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Kelowna woman breaks down barriers to adventure racing in B.C.

Nathalie Long created Adventure Immersion Lab Ltd. after realizing the Okanagan is the perfect place to host adventure races.

After living, traveling, and racing around the world, Nathalie Long decided to settle in the rolling mountains of the Okanagan, an ideal playground for outdoor activities and adventures.

However, there was only one problem: Nathalie Long’s favourite sport – adventure racing– had not yet become popular in the interior of the province.

Undeterred, Long was determined to create change and grow the community of adventure racers in B.C. in the same way that she got her start in the sport – with unrelenting positivity and encouragement.

Adventure racing involves a combination of orienteering and endurance where participants find their way from point A to point B using only maps, a compass and their own strength and determination. Participants are able to use any human-powered means necessary, often including paddling, biking, climbing, and running, to find as many checkpoints as possible around a course during a set period of time, sometimes for days at a time.

Long is hosting an urban race geared towards beginners on May 25, where participants are able to use public transit, in addition to their legs, to venture around Kelowna.

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Long had been active as a child but participated in comparatively sterile court-based sports as a youth before beginning to run in university.

It wasn’t until she moved to Australia and was surrounded by a group of encouraging but gnarly friends on the other side of the world that she began to dabble in endurance sports.

“I was somehow convinced to give it a go at triathlon,” joked Long. “I figured out pretty quickly that I’m not super fast, but I can just keep going.”

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From there, Long kept going. With help from her friends she learned to paddle, rock climb, trail run, mountain bike, and read a map and compass.

Long then started dabbling in small adventure races and quickly climbed the ranks until she qualified for multi-day international competitions.

“Adventure racing is really my passion,” said Long after more than a decade of racing.

After living around the globe, Long was ready for a new adventure in 2017 and was drawn to the diverse topography and mountains in the west of Canada.

Despite being the perfect environment for adventure racing with endless mountains, rivers, lakes and trails, Long said initially she struggled to find a community of fellow outdoor enthusiasts.

So, Long did what her friends did for her all those years ago in Australia; she encouraged others to step outside of their comfort zones.

First, she joined a paddling club and made water-loving friends who were easily persuaded to try land-based sports. Then, she created a Facebook group that allowed people to meet and organize adventures.

“It’s important to surround yourself with people who inspire you,” said Long about the importance of community.

Before long, the Long’s network of outdoor enthusiasts had grown, and they were itching to try out adventure racing.

“Anyone that I can introduce to adventure racing, I jump on that opportunity,” said Long with a laugh.

Fuelled with a passion for adventures in the outdoors and a desire to help people step out of their comfort zones, Long founded Adventure Immersion Lab Ltd. in 2023.

“I saw B.C. and the Okanagan as the perfect place to do adventure races,” said Long.

Long’s company holds races and events that are intended to be fun, challenging, and inclusive for everyone, including those who are new to the sport. Long said that the events provide the outdoors community with an opportunity to connect and have fun together, something that she wishes was available when she first moved to the Okanagan.

In addition to the races, Long also offers courses like learn to ski or map reading and orienteering, and women’s only adventures, guided excursions, and weekend-long expeditions and one-on-one coaching.

“It’s about breaking down barriers to being safe and active in the outdoors,” said Long.

People can contact Long at to ask about upcoming opportunities or organize an adventure.

“I’m happy to take anyone out to do any activity… I’m just always outside.”

She hopes to show people that everyone is welcome in outdoor spaces. “It’s not about the training, it’s a lifestyle.”

“Do not be afraid to give it a go.”

Registration is now open for the urban race which will be held on May 25, and the summer race series.

To learn more visit

Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

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