Building a successful adventure racing team

Ryan Correy August 29, 2016 No Comments

By Athlete Ambassador, Kyle Nesbitt

It can seem a daunting task to put together a team of athletes who you would be comfortable spending 12+ hours with on a course while pushing your physical limits. Success is not just measured in your time but in your finishing state.

The following are the standard principles of a successful team.

Each person needs to be comfortable and capable of carrying themselves through the course, but also manage an independent task. These can vary between the few key roles:

  • Navigator
  • Pacer
  • Pack Mule
  • Motivator


Every team member may perform more than one of these role, but they need to have at least one to contribute.

The navigator has the important and stressful task of guiding everyone to the finish line efficiently and this requires a lot of concentration on course to read features and bearings.

The pacer is generally separate from the navigator, this is typically your fastest runner who can manage pace counting on course to measure distance and give feedback to the navigator while on course.

The pack mule must be strong enough to carry their own equipment and sometimes a teammate’s bag and/or tow line to help them pull through a rut.

The motivator is there to keep the humour going through the race. It’s easy to lose focus and forget you are supposed to be having fun on course, so having someone cracking jokes while wading through waist deep mud can really change the attitude of a team.

Each teammate may have particular strengths (IE the pack mule on the run is not the same as the pack mule on the bike).

Setting boundaries on decision making is also a hard task to manage, you need to set time limits on stops and have a final decision maker on decisions in the group if members are indecisive or at a stalemate.

Last but not least and the key rule to a successful team, leave the egos at the start line. You’re here to complete a race together and your teammates will notice your weaknesses before they become apparent to you. You need to be able to accept the help they give when you need it. This may include:

  • Being given food/water
  • Having your pack taken
  • Passed a gel
  • Put onto the tow line.

Leaving these egos behind has always allowed us to push ahead of teams and none of these incidents are discussed off course to avoid any embarrassment.

Ryan Correy

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