Think ahead: Adventure races move from running to biking to kayaking and more, and knowing what you need out of your transition box--gear, food, water--before you get there saves time. Plus, your navigator should contemplate what's ahead: trail junctions, steep climbs and other obstacles.
Know where you are: It's important to be aware of your surroundings and where you are on the map.
Roll with the punches: Things happen: flat tires, getting lost, a sick teammate. The less energy you spend worrying about what went wrong and the more you look ahead to how to solve the problem, the more efficient you'll be.
While most races provide some gear--like kayaks or canoes, paddles and personal floatation devices (PFDs) for water sections--required gear lists for adventure races can be extensive. If you're not ready to invest in a lot of new equipment, borrow these items (except the clothing and first-aid kit) until you're hooked on the sport.
CLOTHING: You don't want to have to change clothes during a race, so wear quick-dry shorts you can ride, run and paddle in, and a comfortable shirt made of technical material. You may be required to carry a rain shell, so pack the lightest one you can find.
BACKPACK: This will be your life source during the race, so make sure it fits you well (without moving side-to-side while you run), carries all the gear you need and allows you to access food and drinks quickly. Look for pockets on the hip belt and a sleeve for a hydration bladder.
MOUNTAIN BIKE: Most sprint adventure races stay away from terrain that's too technical, but you'll need a mountain bike--either hardtail or full suspension--that fits you well. A model that both climbs efficiently and is comfortable on descents is best.
TRAIL RUNNING SHOES: You may run over rocks, sand, grass, streams or mud, so wear a good pair of shoes that you've broken in. Stay away from heavy hiking boots or clunky shoes, and opt for the tread and support of a trail runner, not a road running shoe.
COMPASS: You may not need one for some sprint races, but for other events, one or two members of your team will need a compass for navigating. A lightweight, inexpensive plastic model will do.
HEADLAMP: If your race is at night or starts predawn, you'll use a headlamp. Even if it's during the day, you may be required to carry a headlamp for safety. Choose a lightweight one that can illuminate the trail.
FIRST-AID KIT: All races require that you carry a first-aid kit, and the event organization will give you a list of what needs to be in it once you register. Make each item as small as possible and take just the required amount of pills, gauze and Band-Aids.
CLIMBING GEAR: For races that include a rappelling section, you'll need a harness that fits you properly, a rappelling device (often composed of a metal plate and wire loop) and the required amount of carabiners.
Lisa Jhung did her first adventure race in 1998, and estimates she's competed in around 70 events since then. She was Managing Editor of Adventure Sports Magazine from 2002-2005, and is now a freelance writer who contributes regularly to Runner's World, the Outside Buyer's Guide and more.
? Adventure Racing: A Test for the Mind and Body
? Amazing Race, Home Edition