The adventure racing craze is sweeping the nation and a myriad of new races are being organized from coast to coast. Increases in participation have been linked to the natural cross-over for cyclists, runners and water-sport aficionados, but I believe the true allure of this demanding activity lies within the individual who is forced to realize his or her limits and push through them -- all while contributing to a team.
This team dynamic offers endurance athletes used to the solitude of triathlon or marathon the chance to work together as cohesive unit compensating for individual strengths and weaknesses. This creates an opportunity for individuals to emerge as leaders within certain areas of the race and responsibilities are delegated accordingly. Often, teams designate a captain and a navigator who've proven they can perform those tasks despite challenges such as sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion. Capitalizing on these strengths keeps a team organized and on track during the onset of fatigue.
I asked my friend Barrie Adsett, navigator for San Diego-based Team Equinox, what he considers to be the key to adventure racing. He explained, "In adventure racing, reading a map and knowing how to navigate are maybe more important than being a strong or fast athlete. No matter how fast you go, if you go the wrong way you are just further away from where you are meant to be, that much quicker."
Team captain Steve Moore commented, "Equinox has proven many times that brains beats pure brawn." Adsett added, "In the hare-and-tortoise fashion, going an optimal route is better than zipping everywhere but getting nowhere." Kristine Gillis, the sole female member of the co-ed team, recommends practicing with orienteering clubs and regional adventure racing groups.
Click here for more information if you want to try an adventure race this year.