Tuesday, 6 May 2008

The three D's of adventure racing

The three D's - Distance, Duration and Disciplines - define multiday adventure races.

Distance: Front teams will eat up 280-320km in 2.5 days. Back teams will cover little over half this distance in the same amount of time.

Duration: To experience "pure" adventure racing you really need to be out there for longer than 48hrs. This gives you two full days and two full nights.

Disciplines: There is no rule book that says you have to have X, Y and Z in your race. Disciplines are included according to season, location, feasibility and safety.

With the advent of sprint events (1-4hrs) and their subsequent participation domination, distance events are few and far between. These short events have been successful because they're morning only events, are close to major centres and don't require much in the way of logistics, skills and financing. As for distance races: there have never really been more than 3-8 distance events on the adventure racing calendar in any year; but as our numbers are spread out between events (also trail runs, mtb and paddle events, off-road tris) the participation numbers get even fewer.

As we've discussed before, short events offer an "easy option"; many who would have tried something a little longer take the shorter alternative instead. And, the sad thing here is that they don't discover that they are indeed capable of doing of more than they think they are.

Participating in a multiday event costs more in time and money; leave from work, higher entry fees, travel expenses, food, equipment, accommodation, support crews... there are only so many events you can afford to do each year.

I clearly recall the "early days" when there were only 3 events on the entire AR calendar and all teams made a big effort to travel to each event; you can do this when you're only participating in multiday events three times a year. It was so much fun to see your AR buddies from other Provinces at these races. Now we stay closer to home.

Since the beginning of the year the only +100km events we've had were: Uge Events 150/220km in the Harrismith area, Fred's annual Nguni event (120km, 12-24hrs), Adrian's 100km Philipolis Jail Break and this past weekend's Swazi Xtreme (54hrs). (I haven't included Wartrail here as it isn't an "adventure race")

Of these 4 events only Uge and Swazi were over 36hrs in duration.

Looking ahead...
  • Fred's Singletrack Mania 200km in the Kokstad area, 13-16 June
  • Ugene's Salomon Quantum Adventures 100km at the Palmiet Festival, 19-20 July
  • Hano's Bull of Africa 550km is the big expedition event we've been waiting for: E. Cape, 9-16 August
  • Jan's Eden Challenge 150km is also an annual affair: Knysna, 16-19 October
  • Hardus has is XFIX AR 150km on the calendar for 18 - 19 October in the Rustenberg area. This is a new event and is unknown.
  • Les has rescheduled his Mondi Shanduka Newsprint Challenge event for 8-9 November. It's a 2-days staged event in the KZN Midlands. This event has been around for some time.

That's it.

Most of these events will attract local crowds, with few teams travelling from out or Province; with the exception of Bull. And, all of these events - again with the exception of Bull - will take less than 48hrs to complete (closer to 16-30hrs).

Do we need more 48-60hr events? No. Two a year plus Bull is perfect. Anymore and the numbers at each event will decline. But these events need to be able to pull the crowds and racers should want to travel out of Province especially to be there. They have to offer the competitors an attractive competitive package; exciting area, route and the certainty that the event will be well put together.

But... with so many other active distractions in other disciplines and shorter events, it will remain a rarity to have more than 150 competitors at a multiday adventure race. And, sadly, these are the undiluted adventure races; the ones that gave our sport its name.

No comments: