Asking Yourself: Can I Really Do This?

Can I Do This?

Untamed New England can be intimidating . . . but also inspiring. Here are some responses we have to those wondering if they can do this . . .

While it's impossible for us to answer, not knowing your particular circumstances, here's a few considerations:
  • "More adventure than a race" is not just a tagline we use; it's the reality. There are no orange cones leading you through the race course, your team will use map and compass to guide you through the event. This is as much a mental challenge as a physical one. Of course, you do need a good base of fitness and the more fit teams often fair better in the event, but it's far from a guarantee. Moving more quickly in the wrong direction can be far worse than moving slowly, but deliberately, in the correct direction.
  • Teams compete to complete the course much more than they compete to beat one another. It's common for different teams to join together on a section of the race, organically collaborating; they may share route decisions, food, or just comraderie in the wilderness.
  • It's easy for new competitors to focus on the cardiovascular side of preparation for Untamed New England. Map and compass skills are paramount, but don't discount the importance of other skills like bike maintenance, foot care for long hikes, filtering water from streams, managing stormy weather, or other demands the New England terrain can throw at you. The steps necessary to keep a team of people moving, eating, and communicating through a 4 day course is under-appreciated.
The pace of a 4-day race is different than a running marathon or a triathlon that lasts for a few hours. Using foot travel just as an example, teams work to move as quickly as they can in Untamed New England, but it's common for heavy packpacks or difficult terrain to make running entire sections unrealistic. There are super-human teams out there with more ambitious goals . . . but those aren't the ones asking "Can I do this?" here.

One common strategy is for teams to hike any up-hill sections, jog any down-hill sections, and evaluate the flat sections based on the circumstances.

While every person is different, the amount of training one might commit for a running marathon can be a reasonable guideline for Untamed New England. One marathon training target is to run 50 miles each week (gradually building up!); 50 miles at 9 minutes per mile = 450 minutes = 7.5 hours per week. That equates to 1 hour per day, maybe a little more. I think this would give you a fitness base for Untamed New England that is unlikely to put you on the race podium, but sufficient to give you a good shot at getting to the race finish line. There's really so much more to be said about navigation, team dynamics, nutrition, equipment -- we're just talking general physical fitness, here.

To be clear: I'm not suggesting you prepare only by running. Continuing the example above, exercising the 7.5 hours per week with a combination of biking, running, paddling, or doing most anything that's building your physical fitness can help support your race goals.
There's a lot of material to cover when it comes to adventure racing; we've provided a lot of commentary on this page, so take some time to read through it.

For those new to the sport, I'd say if you wait until you feel 100% comfortable that you're "ready" for a race you should probably start looking for a different challenge. The point is: it's rare to feel fully "ready" because part the ethos is to explore the unknown, overcome adversity, and push yourselves to the limits.

We're ramping up a Coaching Program to help bridge the gap for those new to adventure racing or Untamed New England in particular. Look for details about that soon, or contact us about this topic if you just can't wait.
Short answer: Probably.

Many different caliber teams will be at this race. Some will be national or world level teams who will be moving very fast, sleeping minimally and generally driving themselves very hard for a top finish. At the other end of the spectrum will be many teams who are not elite athletes or navigators and their race goal will be simply to complete the event, without concern for final standings.

If you regularly go on multi-hour hikes and mountain bike rides and have basic paddling and map/compass skills, this race is totally doable. Increasing your training volume will likely help you maintain a higher pace, resist injury and generally make you a happier participant.

Riding, trekking and paddling for 4 days is a serious physical and mental undertaking. The average casual outdoor enthusiast would benefit from adding some significant training hours in the months leading up to race in order to complete and best enjoy this race.

