Coolibar Athlete Jeremy Van Ek

May 22, 2012 No Comments by

Finance professional by day, proud father by night and weekend, and adventurer in any spare time I can manage to fit in. I spend as much time outdoors as possible mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, trail running, orienteering, mountaineering, rock climbing, camping and coaching youth sports. I am also a Cub Scout den leader and president of the Chicago Area Adventure Racing Association.

My true passion is adventure racing, an outdoors multisport team competition. Disciplines usually include trail running, mountain biking, paddling (canoes or kayaks), and special challenges. What makes it really interesting is that team members must stick together at all times (it’s not a relay) and there is never any marked course for the race. We navigate our way using maps and a compass (GPS not allowed).  Adventure races range in length anywhere from four hours to 10 days.

I have several podium finishes in adventure races including 1st place in the 2007 Sweaty Otter Ultramarathon. I’ve also completed 25 plus adventure races from six hours to three days in length. My goal for any outdoor adventure is get dirty, have fun, eat strange foods, tell jokes, scream “wheee!” with childlike abandon and push myself (and team) to the best possible finish.

I am an everyday guy who likes to spend as much time outdoors as possible, getting up at 4:30 am just to get in 10 miles of mountain biking before heading to work. Friends constantly ask what kind of racing I am up to because they like to hear the stories. My plan for this year so far includes: Desplaines canoe and kayak marathon (solo kayak division); Chicago Adventure Racing Association All-Nighter workout (I plan and run this event every year); trip to hike Long’s Peak in Colorado; and a three day canoe trip in Northern Michigan.

I truly believe that you don’t have to be a super-athlete or maniac to be an adventurer. There is a lot waiting right in your backyard; you just have to occasionally go looking for it when you can manage to spare the time. I live in the west suburbs of Chicago, not exactly an adventurer’s paradise, but I’ve found many amazing sights just by wandering off the beaten trail, getting up a little earlier than normal to catch the sunrise and following the road less traveled.

On a final note, I feel strongly that sun protection is important in all outdoor activities. My kids are slathered with sunblock every time we go hiking and kayaking!

Jeremy Van Ek on Mt. Lincoln

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