By Brent Freedland
It’s race week! You've put in the hard work and training. You've built your team or found one to join. You’ve done your homework, dusted off your navigation skills, filled in holes in your gear inventory, and learned some new skills on the bike and in the boat. Now, you need to get to the start line, which experienced racers often joke is the hardest part of the event. When competing in a multi-day international expedition race, this does ring true, but for a short race, just focus on getting some rest, basic logistics, and paying attention to your email.
Bottom line: On race morning, look around. I guarantee you will see other racers and teams spending tens of minutes organizing gear, repacking food, or floundering with a disorganized pile of gear and food. This isn’t a criticism, and sometimes even the most experienced teams will lose time with these sorts of concerns. But if you show up on race day organized and prepared, you’ll have more time to work with your maps, strategize, warm up, and perhaps even relax.
OK, hopefully, you live close enough to roll out of bed and hit the road at a reasonable hour, but do know that many racers end up camping or crashing in a cheap hotel the night before a race, since many ARs (especially races twelve hours or longer) require travel to more remote locations. Either way, set your clock early enough to give yourself time to wake up, grab some food, finish loading up the car if you didn’t pack it the night before, and get to registration on time. It always takes longer than you think it will, so maybe set the alarm fifteen minutes earlier than you want to!
On that note: if an RD tells you that pre-race is open from 6AM to 8AM, show up at 6AM. Maybe even 5:45AM. Too many new racers roll in late during registration. The race may not start until 8:30AM, but that extra time before the gun goes off is crucial to maximizing your prep time. If you care about competition, a team with an extra hour to study maps, plot routes, strategize, and dial in their gear will have a massive advantage over a team with only fifteen minutes to complete an hour or prep. If you don’t care about competition, you are considerably more likely to have a smooth and enjoyable race if you maximize your planning time. Starting the race unsure of where the start line is, where your food is stored, or whether you have the right gear in your pack will probably result in a disastrous moment or three that might really impact your ability to enjoy or even finish the race.
What do pre-race events typically look like?
A few other tips for pre-race:
Other Articles in the New to AR Series:
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