Essential skills for adventure racing

Training your adventure racing skill set is a lifelong process. There will always be opportunity for improvement, even for the best adventure racers. Racing itself is a great way to improve your skills, but there are some minimum requirements you should have before attempting a race. How many can you tick off?

  • Orienteering – The most important skill for adventure racing is also one of the hardest to learn and master. It is recommended to have two navigators in your team who can work together and back each other up. It’s a good idea to attend as many orienteering events as you can before doing an adventure race (you can never be too good). If not, then make sure you understand the basic concepts of orienteering and topo maps and try to at least head into the hills or bush with a map in hand and follow your route on the map.


  • Riding trails – Most adventure races tend to be mountain bike heavy- meaning that you will spend more time on the mountain bike stages than any other. It is important for all of your team mates to be comfortable riding single track as well as gravel roads and farm tracks. That way if the race does end up having some technical biking, you’ll be more prepared, physically and mentally. As confident mountain bikers you can make big gains in an adventure race.


  • Bike Repair – As you will be spending a lot of time on your bike and riding over a lot of different terrain, it is important you know how to deal with any necessary repairs out on course. How quickly can you fix a flat tire? Do you know how to fix a dropped or broken chain or deal with basic derailleur adjustments. If not find a course to up-skill in this area that can make or break your race.


  • Paddling – Essentially you’ll just want to be able to make the boat go where you want it to go and be able to not fall out or tip the boat! Easier said than done if you haven’t done much kayaking. It’s definitely worth doing a few kayak sessions to build your confidence, learn a few skills and work out the best teammate combinations.


  • Checking your ego – No one wants to be thought of as weak, but the cool thing about an adventure race is that everyone will face low points. It’s not tough to refuse help and soldier on, it’s silly. More than that, it’s selfish. If you turn down a teammate’s offer to carry your pack or to tow you up a hill when you’re struggling on the trek, you’re not being independent, you’re slowing down your team. Adventure racing isn’t about what YOU can do, it’s what your team can accomplish together.

Kym Skerman is a mum of 3 energetic boys, 4,7 and 9yrs, trains and races in multisport and adventure racing events and is super passionate about nutrition and wellness. She is the co-creator and retreat leader at NZ Adventure Retreats and is part of the team that has won the Spirited Women Adventure Race long course for the past 3 years.

Kym and Rach from Navigation North will be running a specific Whaiora Spirited Womens Adventure Race Skills Weekend in Taupo November 17th and 18th to help with upskilling in different aspects of the race and helping you become a more confident and competent adventure racer.

Contact or 0272500435 to register.