Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Expedition Racing Tips and Tricks

Expedition Racing Tips and Tricks

Never having raced an expedition length adventure race (3 days or more), I've been offered some great advice from other adventure racers that have put themselves through 3 or more days of the grueling, torturous fun I'm about to put myself through, so I decided to make a list for myself and others which will keep on growing as I keep on going!

Backpack - Train with the pack you will be racing with. You'll need to get used to the weight on your back even if you look like a crazy person at your gym.

Clothes and shoes - Train with the clothes and shoes you'll be racing in. Some clothes rub in weird places which will cause chafing, same goes for shoes. Some just don't fit right or new shoes need to be broken in. 

Gear bins - Practice packing and weighing items going into your bin. Some races have weight or size requirements so some gear may have to be left behind.

Calories - Drink your calories as much as possible so you don't have to carry the weight of food. Carbo Pro is a good recommendation. Leave some of the heavy meals in the gear bins so you can eat them at the TA (transition area). For example...Mountain House meals, soup, cans of tuna, ravioli, donuts, potato chips..etc. Eat every hour, eat and drink before you're hungry and thirsty, because at that point it might be too late. Also, have a variety of food so you don't get sick of eating the same thing. 

Fresh Breath- Carry a toothbrush at all times. The throw away toothbrushes with built in toothpaste work nicely. Brushing your teeth during a long race to get rid of poopy mouth can rejuvenate you.

Body and butt wipes - Probably the best shower you're going to get and the butt wipes speak for themselves!

Money - You never now what will happen on the course so you might need money for food or shelter.

Sleep - Don't sleep next to trails, rivers or roads. Move off the path for your safety. Sleep before you get delusional. You can trick the body if you go to sleep when it's dark, wake up in the dark, and then the sun comes up a half hour later. You will feel like you got more sleep than you did. Also, decide when to sleep based on bugs. Dusk and right before dawn are the worst times to sleep if it's buggy. 

Delegate - Put a teammate in charge of reminding everyone when to eat and drink or when to replenish bottles or water bladders. Put a teammate in charge of reminding to take Electrolytes, Sport Legs...etc.

Feet - Feet are no joke. Bad feet could take even the top teams out of a race. Make sure you're taking care of feet with ointment, tape, powder. Trim those toe nails and get rid of those calluses before the race. Fresh feet are happy feet. Wet feet are unhappy feet. Make sure you bring 3-5 pairs of socks to change into. Dry socks are magical!

Tow - Dog leash for the bike, or bungee type cord for on foot. Someone will need to be towed at some point so have it installed and ready to tow!

Rest - Don't be afraid to take breaks when needed. If a teammate is struggling, it's better to rest than to keep pushing through and then having to drop out because you didn't take that 15 minute break to help your teammate. Also consider lightening the load for your teammate, take some of his/her gear or carry their pack for a while until they recover.

Great recommendations from other adventure racers:

Eric A. - Body glide, place a can of dinty Moore beef stew in your gear drop, think in small distance increments like check points not the whole race, slap your teammates on the ass to motivate and cause it's fun, make sure your food is as diverse as possible, tablet purification over pump, eye drops, memorize 15 simple jokes, amazing bike seat, and your favorite candy.

Michael D. - 1. Tow lines. Eventually, everyone tows, and everyone gets towed. Bike = dog leash; trek = bungee cord; boat = ratchet straps 2. Vitamin A+D ointment. Medicates while it soothes and lubes, better than Butt'r, hydropel or Vaseline, IMHO.

John F. - Sleep: Definitely don't try to sleep near trails or in transitions. Too noisy. When the sleep monsters hit don't fight it. Even if it's taking 10 or 15 minutes with an alarm set. It's amazing how long you feel great afterward. I just stopped and slept in a ditch on the side of a road for 15 minutes during Sea to Sea and it was some of the best rest I got in that race. I think sleeping in small increments is better than a prolonged sleep. You body doesn't have time to start stiffening up. We only slept a combined 2.5 hrs in a race of similar distance. Some teams slept even less.

Matthew F. - Know the number of a local pharmacy. Supporting a racer in PQ, one of them came down with something that needed antibiotics. Changes may be low that you would see the same thing over such a short race, regardless having information on the local area is helpful. I wouldn't rely on race staff, I would make sure your team has the info.