As the excitement of an amazing Adventure Racing World Championship in Tasmania comes to a close a thought crossed my mind. With over 300 people competing at each of the Open 5s, 450 competitors at sold out Questars events, multi day adidas Terrex Series, the OMM, Devizes to Westminster canoe race, Polaris, Lakeland 100, LAMM, Trailplus, Rat Races, mtb enduros, MTBOs, 6, 12 and 24 hour off road trail and bike races, with more sportives, fell races, orienteering, kayaking, triathlon events than you can ever possibly enter – why isn’t the UK pumping out team after team of top adventure racers competing at the highest level? Is there a silver bullet that can catapult the weekend warrior to becoming a Adventure Racing World Champion? The answer comes in three parts.
Strategy and Focus: 10 years ago Aberdeen Asset Management (now adidas Terrex) set themselves a goal to be AR World Champions and made the annual World Championship race their focus and ‘A’ race every year. Every year they turned up, learnt at huge amount, got beaten, pushed themselves to the limit, got fitter, got faster, worked on their weaknesses and it came as no surprise that after 10 years on the circuit they are now established as one of the top teams in the world as their win in ARWC 2009 demonstrated, 6th in 2010 and then 4th in 2011.
Structure: Success does not come by chance. In order to be successful teams must have structure. Each team needs a strategy, shared goals and objectives. It then needs to develop plans around funding, training, sponsorship, learning specialist skills, investing in kit to ensure that those goals and strategy are met. This is challenging in terms of time, money and commitment. This structure can be provided by either companies such as adidas Terrex, Accelerate, Planet Fear and Tri-Adventure. It can also be provided by individuals; Camracers are great example of a group of adventure racers who lived in close proximity of each other and train and race together. It’s fantastic that London & South East AR Community has been set up by Nicky Adams.
UK AR Association: In every organisation when new talent knocks on the door, the organisation will do just about anything to grow, nurture, develop and improve it. We have a wealth of phenomenal athletes coming from a wide variety of backgrounds taking part in adventure races every weekend. Great Britain orienteer’s, Olympic medallists, international explorers, world cup tri-athlete’s, national fell runners. Just imagine how many Alastair Brownlees, Chrissie Wellingtons, Jessica Ennis or Mark Cavendishes may have tried AR and then moved onto something new. The answer to this talent conundrum is not an easy one, but until there is a body/ association/ federation, who pulls together the race directors, key teams and top athletes to work cohesively for the greater good and development of the sport in the UK, then we may continue to find talent slipping through our fingers.
I look forward to hearing your comments……