Adventure racing is one of the most fun endurance sports you can think of.
Triathlons are boring, running on the flat, around the track in a space age bike and swimming in the sea.
Adventure racing is awesome!
- they drop you in the middle of nowhere
- you get to see the countyside
- there is a sense of teamwork, camaraderie
- you get covered in mud, saltwater, mud, blood, sweat, tears and tears
- adventure legs include orienteering, rogaining, trail running, kayak or ocean surfski, ocean swimming, mountain bike, abseiling, rock hopping ...
Races vary from 3 hours long to more than a week. What you take will depend on the legs you will need to cover, the race conditions and terrain and personal skill and preference.
Individual kits such as medical / survival kit / paracord items are well described in the instructible community. I take my hat off to the following people for their good and relevant ideas:
as well as many more on the site!
In this 'ible I will make some suggestions as to what to take along with you to make the race a little more enjoyable.
This 'ible is a 'serving suggestion' for a 24-28 hour race with trail run/rogaining/surfski/ocean swim/mountain bike legs. The race conditions I had prepared for included rain and excessive heat (4oC to 45oC) common in Australia, but not snow or sleeping in sub-zero temperatures.
I optimised the kit for light weight and my budget was fairly unrestricted. If you are on a budget or you aren't too fussed about how fast you go, then there are many more options.
The most important things not to forget on any adventure race:
A sense of fun and adventure!
A trust in your own abilities and limits, and those of your team
I'm sure I have forgotten something or described too much. And that is what happens every race!
Step 1: The trail run
I haven't covered nutrition and clothing in a lot of detail. Comfortable running gear like compression tights and a running shirt work well for me in many conditions. Layering is good, learn to tie the clothes to your pack. For food, trail nuts and fruit, and fresh fruit work well as tins of tuna, crackers, museli bars etc. Light and packed with long-lasting energy. Avoid things with sugar except for boosting morale.
In the trail run / rogaine leg (or legs) you will be running and walking over all sorts of countryside.
Some examples are up a muddy rock face in the rain, through thick bush land or across a river.
Unlike a fun run, adventure racing involves using a map and compass to find out where you need to go.
Here is a list of ideas for the trail run leg with a rationale for each.
running shoes - some people like trail shoes or boots but I prefer my running shoes with quick release laces. These will get covered in mud and wet. When you get home put them in the washing machine.
extra socks - in a plastic bag. This is the best thing you can do short of taking water and a jacket on a race. socks are handy makeshift gloves, scarf, bandage, bike chamois and you will get fewer blisters. Don't use cotton, use a synthetic like coolmax as it has better wet properties.
medical kit* - there are lots of good medical kits out there. Please do a first aid course before you go, it is handy after the race too! I have a 'special' one modified for australia and some of the things that have come in handy for me.
space blanket - doubles as a water catcher, tent, blanket, signal mirror, back padding etc.
waterproof watch / gps/ heart rate monitor* - gps systems aren't allowed on most races and spoil the fun compared to using a compass. I once lost two compasses on a race so lucky the watch had a light and compass for night! Also great as a stopwatch for splits. Heart rate monitors are useful for pacing yourself and also keeping an eye on a patient.
gloves - if required or cold. These will protect your hands from spills and from branches.
compass (wrist compass)* - get a good one with large card / display
sunnies / goggles - comfortable and polarised is best for water. With a lanyard
waterproof map case on lanyard - these are great for carrying other stuff as well eg. pens, first aid papers, cash
spare compass - see above
hat (visor / beanie / cap / skull cap) - depending on conditions
shemagh* - this is one of the more useful things you can take on a race. Use it as a sponge, sunhat, bandage, rope, scarf, headband, bag, filter, water catcher ......
gaiters - these are good for blocking out scrub cuts etc.
head torch* - take some sort of light even if you intend to be out only during the day. I have a single colour one with adjustable angle which is handy. Some people swear by the multicolur ones.
carabiners* - for clipping bags, clothes etc. to yourself or pack. connecting stuff with a carabiner and paracord comes in very handy!
notepad and pen* - where was that last checkpoint? what time is sunset? we are lost, how do we leave a note for others?.... I have the waterproof notepad variety.
markers - see above. good for prototyping your planned trail on the map case.
waterproof jacket* - I have one made from e-vent material which is comfortable, breathable and light. It has pockets to keep stuff in, a hood for real rain, and doesn't get too sweaty when it's hot.
paracord and whistle* - a portable plan B to wear on your wrist. Catches sweat too.
hydration pack* - size it up according to the time you will be out. don't put the recommended amount of electrolyte in there, use less. Wash and dry it AS SOON AS you get home otherwise it will get really black and festy!
anti-chafe stick* - this is a fantastic thing to prevent chafing. You will nod your head if you have been chafed in a race (anywhere).
spare batteries - for the torch
energy gels* - a form of race nutrition. You will be sick of these by the time you finish the race. Take the wrappers with you, it is better for the environment, you can use them for signalling and if your bike tire gets a tear.
antiseptic wash - for the 500+ cuts you will get from the bush.
lighter in plastic bag - waterproof! other methods as a plan B for starting your fire
blister repair - you will get blisters on an adventure race.
(walking stocks) - I haven't used these but apparently these help you go faster for longer.
phone in waterproof pouch / tunes* - just in case!
sunscreen - for when it is hot, or in australia when it's not.
* these things are also used on the bike leg
If I could only take four things on the trail run leg, what would I take?