AR – Hints & Tips

Race Navigation:

What do you do with the map(s) once you get the race instructions and map coordinates? If you have multiple maps, it is crucial that you manage them carefully:

  1. Number each map and put the number on the race instructions in the area where the map is called out so it is easy to get the correct map out quickly.
  2. Mark all of the UTM coordinates on the maps (in pencil the first time!).
  3. Have another knowledgeable teammate or support person double-check your UTM placement.
  4. Mark each UTM with a highlighter so it can be seen easily and name it (CP1, CP2, TA1).
  5. When all coordinates are marked, reread instructions and select a tentative route from one checkpoint to the next.
  6. Mark the tentative route with a highlighter.
  7. Make any notes from the race instructions that you need in the margins of the maps.
  8. Waterproof the maps, if possible.

It is always worthwhile to have someone check the UTM or coordinate placement to see if it is correct and makes sense. Race directors have been known to make mistakes, so if a point is counterintuitive (in other words, if the checkpoint on a trek is located in the middle of a lake), ask. Having several team members check the UTM plotting also gives everyone a chance to become familiar with the racecourse and begin to mentally prepare for it.

Trust Your Compass & Pace Count:

When navigating by map and compass, the most important lesson I’ve learned is to trust my compass and my pace count and to not second guess myself. You have to understand that often times roads, trails, and some streams may not appear on your map.
Races are Won in the Pits I

It is a fact, the winning team is not always the fastest but the slower never will be among leaders.
Why are you running all the time, killing your body and your mind if you are going to spend your all effort in the transition area? So have a plan for each transition.

  1. Practice transitions before the race as much as you can. Doing it will give you a lot of minutes on each transition area. Ex: Practice bike to kayak or swimming to rappelling, or any other, considering weather, daylight, food intake and all the possible factors you can imagine during the race.
  2. Personalize your boxes to identify them in a minimum time.
  3. For each box elaborate a diagram of its content and a list of items. Paste it on the front of the box and inside the opening lid. In the night and after two days of continuous physical effort without sleeping, it will save you time, energy and some neurons.
  4. Do not sleep before having your pack and gear ready. You can wake up while you walk to the next PC.

Mental Training:

There is no question that success in adventure racing is a combination of mental toughness, focus, and desire, together with an ability to do the events and go the distance (endurance). In other words, success in adventure racing is not simply a physical matter. It is a matter of believing in your ability to do more than you think you can, having the right attitude to make it happen, and staying focused on the goal. With these things in mind, how can you train yourself to be mentally prepared for racing?
Confidence in your ability to “go the distance” is achieved by becoming comfortable with all of the skills that will be included in the race and doing the physical training necessary to build the stamina and strength you will need. Cultivate mental toughness by getting out and training when it is cold, rainy, and windy outside. Train both your mind and body to endure a lack of comfort. Then, when faced with conditions in a race that make you cold, wet, and miserable, you will find yourself thinking, “I’ve been through this in training and I did it – and I can do it now.” Overcoming challenges raises your level of confidence and your ability to persevere.
What you hold in your mind translates into your experience. Your attitude during training and racing determines your success or failure, so practice getting rid of the negative thoughts. In training, as soon as a negative thought creeps in (for example, “This hurts,” “I’m tired,” “I’m cold”), replace it with a positive thought – change your mind. Look for the beauty around you, laugh with your teammates about where you are and what you are doing, and remind yourself how strong you really are. You will quickly begin to feel better and be reminded that you can do more than you think you can.

Foot Care:

  • Never start a race with new footwear. Are you are happy with shoes that you intend on wearing?.  If you like a particular shoe and feel comfortable in them only use these for a racing. From experience waterproof shoes can be a disaster as they will hold water inside the trainer.  For racing a free draining trainers will be best.
  • While training, wear your racing shoes to break them in.  Try different sock brands thicknesses until you find the prefect match.  Everyone’s feet are different and you may spend the most amount of time on your feet during the race so it is vital to be comfortable with your choice of trainer.
  • Train with a fully loaded backpack and don’t be shy in getting you feet wet.  From experience from the start gun you feet will be wet until the end!
  • Take 2-3 pairs of shoes to an event.  It’s always worth taking 1 pair a size larger as your feet will swell after multiple days of running and trekking.
  • While training monitor your feet, do they dry out, are blisters occouring in the same spot are they giving enough support….
  • Trim you toenails before the race, this will help to stop you nails cutting into you toes and help to reduce black toe nails from forming running down hill.

  • Whenever you get chance take your shoes and socks off tryto powder your feet and attend any hot spots or blisters as soon as they occour, don’t wait!.  Always carry a foot care kit which might include: Lighter, needle, nail clippers, duct tape, foot powder, plasters and some iodine.  This little extra weight will see you through to the end and there is nothing worse than racing with busted feet.

