Who thinks this stuff up?

Obviously, individuals and groups looking for something new to challenge the body and mind, to test one’s strength and endurance.

Some world-class athletes – 42 three-person teams from all over the country – will descend on our region on Oct. 14 for the 2010 United States Adventure Racing Association National Championship.

It’s wild and gruelling – and it’s exciting that the Texas-based USARA has chosen western Pennsylvania for this year’s event, its 11th.

Hats off to staffs at Hidden Valley and Seven Springs resorts, Forbes State Forest, Ohiopyle and others for working to bring this event to our region. 

“We are excited to welcome people from all over the nation for this event,” Hidden Valley marketing director Bob Duppstadt said.   

The athletes’ families and friends are to fill more than 80 rooms, he said.

The resort, in fact, is booked to capacity for that weekend.

It will be a bonus for our economy, no question. And who knows? A successful event could lure other, similar groups to our area or even give birth to our own regional competition.

“We chose Pennsylvanian terrain because we thought it would be fun for the athletes, and it’s a beautiful area,” USARA President Troy Farrar told free-lance writer Russ O’Reilly, whose story appeared in The Tribune-Democrat last week and can be accessed online at www.tribdem.com.

In essence, USARA teams will compete in nonstop trail running, mountain biking and whitewater paddling over a 100-mile course during more than 24 hours. Each team will also have to be adept at following a geological survey map.

Although the race is not really a spectator sport – onlookers are only able to see athletes as they dash from the start and trickle back at the finish – it nevertheless is intriguing.

Good luck to the athletes and to the organizers, both for USARA and from our region.

A lot of people obviously will be making their first trek to our region. We hope they will like what they find and make many more.

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