Students, staff gearing up for fall race

The Gopher Adventure Race highlights different aspects of the University.

by Claire Bramel

Students who register for the third annual Gopher Adventure Race next fall could be competing alongside University President Eric Kaler and his wife, Karen.

During the “Amazing Race”-type adventure competition, students, alumni and faculty form teams to compete in a race spanning all of the Twin Cities’ campus.

Connie Magnuson, race director and kinesiology lecturer, said the president visited race headquarters last fall during the event.

“He was thrilled with the idea that it was an academic learning tool and a fantastic way to highlight the many great things that are at the University,” she said.

The race will take place Oct. 5. Early registration is currently available through May 18 at a discounted rate.

The competition is put on by the College of Education and Human Development.

Magnuson said seven recreation, park and leisure studies classes had “a role in the designing, planning, marketing, risk management, operation and evaluation of [the race].”

 There is also an executive committee of students that oversees the event as a part of their coursework. The magnitude of student involvement sets the Gopher Adventure Race apart from other similar competitions held at different universities, she said.

“On race day, you will see 80 to 100 students in our signature lime green shirts running the event that they have worked throughout the past year to create,” Magnuson said. “It’s extremely exciting.”

The locations and challenges for the race change every year, making it a unique adventure every year, even for people who’ve participated in the past, said Brett Schelitzche, a recreation major and media coordinator for the race’s executive committee.

Magnuson said that the race is a good way for people at the University to learn more about campus groups they may not be as familiar with. For example, she said last year the race coordinated with the Fencing Club, and participants were able to take a stab at fencing. One station had racers rappel from the ROTC’s Armory building.

“When else would you have the chance to do those things?” she said.

Also setting the race apart from other University-sponsored events is that the race has been “Green Certified” by FitPlanet, a nonprofit committed to helping event organizers and individuals make environmentally conscious decisions. The Gopher Adventure Race is going green by using online registration to limit paper waste, partnering with Metro Transit to provide free rides for participants as well as other initiatives.

Sharon Moe, a sophomore studying health and wellness, participated in the event last fall with her dad, and the two came in first in the alumni division. Their victory prompted her to register early for this coming fall.

“It is an opportunity to do fun activities you never thought you would do,” she said, “like rappelling down buildings.”