Yes and yes! This is one of the most fun aspects to the sport. If you sign up and start as a 3 person team, you must stay together and finish as a 3 person team in order to remain “official” for race standings. If you separate, you are breaking the rules and a penalty will be assessed. Usually this is stated in the race rules read and understood prior to racing. Team dynamics can be exciting, frustrating, and challenging, but in the end, your teammates will be some of your closest friends, and you will have memories that will last a lifetime.
Navigation specifics vary by race. Some races provide mapped out checkpoints that you must find your way to, and other races provide coordinates that you must map out and locate. The terrain for a race also varies and in general, our 12-hour and 24-hour adventure races require the ability to read a topographical map without trails.
courses will have a certain number of “checkpoints” or “CPs” (orange and white orienteering flags with punches attached). These points are pre-placed on the course by the race director and marked on your map. In order to “clear” the course, a team must navigate to ALL of the checkpoints, punch their team passport (provided by the race), and finish the course by the cutoff time. A team that does not get all of the checkpoints or “clear the course” will be ranked below a team that does.
A mountain bike with front fork suspension (at least) is recommended (and required for some races).
Ah yes…the mystery of the sport. It is typical in adventure racing that there is very little you know about the course until you get there. You have 4 hours/8 hours/12 hours/24 hours/48 hours (race dependent) amount of time to get as many checkpoints as you can and cross the finish line. There may even be unexpected challenges. You will get your maps prior to the start of the race (the night before race) that will show you where your checkpoints are. You will get a passport and “rules of travel” when you get your map. This “rules of travel” will tell you what order to retrieve checkpoints and what disciplines you will be doing when. You then work with your team to strategize what the best route choice is to get to each checkpoint. You also know what mandatory and recommended gear you need to have (posted on race details). Still confused? Just come out and do it and see for yourself! You’ll have a blast!
If gear is required to be moved, we will do that for you. For example, you will bike to a particular location A and drop your bikes. You will then paddle or trek to another location B. Your bikes will be moved by race volunteers from A to B along with any bike gear if biking is the next leg.
For all races, event medical staff will be present in case of an emergency or search and rescue situations. Teams are required to check in and out of multiple transition areas (TAs) as well as some non-TA locations (i.e. bike drop or pick ups). This gives the race directors an understanding of where on the course each team is located at what time. Also, all teams are required to carry a cell phone as well as emergency phone numbers to be used only in the case of emergency. Lastly, there will be contingency plans and time cutoffs if the race director feels that it is unsafe for a team to proceed on a leg of the course (i.e. river paddling at night). With all this said, however, it is your team’s responsibility to look after each other and be safe! Never separate or leave a team member behind. Be aware of what to do in the case you encounter wildlife such as moose, bear, or mountain lion. Know how to handle yourself in inclement weather (i.e. carry appropriate clothing, what to do/not during lightning strikes, etc.) and be aware of you and your team’s hydration levels.
The Adventure Racing Cooperative has resources available on their website: www.arcooperative.org. You may also benefit from googling other adventure races and seeing how other race directors describe their race and details. If you’re still unsure or confused, please feel free to contact us with specific questions and we’d be more that happy to help.
You can also check out our Articles & Updates for RMAS specific information pertaining to our adventure races!