I discovered adventure racing in 2000 with a 24 hour race based in Auckland. Thinking back to this race makes me laugh. We had bulky heavy gear, 12 volt battery packs and homemade lights and bikes that weighed a ton. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves in for but we had an absolute blast and I was hooked. This sport brought together all my past experiences and my passion for people and the outdoors. I had found the sport for me. Over the past 13 years I have raced in multiple events in numerous locations with varying levels of success. I am no elite athlete, I'm never likely to be on the podium yet this sport has kept my interest all these years and I am still learning new things every time I race.
Where to start? If this sport tickles your fancy then there are a few things you can do to make your first foray into the sport as enjoyable as possible.
Firstly, find an event that is right for your level. If you have never done an adventure race then choose a race aimed at beginners. Next, find some friends who you enjoy spending time with and who are up for a bit of fun and a challenge. Make sure that everyone on your team has the same goals and aspirations for the team - if one team member is out to win and another is simply there to enjoy the experience - there will be trouble !!
In my opinion navigation is key. Make sure someone in the team can read a map and understands the basics of navigation. It is ideal if all the team can make sense of a map but at the least you need one person who is happy to take the lead on the navigation. If no one in your team can read a map to save themselves then I suggest some of you sign up to your local orienteering club and get as much practice reading a map as possible. Also make sure you have a map with you on training sessions even if you know where to go. Plan training missions with your team that involve navigation challenges. Make sure you know how to orientate a map to fit the terrain.
The next thing to do is to kit yourselves out with reasonable bikes and a pair of offroad running shoes. If the event has rafting, standup paddle boarding, kayaking, caving or rope work in it, make sure you get a few training sessions in that discipline prior to the race. If your muscles know what to expect during the event they will be much happier on race day.
The rest is simple pay the entry fee and start training for it. You won't regret it. Adventure racing is addictive and as soon as your first race is over you'll be looking for your next :)
Over the next few weeks I will post some more insights into the sport of adventure racing. I will cover off gear, nutrition, training and team work. Watch this space. If you have any questions about adventure racing please leave a comment on this blog or message us on Facebook and we will do our best to answer.