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Adventure Racing 101 (Part 3)

Adventure Racing 101 (Part 3)
Submitted by admin on April 17, 2010 – 8:00 amNo Comment


Eighty and ninety percent of the races you will enter will have some kind of navigation or orienteering component. It’s a bit intimidating at first, but once you start learning and have some successes, this is an aspect of the race that you will truly learn to love. And learning the basics is not all that hard. If I can (sort of) do it, anyone can. Good navigating provides an incredible competitive advantage, and most experienced racers will admit that strategy, team tactics and navigation are a far bigger factor in their team’s success than speed. That’s why it’s no surprise that athletes in their mid-forties are still winning the big events! Old age, treachery and good navigation will overcome youth and skill any day. So get out there with your map and compass and become the MVP on your team.

*First, buy a local topographical map and a beginner’s navigation book, and get the basics.
*Next, attend a course or a camp with someone who is into “speed” navigation. Local orienteering clubs are a great source as are adventure racing camps and clinics.
*Join a local orienteering club and start doing competitions –try to do your first few with someone experienced, if possible, and watch their technique. Part of the efficiency of navigation revolves around where you keep your map/compass, how you hold and remember your location on the map, and how you access all of the information you need to get to the next checkpoint. The end goal here is to not only learn to navigate, but to navigate on the move.

*Buy several local topographical maps of your local area and take them with you everywhere you go. You can learn a lot just by being a passenger in a car and practicing terrain association with the map while driving around. You should also do occasional runs with your map and see if you can identify the terrain features as you go.
*Find a way to have easy access to your maps during all events. For hiking, get a map holder that hangs around your neck. For paddling, find a waterproof map case that you can secure directly in front of you and a marine-type compass that sticks to hull of the boat. For mountain biking, create a map platform that’s positioned across your handlebars.
*Make sure that your teammates have at least a rudimentary knowledge of navigation so that they can back you up or cover for you. The best case scenario is to have at least two capable navigators on every team
*If you can find out the “scale” of the maps for your racecourse in advance (most will be 1:7,500 or 1:24,000), practice with maps of similar scale to get a feel for actual distances between various points.

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