You’ll find that the more you sign-up and compete in races, there is one overarching detail that stands alone – no two races are the same. A hill that you thought was going to be a problem was in fact a breeze, open water swimming is much different that laps in a pool, etc. This then highlights a new characteristic of your training which is; “adaptability is key”.
The best way to learn to adapt and prepare is repetition. Because of this, I will most times sign up for a race if the entry fee is low and the course looks fun!
This year’s Jackson Hole Ultimate Towner was just that – a fun cheap race. We weren’t winning any medals or shooting for personal bests, we were just having a good time.
I encourage this idea of doing many races a year for a multiplicity of reasons. Aside from them just being ‘fun’ there are heaps of peripheral benefits you can reap from such races.
One such benefit is race-day jitters. Anyone that has competed can tell you that standing at the starting line, waiting for the gun and hearing someone over a loud speaker start to count down from ten will inevitably get your heart pumping. As a mob of people break into a sprint and the beginning race orders are established, the chaos can at times be overwhelming. This is why (even in a joke race) you are practicing for the real thing. When race day does finally come for that event you’ve been training all summer for, this pandemonium and disarray will not throw you off your game.
Another advantage of spontaneous races is that it keeps you on track for your training. It is a great indicator of where you are physically and mentally, outlining how you’ll compete when the time comes. Sure, anyone can do their normal 5K loop around the park in front of their house and shave seconds with ease. It’s a whole new ballgame when you’re running with crowds on unfamiliar terrain in an unfamiliar location. If you’re training for a Tri, why not sign up for a 10K or a bike race 2-3 months in advance?
Lastly, it’s very fun. All the accolades of finishing a race are still there at the finish line, regardless of whether it was an Iron Man or a Turkey Trot. There will inevitably be volunteers, coordinators and fans waving and screaming. The energy and the smiles post-race are different than any I’ve experienced anywhere.
This year our friends at Peace Surplus supported our efforts to start our year right at Jackson Hole’s Ultimate Towner. It is an obstacle race that requires team support for most features.
Team Peace was comprised of mostly Flagstaff former residents. We finished in the top tier of our division.
Team Peace Surplus(L to R): Hannah Lewis, Alex Spannuth, Ayla Allen, Rob Sourek, Sara Chapin, James “Naughty” Naughton and Ally Barnett