Going Full GeoQuest? Gear Tips For Stepping Up
So this year you've decided to step up from the Geo Half to the GeoQuest Full Course? Kudos to you, but like any great adventure, you better be prepared. Team Mountain Designs Wild Women linchpin Kim Beckinsale is one experienced racer and shares these tips for making sure you're ready to go the distance.
Never skimp on your gear! Make sure you have the best quality gear and know it works in all weather conditions. If you end up wearing your mandatory gear, make sure you replace it at the next TA. This applies especially for your base layer thermals. From my experience, Mountain Designs Merino thermals and GORE-TEX® jackets are products you can rely on. Have a separate whistle on your PFD and carry a tiny spare mandatory bag. Why? If you need to dump your pack for an 'out and back' or leave your pack behind when paddling….you always need to have your whistle. And a spare first aid kit isn't a bad option either.
Make sure you have at least three pairs of shoes and that you have worn these in. Shoes should be light, supportive but also have good grip in wet/muddy conditions. I wear a few brands of shoes that suit different conditions. Salomon are renowned for their trail running footwear so check out their range. The key is you wear what works best for you and provides grip and stability to suit the conditions of each leg and yes, the lighter the better, so if you need to transport them in your pack, which is usually the case in the GeoQuest Full Course, they don't weight you down. Also, pack plenty of socks as sometimes dry socks are just as good as a dry pair of shoes. We love the Mountain Designs COOLMAX® socks as they are just the perfect thickness, and they dry out quickly when out there in wet conditions.
Make sure you have a good quality compass that you can set a bearing and always pack a spare. In the GeoQuest full course event, there is often a challenging trek leg in the middle of the night when you are already tired and fatigued. You need to be able to trust your compass and your bearings at this point in the race. I use a Mosco thumb compass myself but Mountain Designs sells the Sunto compass brand, which will glow in the dark and you can set a bearing. Great for the paddle legs as well as you can attach it to your map case of PFD and makes navigation at night much easier! Just a reminder to never pack your spare compass near your mobile.
Good quality lights are essential. The better the lights the faster you can move in the dark and the greater your chance of spotting check points. We use Ay Up lights as our preferred lighting system, as they are lightweight, waterproof and reliable. We also suggest the team carries a super-lightweight spare in your mandatory gear bag. You just never know what is going to happen out on course and a small light is also great for night paddles and to use in the TA's. The BioLite headlamps, available from Mountain Designs, are also a great choice.
Waterproof Dry Bags
Make sure that your mandatory gear is sealed up in a good quality waterproof dry bag, as you never know when you are going to need it. Also have a large dry bag that can fit your race pack inside for the kayak legs, as there is nothing worse than having to run or ride with a soaking wet heavy pack on a cool night….and the nights are always cold in GeoQuest. Mountain Designs sells dry bags, which are perfect for your mandatory gear.
Take plenty of savoury food and do not rely on gels and sports drinks. Why not have a Jetboil handy, as it only takes one minute to boil. You don't have to carry this - just leave it in your bike box if you do not have a support crew. The Jetboil will have your hot water boiled in just one minute, which you can then add to your favourite dehydrated meal, then let it sit while you are packing up your bike. Your support crew can use it too, to make you a hot coffee or hot chocolate out on the course, perfect after a night paddle.
So in addition to all of the specific skills training you have been doing in each of the adventure racing disciplines - navigation, trekking, mountain biking and kayaking - hopefully these tips from Kim and the Mountain Designs Wild Women, will help you and your team enjoy the experience of taking on the Mountain Designs GeoQuest Full Course.
All images supplied by GeoQuest