Vail Health Magazine 2013 - page 23

Local ski patroller Billy
Mattison was an avid adventure
racer for 10 years. It was only
after having kids that his racing
days waned, but the creation of
backyard birthday “courses” for
kids’ parties allowed him to keep
the adventure alive. Over time
and test-runs, Mattison’s vision
expanded and evolved into the
Keen Vail Kids Adventure Race.
The annual August event is now in
its fourth year, and Mattison said it
just keeps getting bigger and better.
“It has just progressed and
is growing very quickly,” said
Mattison, race director and course
designer. “We have gotten great
feedback from every race — kids
love it and parents love it. Every
year it gets a little harder, but they
all live up to the adventure.”
The 2013 race weekend offers a
two-day interactive event expo at
the Solaris in Vail Village, as well
as a number of optional pre-race
adventure skills clinics.
“This race is intended to give
kids wilderness experience in a
challenging, fun and safe environ-
ment,” said Beth Pappas, event
director and Vail Recreation
District manager. “They have a
good time, but there are definitely
a lot of life lessons.”
The course is held throughout
Vail Village and Vail Mountain.
It includes mountain bike rides,
ziplines, Tyrolean traverses, slip-
and-slides, slack lines over mud,
climbing walls, archery, cargo
nets and an underground river
crossing. Mattison said this year’s
race will be a little longer and
“more natural,” including more
real climbing for older kids. And
waterfalls will be involved.
“The kids really have to navigate
their way through the terrain,” said
Mattison. “Every year I am blown
away by how kids tackle it and
take it on. Ninety-nine percent
of the kids finish the course and
thrive on it.”
Sign Up Early
A total of 230 teams of two can par-
ticipate in the event — 115 teams
per day. The race has sold out the
last three years, so it’s important to
get kids signed up and ready.
“The preparation for the event is
part of the overall experience for
the kids,” says Pappas. “We want
the kids to really prepare for the
race by talking with their team-
mates, getting their gear together
and having a strategy.”
Originally a one-day event,
the now four-day weekend just
keeps expanding. Pappas said the
age limit has been increased this
year to accommodate more kids.
The older age group will have a
longer, more challenging course,
emphasizing an even more mature
integration of teamwork.
Pappas said the event is meant
to be fun, but should also help
kids to understand the extent of
their endurance.
“All the hard work they all put
into it really adds to the excite-
ment and each participant’s over-
all satisfaction in completing the
race,” says Pappas. “It’s really fun to
watch, and it gives kids a big sense
of accomplishment.”
Sam Higbie was 6 years old
when he completed the race last
summer with his teammate, Brady.
Sam’s mother, Gabrie Higbie, said
it was incredible to watch them
demonstrate such levels of deter-
mination and perseverance.
“They work really hard, and for
these little guys, just to finish it is
really huge,” says Higbie. “It takes
a lot of courage and strength, and
you don’t get to see that in your
kids very often.”
She said when the boys came
across the finish line, they were
exhausted, but her son still had a
smile on his face.
“Sam just loved it, and he and
Brady are already talking about
the next race,” says Higbie. “They
are even planning out what they
are going to wear.”
2013 Race
August 8 & 9
Interactive Expo at Solaris
August 10
Adventure race, ages 6 through 10
August 11
Adventure race, ages 11 through 14
For more information visit
“They work really hard, and for these
little guys, just to finish it is really huge.”
—Gabrie Higbie
The Keen Vail Kids Adventure Race combines wilderness
experience, camaraderie and big goals
Choose Your
Own Adventure
By Kim Fuller
Kat Jahnigen and Scott McClarinnon Photography
1...,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22 24,25,26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,...84
Powered by FlippingBook