Adventure Racing Tips
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Do I have what it takes to finish an Adventure Race?

How do I form a successful team?

Should I use clipless or cages on my bike pedals?

How can I help my teammate run faster?

Did you ever train or race in the cold winter months, get hungry and were forced to eat a frozen energy bar?

What equipment would I need for a Sprint Adventure Race?
What equipment would I need for a 1 day, long distance adventure race?

Could I be an adventure racer?

The fact that you clicked on this question tells me that you could be an adventure racer. You already cleared the first hurdle by just being at our web site because you must already be a runner and/ or rider. Regardless of pace, if you can run a 10k comfortably or ride 10-15 miles without dropping over, then you have the athletic ability to become a sprint adventure racer. A sprint adventure race usually consist of running 5-8 miles, riding 10-15 miles and paddling a mile or two. The races usually last anywhere from 3-6 hours. Itís now a question of putting in the time to train for the disciplines of adventure racing.

How much time you have to commit to training is totally up to you. Obviously the more you train, the better you will perform. I know people who have completed sprint races with only five training hours a week. Their goal was just to finish. Others will double and triple that training time. I personally train about 8 hours a week, more if possible, but time is a precious commodity.

Second, but equally important is attitude. You will face many challenges in an adventure race. Sometimes keeping your mind going forward is tougher than the physical aspects of a race. You need an " Iíll take the good with the bad" attitude because races are filled with ups and downs. But at the finish, itís definitely a good feeling.

Next, you need to find a willing teammate or two to join the fun. Be sure to choose teammates with similar ability levels and goals. If you just want to finish and a friend wants to win, then keep looking. Differences in attitudes and personalities will only be compounded during a race. Even the best of friends or spousesÖ YikesÖ can turn a sprint race into the longest day, week, etcÖ

I hope this helps you make the wise decision of trying an adventure race and finishing it, of course.

 

How do I form a successful team.

Success is a matter of opinion and everybody has one. In a team sport like adventure racing, success can be achieved by winning, finishing in the top half, beating a team youíve never beaten before, or just finishing by doing the best you can and still be friends with your teammates.

This is what I think it takes to form a successful team and be a good teammate.

The first step is finding partners that match your physical ability, competitive nature and personality. This may seem like common sense stuff, but itís the most important step in having a successful race. Set your race goals and build a team around them. If youíre laid back and just want to take your time and have fun, donít team up with a super competitive, Olympic hopeful. Good friend or not, you will be in for a long, grueling race, unless they carry you the whole way. Thatís not to say it wonít work, as long as everyone is on the same page before the race. However, I see it happen at every race. In the heat of the battle, one or two people are yelling for another teammate to go faster, when they are just barely hanging on. This makes for a miserable race for the faster ones and an even worse race for the person whoís not only suffering physically, but mentally, because theyíre holding the others back. Whatís even worse is when they leave a teammate for the vultures. Never leave a slower teammate behind. Coming into a checkpoint 20 minutes before a teammate just to impress other racers or officials is wrong.

Second, try to form a well rounded team. Adventure racing can include running, kayaking, biking, orienteering, swimming or carrying a log up a tree, you name it, it could happen. Therefore, whether you want to win or just finish, itís very beneficial to have a team with someone skilled in each area. Granted, one person may not be the best rider, but if he or she is a great navigator or runner, the rest of the team must help him or her on the bike. Thatís the challenge of adventure racing. Remember Ė donít look at him with disgust because he couldnít keep up on the bike, because youíd still be lost in the woods if he didnít get you to the bike.

Third, be humble or helpful when necessary even though this can be one of the toughest things for most competitive athletes. For example, ask for help when you need it and volunteer to push or pull a teammate when necessary. If a team races together enough times, good and bad races will hit everyone. So when a teammate begins to bonk, donít make faces or leave them for the wolves, help him out however you can. If the wall starts to crumble on you, donít be afraid to ask for help. Check out my one race tip on tethering. Itís a great way to keep the pace moving even with a tanked teammate. These team dynamics are what make adventure racing a great team sport.

So if possible, train with potential teammates a few times before making the commitment. Donít feel like it has to be your best friend or spouse. If someone works on your nerves while training, youíll probably want to throw them out of the kayak during the race. No matter how competitive you want your team to be, the race should still be enjoyable. The success of your team depends on everyone working through the good and bad times.

I hope to see you at a race.

 

Did you ever train or race in the cold winter months, get hungry and were forced to eat a frozen energy bar?

If youíve ever trained or raced in the winter, you might know what Iím talking about. Those nutrition bars can be hard enough to eat, let alone when theyíre frozen stiff.  Worse yet, did you ever try to suck water from a camelback or water bottle till youíre blue in the face?   It doesnít have to be below 32 degrees to have this problem. Those who brave the cold, face this dilemma.  However, there are some things that can help you overcome the frozen food and fluid problem.

