Getting started

article004In reading this, you’ve taken your first leap into the realm of adventure racing and are no doubt asking the following questions… Where do I start? How do I get involved? How do I find a team?

First, take a look at the AR calendar. Squizz through the coming events and select an event suitable to your fitness level. And, how do you know when you’re fit enough? Well… you don’t really.

In AR you don’t need to run as fast or as far as Bruce Fordyce, mountain bike at the same level as Fritz Pienaar or paddle like Martin Dreyer. You just need to be able to keep going. As your fitness and experience grows you’ll get faster and more confident. If you can’t make it through a spinning class, have never been on a mountain bike and have never run more than 5km, then I’d recommend you start off with a sprint to see how you handle the great outdoors.

Now that you have an event selected that you’d like to do, you need to decide on your goals.

  • Do you want to win?
  • Do you want to finish in the top 10?
  • Are you doing this for fun and just want to get over the finish line?

Be clear about your goals before moving on to the next step, finding a team, or team-mates.

Personally, my advice is not to race with spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends and best friends – though it does work for some. Look for suitable candidates from your running, mtn biking, paddling etc clubs.

If you’ve had no luck convincing people you know to join you, send out an email on the South African AR mailing list. This has been proven to be the most effective way of hooking up people with teams and teams with people. In your email message state the following:

  • Location – Are you in JHB, CT, Durban?
  • Experience – you don’t have to have any experience
  • Event – state the date and distance of the event in which you’d like to take part
  • Objectives – to win, place in the top 3, social or to crawl across the finish line
  • Contact details – name and telephone number

Don’t be shy about posting an email -emails are flying around all the time. Remember that there are many like-minded people on the list who are also looking for team-mates.

Once you’ve selected a bunch of people (or if you been invited to join a team), get together for coffee – not a training session – to decide whether you actually like them. You’ll be spending alot of time together under stressful conditions. If you don’t like a person before you start, you’ll have a miserable race and like them even less by the time you finish – if you finish.

Assess the following: (these criteria are crucial when assessing teammates for Classic and Expedition events)

  • Are they too loud / too quiet?
  • Are they too serious / not serious enough?
  • Are they easy to talk to?
  • Do they appear to be team players?
  • Do they have strengths where you don’t?
  • Are their goals different to yours?
  • Do you have similar fitness levels and capabilities?

If they pass all of the following, then get together for a training ride and hike in a nonthreatening environment. Don’t compete with each other – you’re a team. Talk about your abilities and weaknesses so that each member is aware of the team situation and thus has no false expectations.

Whether you train together or not, communicate with each other and get everyone involved in preparing for the event.

Finding your “ideal” team could take years. But, essentially you’ve got to jump into the deep-end and come up swimming. After your first race, modify your team, re-define your goals… and enter another event.

You’ve got to start somewhere…

Author: Lisa de Speville