How Many Of These Can Your Team Tick Off?

So you haven’t started training yet? Don’t panic there is still plenty of time. With around 3 months to go until the North Island Spirited Women event and the days getting longer and warmer, now is the perfect time to put a plan in place for your summer preparation.

Some critical areas to tick off to ensure you and your team feel prepared and confident leading into your event are:

Your team goals- these will influence how much time and training you put into each area below. Are you all on the same page? Do you want to race for a podium position or are you all happy to cruise along and stop for picnics on the way? However you intend to approach the event make sure you are all in agreement in regards to your competitive intentions.

Navigation- one of the most critical components of an adventure race. Even if your team decides to cruise around the course, walking the trek stages and rolling along on your bikes you will still beat the super fit, fast team who can’t read a map! Practise, practise, practise. Learn the differences between an orienteering map and a topo map. Learn to read the symbols, scale, the contour lines and what the colours on each map represent.

You can start by looking up your local orienteering club and get along to their next event  or head out with a topomap of your local area (you can print this off from  and try and follow along where you are on the map at all times. Even if you’re in the city you can still do this and get a feel of distance and ticking off features as you go. Better still, get into the hills with a topo map and learn about contours!

Base fitness- you do not need to be a super athlete, or at your ultimate fittest. However, it does make it more enjoyable for you if you do have a decent level of base fitness. Some of the best training for adventure racing are activities you can do with your family- hiking (you carry the pack), playing in mountain bike parks, kayaking and orienteering. At a minimum you would get in two runs/hikes, two bike rides (road, mountain bike or indoor trainer) and two upper body strength workouts. Your training will reflect your team goals, where you are currently at, time availability and what course distance you are doing.

Mountain bike skills- this area can often be overlooked by teams and can cost them a lot of time. Learn to ride your mountain bike off road! Find some single trails either in a park/reserve, on farmland or at a mountain bike park. Practice riding uphill and downhill as much as you can and over rough, uneven ground.

Learn some basic bike maintenance and repairs- this will be both empowering and give you more confidence heading into your race. Don’t let a broken chain be the end of your race! Get your bike set up correctly for you. Ensure you have adequate tyre grip, tyre pressure, your brakes are both working well, learn how to change a flat tyre and fix a broken chain. Always get your bike in for a service 2-3 weeks out from an event to be certain everything is working well and as it should for your race.

Ticking off your gear list- don’t leave this to the last minute! You need to be training with your full compulsory gear list so you know how it feels and if anything is going to rub, chafe, not be adequate etc. If there is something you haven’t yet got, maybe you can put in a request for Christmas. It’s always good practice to support your race sponsors, so first check out who these are before you buy.

Trialling your race nutrition- another important component is race nutrition and knowing what you are likely to crave and eat during a race. The only way you will know this is by either racing or by trying food out while training. Your needs and cravings can change a lot over the course of the day and as the day goes on you tend to crave more savoury and plain food and much less sweet food! Some ideas that have worked well for me are homemade rice/egg muffins, rolled pancakes (frozen and wrapped), tamari almonds, olives, sundried tomatoes, chips, mandarins, bananas, crackers, roast kumara, egg sandwiches, marmite and cheese sandwiches, pita pockets and wraps.

Sorting out your team roles- it’s important that everyone has a role to do in your team and feels valued. It’s no fun feeling like the spare wheel in a team. Split the roles according to everyone’s strengths. Some areas to consider are, lead navigator, backup navigator, team captain, distance and time keeper and checkpoint clipper (this can be shared).

Practising transitions- another often overlooked part of adventure racing are the transitions. With sometimes up to 8 transitions in a race think about how much time you can save if you were 5 minutes quicker than other teams in and out of transition (40 minutes if you didn’t want to do the maths). Talk about how to streamline your transitions and where you might be able to save precious minutes.

If you can tick these off you will feel confident and prepared leading into your race, if not you now know where to start!

Happy summer adventuring!

Our next Adventure Race Skills Weekend will be held in Matakana on the 12th and 13th of February ( 5 places left). For any teams wanting help or advice on any areas of adventure racing before then I have started doing team zoom sessions to cover off questions they may have about preparation or what they should be working on. Email me at if you would like more details or to book a session.

Kym is a mum of 3 energetic boys, trains and races in multisport and adventure racing. 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 (NZ elite orienteer and world rogaine champ) from Navigation North and Nic Leary (NZ elite mountain biker, Xterra champ and physio) will be running a series of specific Women’s Adventure Race Skills weekends to help with up-skilling in different aspects of the race and helping you become a more confident and competent adventure racer. Adventure Race Skills Weekend