I recently did a talk on adventure racing (AR) and a lass in the front row was glowing at slides of international adventure racing legends Mike Kloser, Ian Adamson and Nathan Fa’ave projected on the wall. She, like many others, learned about the multiday, non-stop, team sport of adventure racing from television screenings of Eco Challenge.
Later I asked her, “How come you’ve never entered a race?”
“It’s all the equipment. I don’t have any of it,” she replied.
Her perception is a common one that prevents many from progressing in AR. Adventure racing is not only about expedition-style races that take five days and require shipping bikes, boxes, kayaks and specialised clothing across land and sea.
The majority of events on the adventure racing calendar take no more than 2-6-hours to complete and for 99.9% of them all you need is a:
A small hydration pack (you can use water bottles but you’ll need a place to stash food too), cap, shades and sunblock are recommended. If you want to get fancy you can go the mountain bike shoe and cleats route, but 7-years down the line I’m still comfortably in takkies and cages. If you’re doing a winter race you’ll want to think about a thermal top, long lycra pants and a wind/rain jacket.
For longer races
Once you start looking at 16-24-hour and overnight or weekend races you’ll need a couple more goodies. First is a bigger backpack (30-litre is suitable for everything from 16hrs to multiday), headlamp, bike lights, warmer clothing, light-weight sleeping bag and a 2 or 3-litre water reservoir. Team items like a safety rope and emergency shelter can be bought collectively.
Although kayaks, PFDs (lifejackets) and paddles may be provided by the event, they’re also available for hire or can be borrowed from friends. On the whole, it is worth investing in your own PFD and paddle for paddling disciplines. Don’t splash out on this stuff immediately; some races do not have any form of paddling discipline.
The moral of this story is that as you advance from 2-hour races to 6-hour races and on to 1-day and then multiday events, the equipment list does grow to accommodate more disciplines and environmental conditions. Aim to purchase one new necessary item with each event and don’t let lack of equipment be a barrier to your enjoyment of the shorter events, which are accessible and light on equipment.
Author: Lisa de Speville | Published in Go Multi Magazine, June/July 2007