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Adventure Racing: Getting Started

Race Selection

The race that you select will sort out the other three topics. Most races are unique in one aspect or another. They could differ in distances, the gear required, and the team formats. It is important to select a race first.

There are many ways to assess a race, and if you are like me, you will choose blindly based on your sense of adventure. An adventure race is an intimidating event. If you knew you could do it easily, you might not choose to do it. Aside from your own private reasons for selecting an event, there are reviews and standards where you can make an informed decision about a race. When selecting a race, keep in mind that you will need to allow yourself enough time for training. Race Calendar


A Training Program is a set of goals that you design to prepare yourself for an event. The event is the ultimate goal, and the training program represents a series of smaller steps that lead up to the event. I subscribe to the theory that we need about 16 weeks of training to properly prepare for a race that is 24 hours long, or shorter. If you plan to do a race longer than 24 hours, then you should design a program that involves the entire year. Your training will also be affected by your personal goals. Do you want to THRIVE or SURVIVE. A training program should include four different phases; Base phase- skills and endurance; Speed phase- race specifics; Taper- recovery; Race- feedback on the quality of your training.

Team Building

One thing to realize about adventure racing is that it is a team sport. It is different from other team sports in the fact that there aren't any positions, such as short stop, or offensive tackle. Everyone on the team needs to have all the skills required for the event. Some team members can be specialists in a sport as long as they have, or train for all the rest of the skills.

The biggest problem in adventure racing is finding teammates. Finding the right teammate is even more difficult. You could be the best athlete in the world, but your team is only as fast as your slowest team member. It is due to these difficulties that there are many unsung heroes racing in adventure races today. When you are starting out it is important to seek out teamies that are somewhat physically equal to you, and that have similar goals. The goals on a team are very important. Let's say that you have a goal to be competitive, and your teammate has a goal to cross the finish, and have a good experience. These goals conflict with each, but not because you can't be competitive while having a good experience, you can. These goals create a conflict because each person has a different rate of speed in their mind's eye. One person will end up pushing the other person, more than they want to be. These teammates are working against each other, not together. Don't forget about support crew selection, they are on your team as well.


Just about everyone has questions about gear. With beginners, I sense a need to find the specialized equipment that will help them race faster. I recommend finding the gear that works best, and concentrate on your training, and teamwork to make you faster. As you gain experience, you will see that the racing veterans use gear that is multi-functional, yet lightweight. For instance, a race may require that you have a compass, and a survival mirror. Some compasses have a sighting mirror built into them, and this mirror serves as a survival mirror. I provide you with a typical required gear list and recommend some products that I have used. I will also mention some creative ways to fulfill your gear requirements.

Contributed By: Jack Crawford

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