My Life as an Adventure Racer

We spoke to trail runner, mountain biker, and kayaker Sari Anderson about her upcoming race at the Teva Mountain Games, and what it takes to compete at an elite level while raising two young kids.
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The Ultimate Mountain Challenge is composed of four races over two days. There’s a kayak leg, a x-country mountain bike ride, a 10k trail run, and a road bike hill climb. The racer with the shortest cumulative time wins.

I started racing competitively as a trail runner. Shortly after that, I earned my mountain bike pro license.

Adventure racing with Team Nike really took my racing to the next level, and I began to compete as a way to supplement our income.

I’ll race anything— I really enjoy being able to compete all year long on bikes, on snow, anything.

A friend nominated me for Outside Magazine’s America’s Fittest Real Athletes— people who have families and full-time jobs that are still racing at the elite level, against those who race full time as their sole profession. It was a big honor: there were quite a few people nominated. I didn’t even know it was going on. 

I’ve recently started training with Carmichael Training in Colorado Springs. I do a mix of endurance training, like four-hour rides, with smaller projects— today I did just under an hour of intervals.

I needed to be training smarter, not harder. With two kids and a part-time job,I only train 10-12 hours a week, so I need quality rather than quantity.

My kids help with my training— I push them while I run or pull them on my bike. They just add a little more resistance. 

For the Teva Mountain Games, I haven’t really trained specifically for it. I just added kayaking to my normal training routine because I hadn’t been in my boat in two years.

I’m running a 50K this weekend in Gunnison, so depending on how fried I am, it will be interesting to see if I can compete with Gretchen [Reeves] or not.

There are usually only two or three solid female competitors in the Ultimate Mountain Challenge, but for the first time, this year there’s a really high level of female competition.

Kelley Cullenis on fire. She’s never raced at the Teva Games before, but I predict that she’ll kick all of our buts.


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