Glendalough WAR 2013 Preview: Everything You Need To Know For The Adventure Race Battle

Golf is on hold this weekend as I’m heading off to WAR.  53 kilometres of running, climbing, cycling and kayaking. It’s the 2013 Glendalou...

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Golf is on hold this weekend as I’m heading off to WAR.  53 kilometres of running, climbing, cycling and kayaking. It’s the 2013 Glendalough WAR.
You wouldn’t see a soldier heading off to War without the right kit for the mission, right? Then neither should you ahead of this Saturday’s (20th April) Wicklow WAR adventure race in Glendalough!
It has taken me a dozen or so races and making mistakes to figure out how to make what is one of the toughest challenges, that little bit easier, and I’m still learning. But here are some tips that I’ve picked up that may be useful for you.

Firstly you need to plan for the course. The Wicklow WAR website http://www.wicklowadventurerace.com/glendalough/ is excellent and we can see from it that in this race there are tough hill runs, mountain cycles and a kayak section which means you have to be careful about picking your kit.

Kit

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There’s really two key pieces of kit for adventure racing, your runners and your bike. For this race a normal racing bike is perfect. The only worry is getting a puncture in the middle of nowhere but you can reduce your chances of this to almost nil by fitting a set of armadillo tyres to your bike. They are about €70 for a pair; ask the bike mechanic to fit them (they are a bitch to put on), but once on they are virtually bombproof and will last forever. Some people say armadillo tyres are a bit slower on the road than others, but hey, it takes five minutes to change a puncture and that five minutes brings you and your rock hard armadillos a long way down the road!
 
Other than your tyres there’s only one other really important thing to consider. Whether to use clip in pedals and cycling shoes or standard toe clip pedals (or ordinary pedals) that you use with your runners. Since the Glendalough WAR has two different run and cycle sections, you’re probably best off by just keeping your runners on throughout and using toe clip pedals.
If you want to use your cycling shoes, remember you’re going to have to transport your runners with you between transitions. I’ve shoved them up my jersey before, and managed it, but it’s a lot of extra hassle for very little gain.
Runners
clip_image006Trail runners are essential for the WAR. For the uninitiated, they are runners with rubber like nubs or cleats along the bottom. Lots more grip going up hills but especially so, when coming back down.
I’ve got two pairs of trail runners, one pair of Adidas Kanadia (cost: €50-60) and a pair of light Innov-8’s (cost: a bloody fortune €105).
The Innov-8’s are super light, with very little cushioning, perfect for other races on boggy and mountain courses, but not my choice for this.
The Adidas runners are the fourth pair of Kanadia’s I had, and they are perfect for the WAR; lots of foam for cushioning and ankle stability on the two hill runs. They also drain quickly which is essential as they are going to get soaked in the kayak! I ran the full Connemarathon in my Kanadia’s last week and was perfect, so don’t let anyone tell you that you need to spend big to get a proper pair of runners. Those funny yellow laces in there are just xtenex laces which I picked up on ebay. They’re elastic and make the shoe very easy to flip on an off without tying. The big no no is Gore-Tex runners; yes they may be great at keeping water out, but if water does get in, and it will on the kayak section, it’ll be stuck in there for the entire race and make life impossible.
Clothing
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Shown above is all my kit for a race. I think a good pair of padded cycling shorts and especially a cycling jersey are essential for an adventure race. Firstly with a cycling jersey there’s three pockets at the back in which you can store your mandatory kit and grub. I see so many people carrying backpacks in races when you really do not need them. For the Glendalough WAR you’ll be using your bike twice so you store your drink bottles on there, you don’t need to be carrying all the extra weight up hills. Think of it as a Ryanair, you need to be carrying as little as possible!
Secondly the lycra in the cycling jersey and shorts will dry quickly if it rains. And this is Ireland remember!
Essentials
Apart from the jersey and shorts, and depending on whether the weather is cold, I always wear a hat and gloves. Keeping the head and hands warm is essential when you are going to be out in the wilderness for a long time. Unless you’re Grizzly Adams in which case you can ditch the hat!
Compression socks or sleeves are also a brilliant bit of kit. Running, climbing and covering several kilometres on a bike will have your calves begging for mercy and that’s where these sleeves really help. If you’ve had cramp before, you’ll know compression sleeves are a lifesaver and to be honest they are the first thing I think of when I’m running around the house and rifling through the drawers to get my stuff ready.
Mandatory Kit
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At every race, not just the Wicklow WAR, you have to carry a little first aid kit, which is mandatory. It’s nearly always checked and trust me if you do enough races you will find yourself using them from time to time. The biggest bulk is the foil blanket, but I’ve shown my mandatory kit here, and its folds up to a tiny pack; I don’t even feel it in my back pocket when I’m moving along. A plaster, some steri strips, a whistle, blister patch, a wipe and some tape.

Nutrition

There’s tonnes of material on the internet about this subject so I’m just going to tell you what works for me and some of the good racers I’ve spoken to.
The week leading up to the WAR, I avoid oily foods and eat pasta, salads with beetroot, lots of fruit and take chicken or turkey slices as my meat. I eat bananas like a monkey and take Magnesium tablets to reduce the likelihood of cramp.
I stay away from tea or coffee the week of the race, even though it’s hard to resist. I want my body starved of caffeine before a race, so when I do get some the morning of the race, I’m coiled like a spring.
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With the war on Saturday, you should be sipping electrolyte drinks from Thursday on. You can buy the little yukky dioralyte sachets in a pharmacy or more palatable ones in your sports or cycling store.
The morning of the race, I eat a small bowl of porridge with a shake of granola (yummy). I eat well in advance of my start time; if the wave goes off at 8.30am, I eat at 5.30am. It’s not so much what’s in your stomach the morning of the race which helps, it’s what you ate in the days leading up; they call it Carb Loading, which is posh for downing a truck load of pasta!
But one thing is for certain, if you arrive on the start time with a belly full of grub, you will suffer which cramps and stitches.
Drink plenty of water and isotonic drinks two to three hours before the start (you can have some electrolyte solution also) but stop at least one hour before the race. You don’t want be peeing like a racehorse 5km down the road with 500 people staring at you! It may sound a bit crude but if your pee is clear prior to the race it means you’re perfectly balanced in terms of electrolytes and much less likely to suffer for cramps.
During the race, eat regularly. There are a world of gels and power bars out there and different things help different individuals. I bring two or three gels and a few Jaffa Cakes. Yes I did say Jaffa Cakes, for me they are to adventure racing what solpadiene is to a hangover; priceless!

My Tool Box!

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This is a bit of a nothing, but it’s very handy if you’re a bit forgetful like me. I bought a little toolbox for €8 and use it for all my essentials. In there I have a tube of all my gels and bars, bottles of liquids, glasses, gloves, tape for holding me together, Vaseline (for the other tool box) to prevent the dreaded chaffe and deep heat if any of the muscles are slow to warm up.

And Finally

clip_image002And finally, remember to pace yourself. 57 kilometres is a long way to go! Unless you are in the elite few (of which I am not) your aim should be to just do as good a race as you can possibly do. As Baz Lurmann says “The race is long and in the end it’s only with yourself”.
Hope to see you all in Glendalough this Saturday. This is it boys (and girls), this is WAR, what are we waiting for? http://www.wicklowadventurerace.com/glendalough/


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GolfCentralDaily | Golf Parody Fun Gossip Jokes Betting Tips: Glendalough WAR 2013 Preview: Everything You Need To Know For The Adventure Race Battle
Glendalough WAR 2013 Preview: Everything You Need To Know For The Adventure Race Battle
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