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, so it is worth putting some time and effort into.
Bike Repair – As you will be spending a lot of time on your bike and riding over a lot of different terrain (often very muddy), 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. Bike maintenance is something that I have so often seen overlooked from teams prior to a race. Something as simple as the end snapping off your through axle or pin, or a snapped hanger can end your race if you are not prepared.
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 (who paddles best together and who is best suited in the front or the back of the boat).
Teamwork – No one wants to be thought of as weak, but the cool thing about an adventure race is that everyone will face low and high points at different stages of the race (hopefully)! 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. So every decision you make should first consider what is going to move the team most efficiently towards the finish line?
If you and your teammates feel confident in these five areas then you are well positioned to do your best in a race. If not identify where the team weaknesses are and work on improving those areas sooner rather than two weeks before your race!
Kym is a mum of 3 energetic boys, trains and races in multisport and adventure racing (currently as part of Tiger Adventure NZ) and is 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 (elite orienteer) from Navigation North and Nic Leary (elite mountain biker and physio) will be running a specific Women’s Adventure Race Skills weekend in Cambridge September 5th and 6th and Kapiti November 28th and 29th 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 for more information.
Alternatively click on this link to register and secure your spot: https://www.nzadventureretreats.com/womens-adventure-race-skills-weekend/