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Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge

This renowned desert race attracts 50 of the world's elite adventure-racing teams for six days of intense competition. Jonathan Dorn offers an inside look.
Read More.
  • Team Yankee Scribes readies for the triathlon prologue at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge (left to right: Sheila Taormina, Jonathan Dorn, Brian Metzler, Adam Chase)
  • We swam and ran past the palace of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the ruler of Abu Dhabi.
  • Brian, Adam, and Sheila looking fresh at the start line of the first mountain biking section. Five minutes into the leg, Jon's derallieur broke.
  • Sheila trots across the pocked limestone of Jabel Hafeet, a small mountain range that rises 5,000 feet above the desert in the eastern part of Abu Dhabi.
  • The team waits at the top of the via ferrata, a technical section of exposed rock where racers clip into fixed rope to protect against falls while scrambling.
  • In some places, including the first downclimb on the roughly two-mile section of via ferrata, the dropoffs were hundreds of feet long.
  • Brian negotiates a ladder the ropes crew had built on a vertical section. You don't want to slip and fall on this cheese-grater rock.
  • This section was the longest vertical cliff we had to scramble down, carefully clipping our Petzl Scorpio lanyards around each anchor.
  • Jon was hoping to ride camels in the race. Alas, all we got was a photo op at an oasis along the way to the start of the trek.
  • Adam and Brian trek across one of the salt flats between dunes in the first hours of the desert section. The hard-packed ground provided the fastest, easiest walking.
  • The variety of shapes in the dunes was extraordinary, and the consistency of sand varied from one slope to another. Note the special knee-high gaiters that Outdoor Research made for us to keep out the ultrafine grains.
  • It's called the Empty Quarter for good reason: as far as the eye can see, nothing but sand. In some places, we had to climb on our hands and knees due to sand avalanches--literally one step up, two steps back.
  • In the dunes section, we traveled for almost two days through scenery exactly like this, which is surprisingly difficult to navigate, especially after dark and especially with satellite photos as our only maps.
  • Brian and Jon resting in the shade of their tent during a mandatory rest at the hottest checkpoint of the race. Jon has duct-taped his toes to prevent blisters.
  • Sheila breaks through international language barriers by sharing a cold one with a racer from the Russian military team.
Team Yankee Scribes readies for the triathlon prologue at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge (left to right: Sheila Taormina, Jonathan Dorn, Brian Metzler, Adam Chase)
Image 1 of 15

Team Yankee Scribes readies for the triathlon prologue at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge (left to right: Sheila Taormina, Jonathan Dorn, Brian Metzler, Adam Chase)


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This is great, except the link that got me here was supposed to be for a video on adjusting trekking poles for varied terrain. Not that I'm disappointed...
— Rodney Buck


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