Thinking of stepping it up a notch and trying an adventure race? Here are five things you need to know before you take the plunge.
When a run or a cycle isn’t enough on its own then step forward adventure racing. Your first long race is a daunting process. Just getting your head around the sheer length of it can be overwhelming. However, fear not, here are our top tips for tackling your first adventure race head on and coming out on top!
1. Pick your teammates wisely
Multi-day adventure racing is not a solo pursuit; you’ll be taking the course on as a team. Pick your teammates carefully, you’ll be spending a lot of time together and the exertion of a race can put a strain on even the most solid of friendships. You should prioritise still being friends at the finish line over crossing it fastest. Bear in mind that there will come a time in the race where you are going to need picking up physically and mentally – ensure you have the right people by your side when this time comes.
2. Train in all the disciplines
An adventure race usually consists of a multitude of disciplines. There will almost always be a running/ trekking leg, a bike section, and a kayaking section. A lot of competitors will usually be confident on two of the three disciplines and slightly wing it on the third. It’s not a strategy we suggest and it is worth at least gaining a base level of competence in kayaking, trail running, trekking and mountain biking before you embark on your first race.
3. Pack wisely
Packing for an adventure race is a balancing act between weight and utility. Ensure you have the right gear for the expected weather conditions. There are of course some items that you can’t do without – absolutely pack enough food and water to keep yourself going – but also know what you can endure. While we’re not encouraging you to embrace masochism and malnutrition that’s espoused by some, you need to be realistic about what your body actually needs, we’re often guilty of carrying far too much food. Be sure to coordinate your packing with teammates to share the load when it comes to items you can share. Finally, make sure you have a first aid kit and equipment to fix basic bike problems such as punctures otherwise your race could come to a quick end.
You kit box at transition is crucial. Ensure that you have the right kit for the next leg inside (there’s nothing worse than reaching your box to realise you have forgotten something crucial like your helmet or bike shoes). Often, your kit box will be shared so do try and keep it organised, know where everything is in the box and tape smaller essential items like first aid, baby wipes and tools to the inside of the lid so you can find them with ease.
4. A good navigator is key
Finding yourself totally lost on a long race is a sure fire way to lose all morale on the team. Make sure you have at least one good navigator on your team (ideally with a second as back-up when the primary navigator gets too tired).
Typically, you will only find out the course the night before the race. Take time to plan your route before you hit the start line (we always mark our map up) and then waterproof your map with see-through book covering or waterproof map holders (a disintegrated map is not much use!!). A map board on the bike is also essential for successful navigation during the cycling sections.
5. Expect the unexpected
You can’t prepare for every eventuality. No matter how many kilometres you paddle in training, or how painstakingly you plan your packing, something unforeseen will happen. The best way to tackle this is with a positive attitude and good teamwork. If one of your group is struggling or sustains injury try to offer positive reinforcement rather than criticism. If the weather changes for the worse then grit your teeth knowing it’ll change again before you know it. The unexpected is what makes adventure racing so exciting!!
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