One of the special things about adventure racing is that it’s a team sport. This however is one of the toughest aspects of the sport to get right! Finding other keen women of similar fitness with similar goals and availability, while having complimentary strengths, the financial ability and are uninjured can be rather tricky!
Of course, choosing the right teammates is a key requirement of preparing for an adventure race. You need people you can trust, share the workload with and most importantly, people you like and respect. Below are some tips on finding the right teammates…
Choose teammates with a similar fitness level to yours. If you are sharing the workload, it is only fair if you can share it reasonably equally in times when you are feeling strong. However, don’t be afraid to choose a teammate with different strengths and weaknesses to yours on the bike as you can help each other out when it really matters. It can be really frustrating to you or your teammates if someone is slower in all aspects of the race (and not fun for them either). It’s worth having a practise run and ride with those you are thinking of teaming up with before you all commit, so you can see if there are any obvious mismatches.
2.) Goals and strategy
This will often follow on from the fitness aspect – you’ve set yourself the task of finishing a race, but what are your race goals? What finish times and expectations do you have for yourself as a team? Do you agree on how you would manage challenges that might crop up during the race? It’s worth having a heart-to-heart with your potential teammates first before taking the next step.
When you are creating a team, don’t assume every member has the same race goal. Make sure you discuss what the goal is and also plan a race strategy that will suit your strengths, keep your weaknesses to a minimum and ultimately keep the team moving as fast as possible over the entire course. Having done this, you will be able to optimise your team and individual training time and be more organised with your roles within the team based on your strengths.
Communication is “make or break” for teams who do well in an adventure race. Staying calm and communicating clearly throughout, as well as being able to change strategy on the fly will make the world of difference during a race. It’s very important to be comfortable enough to speak out if you are struggling or need help and know that you are not going to get a negative reaction from your teammates. It also really helps the team if the navigators are vocal about direction and things to look out for. It’s hard work for the rest of the team with a non-communicative navigator! Within your team you need to communicate regularly to check on food intake, hydration, energy levels, tiredness, first aid and navigation.
4.) Find people who can work in a team
It may sound obvious, but you need to choose people that think about what is best for the team rather than what is best for them. As part of a team, you must consider your teammates and how they are feeling throughout the race. Sometimes people who are super fast do not necessarily make the best teammates as they may be use to racing at their own pace rather than that of the slowest person. You must look out for each other and help each other to achieve your common goal.
Once you’ve found your team, the fun begins! Try to train as much as you can together carrying the gear you would in the race. This will help you become familiar not only with each other and your strengths and weaknesses but also with each other’s gear which is often overlooked. If you can fit in a smaller race, navigation clinic or skills training weekend with all or any of your teammates these would all be beneficial to creating a more successful team.
Enjoy your training adventures and let the fun begin!