Top 10 Tips For Starting Out In Adventure Racing

New to adventure racing? Read these 10 tips to ensure you get off to the best start in the sport.

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1. Attend an adventure racing training camp or clinic

The time and money invested in a race clinic will be more than worth it. Several companies offer day or weekend courses where race experts will teach you everything you need to know from orienteering, nutrition and race planning to kayaking down white water rapids. The course will culminate with the race itself, putting all you have learned to the test.

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 the speed so you can start your search for the checkpoint - rather than speeding past it and losing valuable time and points.

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 very easy to create using a bit of stiff board, a few tough elastic bands and some cable ties.

4. Train carefully for adventure races

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.

5. Practice for adventure races

As well as physical training such as running and swimming, 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 kit. 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 every team or entrant to plan the race after all the checkpoint details have been given out. A big mistake made by many novice racers is to rush off into the race, 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 vitamins - paying special attention to carbs (bread, cereal, pasta, rice) as these are what fuel your endurance training. For the race itself, food needs to be lightweight but packed with energy. High energy bars and gels are ideal for shorter races.

8. Water for adventure races

When adventure racing, try to keep the weight of your kit low - one of the biggest burdens to all racers is their water supply. For multiday races consider carrying a small, lightweight (but efficient) water purifier. That being said, at the same time, it’s worth checking the availability of water sources on your race route before committing to relying solely on a purifier. On the subject of water, for anything other than short, one day events, try to obtain the majority of your liquid intake from pure water - don’t rely on ‘energy drinks’.

9. First aid for adventure racers

A basic knowledge of first aid is vital to race team members, so make the time to attend a course. 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.

10. Get tips from the adventure racing experts

If you’re eager to delve a little deeper into the world of adventure racing, bury your head in a guide book or two -  Don Mann’s The Complete Guide to Adventure Racing is a favourite among outdoor sports enthusiasts.