The exact origin of adventure racing is not unequivocally known; though the modern form of adventure racing is not older than 40 years. The Karrimor International Mountain Marathon of 1968 is often referred to as the parent of modern adventure racing. It required teams, each consisting of two persons, to traverse a mountainous area while each team carried its own supplies to keep them going through the course of the race. Gerald Fusil (in New Zealand) and Mark Burnett (in the United States) played a key role in making adventure racing a major sporting genre.
Depending on the duration of the race, adveture racing is of 5 main types: Sprint Race (lasting 2 to 6 hours), 12-Hour Race (lasting 6 to 12 hours), 24-Hour Race (actually lasting anywhere from 18 to 30 hours), Multi-Day Race (lasting 36 to 48 hours or more), Expedition Race (lasting between 3 to 11 days or more). The activities of adventure racing include diverse athletic and adventurous skills like running, paddling, traveling on wheels, animal riding, swimming, gliding, and climbing with ropes etc.
While the rules of adventure racing vary from one racing event to another, all races have three common rules. First, motorized travel is not allowed. Secondly, assistance from participants in the race (belonging to any team) is allowed but any assistance from outside is against the rules. Thirdly, teams are supposed to carry the necessary gear. Variable rules of different adventure races specify other things like conduct of the participants, handling of race equipment, level of skills of the participants and so on. To help the participants with supplies, most adventure races allow the teams to replenish their supplies at one or more transitional areas.
Formerly, members of medical and paramedical staff were positioned at checkpoints along the course of the race to provide necessary medical aid to the participants. Since the past four years or so, the task of giving medical aid is being assigned in many races to highly qualified individuals who are trained in racing techniques also, like biking, racing, or swimming. These medical-aid staff members are athletically sound and provide onsite first-aid before the nearest medical checkpoint arrives. Thus, adventure racing is less painful today than it used to be in the past. However, due to the death of some adventure racers and hospitalization of others in the past 5 to 6 years, the safety of adventure racing is still debatable.