KAYAKING through crocodile-infested waters and taking on lethal snakes in the sweltering rainforest may not sound like everyone’s cup of tea but it’s the next big challenge offered by a Yorkshire adventure sports company.
Rat Race Adventure Sports, based in York, aims to put Panama on the UK adventure tourism map with its new 50-mile, one-day event traversing the country’s famous canal.
The new event, which will take place in early 2019, marks a change in direction for the 13-year-old company, which has made its mark creating endurance challenges for racers seeking ever wilder physical challenges.
Rat Race founder Jim Mee has repositioned the business to offer two types of event: ultra endurance challenges and family race weekends. The company, which employs 13 full-time staff, attracts 50,000 people a year to its 17 events.
The father-of-two said: “This year we have found clarity with what we do. We are offering events that are popular and those we would want to do ourselves – a mix of tough challenges and family events.”
The company’s most difficult event, according to Mr Mee, is the City to Summit challenge, from Edinburgh to Ben Nevis, comprising half a marathon, a 120-mile cycle ride and a full marathon in 20 hours.
“We are not making things impossible,” he said. “It’s a challenge, but it can be done.”
The Panama event, which will be called The Canal, is the first event in a series of ‘Rat Race bucket list’ of similar challenges, with further races to be announced in the Arctic Circle, covering 300km on skis and snow bike, and a foot race in the Namibian desert, home to the world’s highest sand dunes
Mr Mee said: “This is a bit of a pivot for us as an adventure company, which will form part of our ‘Bucket List’ series of challenges.
“With The Canal plus some other iconic races in far-flung spots, we will be able to offer jungle, polar and desert expedition-style events from the outset and to us that’s a pretty good trilogy.”
Part of the Panama route follows the canal itself and part of it goes into pristine primary jungle. Other sections will need to be navigated via kayak as competitors take to a crocodile-infested lake in the central section of the canal zone.