Tuesday, 12 April 2016
Monday, 18 January 2016
Monday, 7 December 2015
- Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the legend and the symbols.
- Make sure you understand what contour lines are and what they represent. They are the brown squiggly lines you see on the map. They represent elevation in the landscape. As a beginner, it is essential to know you that the closer the lines are together the steeper the landscape. If you understand contour lines you can avoid danger areas of steep landscape as well as minimize the amount of climbing your team does between checkpoints.
- Know how to use a compass. Learning how to orientate your map using your compass to fit the land will help you ensure you are always travelling in the right direction. Also, particularly if you are racing in dense bush or at night, you will need to learn how to take a bearing off a map and then be able to follow your compass in order to reach the next checkpoint. Get someone who knows what they are doing to teach you and practice whenever you can
- Make sure you understand the scale and what this means. Scale refers to the relationship between the size of the map and the actual size of land or relative distance. Knowing how far it is to the next checkpoint can significantly help you work out how long it will take you to the next checkpoint. This way you can let your team know what to expect. for example the navigator will be able to say ... the next checkpoint is about 5km away .. but our next thing to look for is a road off to the left in about 500 meters.
Join your local orienteering club and get some help. Also check out your local area as a few places have orienteering maps and courses permanently set up and available for public use.
Duder's regional park in Auckland has a great orienteering course all set for anyone to try.
Tuesday, 10 November 2015
The best advice I can give newcomers to adventure racing is to plan and prepare. Planning, preparation and practice are the three P’s of adventure racing. So many people put all their time into training their body that they forget about the mindset that you need when tackling an adventure race. In adventure racing the fittest most talented athletes may not even make it past the first hurdle if they haven’t spent time thinking about team work and their mindset prior to the race.
Thinking about what you are going to eat is essential. Food is so important. Our bodies are like cars, if you stop putting fuel in you will come to a grinding halt. If you put poor quality fuel in you’ll get poor performance. Make sure you have trained on the food you are going to race with.
More often than not if your teammate is lagging behind or having a meltdown - they NEED food.
In shorter races try and eat every 30mins to an hour and have a sip of drink every 15 mins. Don’t wait until you feel hungry or thirsty to eat or drink as by then it is too late. A general rule is 1 gram of carbohydrate per body weight per hour. For shorter races I use a combination of Gels, bars, cookies, cake, nuts and sandwiches– peanut butter and jam or marmite and cheese sandwiches cut in quarters on white bread. DO NOT try anything new on race day. Having something solid in longer races is essential - your body cant handle 6 hours of gels. Also have some kind of electrolyte supplement to add to your water bottle or bladder. I use NUUN tablets as they are easy to carry and drop into your bottle.
Once again plan and prepare your food the day before and pack it into bags for each stage of the race. Always take a little extra in case it takes you longer than you expect. I usually have two spare GU gels tucked away in my pack for emergencies. Lollies are always a great team pick me up. Jet planes are my favourite.
It is so important to have good clothing for adventure racing. Make sure your gear is lightweight but high performing. You can find most essential gear at your local outdoor store. Never compromise your safety in a race by taking poor quality flimsy equipment but also don’t add to your workload by carrying extra bulky heavy gear. Buy quality as not only will it last longer but it will enhance your experiences whilst training and racing. I always say there is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing choices. Always put your gear in a good quality dry bag in your pack. Compulsory gear is no good to you if it is soaking wet. Make sure you understand the climate, terrain and weather for the location of your race. If you will be bush bashing wear leg protection, if you will be in river beds or scree slopes wear gaiters to stop stones getting in your shoes. Never underestimate the weather and always plan and prepare for the worst case scenario.
Sunday, 1 November 2015
I discovered adventure racing in 2000 with a 24 hour race based in Auckland. Thinking back to this race makes me laugh. We had bulky heavy gear, 12 volt battery packs and homemade lights and bikes that weighed a ton. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves in for but we had an absolute blast and I was hooked. This sport brought together all my past experiences and my passion for people and the outdoors. I had found the sport for me. Over the past 13 years I have raced in multiple events in numerous locations with varying levels of success. I am no elite athlete, I'm never likely to be on the podium yet this sport has kept my interest all these years and I am still learning new things every time I race.
Where to start? If this sport tickles your fancy then there are a few things you can do to make your first foray into the sport as enjoyable as possible.
Firstly, find an event that is right for your level. If you have never done an adventure race then choose a race aimed at beginners. Next, find some friends who you enjoy spending time with and who are up for a bit of fun and a challenge. Make sure that everyone on your team has the same goals and aspirations for the team - if one team member is out to win and another is simply there to enjoy the experience - there will be trouble !!
In my opinion navigation is key. Make sure someone in the team can read a map and understands the basics of navigation. It is ideal if all the team can make sense of a map but at the least you need one person who is happy to take the lead on the navigation. If no one in your team can read a map to save themselves then I suggest some of you sign up to your local orienteering club and get as much practice reading a map as possible. Also make sure you have a map with you on training sessions even if you know where to go. Plan training missions with your team that involve navigation challenges. Make sure you know how to orientate a map to fit the terrain.
The next thing to do is to kit yourselves out with reasonable bikes and a pair of offroad running shoes. If the event has rafting, standup paddle boarding, kayaking, caving or rope work in it, make sure you get a few training sessions in that discipline prior to the race. If your muscles know what to expect during the event they will be much happier on race day.
The rest is simple pay the entry fee and start training for it. You won't regret it. Adventure racing is addictive and as soon as your first race is over you'll be looking for your next :)