Sunday, 9 August 2009


Adventure racing is fun. Tough, muddy, fun and a guilt-free way of consuming 2000 calories of fried food in a single sitting afterwards. As a way of beginning to raise awareness about my cycling expedition around the americas' I spend odd weekends competing in outdoor events where I can chat to like-minded folk and get some feedback about my plans for 2011. Triathlons, cycling sportives, MTB trails, half-marathons etc. are all enjoyable accomplishments but my favourite is adventure racing. This is fantastic and addictive way of exploring large amounts of beautiful English coastline, deep forest, rocky foreshore, serene lakes and muddy trails. Teams and individuals turn up suitably prepared for 4, 8 or even 24 hours of full-on charging around the designated local environment using various modes of travel including, but not limited to: running, mountain biking, kayaking, climbing, zip wires and anything else a devious course setter can accommodate. About 5 minutes before the staggered starts (to stop people following the guy in front!) competitors receive a map which give them fairly precise locations to dozens of electronic checkpoints with differing points values. The rest is simple. Get through as many checkpoints as possible, using the relevant mode of travel, collect the points and return to the finish before the time limit expires, after which penalty points can be incurred at a rate which can render the whole day's exertions as pointless, literally. Checkpoints are usually reasonably well hidden in beach front caves, undersides of rickety wooden bridges, in the middle of a muddy bog or half-way up a tree. You'll return exhausted, probably muddy, maybe wet and definitely hungry. The most proficient competitors will expertly plan and time their route around the area ensuring they reach the finish line with perhaps a minute remaining. As for myself and my teammate, our timing is sometimes a bit out, and we arrive home with 20 or 30 minutes remaining, not really enough to venture back out and find some more points and usually too knackered anyway. However, this methods ensures we tuck in before the BBQ runs out of cheeseburgers. All the winners get is a medal.

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