Looking for an adventure? Check out The Alabama Beta, a race that begins and ends in Birmingham

The Alabama Beta participants. Photo by Fran Gunn (@franniegetyourgunn) and courtesy of The Alabama Beta

48 hours. 144 challenges across the state. The team with the best beta wins. Intrigued? Read on for more information about Alabama’s adventure race, The Alabama Beta. It starts in Birmingham October 4, 2019.

What’s the race?

Padding during The Alabama Beta. Photo by Fran Gunn (@franniegetyourgunn) and courtesy of The Alabama Beta

The Alabama Beta is a race across the state that includes challenges related to the outdoors. Teams of two to five compete over 48 hours, completing as many challenges as they can. 

The race was started by Ryan Cavender, Ben Tanksley and Lee Jeffrey. The idea came from climbing competitions, which are based on who can climb the hardest or the most routes. Cavender, Tanksley and Jeffrey wanted to change things up. “We thought about doing something a little different and inviting people of all skill levels and experience to participate,” said Cavender. 

Why the name “Beta”?

Climbing during The Alabama Beta. Photo by Fran Gunn (@franniegetyourgunn) and courtesy of The Alabama Beta

Beta is a climbing term that refers to critical information about a climb–the location, the equipment and the moves on the route. Those with the best “beta” about the various challenges and locations of The Alabama Beta have a better chance of winning.

What are the challenges?

The Alabama Beta. Photo by Fran Gunn (@franniegetyourgunn) and courtesy of The Alabama Beta

Although the idea for The Alabama Beta came from climbing, the race isn’t limited to that sport. The challenges are broken up into five categories: hiking, paddling, climbing, conservation and community. 

Not only are the challenges designed to get people outside, but they also task participants with getting to know others and supporting the environment. The race benefits the Southeastern Climbers Coalition & Black Warrior, Cahaba & Coosa Riverkeepers. 

Birmingham challenge locations include Oak Mountain, Red Mountain and Railroad Park. Examples of challenges are below:

  • Pull a tire out of the Cahaba River
  • Pick up a bag of trash at Griffith Falls
  • Climb a route at Little River Canyon
  • Complete a hike at Oak Mountain 
  • Paddle to a location on the Coosa River 

Race weekend

The Alabama Beta participants. Photo by Fran Gunn (@franniegetyourgunn) and courtesy of The Alabama Beta

The challenges are kept secret until the weekend of the race. It kicks off October 4, 2019 in Homewood at Alabama Outdoors (one of the race sponsors), where participants will receive a packet with the challenges listed. There’s an option to camp at Cherokee Rock Village on Friday and Saturday, and the awards ceremony will be held at Good People Brewing on Sunday, October 6, 2019. 

Last year was the inaugural year of the Beta. Twenty five teams participated. “This time last year we weren’t even sure it was going to happen,” said Cavender. “In July, we already have 10 teams signed up. We expect to exceed last year’s number this year.” 

How to win

Participants are awarded points for every challenge. Some participants race all weekend without stopping to complete as many challenges as they can. (It’s impossible to finish all 144, so you must choose your own adventure!). 

Race organizers track completed challenges through photos uploaded to Instagram, so participants must take photos at every challenge. You’ll need to include an Instagram handle with your registration. Pro tip: create a dedicated Instagram handle for your team so you don’t spam your friends. 

Points will be tallied at the end of the weekend. Teams with the most points will win cool prizes from race sponsors like Patagonia.

Ryan Cavender belaying during The Alabama Beta. Photo by Fran Gunn (@franniegetyourgunn) and courtesy of The Alabama Beta

How to register

Go to https://www.thealabamabeta.com/ to register.

Cost: $50

Need to know

You don’t have to be an avid outdoorsperson to participate. The race is open to all ages and skill levels–you’ll just have to sign a waiver. Those younger than 19 need a signed waiver from a parent.  

Even if you don’t race, you can follow the Beta on Instagram at #thealabamabeta. 

Who wants to try the Beta this year?!