Making the Step Up to a 12hr race, by Tom Davies
So, you’ve seen an advert for a 12 hour race, but you’re worried that it’s a big step up from the 2 or 4 hour races you’ve been doing? Scared that it’s too much to take on? Read on…..
Entering your first long race is scary, that’s for sure. When James and I entered the 12 hour Dynamic DARE a few years ago, it was the longest race that either of us had done, by a long way. I think we had both done a 6-hour Questars or two, but that was about it. The thought of going non-stop for 12 hours was terrifying. As it turns out, the reality was quite different!
As nearly all adventure races are run on a “score” concept, it’s perfectly fine to do as much or as little as you want to (or can) do. There will be mandatory sections or checkpoints in every race, but it’s up to you how much extra you do in addition to these mandatory sections. Better at running than biking? Then focus on the running sections and cut the biking sections short to give you time to do this, or vice versa. Play to your strengths!
We had a great day out in the Wye Valley during that first long race. You may think it’s not going to be possible to run and bike all day without getting worn out, but the reality is that you wind the pace back considerably from the frantic sprint-race pace that you’ll be accustomed to seeing at 2 or 4-hour races. It’s ok to walk up hills! Your focus changes from going flat-out to ensuring that you last the distance. Just make sure you eat regularly in order to keep your energy up – my rule is to eat something every half an hour, whether you are hungry or not.
There are several benefits to doing longer races.
- They are usually better value for money in terms of cost per hour of racing.
- As said before, you get to eat like a pig with no repercussions!
- As the race is longer, you get to head further away from civilisation into truly wild areas, often visiting some of the most beautiful parts of the country.
- Best of all, long races often include special stages, where you’ll get to do something exciting, different or scary (or possibly all three!).
In the past I’ve abseiled off the 70m overhang at Kinsey Crag (Terrex Swift race in the Yorkshire Dales), shot arrows at archery targets (HARZ race in Germany and the DARE race in the Wye Valley), canoed down the rapids at Symonds Yat (DARE race again), jumped off a cliff into a flooded quarry (Open5 in the Lake District), and loads more.
Doing longer races also usually means that you’ll be racing as a pair or a team – the only thing I’ll say here is to make sure you race with people that you like! I’ve discovered that it’s perfectly possible for some people (mentioning no names) to talk non-stop for 12 hours. Dependant on the pain level that you are experiencing at the time, this may be a good thing or a bad thing!
Racing as a pair or team is great as you get to share the good times with your team mates, and when times are bad and you are tired and grumpy, there’s someone there to feed you, carry your pack, tow you up a hill or just provide a word of support. Alternatively, you can just blame them for getting you lost if they are the one doing the navigation at that point!
When we finished the DARE race, we thought we’d done pretty badly, as we’d had a few ups and downs, and had spent the day going so much slower than we were used to racing. When the results came out, it turns out we’d done alright, and had just about sneaked into the top 10, with which we were delighted (and surprised!). It turns out that everyone else had also had a nightmare at some point of the race as well, and my experience since then has been that if you just keep going, you’ll end up doing OK, as everyone else will be experiencing exactly the same problems as you.
In summary then, give it a go!
In the words of the Dr Pepper advert, what’s the worst that can happen?! (Speaking of which, send us your race disaster stories. The best one wins some free stuff and gets featured in the next newsletter!)
Enter the Tri-Adventure 12hr today!
Midnight to Midday – Pairs only (£75pp)
Test your stamina with this 12hour adventure race incorporating day and night navigation. A stunning course of 7 stages, incorporating trail running, mountain biking and night navigation – as well as some surprise stages!
Location: Mickleham, Surrey Time: Registration opens at 10pm, event starts at midnight