Travel

Seven Adventures for Weekend Daredevils


Seven Adventures for Weekend Daredevils

Photograph by Daniel Shea for Bloomberg Businessweek

No matter how much you love your work, sitting at your desk too long can kill you. Next weekend, risk your life to have some fun.

1/ Test your endurance
Three major players have emerged in extreme obstacle races: Warrior Dash (600,000 participants), Tough Mudder (460,000), and Spartan Race (350,000). Depending on the event, you’ll shimmy through mud to dodge barbed wire, leap through fire, or submerge yourself in an ice bath, all over a carefully plotted course spanning anywhere from 3 to 12 miles. Each race has its own personality: Tough Mudder’s long course and extreme obstacles attract those seeking a mental challenge; Spartan Race offers tiered distances, strong camaraderie, and a Kid’s Race; and Warrior Dash’s manageable obstacles and relatively easygoing vibe make it great for groups of friends at varying fitness levels. Spartan Race is rolling out a series of subway-accessible events at iconic baseball parks such as Boston’s Fenway Park and Citi Field in New York. They’re held on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year across the U.S. warriordash.com (from $65); toughmudder.com (from $95); spartanrace.com (from $60).
TIP: Each company provides a detailed workout plan online. On the big day, wear broken-in running shoes with the laces duct-taped and lightweight clothing that dries quickly.

Tough Mudder racers climb highPhotograph by Daniel Shea for Bloomberg BusinessweekTough Mudder racers climb high

2/ Fly a fighter jet
San Francisco-based Incredible Adventures allows you to navigate a real military fighter jet—an L-39, the kind featured in Iron Man 3 and the otherwise forgettable Bond flick Tomorrow Never Dies—up to 500 miles per hour along the California coast. It’s a two-seater, so a professional FAA-certified stunt pilot affiliated with the U.S. Air Force or Navy is on hand, although he’s thrillingly invisible from your seat. Your co-pilot will ease you into the 45-minute experience with rolls and loops while working up to more sophisticated maneuvers such as shooting straight up 20,000 feet in the sky. The plane is equipped with three cameras to capture the whole thing on high-def video, ready for uploading to Facebook (FB), YouTube (GOOG), or Vimeo back home. 941-346-2603; incredible-adventures.com; from $2,950.
TIP: Pack your Ray-Ban aviators. To help prevent motion sickness, avoid alcohol for 12 hours prior to takeoff, and eat a light breakfast the morning of.

3/ Be a stuntman
To train alongside the likes of Billy Lucas, who’s doubled for Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, visit the Kahana Stunt School, set on 100 acres in Groveland, Fla. The résumé of founder and martial arts pro Kim Kahana, whose film credits include The Dirty Dozen, reads like that of a character from one of his blockbusters: As a bodyguard defending a client, he killed an armed man with a karate kick, and he once walked away from a plane crash in Texas that killed 32 people. Depending entirely on your skill level, you might learn how to engage in a studio fight, fling yourself at a moving car, hurl yourself off a 60-foot-high tower, or even ride a motorcycle through an explosion. This is not for the faint of heart: Broken noses do happen on occasion, and the on-site four-bedroom, two-bath dormitory is, in Kahana’s words, “no Beverly Hilton Hotel.” 352-429-4561; kahanastuntschool.com; from $500 for one day.
TIP: If you prefer to get behind the wheel, sign up for a one- or two-day weekend driving workshop to learn forward and reverse spins, 180-degree slides, and throttle drifting over wet and dry terrain.

