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Separating the Men from the Little School Girls





That's my title, not Jordan's. This was the letter we received when we asked about information concerning the new team he was putting together. It's not for the faint of heart or limp of wrist....

This document serves as my "form" letter so that I don't have to repeat myself via email for every question.  I hope no one is offended by the lack of personal touch.  My name is Jordan Reece, I'm a Marine in my 6th quarter of the Computer Science Curriculum.  I started adventure racing about a year ago following several years of competing in endurance and multi-sport competitions.  The following information should give you an idea about what the sport involves and where I'd like to take the team once formed.  If this letter doesnít answer your questions, feel free to contact me with more.

Adventure Racing 101:

Adventure racing is an ultra-endurance event that requires coed teams to compete in many disciplines through a variety of ecosystems: running, biking, paddling, climbing, swimming, sailing, riding horseback through forests, mountains, deserts, bogs, lakes, plains, and oceans.  You may race days or even weeks.  Racing tests your outdoor and problem solving skills. Map and compass navigation is considered a necessity. Knowledge of the natural world is required. Rope tests are common.

Formats for races are usually broken into three echelons:
    1) Sprints: races done in 3-5 hours
    2) 1-Day events
    3) Endurance: 48-72 hour
    4) Expedition: 72+ hour (often 5-10 days)

About this race:

The race this August is called the California Eco-Adventure Series.  We'd be racing in the final race of the season, which is a 48-72 hour race.  The Dates for the competition are August 1st-4th and it will be held at an undisclosed location near Lake Tahoe.  The events for the race haven't been released yet, but they will likely be mountain biking, trekking (hike/run), kayaking, climbing (basic ascending/descending rope work), and navigating.  They keep most of the details a secret so that teams don't gain an unfair advantage by figuring out which terrain to recon prior to the race.

Distances on the events can vary greatly.  I've raced two 24-hour races in this series and they seem to like to break up the events pretty evenly.  That means an expected full day of each event (each event probably being broken into two-halves to break monotony).  For example, one day of mountain biking would probably mean 60-80 miles over rough terrain.  They'd probably break it up so that you may go 30-40 miles at two different times.  The winner of last yearís finals took 45 hours, 11 minutes to finish.  Since they're a professional team, I'd guess we'd come in closer to 60-70 hours.

Training for an adventure race is a tricky thing and takes quite a bit of time and dedication.  Luckily, we've got 5 months until race time so there's plenty of time to get yourself together if you're not a super-athlete.  If you've raced triathlons you know that balancing the various events in your training is the toughest part.  As a team, we'll have to sit down and decide how we'd like to approach the training issue.  For the 24-hour races I usually biked 20-30 miles 3 days/wk, ran 7-13 miles 3 days/wk, weight trained 3 days/week and rarely kayaked for lack of time.  I think since this race is longer we'll have to approach it much differently.  I'm pretty average on everything and I always do fine, so that proves that you don't have to be a stud to race these things. Most of the training would be done individually, especially early on.  As we get closer to race time, Iíd like to schedule more team events for training so that weíre used to one another.

Cost is a big issue for these races.  The team entry alone is $1200.  That's before you buy one piece of gear.  I have a gear list with some estimated costs if you're interested in looking it over.  We have three basic options for lessoning the cost.  Some of them can be in combination with the others:

    1) Sponsorship.  My team was sponsored for a race I did last year, so the entire race was free, gear and all!  This is obviously the preferred method.  I do have a couple of potential sponsors I'm working with and it is a real possibility that we may be able to sponsor all, or at least some of the race.

    2) MWR Sponsorship.  MWR does have a program where they will pay for a portion of the entry fee of a race (with a list of constraints and strings attached).  They've done it before for me, but not for this much.  I would be surprised if they'd agree to let me soak them twice in one year.

    3) Beg borrow and steal.  If you're reading this, you've probably already got at least some of the gear thatís required.  What you don't have, we may be able to borrow since I know at least a handful of guys who have done this before.  That doesn't help kill the entry fee, but the equipment is actually the most expensive part!

Bottom line on cost, there are no guarantees!  I would ask that if you decide to commit to the race, you be prepared to part with the $300/head entry, team/individual equipment costs, travel costs, and crew expenses.  You'd probably want to set aside $600-$700 or so, assuming you already have a mountain bike.  Keep in mind that we can rent gear as well.  I intend on using this option for the climbing/kayaking equipment.  I've already worked deals with some local businesses.  Oh, and Aquarian Bicycles is a former sponsor so they'd probably get us any soft goods we need for cheap.

What Iím looking for:

I'm looking for motivated people with desire above strength.  You need to be in good shape for these things, but you don't have to run Ironmans or 2hr marathons to do well.  If you're weak in some of the events, get in line.  Every team has folks weak in some things and strong in others.  The team pulls you through your weaknesses and you pull them through theirs.  The MOST IMPORTANT THING with adventure racing is mental endurance.  If you can stand being hot, cold, wet, covered in poison oak, bleeding, hungry, thirsty, saddle-soar, and blistered, then this is for you.

These things are all about sucking-it-up.  Iíd prefer people with endurance experience so if youíve done marathons, triathlons or adventure races, great.  Iíve raced with guys who donít have any experience with pushing their bodies to their limits.  Itís not a great idea for you to find those limits during one of these races.  Keep in mind, itís easy to say that youíre able to handle it, but once you get out there itís usually a different story. Injury and illness can happen to anyone, but you can be assured that youíll piss off the team if you decide you canít complete a race simply because youíre miserable.  Just something to think about.
Thanks for your interest.  If you think you might still be interested, please send me another email with the subject: ďStill InterestedĒ.  Let me know if you have any more questions.  I'll probably hope to have a team together by the end of March, so it will be around then that we'll probably have our first meeting.

History of Adventure Racing (if you're curious):

It began with the inspired thought of a French reporter called Gerard Fusil.  While reporting on some of the top endurance races in the world, like the Whitbred, the Marathon De Sables and the Paris-Dakar Rally, Fusil dreamed of a sport where mixed sex teams of endurance athletes traveled through remote areas and cultures by multiple human disciplines.  The Raid Gauloises and adventure racing were born.
The success of the Raid spawned other races like the Southern Traverse and the Beast of the East.  In 1995 a former Raid competitor, Mark Burnett, started a race called the Eco-Challenge and through savvy marketing built adventure racing recognition in the US.  The success of the expedition length adventure race has led to many smaller multi-day and sprint races.  Last year, in the Hi-Tec sprint series alone, thousands of Americans got a taste of adventure racing.  New races continue to pop up all over the world.  Adventure racing appeals to a broad spectrum of competitors from other sports like mountain bikers, runners and triathletes, but the largest appeal is among the passionate watchers with adventurous spirits who enjoy marvelling at the spectacle of televised expedition competitions from the comfort of their homes.

Ten years ago when Fusil gathered a handful of crazy endurance athletes in New Zealand to attempt the first Raid Gauloises, prize money wasn't a thought.   Racers raced to race, to test limits, to experience other cultures and to push the human envelope.  Today they do the same, except teams sponsored by drug companies; dotcoms, SUV makers and outdoor gear manufacturers are common, where team budgets may reach $60,000 per expedition race.  And the sport continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

How it all started...

2000 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2001 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2002 Big Sur International Marathon
2002 Wild Wild West Trail Marathon
2002 Bishop 50-mile Ultra-Marathon

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