Chelsey Magness Takes On The Panama Adventure Race

Chelsey Magness Takes On The Panama Adventure Race

Adventure racing, also known as Expedition Racing, is a sport that is not for the faint of heart, involves many skill sets such as trekking, mountain biking, rafting, rock climbing, navigation, and sometimes skiing. The race structure comprises a team of 4 participants, with at least one being female and can range from two hours up to two weeks long. Spring Team Athlete Chelsey Magness has been competing in the sport for over 14 years and is the Co-Founder (with husband and teammate Jason) of Bend Racing. Most recently the duo, and their team, toed the line at the Panama Adventure Race, which is part of the Adventure Racing World Series, where they raced for 92 hours across volcanoes, jungles, mangroves, mountains and beaches. 


Chelsey and Team Bend tackle about 5 adventure races per year, all of which are part of the AR World Series and concluding with the World Championships. Her team of four people all specialize in races over 70 hours and consider 24 races “training races.” Panama was the first on the series for 2022 and the foursome were ready and hungry to compete. Although Chelsey is consistent with training for her sport year-round, she really dials in three months before an event in the specifics of the race course. For Panama, this meant more hill training and lots of paddling. Her base training involves working out 6 days a week with 4 days being longer base workouts and 2 HIIT workouts. In the last year she has been experimenting with “heart rate elasticity,” heart rate training variability, and only trains in either a Zone 2 heart rate zone or a zone 4/5 HIIT threshold. Every few weeks she includes in her programming an 8-10 hour mission that involves lots of navigation practice with her teammates.


Adventure Racing out of the country isn’t just about the physical and mental training, but consists of many logistics such as traveling, childcare, shipping the necessary gear, and vaccinations for certain countries. Bikes must be transported in certain bike boxes, which means there must be knowledge on how to take apart the bikes and put them back together at the final destination. Chelsey jokes that “getting to the start line with all your gear and body in tack is 90% of the race.”


Nutrition during these endurance races can be tricky, as every athlete must carry their own supply of calories. There are no aid stations, but transitions where teams can keep supplies to restock their packs. Spring gels work well for the start of the race, and during biking and paddling segments where weight and size are key. Additional food items are pre-packaged in 200-calorie ziplock baggies with more solid food being used later in the race. 

With the best Adventure Racing teams in the world at the Panama AR, Chelsey knew that this was not going to be easy, but if her team trained right and were well prepared, they would finish in the top 5. Due to logistics and weather, certain challenges on the course were canceled or changed, but despite the pivot and having two teammates suffer from heat stroke, Team Bend finished with a tie for 4th place. The four competitors had great team work throughout the race, helped each other frequently, and succeeded with excellent navigation. During the hard times with extreme temperatures, they continued to push through, with the stronger athletes carrying the big packs and making it through the checkpoints without having to drop from the race. 


Chelsey will take about a month off of heavy training, but will continue to do active recovery workouts, and then will begin to ramp up for her next race, 24 hour Mountain Bike World Championships in Italy and the Endless Mountains AR in Pennsylvania. Endless Mountains AR will give teams five days to finish a 342 mile course in the PA Wilds which will encompass forests, state parks, waterways, rocky ridges and mountainsides. Challenges will range from overland navigation, wild terrain and weather, with 176 miles of biking, 81 miles of trekking and 85 miles of paddling. Team Bend Racing is ready to leave it all out on the course with a goal of winning the event in 3.5 days. 


Interested in learning more about Adventure Racing? Follow and reach out to Bend Racing, a team of athletes and coaches who are known to be the most passionate about the sport and inspire others to challenge themselves. With training camps, resources and connections to other athletes, Chelsey and her crew will get you ready to rock n roll with this life-changing sport.


Interview by Spring Team Manager Isabella Janovick 

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