How to prepare for an adventure race? Here is what you need to know

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Would you like to try adventure racing but you are not sure how to prepare for an adventure race, and how to participate in an adventure race. And what do you need to know before the race begins?

Read this post and you will know how to prepare for an adventure race!

In adventure races, you will have at least 3 different disciplines; running, mountain biking and kayaking or canoeing.  Therefore there is always more sports gear to organise than in other sports. However, it is easy to participate in an adventure race.

Good preparation and pre-race information make the race a lot more enjoyable. Read the following tips and learn how to participate in an adventure race.

Adventure racing – five steps how to make your adventure race a success!

In an adventure race the disciplines can be in any order. There might also be so-called ”quest” in controll points which can mean climbing, swimming or orienteering -activities.

In an adventure race there is a lot to do before getting the team ready and on the start line. So it is really important to arrive at the start area well before the race, and organize you gear beforehand.

The race set-up might look complicated at first. But do not worry – everything will become a lot clearer when you get the maps and race route book. The route book will give you information on what disciplines and what gear (including compulsory gear for the team) is needed where, where are the transition areas, and the estimated duration and length of each stage.

Usually, the estimated race time is based on the time of the fastest team. According to that estimation, it is possible to roughly plan the race time for your team. This is important when you decide how much food and drink you need for each stage.

So, next comes five tips, how to be well prepared for an adventure race.

1. Start packing your gear at home

An adventure race has specific gear for each stage. In addition, there is compulsory gear that has to be carried during the race. Some of the compulsory gear comes from the organiser (like the race bib), but most of it must be supplied by the participants.

Check the organisers’ rules about compulsory and recommended gear. Start getting your gear together well before the race. Discuss with your team who is bringing what, and ask if something is not clear.

Take a big gear bag or a box for the transition area(s). The pre-race information should tell you if you need one or more service bags/boxes.

You should prepare all your gear at home -as much as possible. You can divide your food into small packages, pack your drink bottles and measure your sports drink powder. You can pack your race rucksack as much as possible, and make your bike ready. You can attach your bike tools, bike orienteering map stand, bike lamp and spare tyre to your bike already at home.

2. Food – enough but not too much

Read more: How to measure energy for an adventure race >>>

One of the most important how to prepare for an adventure race is to measure energy. Calculate your energy needs based on the estimated race time. For a 4-6 hour race, you should take the amount of energy you think you will eat in 6 hours.

The recommended energy gel intake is about one gel in every 20 minutes. Pack into your rucksack the gels needed during the first stage, and leave the rest in a service point. It is easy to have extra energy in a service bag/box but it is not necessary to carry more than you need.

3. Prepare your racing gear in advance

When we speak about “racing gear set, we mean gear like:

  • Rucksack and the gear you need to carry.
  • Shoes and clothes to wear when racing.
  • Possibly the racing bib from the organiser.

Take your time when planning and packing your gear – you need to have all the necessary things while trying not to take anything unnecessary.

Things in your rucksack should be easy to reach. Especially energy foods and drinks. The team member responsible for punching at the control points is usually given the control point punching card or an electronic punching device. That can be secured to the rucksack with an elastic band. It is also a good idea to attach the route book to the rucksack so that it will not get lost during the race.

The idea is that you carry all the gear and food/drinks needed during a stage. Also, you need to have all the compulsory gear with you. The race organiser does not usually offer any extra service points with food and drinks during a particular stage. 

Typically the race organiser will specify what gear is compulsory for the team. So you need to agree with your team who is carrying what compulsory gear items during the stage.

4. Preparing the transition area

Between the stages, there is usually a transition area to visit. There you can take all the necessary gear for the next stage. When preparing your point in the transition area, you should pay attention to that everything is going easy and smooth when you come to the transition. That is important point how to prepare well for an adventure race. You do not want to be too long in transition, want you? So take into account the order of the disciplines and the gear you need in every stage.

Preparing the transition are starts from reading the route book or from other information. It should tell how many points there are and where they are. Sometimes the organiser will transport your gear bag/box further away, sometimes the transitions are located in the race centre. This will become clear from your map and route book.

In a transition area you will need the compulsory gear ready and also:

  • drinks,
  • enough food,
  • change of clothing and shoes, and
  • all the other gear needed for the particular discipline.

Drinks can be ready in bottles and you might want an extra drink bladder filled and ready. Energy gels and bars should be pre-packed in a bag for each stage. So that it is easy to just grab a bag and continue racing.

Preparing maps. Photo: Jordi Santana fotografia, Raidaran.

5. Plan your race route beforehand

The three most important things are maps, punching card/device and route book. These need to be carried all the time. Also, compass is carried all the time.

Take your time when planning your race route. Read the route book. The team can draw the race route together, so that each team member understands the terrain, and what happens and in what order during the race. This will also help when planning what gear to pack. You can also do notes to the route book about gear etc.

Draw your planned race route on the maps. That means planning your way to each control point. The route planning time is usually limited. For example, the maps might be handed out an hour before the race start.

After drawing the route the maps should be put into waterproof map cases. Usually, the maps will get into contact with water somewhere. If it does not rain, there is at least canoeing and possibly swimming.


This is the main point, how to prepare for an adventure race. Now you are ready to race! Just pick a race, and enjoy!

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