How to prepare for an 18 hour adventure race in 30 easy steps


I am so excited to be taking on this new challenge thanks to an invitation from Team No Sleep! It’s been a while since I’ve competed in a team event and it’s been more than 10 years since my last adventure race.  As I spend the week leading up to this 18 hour endeavor of running, biking, paddling, hiking, and searching for cp’s (that’s check points (-; ) I have not only struggled to rest by not putting down 100 miles a week on my bike like I’m used to, but I’ve also caught myself giggling as I think, “is this how I prepare for 18 hours of physical and mental exertion?”. Sure I’ve raced my bike for 12 hours straight and have been on canoe and backpacking trips where I had to be self sufficient for days at a time. But somehow I knew I was mentally romanticizing my acclamation for suffering. How do you anticipate and prepare for how you feel at hour 15? Well here is what my brain came up with, legit.

Team No Sleep

Team No Sleep

1. Weeks, maybe months in advance start putting in the mileage. Running is a huge mental challenge for me so I knew this would have to be my focus.
2. Make sure you have all the required gear. Even though you do have all the required gear, consider going shopping just to see what else is out there.
3. Find the perfect backpack: must have hydration bladder, be lightweight, be compressible, have pockets that are accessible without removing the pack, maybe have some organizational pockets, not be too large, be large enough to fit your shoes if necessary, and most of all it must fit snuggly while running. This proved to be a major challenge for me, apparently my ….armpits? are small. Also it must be an approved color (no f-ing way I’m wearing pink, yellow, white, red, or pastel. Just sayin)
3.1. Continue the search for the perfect backpack. I literally when to the 4 local outdoor stores 3 times each.  Bought and tried out two packs before having to return them, searched online nightly “hmmm-ing” and “haw-ing” over price, size, style, color… When I finally convinced myself to order the “perfect backpack” the website helpfully suggested blah, blah, blah pack that is only X dollars which coincidentally is $30 cheaper than what it was listed on the site when I considered it!! UGH! Frantically get in touch with customer service (at 11: 38 pm) to cancel order and now order NEW “perfect backpack”. Damn, it’s trimmed in a dark pink. The struggle is real folks.
4. Fill “perfect backpack” with water and anticipated gear and go for a run with it.
5. Decide favorite pair of trail shoes to use.
6. Decide favorite headlamp to use.
7. Take bike in for tune up since it’s been almost a week since you last hung out at the bike shop for over an hour.
8. Think about all the catastrophic events that could happen to your bike, rendering it utterly useless and instead of excelling in that leg of the race you now have to RUN MORE!
9. Wonder if you will have to swim at any point during the race and reminisce about the last time you had to swim fully clothed with shoes on and a full pack and how it took almost an hour to get across the ‘stream’.
10. Immediately consider swimming laps at the YMCA fully clothed with shoes on and donning a full pack.
11. Think about the most conducive hair style for adventure racing. Much to my surprise pig tails are the leading contender. Also consider what ‘head piece’ to wear. Packing a hat AND buff isn’t too much right?
12. Daydream about all the endurance food you get to buy!
13. Much like preparing for your big wedding day, plan ‘practice hair’ and ‘practice outfit’ training sessions.
14. Continue training on steep terrain. Surely all the walkers you pass realize by now that you are a ‘serious athlete’ and must be pretty amazing considering your reflective sunglasses, fully loaded “perfect backpack” (too bad it has a little pink on it they’ll whisper), and compression sleeves.


1st gear run check

A week before the event
15. Cut back on training hours and intensity. Plan to do myofacial release, yoga, and visualization exercises with all the extra time you have each day.
16. Reject previously selected race day outfit. Consider buying new shoes, pants, and “high quality bra”. Make no purchases in this regard despite 8 hours of dedicated shopping.
17. Get 90 minute massage.
18. Consider performing home enima to really clean out the digestive system so you have no problems come race day. Also because you’ll be lighter.
19. Think about shaving head for the event because it’s so much more practical and who cares about life or keeping your job after the race.
20. Feel depressed for a full day because you know it is impractical to bring your phone on the race and you’re legit mourning not being able to track your heart rate, distance, take sweaty selfies and wildlife pics, or post your progress on facebook. The struggle is real folks.
21. Make an all- inclusive packing list for before, during, and after the race.
22. Realize there is way too much stuff to bring and consider bringing ‘virtually nothing’ to demonstrate how old-school cool you are.
23. Purchase ultra-endurance-athlete-cookbook and plan to make ALL of your own fuel for the race. That commercial stuff is “sooo bad for you anyway”.
24. Change mind about which is the best headlamp, chem light, and multi-tool and repack….two times.


“perfect backpack” and food load

Three days til event
25. Stretch, foam-roll, and meditate each day FOR REAL THIS TIME!
26. Make homemade, raw, vegan endurance food. Eat half of it for dinner.
27. Consider disassembling bike to give it a real thorough ‘once over’ because you have the time really.
28. Begin the process of packing. Choose 3 different podium outfits to have available for when your team kills it! (They do podiums in AR right?)
29. Go to bed early and peacefully knowing that you are as prepared as you’ll ever be.
30. Wake up frantically throughout the night because you realize there are a hundred things you should have done to better prepare you for the big race!

My trusty steed

My trusty steed

I’ll be sure to let you know how these steps helped me come race day!



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