THE FORKS, Somerset County — Stephen Eland welcomed Tom Smith’s dark sarcasm as he signed one of several release forms before last week’s four-day, 200-mile wilderness endurance race around Moosehead Lake.

“What’s this one we’re signing?” asked Eland, of West Chester, Pennsylvania.

“Those are funeral arrangements,” Smith responded. “If we don’t find your body, we’ll use ashes from a fireplace. But that’s an extra $50.”

An ironic exchange considering Eland’s four-person team, one of 40 in the Untamed New England Adventure Race, was dubbed Team Carpe Vitam. Translation from Latin: Seize Life.

And that’s exactly what this team, with 40 years of combined adventure-racing experience, would be doing Wednesday through Saturday.

“Forty years experience means we know that we are going to see half the teams go by us,” said Kirk Lauri of Brookfield, Connecticut. “Some of the athletes here are the best in the world. They can race for seven days on 10 hours sleep.”

The race across Moosehead Lake and nearby wilderness drew athletes from 11 countries, including Brazil, Paraguay, Spain and Columbia. Two teams hailed from New Hampshire; none from Maine.

Adventure races are extreme endurance races in which teams of four athletes race day and night, across hundreds of miles in remote regions.

The courses require endurance skills in mountain biking, paddling, rock climbing and trail running. But the teams that excel are proficient in navigation.

“The most important thing is navigation, planning and organization,” Lauri said.

Courses run through thick forestland, over mountains and across rivers and lakes.

Smith, a volunteer who has raced in Australia, South Africa and Costa Rica, said Maine’s landscape presented one of the toughest challenges.

“When you’re adventure racing you’re looking for large tracts of woodland, forestland. And you need big lakes for paddling,” said Smith, of Killingworth, Connecticut.

“It’s rough country. It is very challenging to make it across the wilderness in Maine because it’s thick forestland. I tell people not to bushwhack.”

The Untamed New England race, which had only been held in Maine once before, is part of a world series that includes races in New Zealand, South Africa and Brazil. The world championship will be held in Ecuador starting Nov. 7.

Competitors last week were vying for a $10,000 prize as well as a berth in the world championship.

Untamed Adventure Racing director Grant Killian said Maine is the perfect venue because of its unforgiving forestland.

“It has authentic wilderness,” Killian said. “The courses we set are navigational challenging point-to-point races. They are not a contrived race around five laps. It’s about crossing a wilderness.”

In the five years Killian has run races in New England, fewer than half the teams have finished. As he worked on his laptop from the Northern Outdoors lodge in The Forks, he said that made him a success.

“We don’t want anyone to enjoy our races,” Killian smiled. “We want it to be a challenge for the elite athletes. Almost by definition, it is then overwhelming for the others.”

While foreign elite racers walked around the Northern Outdoors lodge wearing black T-shirts that read, “Adventure racing is not a crime,” other competitors wondered if they would finish. Many were not shy to say making it to the finish was in question.

Mountain biker David Boudreau of Cromwell, Connecticut, found his teammates online at an adventure race website. He’s raced 24-hour mountain bike races, but was hoping to finish his first large-scale adventure race.

“I expect a lot of zombie time, a lot of zonking,” said Boudreau, 29. “It’s going to (stink). But I’ll enjoy that. I enjoy stuff that challenges you. It makes you appreciate everything else in your life.”

And as Team Carpe Vitam assessed their skills and strengths, their vast experience in adventure racing suddenly meant very little in the Maine woods.

“The goal is to finish,” said team member Denise Mast of Jersey City, New Jersey.