Adventure racing basics

As a triathlete, the transition to adventure racing could be easier than you think.


With the close of the 2009 tri season fast approaching, you may be seeking something else to keep you active during the autumn/winter months. If you haven’t already looked in to adventure racing, it may be just what you’re looking for, and a straightforward transition from triathlon.


For many of you, the thought of adventure racing may conjure up images of scrambling across a cold, wet mountain side or bush whacking through a hot, steamy jungle in Borneo. Well, OK yes, that can be the case at the extreme end of the sport, where events last for five days and your team strategy includes a plan of when you can fit sleep in. And yes, it could be argued, that traditionally, a hardcore adventure races make an Ironman look like your average training outing. But in recent years, the sport has developed and become far more accessible for those just starting out.

Popping up all over the shop are short, five or 12-hour events like those encompassed in the New Balance Open Endurance Series; offering an introduction to the more exciting elements of the sport, like kayaking and abseiling, and requiring only an average degree of navigation skill.  

Then there are adventure events, rather than races, like the 24Seven Challenge, organised by children’s cancer charity, CLIC Sargent. Participants follow a set route, with specific set challenges that require team work of a mental and physical nature. Problem solving and logistics are all part of an adventure racers career and events like this offer an ideal introduction to the many aspects of team work needed to gradually progress in this new, exciting and fast-developing sport.

As a triathlete, you will undoubtedly already have the level of physical fitness required to take part in one of the shorter adventure races. However, you may want to skill up on some of the multi-discipline sports, such as canoeing, caving and abseiling. The nature of adventure racing means that any sport could be involved from archery to mountain biking, so you need a range of skills to succeed. But organisers will advise you of anything you need to up-skill on well in advance.

Triathletes have many of the pre requisites for Adventure Racing:
–    Physical fitness
–    Ability to cope with multisport activity and transition
–    Mental toughness

That said new skills may have to be developed and could include:
–    Team work
–    New sport skill – such as climbing, kayaking and navigation
–    Off road bike skills and technical trail running
–    Towing – if someone gets tired or is not as strong as the rest of the team.

Working as a team is a key ingredient in adventure racing. It’s important to train with your team mates, to understand each others strengths and weaknesses and importantly to establish lines of communication between. Dealing with each other in stressful situations, especially when tired has to be considered, and someone with a cool head is a definite bonus in a team.

As with many endurance sports, adventure racing can be a great deal of fun. And the feeling of satisfaction from overcoming challenges is reward in itself.

But if you’re still not to sure if adventure racing is for you, well there’s only one way to find out… Go give it a go and begin your ‘journey’ with the 24seven Challenge this October.


For more information on adventure racing, check out:
New Balance Open Adventure Endurance Series
24Seven Challenge
Team Accelerate