With the recent airing of the televised series Eco Challenge Fiji there has been a huge influx of people wanting to get into adventure racing. There seems to be a large variety of backgrounds people are coming from however they are all asking the same question: “How do I get into this sport”?
We are in such a lucky position in NZ in that we have easy access to fantastic adventure races and specifically the women’s adventure races. NZ is the leading country in the world in terms of the number of women competing in adventure racing so congratulations to you for being a part of this.
If you are new to the sport as well here are a few ways to make the most of your journey and progress through this awesome sport…
1. Attend an adventure racing training camp or clinic
The time and money invested in a race clinic will be more than worth it as it will save you years of trial and error and further expense. Several people in NZ offer day or weekend courses where race experts will teach you everything you need to know from orienteering, nutrition and race planning to kayaking and even mountain bike repairs.
2. Practice bike navigation
No matter how good you are at navigating on foot with a map and compass, take some time to practice map reading and navigating whilst on your bike before entering a race. The increased speed initially makes map reading trickier. A top race tip is to go ‘flat out’ between checkpoints for maximum speed but when you are within 200m of your next checkpoint ease off so you can start your search for the checkpoint – rather than speeding past it and losing valuable time.
3. Bike map board
As well as practicing your bike navigation another top tip is to fit a handlebar mounted ‘map board’ to your bike to hold your map whilst on the move. Map boards can be purchased, or are easy to create using a bit of stiff board or ice cream container lid, a few tough elastic bands or bulldog clips and some cable ties.
4. Train your weaknesses
Training is the key to success and the more time you dedicate to training, the higher your chances of success will be. In particular pay attention to your weakest skills and focus on improving these, whether it be navigation, mountain biking, or uneven terrain on foot.
5. Practice for adventure races
As well as physical training such as running and biking, take some time to get to grips with the more mundane but equally vital aspects of a race. Transition stages (changing from one discipline to another) often require changes of clothing and equipment. Vital time is often gained or lost in the transition phases of a race so ensure that you take some time to make your transitions as quick as possible.
6. Plan your adventure race correctly
In any adventure racing event, time is given to plan your race after all the checkpoint details have been given out. A big mistake made by many novice racers is to rush over this (or not know where to start), but it is worth spending a little extra time at this vital planning phase as it will make the race go far more smoothly for you. Listen carefully to the pre-race briefing so you don’t miss vital information on race rules, out of bounds areas (private land or farmland), re-supply points and checkpoint locations – then plan your race accordingly.
7. Nutrition for adventure racers
Eating well is just as important as training for an event. Prior to your race eat the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Practice eating what you would before a race in training to make sure it sits right in your stomach and digests well. For the race itself, food needs to be lightweight but packed with energy. High energy bars are ideal for shorter races.
8. Water for adventure races
When adventure racing, try to keep the weight of your gear low – one of the biggest burdens to all racers is their water supply as it’s usually the heaviest. It’s worth checking the availability of water sources on your race route so you know how little you can get away with until the next refill point.
9. First aid for adventure racers
A basic knowledge of first aid is vital for team members, so make the time to attend a course or at least research signs of heat exhaustion, hypothermia and concussion. One of the most important aspects of adventure race first aid training is being able to recognise symptoms in a team mate and treating them before things get serious. Prevention is key.
So grab the opportunity to part of a team, to up-skill and to keep leading the way NZ!
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/