Feature Archive

Taking It to the Extreme

For a group of athletes, there's nothing like an exhausting, intense challenge to keep them motivated. Are they onto something?

WebMD Feature

Sept. 4, 2000 -- At 10 o'clock on any given night, it's not unusual to find Karen Lundgren scurrying around her San Bernardino, Calif., home gathering up her running shoes and popping batteries into her coal-miner-style headlamp. As this 35-year-old office coordinator gears up for an hour-long nighttime run in the woods, her husband settles in on the couch to watch the news. "He thinks I'm nuts, going out at that hour," she says. "Me, I love it. The moon is shining, the air is calm -- it's just wonderful."

This moonlit jaunt isn't even Lundgren's first workout of the day. The former alpine skier adheres to a training schedule that would make an Olympian wince. She spends over 20 hours each week preparing for the dozen or so races she enters each year, logging dozens of miles in almost every sport imaginable.

Lundgren is not simply a certifiable outdoor nut; she's one of a growing number of women and men who are no longer content to merely slog their way through a marathon. She's an adventure racer, taking part in a decade-old "sport" that is quickly rising in popularity. Where the marathon or triathlon was once considered the gold standard of endurance events, people like Lundgren are now signing up in record numbers for even more extreme challenges like the Hi-Tec Adventure Racing Series and the Eco-Challenge.