  • Watch out for foreign bodies entering you shoes, sand dust, stones etc will cause chaffing blistering.  It might be worth wearing some ankle guards or gaiters.
  • Ensure you laces are tied not too tight and not too loose.  Remember when you laces get wet they will stretch so remember to keep a check on them  during the race.

During The Race:

  • Don’t make the rookie mistake of taking off too fast, start at a comfortable pace.
  • Don’t ever assume the people in front of you know where they are going, even if it is 50 teams
  • Towing people while walking or biking shouldn’t be an optional exercise
  • It is never too early to tow or redistribute pack loads; don’t let egos get in the way
  • The main navigator should be doing his/her thing and the 2nd should be closely watching everything and assisting where necessary
  • Everyone should be constantly aware of direction of travel, elevation gain/loss, mileage covered and pace have a team person keep a check on distances
  • If possible, never stop and stand in the sun, always look for a shady spot and even on the move find a shade especially in the hotter climates
  • Try not to stop every 15 mins keep moving navigate on the move.
  • If the team stops for some reason, take care of something you need to do now as opposed to stopping 5 mins later to get at some food (consolidate your stops)
  • Take care of foot problems immediately before they flare up into something nasty
  • When on foot, be careful not to fall into “Sunday stroll” pace – you’re in a race so move with haste; many teams jog flats and downhills
  • If there are opportunities to do a pace line on a bike leg, do one
  • Drink and eat often – try to drink every 15 mins and eat in little bits; you should have 12 hours of food available w/o ever needing to go into your pack – there are many on-chest systems (see equipment list) that will give you extra handy storage space; when the group stops, eat and drink
  • Having said the above, try not to bring too much food – you can only go a couple of days w/o water but a few weeks w/o food; you’re in a race, not an eating contest
  • Never pass up a water source because you don’t feel like filling up bluffer or bottles you may not find water when you need it later!
  • When travelling at night try to use as little light as possible – you can have 1 or 2 headlamps on vs. all being on or you can use your low beams when biking uphill or no lights when pushing the bike
  • Always turn off all your lights when you stop – conserve power.
  • In races 2 days or longer, take your shoes and socks off and raise your feet when you stop to dry them out and stem off swelling, apply some foot lotion.
  • Try not to stop in transitions too long, they may be in a warm comfortable place and time will fly by!


  • Select a team captain, who may or may not be the “captain” once the race starts
  • Captain should make a gear checklist for everyone broken down into mandatory and other
  • Make sure you have all your gear well before the race; don’t scramble the last day to get stuff because you may not be near the right store at the race site
  • Get your bike completely cleaned/lubed/checked 10 days before the race and then ride it a few times to make sure it is okay
  • Check 5 day forecast for your race area and bring the appropriate clothing; don’t leave much behind b/c you’d rather have it than not
  • Do as much info gathering on the race course as you can
  • Try not to get to the race site at the last minute; try to get through registration and gear check-in first b/c you’ll want as much time as possible to prepare and/or rest
  • Establish the team’s goals and strategy for the race – make sure everyone is on the same page well before the race starts
  • Determine how much sleep the team will get, how much time between stops, etc.
  • If you can, do a team gear check when you get to the race site
  • Get your food bags ready before the race – Have several smaller ones rather than 1 large one; mix your food in the small bags so you aren’t rummaging through many bags just to eat
  • The day of the race: continue to drink water (but not too much because you’ll dilute your sodium level) and Gatorade like a madman – some people like to eat a lot of salty stuff b/c it makes you retain water which is a good thing before a race
  • Be organized for your gear check-in; only have your mandatory stuff (no food or other gear)
  • One way to do check-in is:
    1. double small ziplock bag all medical stuff and put it in the backpack
    2. put mandatory lighter, headlamp, compass and extra headlamp batteries in a ziplock in the backpack
    3. wear lifejacket and have the mandatory whistle and knife attached to it and put the mandatory throw bag and dry bag in the backpack
    4. put mandatory gore-tex jacket and fleece top in the backpack
    5. wear climbing harness and have attached all required carabiners/slings/rapelling devices/jumars and put mandatory climbing helmet in backpack
    6. wear the mandatory bike helmet and take bike with lights, pump and repair kit all together
  • Have a 2 or 3mm accessory cord attached to your waterproof map case so you can hang it around your neck
  • Wear the case so when you get your map and passport, you can put them in the case and never take the case off your neck
  • After check-in, go back and organize all your gear in your pack; pack unnecessary stuff at bottom and important stuff on top and in easily reached outside pockets
  • Mark up your route on the map(s) then cover both sides of the map with contact paper to make it waterproof and cover both sides of each page of the passport with clear heavy duty packing tape
  • Check your bike tires several times throughout the day to make sure there isn’t a surprise flat 2 minutes before the race starts or before they take your bike away (it happens!)
  • Make sure at least 2 people have odometers on their bikes and set them to 0 before the race
  • Set your altimeter watches for reference barometric pressure and altitude
  • Go to the start line and have fun!!