Surviving the BRAWL

24 Hours of Adventure Racing in Marin County

Written by Goyo


On the early misty morning of March 18th 2023, a pack of 43 racers in teams of 2-4 left the Coast Miwok village at Bear Valley Visitor Center for an epic adventure. This year's 2023 BRAWL adventure race was a 24-hour challenge that took place in Marin County, California. Many people traveled from afar to join in on the adventure, including participants from Washington, San Diego, LA, Santa Cruz, Auburn, and Sacramento. We had many new people to adventure racing, some who took on the 24-hour course and others who did a shortened 6-hour highlight reel. We had some crazy race-week weather changes, reroutes and flooding of the course, but thanks to our trusty partners at Blue Water Kayaks and a blessing from our friends at Sacred Heart Church, we were able to pull off an amazing weekend. 

My main goal when putting together this race was to connect people with themselves, with each other, and with nature; and to bring new people to the sport of adventure racing. The BRAWL, which has been a free training course for about 22 years now, has traditionally been a tough, cold, and wet course where the local community can test their wits, grit, and gear before the upcoming AR season. It was designed to be a challenge for even the most seasoned adventure racers and it surely proved to be a tough one. 

For those who don't know, adventure racing is a multi-disciplinary endurance sport that typically involves trekking, mountain biking, and paddling over a rugged natural terrain. It often includes orienteering and other skills-based challenges, and races can last anywhere from several hours to several days. Adventure racing requires physical fitness, navigation skills, teamwork, and the ability to make strategic decisions on the fly. It is a thrilling and demanding sport that offers a unique way to explore and connect with the natural world.

This course was designed to take racers through some of the most beautiful and challenging terrain in Marin. The race included a paddle on Tamales Bay, a trek along the coast of Point Reyes National Seashore, and a bike ride along the ridge lines of the Mount Tamalpais watershed.

The racers had the chance to see some incredible wildlife on Tamales Bay. We spotted moon jellyfish, bald eagles, harbor seals, and a variety of bird life. And the tailwind was a welcome bonus, helping us make good time as we paddled along the bay.

The trek through Point Reyes was nothing short of magical. We had epic views of the Pacific coastline, scaled down Alamere Falls, and walked along a stretch of beach to catch the sunset. It was a peaceful and awe-inspiring experience that reminded us of the power of nature. This is where some of the AR stories started unfolding. Some teams cranked through this section, running most of the flat and down sections and getting to the next transition area around 7pm. Some of the later teams struggled with small injuries into the night and didn't hit the TA until 11pm.


But as night fell, so did the rain, or should I say atmospheric river, which made the race even more challenging. Many people gave up during the orienteering course in the middle of the night during the bike section. It was a tough and humbling experience for everyone involved, drenched hugging themselves on a park bench or huddled in a pit toilet trying to decide on whether to bail or not.

If you're looking for a true adventure, I encourage you to check out the BRAWL next year. If you want to test yourself at this course, here are all the map links below. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me. Just remember, I am in no way liable for your attempt at this course, and you are doing so at your own risk. Be smart, respect your fellow adventurers, and keep the AR spirit alive. 


In preparing for the course, my buddy Jade and I went out to try and attempt the full course. Here's a video about our adventure: 

Special thanks to Sean Malone for these great photographs at one of our TAs. 

Tags: adventure race - training - BRAWL
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