First race ever — Q&A with a brand new racer

Most of the readers of this blog have probably done several adventure races and are familiar with the sport. It’s hard to remember how overwhelming it was in the beginning–you had never set a bearing on a compass and a seeing a tow system on a bike was similar to spotting an alien. So instead of focusing on our team and other elite teams, we decided to do a post for all of you who have never done an Adventure Race before.

Whitney Hedberg, from Team NYARA teamed up with Annie Hooper, for Annie’s first adventure race ever. The duo decided on AXS Moab 12h adventure race. We sat down with them after the race, to hear what Annie thought about her first race and what recommendations she has for other people who are in the same boat (or kayak) and looking to do their first race.

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NYARA: First some back ground, Annie – who are you and why did you want to do this race?

Annie: I’m a 32 year old anthropologist, psychologist and mom.
Whitney and I have been friends since we were 9 and I learned of AR through her. After being pregnant and having a baby I really wanted to do something for me. AR racing just sounded fun!

NYARA: So the race is now over. How did it go and what are your initial thoughts?

Annie: It was incredible. It was so hard but so fun. I feel so satisfied.

NYARA: What was harder than expected?

Annie: It was hard to think about the training that goes into it. It was also nerve wracking to sign up and really commit. Once we started the training I really enjoyed it. Even if the race would have been miserable, I would still be really glad I signed up because it gave me a goal that required months of fun and challenging preparation.

NYARA: What was easier than expected?

Annie: I had never mountain biked before starting to train for this race, but the biking was not as hard as I expected. It was actually a lot of fun!
Also, when you hear 12h it is really intimidating, but once we were on the course, the hours just flew by.

NYARA: How does this compare to other races in other sports you have done?

Annie: This is one million times more fun than other races I’ve done (running or running/biking). The variety of disciplines that you get to do makes time go by so fast.

NYARA: This race was extremely bike heavy, with over 65 percent of the course on bikes. I happen to know that you got on a mountain bike for the first time in your life just a little over a month ago. How did you deal with this, and how did you feel about the mtb sections of this race?

Annie: I really focused on starting slow and mentally preparing that it was going to be hard no matter what. Passing guys on the first big uphill also helped a lot. 🙂

NYARA: You had help from Whitney in preparing for the race. What advice did you get from Whitney that was especially helpful?

Annie: Not to lose momentum in TAs. It is so easy to stop and linger and then lose time. Eat early and often was also very important.

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NYARA: Twelve hours can sound very intimidating for someone, like you, who hasn’t raced longer than a half marathon before. How was it and how did you deal with the distance?

Annie: Before the race, I tried not to think about it too much. Doing 5-6h long cross training sections really helped me.
During the race, time was the furthest thing from my mind. There are just so many other things to think about. Navigating, finding checkpoints (CPs), strategizing transitions, and enjoying spending time outdoors with a great friend all made time go by so fast.

NYARA: Whitney – Annie had never raced before, but you still managed to finish 3rd. What was the key to that, and what qualities did Annie have, that made her a great race partner?

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Whitney: One of the keys to success was to stay positive and attack the course one part at the time. Annie was a gymnast in her youth and I think that training really helped her take on the challenge and keep the right mental state.

NYARA: Last – do you have any recommendations for other people who are looking to get into adventure racing?

Annie: Go for it – just sign up for a race because ultimately, it is much more fun than it is hard.
Also, if you think you want to do an adventure race – you do.

So there you have it. If you are a beginner looking into AR racing, NYARA had some great races for you. Check out the Krell adventure run on Staten Island or the Jersey Inferno at Mt Creek for two fantastic races this summer!

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