The longer an adventure race the more a couple of extra years becomes an advantage; meaning, if you are taking on a twelve hour or longer race a few gray hairs may be your secret weapon. At a certain point in adventure racing the muscle known as the brain becomes more important than any rippling muscles that may be found on the chest and legs of the young buck. Take for the example the multi-day expedition races, the average age of the top performers are between 35-45 years old.
There are several theories as to why the younger and typically stronger athletes don’t carry an advantage in these extreme physical events. Primarily it’s a little thing that comes with age; wisdom though experience.
Many younger adventure racers [http://www.wwadventurerace.com] fall into traps such as getting caught up in the excitement of the start of the race. The younger racer will often sprint to the front of the pack, wasting valuable energy, blowing his pacing and burning himself out prematurely. Experience will tell you when you need to rest, walk a little while or make some equipment changes. Two blisters later is not the time to decide that you should have changed socks at the last check-point.
The experienced individual moves along at a measured pace, doesn’t panic and makes sure that he or she is progressing at all times towards the ultimate goal of finishing. They will take the time to double check that they have properly plotted coordinates or are reading the map correctly before moving along. Many younger racers or teams fail to exercise the requisite patience for adventure racing and instead rush into self-destruction.
An adventure race will push the limits of an individual’s physical, mental and even emotional boundaries. Perhaps, these are boundaries that someone in their twenties hasn’t had challenged. When you’ve had to deal with the stresses of a job, raising kids, maintaining a home, or even a significant other, the extremes of an adventure race don’t seem that bad. Time is what the thirty, forty or fifty year old has on their side, and time has given them the maturity to handle what’s thrown at them and push on through.
A mature individual has experienced the highs and lows of life and knows that pain, exhaustion and this darn race will eventually end just like everything else. Don’t be shocked at the end of the day when that guy you thought was a cheering parent in outdated spandex finishes three hours ahead of you.