Why Adventure Racing?The simple answer is that adventure racing (AR) is a team sport. More importantly, AR emphasizes teamwork, skills and decision making above fitness. Teams (ie: you and your sweetheart) with the ability to think clearly under stress and combine their various fitness levels to go fast, along with strong navigation skills, are the ones that find success at the finish line.
This sense of team accomplishment is something that is hard to describe and can only be experienced.
Fitness and Skill LevelsThe most obvious challenge in team sports is the differences in fitness and skill levels among team members. With sports like mountain biking, kayaking, running and navigation, the skills equation within the team can get really complicated. Recruiting the best athletes for your team is one solution, otherwise, the fitness and skill levels your team possesses is what you have to work with. When training and racing with your spouse, you should first focus on skills development. Bringing your spouse along on a ride to a scary cliff-side single-track may not be the best first-day for a first-time mountain biker.
The same would apply to developing kayaking and navigation skills. Instead, be sure to start at the appropriate level, practice, gain confidence and you will have fun and go faster as a team. Second, focus on fitness. The gap in your fitness levels may seem impossible to close at first, but you will find that each of you will have strength and weaknesses that will compliment each other. Just give it time.
Roles, Responsibilities, and RespectIn adventure racing, you have clearly defined roles: captain, navigator, work horse (aka "The Mule") and the "mother hen." There are no roles for "husband," "wife," "girlfriend," or "boyfriend." When you race with your spouse, you need to understand what role they have and respect that role throughout the race. If your wife is the captain of the team, her decisions are final. And if your boyfriend is the navigator and you are not happy with his navigation, you simply need to let him continue to navigate until the end. If he or she needs help, they will ask.
Rather than relationship respect, offer one another a sense of professional athlete respect. Resume the relationship after the race is over.