Team challenges why or why not are they part of Rattlesnake Racing events. Adventure racing is more than an endurance sport. It is not typically designed for the elite go go go athlete. AR is also a mental game as much as a physical game, at least in my opinion.
In longer AR races the mental game is part of the race due to length and much of the time sleep deprivation. AR is akin to experiential learning activities but on steroids. However, the shorter races can lack the mental aspect and the choices and consequences associated with bad decisions or problem solving in longer races. For this reason team challenges or problems can be introduced or inserted in shorter races to create this experience. The fastest fittest team does not always win races. AR in many aspects compresses the mental highs and lows of a month long expedition backpacking trip in the rugged mountains into one to three days or weekend.
Typically in our races 24 hours or longer we did not insert these challenges. We did in the less than 24 hour events and over the years we had some doozies even a few designed and created by our five year old (at the time) son, River. Our racers learned to accept frustration was probably coming straight at you every transition.
Our first race in 1999 our ranch hand was elderly but wanted to participate in some way and be part of the excitement. He was in charge of the calf scramble in the back lots. What is a calf scramble you might ask? It is part of most rodeos for children under age 12. Ribbons are tied to the base of the tail of young roping calves and the calves are turned loose in the arena. The kids are then set loose to catch the calves and remove the ribbon from the tail of the calves. Each ribbon is usually worth $10. In this instance Poncho used slightly larger calves, ahem. Racers biked to his checkpoint at the back lots, had to get off bikes and catch a calf and remove a ribbon and give it to him. All the while Poncho had a whip making sure catching said calves was not an easy task. He had a hoot! I’m pretty certain this was some racers first and only up close and personal experience with cows. We also had a short zip line for fun so racers could cross the creek without getting wet.
In the years to come we had build a raft to transport bikes across the lake. It was going swimmingly until a violent spring storm erupted and tornadoes and high wind set off our emergency rescue boat crews. Glad we had a game warden and sheriff who thought what we were doing was unique and fun and wanted to help. One year we set up ropes for racers to cross by walking across on the rope. Most got wet on that challenge. A few made it across.
My absolute favorites were in fact designed by River age 5. Pics below to help with challenge description. Imagine coming in from a fast and furious bike ride but before you can transition to the trek and land nav you have to complete the marble torch relay. Each team member is given a 3/4 inch 2 foot section of pvc pipe with a sharpie marking on the bottom where you hold said torch you then have to hold the pipe at that point place a marble on the top of the torch and pass it to your team mate without touching the marble with anything but the pvc “torches”. First you have to slow your heart rate and breathing down long enough to read and comprehend the instructions and then you have to solve the problem of how to do it. Yes, this evilness was come up with by a five year old. It took him 30 minutes to explain it to us so we understood what he was talking about and how to do it. All at the hardware store with store employees staring at us dumbfounded as to what any of us were talking about. River also came up with the pipe and marble roll relay. This one was easier to solve how to do the relay but difficult to complete. This one involved putting a marble in your section of 1.5 inch pvc pipe and balancing it in your pipe and then rolling it in to your team mates pipe. PVC pipe was a popular go to for creating head scratchers. There was also the bag of 98 pieces of pipe and connectors and you had to build a closed pipeline so you put water in the pipe capped it water didn’t pour out the end. Handing a ziplock baggie with a 100 piece puzzle enclosed and telling racers to leave the TA table but bring the puzzle back to us completed for your next set of race instructions always got a Luke warm welcome and even caused a few team melt downs. You get the picture. I have many more examples of challenges we inserted in races but I better save a few for May 14-16, 2021 at the Rock, Roll and Rattlesnake challenge