Local adventure racer’s team qualifies for nationals

Published 12:05 am Sunday, August 30, 2009

NATCHEZ — “The following takes place between noon Saturday and noon Sunday.”

At first glance, those words might seem like the introduction of an entire season’s recap for Jack Bauer in the television drama “24.”

However, they have a different meaning for Natchez resident Lena Yarbrough, an adventure racer who will compete in the U.S. Adventure Racing Association Adventure Race National Championship Oct. 22 – 24 in Point Pilot, Texas.

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The adventure race will be a 24-hour test of the teams’ physical and mental fortitudes. Competitors will have to use a map and compass to maneuver through a set of checkpoints, utilizing outdoor skills such as biking, canoeing, trail running and orienteering. The race begins noon Oct. 23 and ends noon Oct. 24.

“We’ll be competing against teams from all across the nation,” Yarbrough said. “Just being involved in it tickles me to death.”

Yarbrough will be part of a three-member team with her, Dustin Blount of Vicksburg and Bill Campbell of Biloxi.

“They basically just give us a map and have us plot our own course,” Yarbrough said. “Bill’s an excellent navigator, since he was in the military, so that helps.”

In order to be able to compete in nationals, Yarbrough’s team had to take part in the Amphibious Warrior Adventure Race in Auburn, Ala., on April 18. Yarbrough, Blount and Campbell all placed second in that race, which qualified them.

After qualification, Yarbrough said her team caught a big break, as a biking rack company offered to sponsor them for nationals.

“Kuat Racks had seen Dustin compete in a triathlon before the tournament in Auburn and took interest,” Yarbrough said. “After we qualified, they decided to sponsor us.

“It’s always nice to have a company recognize and sponsor you, because competing in these things can get expensive with hotel and food costs and entrance fees.”

Yarbrough said her interest in adventure racing began in 2002, when she and a friend wanted something “new, aggressive and harder” than what they had been doing.

“Me and my friend Jennifer Mire decided to try it together,” Yarbrough said. “I was into mountain biking and she was into running. We thought about combining those things.

“When you do it all together, it’s so much harder on the body. You use all sorts of different muscle groups.”

Yarbrough has been living in Natchez for seven years after her husband Brad started working at Natchez Ford Lincoln Mercury. She said living in Natchez has been a great help in allowing her to prepare for the adventure racing competitions.

“I like to run either through downtown or Beau Pré (Country Club) golf course,” Yarbrough said. “Homochitto National Forest has three mountain biking trails I use. The Miss-Lou offers great training areas for this kind of thing.”

When not doing outdoors-related activities, Yarbrough likes to sing for Black Bayou, a local cover band. Recently, however, she said singing has taken a back seat to adventure racing.

“It has helped me fund races,” Yarbrough joked.