Getting to the Start Line

Written by Jennifer Van Gorder

Adventure racing takes a lot of time and commitment to participate in.  Especially when you want to be competitive. As a racer you put in long hours mainly focused on 3 of the main sports; biking, running, paddling.  However,  each race is different and can come with new disciplines to learn or disciplines that just need a little brushing up on.  For example horseback riding, ascending, river boarding, etc...  You think you have all the gear and gadgets needed for a race but there is no doubt that multiple trips to REI is always necessary.  For some reason a race requires a different size sling or a unique rappelling device that requires you to spend another $60. 

You get creative and schedule out your weeks/months leading up to a race to make sure you are as ready as you can be come 'Go time'. Especially leading up to a big race like the Adventure Racing World Championships, a lot of strategy & planning takes place. 

Nutrition and hydration also play a key part in racing.  So over these months you continually try and dial in what works for you and what doesn't.  What kind of foods/bars/energy gels etc... settle with your stomach and what doesn't.  Some racers are lucky to already know what goes in their race food bags while others are still looking for that perfect item(s) that they will want after pushing their bodies hard for hours on end.
Training for an event is sometimes half the battle of getting to the starting line to.  To get teammates to commit to doing a race sometimes can be very time consuming. There are not very many people in the world that can make a living out of just adventure racing. Most people have some kind of work, family and other commitments that can get in the way of doing a race let a lone just training for it.  Asking for 'more' time off of work which usually always falls during a time that is the most busiest or getting grandma to watch your kids is not easy.  Most races need a commitment of 3 or 4 people and need at least 1 female (to be competitive).  This is a lot to juggle when signing up for a race.  Also, once you have a committed team sometimes 'life' can just get in the way and a teammate might have to back out of a race at the last minute.  This can leave your team scrambling around to fill that vacant spot.  And, you don't want to fill that spot with just anybody.  Depending on your goal for the race you look for experience, are they fit, are they fun to race with, what are their strengths etc....  Sometimes this leads you to reach out to individuals on competing teams to see if anyone wants to join your team for a particular race.  This is something very common in adventure racing.  It's a sport that brings everyone together no matter where you call home or what team you associate yourself with.  You build friendships and bonds that will last longer then the race itself.  It's a community that trains together, tows the line with each other, competes but also cheerleads for each other. 

Over these last few years a few of us on DART have had the pleasure to race with a few of our fellow competitors/friends.  Mari Chandler currently not only races with DART but also Bones and most recently Team Tecnu.  Mari has been very busy going between teams this year getting multiple podium finishes & is racing at the Adventure Racing World's Championships with Team Tecnu.  Jen Vangorder has had the opportunity to race with the fun slacklining Yogaslacker Team & was able to pick up a few good pointers from Kyle on Team Tecnu while racing at the Goldrush 24hr race with him.  Ryan Vangorder, always willing to fit in a race in between his demanding work schedule had partnered with Tecnu for a win this year at the Tahoe Sierra 100mile mnt. bike race. 

Even though it's nice to show up to a race with your home team it's really about just getting to the start line.  We all have the same common goals: race smart, be safe, go fast and do the best you can. 

DARTNuun is not at the world championships this year...due to those common 'life' things that just get in the way.  However, as mentioned earlier Mari from DARTNuun is racing with Team Tecnu.  We wish her and the team best of luck. 

For all other teams at the 2014 Adventure Racing World Championships: Good Luck and have a great race!  DARTNuun will see you at the starting line next year!