People training for a race like this may put in 5-15 hours per week of training, depending on how much time they have to train and how fast they hope to be. Training with a backpack on (5-10 kg) will help mimic race conditions.
There have been plenty of teams who have done a multi-day race like this as their first adventure race and had a great experience. That said, most of the teams here will have done adventure races before. If you would like to dip your toe in the water before plunging in, consider entering a shorter race before Untamed New England. Look online for events in your area here or here.
In general, mountain biking in AR is less technical than “all mountain” riding because there are stretches of dirt road and pavement as well as singletrack and doubletrack riding. Expect a mixed bag of terrain, ranging from smoother roads to technical New England bike trails. Walking your bike (hike-a-bike) around overly technical obstacles and up steep climbs is a normal part of AR.
A mountain bike with suspension in the front (“hardtail”) or front and back (“full or dual suspension”). There are pros and cons to both styles. If you have a limited budget, look at aluminum hardtail bikes as a practical entry point. Decent aluminum hardtails will start around $1000 new, and substantially less than that on the used market. You will be much more comfy during the race if your butt has spent lots of time getting accustomed to that seat.
We expect that our racers will have varying levels of paddling experience and we have designed the course accordingly. The paddling on our course will fall in the easy to intermediate range. We have an expectation of basic canoe and kayak skills and general water safety competence. You will wear a floatation device at all times on the water. Additional safety measures will be in place as warranted for the conditions, as well.
There is no doubt that there could be periods of significant discomfort during a multi-day adventure like this. If you’ve ever run a marathon, ridden a century or done another extended endurance event, you’ve heard that inner voice wondering why the heck you are doing this uncomfortable thing. Adventure racing is not for everyone. The type of person who likes/loves AR is someone who is willing to undergo short(ish)-term discomfort for the reward of achieving the larger goal of a memorable and significant physical accomplishment (so-called “Type 2 fun”). You should not be in agony during the race, but periods of mental and physical fatigue, heat, cold, wet, bugs, etc. are to be expected along the way. At the end of the race you will have created an indelible memory, completed an epic journey under your own power, seen some awesome parts of New England, and earned social media bragging rights for at least a week.
AR is a team sport. Teammates are invaluable resources during the race. Everyone will have a low point during the race and having someone there to offer encouragement, take some weight off your back or even just slow down for a while until you can rally makes the whole thing possible. However, you do need to choose teammates wisely. Having big mismatches in fitness/speed or race goals between teammates will lead to frustration and suck the fun out of the race. Make sure everyone is “on the same page” early on – well before the race - to avoid this. Planning some activities together or following a trusted personal recommendation are useful if you are taking on a new team member. Need to connect with other folks looking for a team? Contact us as we're assembling a list and there are some good online resources we can steer you to.
Possibly. Not every member of the team needs to be a navigator, but you need at least one (preferably some back up navigators too). Navigation is the biggest determinant of how fast you will be able to get through the course. You can be a double Iron Man champion, but If you can’t use a map and compass, expect to lose to a slow team of experienced orienteers.

We highly recommend attending orienteering meets (or adventure races) before the race, if you will be navigating. Most areas have a nearby orienteering group. Here in northern New England, we have UNO.

There are also many books available on map and compass use. A recently published book, specific to AR, Squiggly Lines, is a great resource.
The entry fee is more than you will see in many other sports. Adventure racing requires a lot of resources because of the duration and geographic scope of the courses and is therefore more expensive than, say, a marathon, which gives you access to a paved road for 4 or 5 hours. Expect to pay $10-15 per hour for a quality adventure race.

Here at Untamed New England, we are not making any profit from your entry fee. All revenue is plowed directly into the race (boat rentals, facility rentals, maps, meals, lodging, & counseling for our families). All of our race workers are volunteering their time for the love of the sport.
In adventure racing, when you sleep and how long you sleep are up to you. The clock does not stop when you do, so making efficient use of sleep breaks is key.

Many teams will aim to sleep while in transition areas, where they have access to a lot of their gear. Sometimes, Untamed New England has tents at transition areas that are sponsored by a cool tent company that is great about showcasing their product at the race.




Who



What

  • 4 day non-stop expedition adventure race
  • Trekking, Paddling, Biking, Orienteering, and more
  • Experiences to last a lifetime


When

  • Tues, July 24th to Sun, July 29th 2018


Where

  • Race host location: TBD