It is mid-summer and that means we are in the heart of the
One of the most important tools in adventure racing is
Talk to your crew if you have one. They should know just
as much as the
Navigation is the single most important skill in adventure racing.
You can have a team of Olympic athletes that are incredible at every sport, but if they can't find the check points they are lost in the woods. Navigation is a TEAM skill, meaning everyone on the team should play a part in the navigation in every race. Sure, you should have one lead navigator, but why waste everyone else's eyes, ears, insights...Four brains are better than one. Plus, navigating is exhausting and until you lead a team you can't appreciate just how much pressure you are under. Practice as a team, plot points as a team, go over decisions, routes and strategies as a team. As the race progresses and the fatigue sets in, one brain becomes half a brain and teammates can look and see things more clearly than one fried person.
This happened in a recent race near Lake Tahoe. It was the middle of the night and I was on maps and I just couldn't compute where we were, we took 5 minutes, looked at the map as a team and got our bearings and re-focused. I handed the maps off to my teammate and took a few hours off.
Team navigation helps the team in so many ways. One it keeps everyone mentally in the race. There is nothing worse than roaming around a course not knowing anything about where you are or how long you will be cyling, paddling, running...it is a mental burner. Two, you can use everyone for efficient travel. One can scout ahead and look for trails, one on compass for direction, one on maps and one keeping pace.
Regardless of what everyone is doing, it should include
everyone. Stick together, race together or get lost together:)))
I've lived by this since I started racing many years ago. Go light and go fast.
I understand the value of cutting weight in my pack every way I can, but a team can get into serious trouble if the weight is cut in the wrong place. There is a reason why there is "mandatory gear" for every race. Mandatory gear is required to get you through the race safely and prepare your team for adversity. The very last place you should cut weight is the first aid and survival gear.
Layers of clothes will keep you warm if you are lost in the middle of the night. They will prevent hypothermia and allow your team to continue to move forward. There are many ways to cut weight with layers, but make sure you have enough to keep you warm if you have to stop on the trail. Body core temperatures drop quickly in a short few minutes and 60 degrees can feel like 30 degrees instantly. Bring a source for building a fire and adequate first aid and knowledge to wrap injuries. Don't skimp, you just may need these items.
I found that out in the first night at Eco-Challenge New Zealand when I sprained my ankle coming off a summit. I was thankful we had enough athletic tape to wrap it for the next few days. Once again, in Lake Tahoe, I almost went hypothermic because the mountain bike section was much longer than expected (they always are...). We did not bring our night layers so we had to stop and build a fire to warm up. If we didn't have our space bags, it would have gotten really ugly quickly. We didn't have radios and no way of getting help...that is the sport, it is risky, but that is why we love it.
Be prepared and cut the weight elsewhere.