Women are an integral part of adventure racing and not only as ‘mandatory equipment’ – a phrase coined, in jest, by Team Mazda. While female team-members are sometimes only deemed necessary only to classify a team as ‘official’, women are definitely not to be considered the weaker gender, especially over multi-day events.
Adventure sprint races (20-40km distance, 2-4hrs duration) were launched as introductory events to give entrants a taste of adventure racing. They’re great for newcomers, weekend warriors, families and experienced athletes. But, over the past few years we’ve seen little crossover of adventure sprint participants to multi-day adventure races.
Events are no longer few and far between. On any given weekend there are many adventure races to choose from – and even more events once you include the separate sporting disciplines that are incorporated into adventure races like paddling, running, mountain biking and orienteering.
Adventure racers are notorius for scrabbling in their backpacks as they pull everything out to locate a single item of gear – and commenting, “I’m sure it is in here somewhere!”
The first distance event of the year, the ‘UGE Salomon 150/220 in Harrismith at the end of January, was revealing. Post-race a novice team commented how “we’re not quite ready for anything longer than 100 km” and that they thought they should be sticking to sprint races.
Comrades champ Bruce Fordyce and actor David Vlok recently took part in Southern Africa’s most gruelling 200km adventure race, Swazi Xtreme. Lucky for them, neither had to do much in the way of planning and preparation for this event, with the exception of assembling specified items of clothing and equipment.
In 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.