|By Rob Howard|
Stepping out of your door to set off to your first race could be one of the hardest steps you take in adventure racing. If you chosen a race well suited to your aims and expectations you could find yourself hooked. Chose poorly and that first race might not be the great day out you were expecting, and your first race could be your last!
At a first race it's natural to be a little nervous and to wonder what you've let yourself in for, but if you've done a little research there will be less nerves and it will be more enjoyable.
Its better to set out to enjoy the day and see what you can achieve, rather than setting off with any expectation of where you will finish in the ranking. Putting having fun and pushing your own limits above competing with others will take you a long way in adventure racing … and you'll find if you achieve the first two the last one will take care of itself!
So, what do you need to think about when choosing your first race?
Location The chances are you may have heard about a race close to where you live, and thought, "I'll have a go at that." There are some advantages to this; you may have friends who have done the race before and can ask about their experiences, you may know the area (though relying on what you thought you knew could lead you astray) and getting to the race is not too much of a time commitment. Plus if it's around the corner there is less likelihood of finding excuses not to go!
Much depends on where you live of course. If you are in the South of England there are most opportunities with Dynamic Adventure Racing and the ACE Races one-day series, some Questars events and later in the year The Helly Hansen AR Series – plenty of choice there!
For city dwellers there are the Rat Races, in the S.West endurancelife offer a range of races, in the Midlands there are usually a couple of events per year at Cannock Chase near Birmingham and the new Skins 6-in-the Peak series has introduced more racing to central England. Further North the Open5 Series of one-day races are ideal for beginners, and there are some events in Southern Scotland – though not as many. All in all, the UK is well served for races and there is plenty of choice.
The alternative approach to doing a local race is to find a race held in a place you'd really like to go to and make a weekend of it. (Some races have camping options but in most cases you'll have to make your own arrangements.)