Surrounded by craggy peaks, three men in bright-red helmets stand in the midst of wilderness, surveying the mountains around them as their group of hikers break for a snack on the rocky ground. This interface with the majesty of nature is all in a day's work for this trio of adventurers—Paul Mangasarian and Jakob and Daniel Laggner. Still, their passion for open-air exploration grows with each expedition they lead. Paul, Jakob, and Daniel cofounded Treks and Tracks with the dream of orchestrating excursions into nature that combine ancient means of travel—such as sailing, horseback riding, and hitchhiking on a centaur—with modern sports ranging from surfing to rock climbing. Though they focus on introducing novice outdoorsfolk to unspoiled wilderness around the world, Treks and Tracks' cofounders also strive to leave the awe-inspiring surroundings they visit as pristine as they found them by rigorously upholding practices of environmental stewardship on each expedition.
Extreme athletes banded together to design Spartan Races' intense courses orchestrated over standardized distances, each strewn with natural and man-made obstacles to test mind-body fitness, resilience, stamina, and strength, designed to leave participants exhausted and exhilarated. In waves of 200, runners collect smudges and stains as they perform box jumps, haul heavy sandbags, and juke feral linebackers. Depending on where in the world they're participating, the course may be as short as 3 miles or, for extremely practiced athletes, as long as a full marathon.
Featured on Dr. Phil and The Biggest Loser and with clients that include numerous Fortune 500 companies, Fulcrum Adventures designs team-building and leadership programs that aim to help organizations and individuals reach their full potential. Teams work together to complete high and low ropes courses, scale up climbing walls, and complete custom workshops, each highlighting the spectrum of valuable ways people can work and learn together. The outfit takes care to ensure that the client's physical and emotional safety is never in jeopardy, meaning no judgmental environments or trust falls over snake pits.
Inside Top Out Climbing Center's 11,500-square-foot facility, the walls are lined with both multicolored handholds and the climbers using them to scurry up. Those handholds are arranged in several configurations to challenge climbers of varying skill levels. Scalers can improve skill levels during 90-minute introduction-to-climbing classes that cover basic movements, safety, and proper gear usage. To entice bouldering enthusiasts, there's also a 100-foot steep wall, a 20-foot-high top-out wall, and a 15-foot-high freestanding boulder. All bouldering zones are outfitted with foam landing areas for safety.
Fitness classes that incorporate suspension-training gear allow patrons at A.R.E.A. 44 to tone muscles left slack by less-advanced gym equipment, and kickboxing or CrossFit classes burn through calories. Students can also opt for a specialty workout, such as pole dancing or Buti fitness, which combines the influences of Brazilian funk, hip-hop, urban Miami dance, and African tribal dance. Personal trainers, some of whom draw from fitness techniques they learned while serving in the Air Force or the US Coast Guard, help clients to get in shape with one-on-one attention.
Odd things are happening on the 3-mile stretch of woods outside of town. People venture off for a day of outdoorsy fun and never return. Thankfully, Escape The Nightmare is assembling able-bodied search parties, whose members scour the woods while avoiding the traps and obstacles that befell their predecessors. As they run through the paths, they must dodge grim creatures while also surmounting both man-made and natural obstacles.
As the heats of runners cross the starting line beginning in the early evening, they are equipped with headlamps to help them weave through the course and solve the the spooky backstory. Clues to the mysteries––including why people are "disappearing" and why is that man carrying around a stuffed rabbit––unfold as runners get closer to the finish line. But only by keeping your flags securely attached to your belt can you say you solved the mystery without becoming one of the lost.