Mission-Uncharted Brings Competition To Adventure

Mission-Uncharted, a new adventure event series, brings competitive backpackers to National Parks and Forests throughout the United States to test their outdoor skills.

Have you ever wanted to race with a team of your closest adventurers through an epic National Park for 43 hours with nothing but basic survival tools and your wit to guide you to the finish line? With a new adventure race series called Mission-Uncharted, now you can.

Mission-Uncharted offers backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts a unique adventure outlet: competition. This backpacker’s race encourages outdoor fanatics to participate in team races through some of the United States’ most scenic and wild National Parks and Forests during their weekend-long events.

“Our mission is to promote spending time outdoors by hosting backpacking races in the most beautiful and remote National Forests that America has to offer,” says Jeremy Lambert, one of the company’s founders.

Mission-Uncharted brings adventurers to National Parks and Forests that competitors may be unfamiliar with, and it brings teams together in connection with an overarching appreciation for exploring the country’s natural wonders.

The Race

Though each Mission-Uncharted race takes place in a different state and natural environment, there are a certain set of rules that apply to each race.

“We have strict times that people can travel during the day and night and require people to stop hiking after a certain time during the night. There is also a specific start time each day. This allows people to camp and enjoy the natural beauty that the lands offer,” says Lambert.

The Mission-Uncharted races are unique in comparison to other adventure races, which tend to focus on strength and speed of a single person. Mission-Uncharted’s races focus on the ability of the entire team, which can range from two to eight members.

“These races utilize teamwork, survival skills, and determination. It’s not just a race to the finish line; it will be an adventure and journey for all participants,” says Lambert.

Each race occurs during a 43-hour period, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and ending at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday (unless your team finishes earlier, of course).

Each race course is different; courses can range from 26 to 40 miles with varying sets of terrains, weather, topographies, and environments.

To begin the race, each individual competitor is limited to a backpack filled with 15 pounds of basic survival gear, along with a GPS device to track the progress of each team (and to ensure that they abide by the travel window).

Throughout the race, competitors will engage in a series of competitions that allow them to acquire more gear and survival tools. There are opportunities to geocache for supplies and time incentives throughout the course. Other challenges include: fire-starting, shelter-building, first aid/rescue missions, and trap-building.

This adds another competitor to the race: survival. It would seem that simply finishing the race is a reward in itself.

The three teams that finish the course first will automatically qualify for the Mission-Uncharted Elite Race; the first-place team in the Elite Race pockets $10,000.

The Locations

Mission-Uncharted races take adventurers through national parks and forests across the country. Each weekend race event takes place in a different state and different wilderness area in order to give participants a new perspective each time.

Each event requires strong partnerships with U.S. National Parks Service and the U.S. Forest Service in order to ensure the safety of participants and the natural landscape.

The Beta event occurred at Falls Lake Recreation Area in North Carolina from February 3rd to 5th. Two weeks later, Mission-Uncharted racers geared up in Alabama’s Talladega National Forest, followed by an event in Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana.

"We did the Alabama Challenge this weekend and it was awesome...The staff was nice and helpful and the challenges were well thought out and tough. If you want to test your limitations this is for you," says Steve Masters, a Mission-Uncharted race participant.

Mission-Uncharted has some epic locations planned for its upcoming races (New Mexico’s Santa Fe National Forest, Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest, and Illinois’ Shawnee National Forest, to name a few). For a full list of planned Mission-Uncharted races, visit their registration page.

“Mission-Uncharted will be partnering with other outdoor companies, local communities, volunteers, and public services to host races all over the country,” says Lambert. “In 2017 we plan to host races in 22 different states, and 25 races overall.”

The Rise of Mission-Uncharted

Josh Wheeler, a business major from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, founded Mission-Uncharted in June of 2016 as a way to bring outdoor enthusiasts together in a fun, competitive way.

Wheeler wrangled a team of outdoor enthusiasts, Eagle Scouts, and business minds to push his dream of a true outdoor adventure race from an idea into a reality.

“Our main goals are to promote love and enthusiasm for the outdoors, promote teamwork, and help individuals gain a greater sense of oneself,” Lambert says.

Since its inception, Mission-Uncharted has partnered with both national and local companies in order to enhance the competitors’ experiences. Partnerships have developed with National Forests and National Parks, with the hope that events within these protected areas will further encourage adventurers to visit these territories.

How To Participate

Each event occurs in a different state on a given weekend. Check out Mission-Uncharted’s registration page to find the closest upcoming race to you. If you’re interested in embarking on a road trip adventure to participate in an event outside of your state of residence, you’ll be able to thoroughly explore another state’s most treasured National Forests while you compete.

Registration fees hover around $85, plus local taxes and fees; however, ten percent of this payment goes toward charity.

If you don’t want to compete in a race, but still want to be around a beautiful protected wilderness area and the excitement of a Mission-Uncharted event, you can volunteer your time to help facilitate the race. According to Lambert, volunteers can “plant and retrieve geocache boxes before and after the race, record information at checkpoints, and assist running challenges.”

To keep up-to-date with Mission-Uncharted’s events, visit their website, Facebook page, and Instagram account.


Tom Malone is the Editor-In-Chief of The Adventure Tribune and author of adventure novels, like Across Americana. He is based in Denver, Colorado, where he adventures through the Rocky Mountains while not traveling abroad.
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