Go further without getting fitter by James Thurlow
Kind of headline you expect to see on a tabloid newspaper... next it will be 'Aliens win Adventure Race'. So what is this about, well it is an article on Expedition Racing and our analysis of routes and speeds from the adidas TERREX event in 2010.
For planning and logistics we wanted to get a good idea of what is likely to happen at both the 2012 Swift and Stirling events. We were keen to know how fast teams travelled and for how long they spent not moving (sleeping / transitions).
What we found out shocked us in a big way - to the point that we can not keep this stuff to ourselves.
Speeds - we kind of already knew that the slowest travel at half the speed of the fastest (or half the distance) and this data confirmed this. The exception being the paddling where the speeds between top teams and those at the back was not as big as one would expect (around 25% faster).
Navigation - looking at the routes we could see some real shockers of route choices. It is clear that when teams get tired that some big mistakes can happen. Ideally teams need more than one key navigator and if a navigator wants to stop, it may pay dividends to let them rest.
Stopping - we wanted to find out how long teams stopped during the event, either asleep during a stage or at transitions. When we totted it up the graph looked something like this with percentage stopped on left and final race position along the bottom. This graph only includes ranked teams.
We know that some teams slept during some of the stages outside of transitions, hence this graph may artificially show them as having a lower % than their actual stoppage time.
The fastest teams stopped for around 10-12% of their race time, with the top 10 it rose to around 20%. It then rises to 50% for the slower teams - for every 12 hrs they are moving they stopped for 12 hrs. It should however be remembered that there was some pretty foul weather on that event - and these teams made the finish another 5 teams didn't all make it.
Still, with that in mind it has focused our planning this summer's events. In summary it's very tricky to do what we have planned for both events if we have teams not moving for 50% of the event time. For the Stirling event we have designed the event with a 36% stopping rate. So a team that stops for 8 hours per day of the time and travels at the slowest rate will make the short course.
We are however, allowing for those that go over the 8 hours per day with a significant short-cut which will ensure teams can get home under their own steam. But it is not great and it would mean those teams would miss iconic parts of the event. It is not something we want to use or should any teams enter with this in mind.
In essence when training as a team - see transitions as part of the race. If you are going to stop and sleep make sure you do this as a team. Sitting in a transition looking at your kit box for an hour is not going to help you get to the finish.
We look forward to seeing you at the finish of the Swift and Stirling event. Wasted with not an ounce of energy left, hungry with little food in your pack and with the biggest grin on your face.