. Your tactical decision-making will determine how you divide your time depending on your own strengths and the terrain on the day.

It costs £25 to enter with an additional £7 entry on the day. You must provide your own equipment and you must follow the rules on kit which can be found here. Prizes are awarded to first, second and third in each category and at the end of the series an overall winner is crowned.

There are five entry categories; 2 solo categories (male and female) and 3 pairs (female, male and mixed), all of which are open to anyone from beginner to elite.

On the day

On the morning of the event you must register and collect your maps featuring all controls collected on foot and by bike. Race start is generally 9.30. The start, finish and transition are located in the same place and should be clearly marked.

You have time to plan your provisional route however this may change once you’ve passed the start line and collect your control descriptions which give you the exact control location and also the number of points gained for visiting each control. Beware as some of them are dummies and worth zero points. Even when out on the course you will have to re-assess the situation given the timings and ground covered. If you exceed the 5 hour limit you will be penalised and points deducted. As in any adventure race, navigation is crucial. You can be as fast as a whippet but if you cannot hold the map the right way up you will be the last to cross the finish line.

Sponsored teams and regulars often feature on the start line but don’t feel like you can’t take pole position if you or your team are going for a big results.

A Snapshot: Grizedale Forest, Lake District

The last event in the Open5 Series was held on the 3rd April this year in Grizedale Forest in the heart of the Lake District National Park. The area claims to have some of the best mountain biking terrain in the UK; sweeping descents and forest tracks test your technique while uphill bursts work the legs. The running terrain was equally excellent and varied, with faster trails on the forest track testing agility and the dense woodland requiring strength. At one point there’s even a fallen tree trunk that aids access to one control. If you are an experienced racer, just looking for a challenge to get fit or an outdoor enthusiast looking for a racing challenge that encompasses some of the best views in the UK then sign up to next year’s series now!

For more information on where to stay and how to rent bikes, head to