4/ High-altitude sky-dive
High-altitude jumps—from up to 30,000 feet, twice the altitude of a typical sky-dive—are usually performed by the military to drop off personnel, equipment, or supplies. To do it just for fun, fly to Memphis and head over to the Halo diving site in nearby Somerville, Tenn. You’ll spend Saturday getting fitted for a ballistic helmet, oxygen mask, and tactical goggles and practicing skydiving breathing techniques—when the time comes, you’ll be sucking in 100 percent oxygen onboard the plane so you don’t get the bends when you jump. Arrive at 7:30 the next morning and suit up in camo. Then leap from a specially modified B90 King Air in tandem with a military-trained Halo jumper. You’ll experience up to two minutes of free fall—passing through air that dips to –30F—before opening your parachute at a low altitude of about 5,000 feet. 504-453-7222; halojumper.com; from $3,495, April through November.
TIP: Men should shave beforehand to ensure a snug fit for their oxygen mask.

5/ Zip around a racetrack
Speed ahead at more than 180 mph with Dale Jarrett Racing Adventure at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. It’s the industry’s big boy, the largest oval enclosed speedway at 2.66 miles long, and the host of two annual Nascar cup races. This summer you can compete against other fans in simulated 20-lap races. (Next up: Saturday, July 20.) The company buys race cars directly from Nascar teams, so you’ll bank 33-degree turns in vehicles once commanded by pros such as Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip, and Bobby Labonte. Each is now fitted with a right seat—but no extra controls—so you can drive alongside a professional spotter. Other safety measures, such as Tri-Star fire suits and frequent tire changes, pay off: Over the course of 15 years, no guests or instructors have ever been injured. 888-467-2231; racingadventure.com; from $195 for a three-lap ride.
TIP: Spring for 20 laps ($995) to maximize your racing progress. After the 10th lap you’ll make a pit stop, where your instructor will give pointers on how to go into and come out of a turn. Corporate packages available.

Enjoying a postrace high at TalladegaPhotograph by Daniel Shea for Bloomberg BusinessweekEnjoying a postrace high at Talladega

6/ Track a mountain gorilla
There’s no better Tuesday morning entrance than announcing you went to Tanzania, Rwanda, Morocco, Jordan, or Iceland over the three-day weekend. U.K.-based tour operator Epic Tomato specializes in luxuriously risky custom experiences around the globe. According to founder Tom Marchant, the outfit launched its Epic Weekend collection for executives who have an appetite for hard-core adventure but no time. For East Coasters looking to maximize summer Fridays, Iceland (a five-and-a-half-hour flight away) and Morocco (leave after work on Friday and arrive the next morning) are the most accessible, with Rwanda coming in third, thanks to multiple access routes via Amsterdam and Kenya. Itineraries are led by expert guides, many with military or Special Forces backgrounds. You can sleep in the shadow of the active Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull and, the next day, cut through a frozen lake to fish for dinner; trek beside a family of the semi-nomadic Ait Atta tribe through Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, learning traditional Berber survival skills along the way; or track endangered mountain gorillas, such as the Sabyinyo, in Rwanda’s Virunga Mountains. 888-341-9663; epictomato.com: from $2,956.
TIP: Epic Tomato can arrange for a gear kit to be sent to your destination ahead of time so you don’t have to lug it along.

7/ Defy gravity
Float, spin, and bounce off the walls over the course of 90 minutes aboard a specially modified Boeing (BA) 727 known as G-Force One. Saturday flights are scheduled in nine U.S. cities this year, including one at New York’s LaGuardia Airport on June 29. Here’s how it works: Following a trajectory not unlike that of a roller coaster, an expert pilot levels the plane to the horizon at 24,000 feet, gradually pulls up to a 45-degree angle at 34,000 feet, and then pushes over the apex of the arc, rendering you weightless for the next 20 to 30 seconds. The pilot performs this maneuver 12 to 15 times, meaning you’ll have eight minutes total to play astronaut. Not only will you experience zero gravity but also lunar and martian gravity—and each feels different. The pilot may start you off at martian (at one-third of your body weight), advance to lunar (at one-sixth, you can do a push-up with only one finger), and then go to full-on zero gravity. 888-664-7284; gozerog.com; from $4,950 per person.
TIP: Avoid motion sickness by staring at one spot on the ceiling, which keeps your head, and thus your inner ear, still.

Sposato is a Bloomberg Businessweek contributor.

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