FREDEVENTS: Get off the couch, have an adventure
BY BILL FREEHLING / THE FREE LANCE–STAR
A company formed to help pay for a local teacher’s endurance competitions is trying to promote an active lifestyle with a series of area outdoor adventure races.
Konrad Heller, who grew up in Germany, has been involved in competitive sports for most of his life. He swam at the University of Mary Washington, where he met his wife, Emily. He moved to the United States full time in 1996.
After doing a variety of jobs for several years following his move to the U.S., Heller joined the faculty at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford County about 12 years ago. He teaches biology and environmental science.
Around the same time he started at Colonial Forge, Heller did his first off-road triathlon, which involves open-water swimming, mountain biking and trail running. Heller was successful and competed three times in world-championship events in Hawaii.
Between equipment, race fees and travel, the sport wasn’t cheap for Heller. So in 2002 he started the first Fredericksburg Off-Road Duathlon to raise money for his own races. The event, which features trail running and mountain biking, is still ongoing and is scheduled this year for April 13.
The success of F.O.R.D., as the race is known, led to the Hellers starting FredEvents LLC. The company this year is putting on five outdoor adventure events.
Heller also partners with fellow outdoor and fitness enthusiasts John Garman and Adam Eidson on The Tribal Quest, a team-focused obstacle course race that is now in its second year and will occur July 13 at Celebrate Virginia South in Fredericksburg. The trio hopes to double participation this year to 1,500 people. They’ve added more activities for kids and created new obstacles.
FredEvents’ other races this year will include a June 16 4-mile trail run in the city to benefit Friends of the Rappahannock, a couple of mountain biking races and a new event scheduled for June 9 called the Rappahannock Adventure Duathlon. The latter will include a 4-mile paddle down the Rappahannock River followed by a 5-mile trail run.
The FredEvents races and Tribal Quest have a different mission than the region’s many road races. The focus is less on individual race times and more on working with teams to challenge yourself and accomplish a goal while having some fun. Heller wants to cater to both serious athletes and people who aren’t fitness nuts. Many of the events end with music and beer, and include activities for the family.
Heller is now 43 with three kids, ages 3, 9 and 11. He is still ultra-fit but says he doesn’t have the time or inclination to compete much himself anymore. But his passion for bringing outdoor adventure fitness events to the Fredericksburg region hasn’t gone away.
Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405