Kids Adventure Games to return to Park City |

Kids Adventure Games to return to Park City

The adventure race for kids moving to Park City Mountain

Participants in the Kids Adventure Games last year take off on the course at Big Bear Mountain in California. The event will stop at Park City Mountain from June 16-18.

When thrust into the fire, kids can surprise, if not thrive, in an adventure setting.

Kids Adventure Games — based out of Vail, Colorado — is out to prove how touch children are.

The program offers kids, ages 6-14, the chance to compete in a challenging adventure race without the help of adults. In fact, courses are typically zoned as parent-free, which will be the case at Park City Mountain when the Kids Adventure Games roll through town on June 16-18.

"We're quite a bit different than your typical kids race," said Jamie Gunion, the Kids Adventure Games spokesperson. "Part of the goal is to really encourage our racers to learn confidence and build teamwork skills and just get out there and learn that they can do things on their own. Obviously, parents can follow along, but we ask that they don't interfere."

Gunion said this will be the third year that the Kids Adventure Games — which makes stops in Squaw Valley, Stowe, Copper Mountain and Chicago, to name a few — has returned to Utah. The first stop took place at Snowbird, while the second one took place at Utah Olympic Park.

The idea behind moving to Park City Mountain is similar to the rest of its stops.

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"Our goal is to be at ski resorts," Gunion said. "We're at nine other ski resort venues across the nation, and it's always great to be at a resort, especially like Park City, that's in the town. It's right there. It's easy to park. It'll be easy for our racers to get in and out. It's just going to be really exciting."

Being a part of the Vail Resorts family certainly played a part in moving the event to Park City Mountain, but it also provides an opportunity for Kids Adventure Games to build a new course.

There are a few obstacles that are obvious parts of the course, such as cargo nets, water crossings and a slip 'n' slide (a fan favorite, Gunion said). Gunion, however, doesn't know what the exact route will be.

"The map is top secret until race day," Gunion said. "Families and racers don't actually receive their map until about an hour before they go off in their wave."

The wave format is a unique start in terms of adventure course racing, because it's not a mass start. Each kid will be paired up with another to create teams of two, as each duo will venture onto the course a minute or two apart.

Before taking off, however, teams will have a chance to not only see the secretive course map, but also come up with the best strategy possible.

"They learn self-reliance, grit and resilience," Gunion said.

In the spirit of having fun, participants are encouraged to dress in costumes that will be comfortable enough for wearing the required harness and making it through the challenging obstacles.

There will also be awards given out to those who finish in the top three of each division: ages 6-8, ages 10-12, ages 14-16. There is also an open division, should a pair differ in divisions.

Additionally, awards will be given for showing the most spirit and teamwork.

"We look for those kids that if another racer gets hurt, they stop and take time [to help]," Gunion said. "It is a race, but they take time for another racer. Or they're cheering other teams on or they're picking up the most garbage along the course."

The three-day event will kick off with skills clinics on Friday, where kids can prepare for the race by going through mountain biking, climbing and teamwork drills. Saturday and Sunday will be race days, with an instructional speech starting at 8:30 a.m. and the race starting shortly after at 9 a.m. Gunion expects at least 200 kids to be racing on the final two days of the event.

For those who may be interested, registration is filling up fast and Gunion suggests taking care of it sooner rather than later. Whether or not one has a kid participating in the race, however, the unique race is entertaining for all.

"Just come out, even if you don't have kids racing," Gunion said. "It is so fun to watch. It's just really spectator-friendly. It's so cool to see these kids out there doing it on their own. Because it's not like a Tough Mudder or a Spartan Race, where it's a mass start. It's a really unique way to view an adventure race and see what it's all about."

The two sessions of skills clinics on Friday will go from 8 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. Saturday's racing will be for kids aged 10-14, while Sunday's race is reserved for the younger kids aged 6-9, as well as the open division racers. Both races will start at 9 a.m.