Just did X-Physique 2013 organized by NTU Sports Club over the weekend with two Nanyang poly students, Gavin and TS. We are definitely not the fittest team out there, but I am proud to say our precision in tackling all the clue card puzzles with the best possible navigation route ensure our position in 3rd Mixed Open. Definitely impressed with these boys for their perseverance and passion in this sports, adventure racing.
But X-Phsique, an adventure race? I have my reservation saying I just did an adventure race. However, the whole group of people participating in X-Physique thought they did an adventure race. Not only X-Physique, all the school-organized races have obscured the meaning of adventure racing. I believe they used to be adventure races but the format has changed through the years. Therefore, I believe the way they promote the race has to conform to the recent trends.
For instance, X-Physique sounds really good as an Urban Orienteering Challenge. We were giving clue cards for the next CP location and we get to choose whichever route to get there. Orienteering is precisely in this manner! All teams make their navigation route choices and that is where it challenges the navigation skills of participants which I do think X-Physique has incorporated it really well!
I am very appreciative for the efforts these students (be it NTU or all the Polytechnics organizing AR) has put in to keep the AR scene going. They can continue with the current trend of puzzles and trolling checkpoints but they have to rename or promote the races as ‘amazing race’ or ‘orienteering challenge’ because they are simply not adventure races. These races they been organizing is really beneficial for team works and introducing younger generation into adventure racing so I say ‘keep doing it guys!’.
I am that particular about the naming of adventure racing because too often we have inadequately prepared ourselves in AR overseas. The standard at home and overseas should not be having too wide a gap (SAFRA 2012 is the closest we have in recent years, Ace Adventure Challenge is good but should incorporate more disciplines like kayak and navigation if resources allowed). What happens here is that we often have very strong athletes in local scenes attempting races overseas but things happen – it could be injury or mistakes but I say it is just the lack in skills and preparations. Keep having repetitive results of DNF should not be the benchmark. It sent one message to the younger generation – just get out there and enjoy yourselves we Singaporean will never finish such races (and if you finish you are probably darn good which I argue is not the case) because we don’t have the terrain, we Asian-built are just not as fit as the whites who are dominating these races and blah blah blah blah…. This is all not true, we are capable of so much more but just yet to utilize our full potential with proper skills training.
If younger people enjoys these ‘orienteering challenges’ in Singapore and eventually wants to do a race overseas. Can you imagine they enter the overseas races thinking that kayak is a checkpoint and not a discipline (is to traverse a certain distance in the particular discipline such as kayaking/biking/trekking)? I am quite sure they will suffer a hell lot. And no adventure racing is not about suffering and all uncertainty. In fact, I love the uncertainty in AR because I never know where I am going to explore in this part of the world. But not the kind of uncertainty that I have a crappy map and not sure how to get myself to the next checkpoint. We have to acknowledge that AR is a multi-disciplines sports in off-beaten tracks. Therefore, we do not just run, we train to ride, kayak and navigate to be equally proficient.
My point is also that why spend so much money (AR is not cheap) and do a race not up to your maximum potential? Being outstanding athletes locally but performing an overseas race not up to your standard gives the wrong impression to the amateur racers. These amateur racers could be deter by such results or if they do decide to attempt, they could use the DNF results as a justification for their poor performance too. If you really think AR is about just enjoying with your team, then please go for leisure expedition trips instead. AR is that exciting because it is an expedition under stress. With the competition in place, it allows everybody to push harder to what they never thought they could be. Most importantly, you navigate throughout the terrain which is an adventure itself.