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The Professional Training Institute of NOLS Launches Adventure Racing Program

Reprinted from The Leader, Summer 2002, Vol. 17, No. 3

  PTI Adventure Race Training
  © Deborah Sussex
The world of multi-sport adventure racing has hit a surge in the U.S. in recent years, with thousands of people pushing their limits in the wilderness—with or without adequate training. As the leading teacher of wilderness skills and leadership, NOLS figures that if people are traveling in the backcountry and having to take care of themselves and others, we should be the ones training them. As a result, the Professional Training Institute of NOLS, an institute that brings the school’s core curriculum to educational and corporate entities, is offering an open-enrollment adventure race skills course the spring, summer and fall of 2003. The Professional Training Institute’s comprehensive course will help aspiring and practicing racers fine-tune their wilderness skills and work together as a team. “The difference between NOLS and other multi-sport training programs is that NOLS focuses on wilderness and extended expeditions, whereas most training programs are only two to three days and only cover one part of racing,” says Darran Wells, an avid racer and NOLS instructor who will supervise the program and lead the first course. “NOLS also has formal teaching experience in areas like navigation and first-aid.”

The course will include three sections; mountaineering, whitewater paddling and mountain biking. There will also be a first-aid component taught by the Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS. Along with technical skills, the course will cover the NOLS core curriculum, things like expedition behavior, map and compass use, and living comfortably in the wilderness, in addition to more race-specific skills—endurance, sleep management, rappelling and ascending fixed lines, night navigation, and Leave No Trace, ‘race without a trace,’ ethics. And, of course, students will learn that the NOLS leadership curriculum is just as important as getting to the finish line quickly. “More than anything, NOLS has taught me tolerance for adversity and to be a team player and support my fellow expedition members,” says Wells. “This kind of leadership and expedition training isn’t available anywhere. I wish it was around when I started out.”


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