We receive a lot of nervous questions leading up to a race from first-timers. There is really nothing to fear. Each race has many first-time participants and once the pre-race jitters go away, the fun of racing quickly takes over. However, for those of you signed up for the first time and are wondering what to expect, here is the rundown of a typical day at the races.
Arrive at the Main Transition Area (TA):
The Event Page has the Location and Map link which is the start of your navigational adventure. That information gets you to the Main Transition Area (TA) and Pangea signs will be present to direct you the rest of the way. A volunteer will let you know where to park, stage your gear, bikes, fuel and other transition amenities.
Arrive on time:
The Event Page also has the Schedule posted. That information tells you the times for Check-In, Pre-race Meeting, Start, Finish and Post-race community recap. Check-in is generally two hours before the race start.
The entire team needs to be present in order to check-in:
It is smart to check-in as early as possible because that is when you receive the maps and instructions for the course. Maps are pre-plotted with the control points (CPs) and the Instructions guide you through the race as well as give you descriptions for where each CP is located. Once you have those, you can plot-out your route and strategy to get a feel for your upcoming adventure.
Get basic tips during AR 101 meeting (Sport race only):
Approximately 20 minutes before the pre-race meeting there is the AR 101 meeting. This is quick overview of how to use a compass, interpret the map, and how new teams might approach competing in their first AR. Questions are asked and answered. Time and location for the meeting will be announced over the loud speaker shortly beforehand.
Attend the Pre-Race Meeting:
The pre-race meeting is usually one hour before the race start. This should be attended by everyone. Here you will receive specific course information, race instructions, advice, water locations, and other important knowledge. Questions are asked and answered. Time and location for the meeting will be announced over the loud speakers shortly beforehand.
Take your team picture:
Team pictures are mandatory and usually happen right after the pre-race meeting. Team pictures serve many purposes including giving a face to the teams on the leaderboard. Please do not try to avoid this or put it off to the last moment. Be creative as this is the first photo documentation of your experience. You will not be given your first punch card until you have completed this task.
What is a punch-card?
The punch-card is your score card. When you visit a control point (CP) there is a punching mechanism with a unique pattern. Perforating your punch-card with that pattern proves you have visited that point.
Do I need special cases for Maps and Punch-card?
Maps, instructions, and punch-cards are very durable and water resistant. Some people still use map cases in order to organize these items but just know that all the material we give you is built to last the race.
Start the race:
The Elite race usually has a mass start with all teams following the same sequence initially. In the Sport race, teams are usually split-up amongst the three disciplines and start in several waves five-minutes apart. At check-in, Sport teams draw a marble which determines whether they start on Foot, Boat, or Bike. From there the next discipline will usually follow in that order (also the order on our logo). On occasion there may be interval starts or other means to help spread the teams out on the course.
Length of the race:
Races are designed with hours in mind. Total distance traveled varies from event to event but the most important thing to remember is the finishing time. In some races the winning teams will be done with plenty of time to spare and sometimes they will be racing until the very last second. A very general guideline for distance in a three-hour race is: Foot: 4k - 6k, Boat 4k - 6k, Bike 6k - 12k. Remember your distance traveled can vary greatly based on route choices, how accurate you are, and the terrain conditions. For longer events, multiply the three-hour distance guideline to the appropriate length and it will provide a good estimate.
Expect to spend a similar amount of time on each discipline:
Like we said the race is designed with time in mind. It is important to view it that way. Winning teams will usually visit all of the controls points (CPs) in time (clear the course) but only a limited number of teams will be able to do that. For the remainder of teams, pay attention to the clock and try to make decisions that will allow you to visit at least one CP in all disciplines. That means targeting one CP or more in each discipline to drop or skip if time is running short. Moving on when if you've spent too much time looking for one CP is important. Make sure you move forward to the next discipline after a certain amount of time.
When you transition between disciplines you will first switch out your punch-card for another one or have a time recorded on the one you have by a volunteer. Race instructions always spell out where you check-in & hand in your punch-card to our volunteers in order to move on to the next segment. For Elite teams this could be anywhere out on the course where we have setup a Remote TA. While that is also true for Sport teams, generally your races are setup so that you come back to the Main TA between each segment. Every team member must be present at the check-in table in order to hand in a punch-card.
How is the race scored?
Control points (CPs) are all worth one point unless you are told otherwise. In a three-hour Sport race you can usually expect four to six CPs on each discipline. Your challenge is to visit as many CPs in the allotted time. The leaderboard ranks teams in order of how many CPs they visited (minus penalties) and then by time. Once you go past the time limit then penalties start so it is not advantageous for you to be late. For more information on penalties please visit the Event Rules
Finishing the race:
When you hand in your final-punch card it is important to tell the volunteer that you are finished. This is true whether you have cleared of the course (visited all the control points) or you went out on one discipline and came back dead tired and decided to call it a day. We need to know when every team finishes for the leaderboard and also to ensure that everyone is accounted for.
When are the results posted?
We pride ourselves on getting results done as soon as possible. Volunteers are hard at work inputting your results live on the website during the race as we receive your punch-cards. Depending on the volume of teams and chaotic nature of a particular race we may be a little behind. For the most part though you can check out the leaderboard on your smartphone shortly after finishing to see where you finished. If you see an error with your results, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
with your inquiry as soon as possible. We want to get it right and will review your punch-cards and correct any mistake we have made. Results usually go official Monday at 17:00. We are unable to make changes to official results so let us know of a possible error before then.
Once you have handed in your final punch-card you are done! Congratulations! Hopefully you have the feeling of accomplishment even if you are already thinking about what you can do different next time. The AR community at our races are friendly and enjoy talking about the race and comparing journeys. There is usually food setup around the listed ending time and the awards ceremony takes place about a half hour after that. So stick around and enjoy the festivities, camaraderie, and share your adventure with others.
Sign up for your next race:
Hopefully after your first race you can't wait to do another one. If that's the case, remember that we always give you a 10% off promo code that expires the Tuesday following the event. This discount can be used for any future race and as many times as you want. So don't hesitate and save money on your future adventures.
Now I'm back in the real world:
Once the race is over we still want you to be interactive with us. Later that night and in the following few days we tailor the copy on the race page to try to put into words some of the things you experienced. Also team and race pictures get posted. Tag, Like, and Comment about the pictures on Facebook
so your family and friends can see what you did. Leave us a comment on Facebook, email us, show us your pictures, tell us your story, or use any avenue you know how to keep the fun going. Some teams start blogs and post Race Reports on the days following events. Check back to the Race Page and we link to all the ones we know about.
So that is the gist of it. Hopefully this article gives you a glimpse as to what goes on in our unique community. The key is to not be afraid of us. Doesn't matter how old you are, how fit you are, how experienced you are, or how competitive you are; we will give you the opportunity to have a good time. At the end of the day you are racing against yourself. You can throw everyone else out the window and just create your own goals. And at the finish line you will be surrounded by like-minded adventurers sharing in the same sense of fun.
We'll see you out there!
-Pangea Adventure Racing