The beauty of adventure racing is that it’s a team sport, so you can do something you love with people you like to hang out with. However even the best of friends can lose their way (or their cool), during a race if there are not clear roles assigned. Everyone should know what they are doing and what is expected of them and feel they are contributing. It is no fun feeling like a spare wheel or that you are just tagging along to make up numbers.
At our recent women’s adventure race skills weekend in Kapiti we had great feedback around the explanation of team roles, so thought I’d share a bit more on this…
This is usually not a problem for most teams, but try and keep it focussed on the race and realise that when the going gets tough some people shut down. This could be a sign to ask how everyone is feeling. Choose a method that suits you all – I like to use a 1-10 scale…. One meaning, feeling like you can’t take another step and 10 meaning you are full of beans and rearing to go.
If several of you are feeling low, consider what it is you need. A short rest, some food and water? Someone to tell jokes (important for longer races especially)! Or perhaps someone can take some gear from the person who is struggling the most. If the terrain allows for it a tow may be needed.
Share the team roles…
That way everyone feels a part of the team. Remember to support each other and trust the decisions that are made. Some obvious team roles are…
The one who will make all the key decisions and may do a lot of the pre-race organisation. Decision making can be the key to a really successful race. Often decisions are made in conjunction with the Navigator.
The Navigator- Lead and Backup:
This is a really important role and involves taking responsibility for the maps, route selection and overall travel strategy for the team. Ideally seperate from the Captain role, as the Navigator really needs to focus on the maps.
Navigators – communicate with your team especially if you are solo navigating. For example, we are heading up this track and after the junction we are looking for a ridge on our left, about 200m from the junction. The more eyes looking around all the time the better. It also helps the rest of the team out knowing where they are travelling and how far to the next checkpoint.
The Time and Distance Keeper:
This team member should be good with setting alarms on their watch to remind everyone to drink and eat regularly. It can also be good for reminding the navigator so they can keep an eye on estimated distance travelled. It would pay to have a speedo on your bike so you can measure distance between points if needed.
The Control/Checkpoint Clipper:
This is a job for a trustworthy sort of person who can remember to punch the control at each checkpoint and if there are separate control descriptions can let everyone know what the feature is that the next control flag will be on. They will need some way of keeping the control card secure – eg. using an elastic band/hair tie to attach to a wrist or string to attach it to your bag/pocket.
The Mother Hen/Motivator:
Another important role. Someone who can help set the pace, keeps an eye on the team and can stay positive and help keep the team motivated and moving along or resting if that is what is needed. Can be combined with the Captain role.
It is fine to switch up roles at times during the race dependant on how people are feeling, but make sure this is communicated.
The best way to find out which role is suited to which team member is to get out training and adventuring together. The weather is starting to warm up and the days are getting longer, so make a date with your teammates and start planning some fun adventures!
Kym is a mum of 3 boys, 5, 8 and 10 yrs, trains and races in multisport and adventure racing events (currently as part of Team Tiger Adventure NZ) and is very 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 4 years.
Kym along with Rach Smith from Navigation North and Nic Leary (elite mountain biker and physio) will be running a specific Womens Adventure Race Skills weekend in Tauranga November 2nd and 3rd and Hawkes Bay Feb 29th and March 1st to help with up-skilling in different aspects of the race and helping you become a more confident and competent adventure racer. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0272500435.