The Navigator

Adventure racing is one of those activities that put you in THPL frame of mind.  There is every dimension of Life, Learning, and Fitness to get through one of these races.  And if you are not familiar they are team based races, that are multi-disciplinary sporting events that are conducted outside with very little known about the course or challenges before you start the race.  They typically range from 4-24 hours, they might require compass navigation, reading topographical maps, navigating streams and mountains, crossing lakes in canoes or kayaks, some mountain biking, hiking, traversing, well you get the picture – just about anything can be thrown at you.  It helps to be in a state of high fitness when you do one of these races but truth be told it is not fitness that will affect the success or failure of your adventure.  It will really be the inter-team dynamics that occur during a race that tests your heart, mind and soul (and yes physical body).  And lest you wonder what I mean and how that can be, I will give you a few rules of the team interaction that you need to establish before you start the race.  One other point – I believe that the following design / relationship points are transferable to all aspects of THPL.  They set a framework for success and since life, like an adventure race, is unpredictable and often challenging it is good to use proven models to produce better outcomes.  To the race…..
Ok, regardless of team size, two, four or six the rules of inter-team engagement are the same.  And what I can tell you is that as easy as it is to establish these “rules” it is just as easy to violate them during the race.  So, do yourself a favor and keep true to them but if you or any team member starts to slip then call them out and stop them or the “team slope” will get more and more slippery and the result is not that pretty.
  • Rule one – establish team roles before you set out for the race. Select a navigator, an equipment leader, a food organizer and a pacer.  I could write pages about each role but for now the key point is that you know who has what role and you rely on them for it.
  • Rule two – you never, ever, never, ever question the navigator.  The minute you do their confidence is ruined and all of their decisions from that point forward will be compromised.  They can ask you for advice and help but otherwise keep your thoughts to yourself.  It is the hardest role to take on and there is a lot of intuition required.  You chose them to do the job – let them do it
  • Rule three – you have to pace to the speed of the slowest person on the team.  If you press // push the pace they will be emotionally destroyed (because they think they are slowing you down) and since you all have to finish at the same time there is no benefit to be gained from going faster than any team member
  • Rule four  - Establish your ground rules for all other aspects of the race before you start.  For example, how often you will eat.  Who will carry what equipment?  What to do in an emergency.  You do not want to be thinking about this stuff when you are tired, hungry and exhausted. 
  • Rule five – Never follow another team.  No way, no how.  Do not assume they know where they are going.  Follow your own instincts and stay your own course.  The one time I followed another team we went five miles the wrong way, UGH was an understatement for how we felt.


So, there you have it – THPL comes to life in the outdoors but in so doing it brings with it Life, Learning and Fitness lessons that translate to everything you can or will want to do.  Teams, leadership, knowledge, endurance, decision making, personal dynamics etc.  They all come to alive and you can learn so much from these experiences.  Please, though, there is no need to learn these lessons the hard way.  Take them and run with them, use them and perfect them.  THPL is maximized when you do so.
PS – one other piece of advice.  Always bring a second compass with you.  Yea, a hard learned lesson, running at night in a trail I tripped and fell – the compass when flying into the woods – night navigating is hard with a compass and is impossible without one.  By the time morning comes, and you can see where you are going, I can tell you for sure that you will not be feeling “the love” from your teammates - it is best to avoid an amateur mistake like this one (hahaa). 
Loving life in adventure land….
Sally on Saturday night re-runs - 3:26+25 seconds, 209 pushups on 4:17.  Another 50+ mile running week, yippee - 617 miles YTD - not bad for a guy who used to not be able to run a mile.
Big ride tomorrow, time for some rest.