|By Greg Clarke|
It is necessary to be fit to take part in an Adventure Race but it also takes something else. I took part in my first two day Mountain Marathon twenty odd years ago and failed to complete the first day and had three more goes before I finally made it over the finish line (even though every one was packing up to go home). Somewhere in-between I completed a few Road Marathons. In one of my unsuccessful attempts I partnered with a sub three hour Marathon Runner who as we were driving home at the end of the first day stated that 'a Road Marathon is over in a few hours this event never seemed to stop'. There is an understanding that when someone completes an endurance event they will remember the elation of completing and finishing but only some will remember the suffering. Those who remember the suffering do not return. But as is evident from my Marathon friend there are different levels or types of suffering. I have completed seven Road Marathons and consider them to be very tough and would enjoy a Mountain Marathon any time. I competed in Adrenalin Rushes and well over 10 Mountain Marathons and although it took me some time to get going I enjoyed the taking part as much as the competitiveness.
Having taken part in many Road Races and Cross Country events I discovered I was naturally better at Mountain Running particularly at descending and the longer the race the better. Perhaps it is the format of continues racing that gets to me and it is the variation in Mountain Running that makes the difference. With Mountain Running most people run on the flats and down hill and walk (all be it a very fast pace) up hill stopping occasionally to look at a map or to take a drink but are constantly thinking of where they are going and the most efficient route choice. I have beaten many of the top local runners in races just because they have made navigation errors when I got it right. Some Adventure Racers come from disciplines such as triathlons were there is an obvious variation to what you are doing during an event. So are you the type who would rather run a 10K, Road Marathon or a Mountain Marathon. My pace is slow and steady but never fast.
There is a simple mathematical equation for completing endurance events Success = Fitness x Mental Stamina. If your Fitness or Mental Stamina are not high enough you simply will not succeed but a slight lack of ability in one can be made up by the other. I would suggest that Fitness is the greater amount as the Mental stamina will deteriorate the more you physically suffer and an excess of fitness will relay less on the Mental Stamina.
I train 14 year olds for the Duke of Edinburgh's Award and during the actual Bronze expatiation on several occasions there has been someone who just wants to give up as they haven't taken part in anything so strenuous. It can take quite a bit of persuasion to keep them going from one checkpoint to the next where I have to give them some of my determination to keep them going. It is worth it to see them finish and realise that the actually had it in them even though they didn't know it.