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On Foot or in Kayak, Hunting Island Adventure Biathlon Is a Blast

Marie McAden Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.
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All you outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy a little friendly competition should make plans to participate in the Hunting Island Adventure Biathlon, a running and paddling race held each March on the beautiful sea island just outside Beaufort.

The competition includes a 6-mile kayak paddle followed by a 4.5-mile trail run through a maritime forest. The cool thing is you’ve got some options if you don’t want to do both legs yourself. In the relay division, one person paddles and the other person runs. In the tandem division, both team members paddle (in a tandem boat) and run together.

Hunting Island State Park serves as the backdrop for this popular biathlon. Part of the pristine ACE Basin estuarine reserve, the park features thousands of acres of marsh and maritime forest, 5 miles of beach and an ocean inlet.

The paddling part of the race begins at Russ Point Landing adjacent to the park’s nature center and the Fripp Island Bridge. Paddling kayaks or stand-up paddleboards, competitors race into Fripp Inlet, circle a buoy and then paddle back to the landing.

Once on dry land, the athletes transition to the running portion of the race, hoofing it toward the nature center and the park’s primitive trails. Hey, it’s an adventure race after all!

One of the Southeast’s premier adventure kayak/run biathlons, the event draws an average of 180 athletes each year competing for great prizes in a variety of categories. Win or lose, everyone is invited to celebrate with beer and chili at the Official Post Race Party. You’ve burned the calories, now enjoy!

To sign up for an individual event, relay or tandem team, click here. Start time for the biathlon is 11 a.m., but come early as the entrance gate can back up during peak hours. Park admission is $8 for adults; $4 for children ages 6 to 15; free for kids 5 and younger.

Don’t have your own boat or board? Higher Ground Outfitters in Beaufort offers rentals. Click here or call (843) 379-4327 to reserve your rental.

Marie McAden
A former staffer with The Miami Herald, Marie moved to SC in 1992. She is passionate about the outdoors, and enjoys exploring the state’s many natural treasures from the Lowcountry to the Upstate.