Check out latest successful expedition race finish recipe from Alpine Quest brewery:
Navigation Experience: If you have got one person with good navigation experience, most likely you will finish the expedition race. A good navigator should be able (as minimum) to find 90% of checkpoints they aim for in rogaines. They should have done one rogaine at least, and ideally had some experience in night navigation. Your team should be fully equipped with navigation related gear (1 or 2 good map boards, 2 compasses, map measurer, reliable bike computer, map case, contact, highlighters); a dedicated mtb compass, dedicated marine compass are also useful.
Mandatory and recommended equipment: Having a light, but functional backpack, good trekking/running off-road shoes, anti-chafing cream (should be with you all the time). Blisters are the main issue in long races, trekking hurt feet the most. It is critically important to test your shoes before in appropriate length event (rogaines, off-road treks 6+ hours), light functional waterproof jackets and over pants in case of expected below 10 degrees conditions. Lights determine your speed on a bike (making sure to have more than enough batteries). Dry bags, appropriate paddling gear. Arrangements made for each discipline to quickly access your food- bike bags, good front pockets on backpack, bladder/bottles, pockets for PFD.
Equipment maintenance: Bikes are generally the main culprit here and should be serviced prior the race with a full repair kit on hand (ideally running tubeless, but having enough spare tubes (2 each), levers, 2 good pumps, gas canisters, derailleur hanger for each frame, chain breaker, spare links for each chain as a minimum. Not necessary to have the top of the line bike, sometimes even lower grade components can be less fragile and more practical for adventure racing, but all should be checked and serviced prior the race.
Strategy planning: While there are many strategies to discuss, the sleep strategy is probably the most important. Generally you should be aiming for 2-4 hours sleep per night at least in race over 48 hours. Potentially with some extra stops to dry your feet if required. Alpine Quest assume no planned sleeping, but powernap when you are tired during the night could be a good idea. Enough sleep before the race start is another critical point, which often getting missed out in the packing rush. Ideally you should try to sleep 8 hour nights for 1-2 weeks prior the main event. Training is done by then, so you can sleep in instead of the early morning session.
Race strategy: pace yourself according your teams abilities. Going flat out from the start can be a strategy but if it is your first race we would strongly encourage you to take a more conservative approach and pace yourself according your slower team member abilities. Ideal pace is to be just under anaerobic barrier for everyone in the team. Best teams are able to accelerate in the second part of the race, so this should be your ultimate goal.Â It can take a lot of time to bring teammates back if you blow them up! It's probably you that will need to carry their weight or tow them on the bike.
Nutrition: Getting the right food estimation, having a large variety, and making sure it is well packed is important. Food preferences are based on individuals taste, however, you always want to bear in mind that variety is the key and if you can hang in with couple of gels for 3 hour event it does not mean amount of food you need for expedition race should be based on this ratio. Moreover, gels will not be your major source of energy later into the course, just complimentary. You will need real food but that real food should not go off after 24 hour in the box or more, plus it should be relatively light, so you can take it with you, easy to consume when you're tired and chewing could be hard. Another factor should be taken into account is good packaging to allow easy access during the race (you don't really want to waste time on making sandwiches) and items that won't fall apart if they get wet. Last but not least a good hint is to realise -later into the race your appetite will progress and you will need more and more food.
Good map preparation before the race: The more time you spend planning, the less time you spend browsing it during the race. Mark your routes, measure all distances, check the contours, write bearings and notes where appropriate, especially for the bike and paddle.
Team work. A team of champions will never beat a champion team - says it all. Looking after each other, doing everything together, supporting each other no matter -what, using everyone's strong sides creates unique team spirit which will ultimately lead to amazing results when some crews can perform much better than if you add up everyone's individual results. Having some hardcore team training prior the race always helps as well as lots of communication and discussions.
Off-road skills: The beauty of expedition adventure racing is that you never can be 100% ready for everything and you just need to accept it and ready to face the challenges the wild terrain offers you. However, you do need a certain amount of expertise which you can gain quite quickly: hiking comfortably off-road on different terrain; riding mountain bike on rough 4wd roads, paddle on grade 1-2 rivers and open water.Â They are not everything but do help you move quicker through the terrain.
Mental Fortitude: Reasonable fitness and good health will get you a long way, but the right mindset and a never quit attitude will get you to the finish line. It is hard to train for this, but doing training sessions that turn into "missions" can help you prepare for when it all goes south. The right mindset is important. Prepare for a sufferfest, but the satisfaction of reaching the finish line will cover it all.
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