Your body heat is the biggest answer. If Iím out in the cold, I will always have at least one of my bars in a pocket thatís against my body. Your body heat will help it from becoming harder than usual. And, if you have food in your pack thatís cold, just place it against your body before you eat it. Youíd be surprised at how much it will warm up in a short period of time. Another suggestion is to avoid foods that are hard even at room temperature. If youíre doing a race in the winter, train with the foods you plan on eating. Iíve made the mistake of using untested foods in some 24 hour races. Then when it came time to eat, no matter what I did, the food was hard or didnít taste right when it was really cold. Needless to say, I didnít eat as much as I should have during the race.

Problems with frozen fluids can be even more crucial to finishing a long workout or race. People who use camelbacks have the biggest problem because the fluid is funneled through a small hose which speeds up freezing. Iíve heard people say that they try to keep drinking to prevent freezing. Thatís great if you remember to do it or donít mind bloating up like a Blowfish. But even then, the hose can freeze. One thing that can help prevent freezing is an insulated hose. Another is to wear the hose under a clothing layer so your body heat helps prevent freezing. If the hose is on the outside of your body and freezes, put the hose against your body and it may thaw out. But if that fails, whatever you do, donít dump the camelback to lighten your load. That may seem like common sense, but Iíve seen people do it. What they failed to realize is that the water in the bladder wasnít frozen so they still could stop from time to time and open the bladder for a drink. Fluids are very important in the cold. You can actually lose more sweat racing in the cold, so donít throw your fluids away, ever. In a longer race, you donít know when youíll come to the next water supply.

So remember, if your training or racing in the cold of winter, use your body heat to prevent frozen dinners and fluids.

Good Luck!

If you have any tips or questions for training or racing, send them to us. You will be helping others.


Tether up and bring two different pace levels together:  
Do you have a friend, team mate or spouse that runs a different pace than you? This will often prevent you from training together, or when you do, either oneís not getting a good workout or the other is dying trying to keep up.

Give tethering a try. "Tethering" is when you connect one runner to the other with either a thin rope, bungi cord or a bike tube. This is a safe way to "pull" another runner without using your own arms, which you need for running. Also, the slower runner doesnít need to hold on to anything, which frees up his or her own arms for running as well. You can actually use an old road or Mt. bike tube. What I do is cut the stem section off the tube. I then take a yard stick, run it down the length of the tube, slicing off the extra tubing on each side of the stick. This way you have a 1" wide length of rubber thatís strong, but not too bulky. I then tie a small loop on each end and attach a very small carabiner or other metal hook. Then I connect each end to a loop of rope on fanny packs. Length of the tether is personal preference, just keep in mind the person behind needs to see whatís ahead on the trail.

I recommend a bungi or rubber cord because it prevents the faster runner from jerking the slower runner. As the speed increases or you go over a branch, thereís just a gradual pull on both of you. Yes it may look a little strange to other people on the trail, but it allows both of you to run together and both get a great workout. Itís also a great way for the front runner to get a resistance workout without the extra weight on the knees. It benefits the back runner because it makes them want to run faster so theyíre not constantly being pulled which in the long run, will make them a faster runner. In our area, we get all of our equipment from the Army & Navy Store, but you can find flexible bungi cord at most outfitters that carry climbing equipment. You then tie a small loop into each end of the cord and clip on two small carabiner clips. The length of the cord is all personal preference.

In an adventure race, you will see many teams, including the top teams, use this method to increase the teamís overall pace. Plus, if one team member isnít feeling up to par, it can help them along and get you to the finish.


Clipless or cages? 

When it comes to the biking leg in adventure races, particularly sprint races like Hi Tec where time is of the essence, the question is often asked, "Should I change to pedal cages for the race so I donít have to switch to biking shoes?" Opinions may vary on this subject but the best answer usually lies in the top teams. If you take notice at your next race, they all have clipless pedals and change to biking shoes. That alone should give you the answer. If youíve never competed in an adventure race before or a trail triathlon for that matter, hereís the explanation why.

First, if youíre even considering changing from clips to cages for a race, it means that you train using clipless pedals. So why would you change for a race? Youíre used to clips and are probably good at getting in and out of the pedals. And in most races, youíll be in and out of your pedals quite a bit. Also, clipless pedals are much more efficient for performance because you are attached to the bike which makes each pedal stroke more efficient.  Donít get me wrong, if you are afraid of clipless, you donít have to throw the cages away, but donít ever go back to cages once youíre riding clipless.

As for that 25 seconds that your team is afraid to waist in the transition area, I can almost guarantee that in a bike leg of even 5 miles or more, youíll make up for that 25 seconds in the first two times you have to try and fish around trying to get your shoes in the cages and strapping them down. Not to mention just how much faster and efficient you will ride.

Now, the one exception to this rule is if youíre racing in an adventure race like Breakawaysí Wildlands Challenge. In our race, there are two different bike/ run legs where teams are doing "ride and ties." This is a situation where a team has less bikes than members so there is always someone running. Fortunately, being the nice guys that we are, you know this before the race so you can practice with cages knowing that youíll have to run at some point. (Unless the other four members are Olympic marathon runners!)

So remember, if the majority of the teams are doing something, you may want to consider it.

Best of luck!


Do you have a training or racing tip that you'd like to share?  Email it to us and we'll try to get it on this page!  Send your ideas to bulrich1@aol.com

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