So you want to take on LOST and see if you have what it takes to become an adventure racer?
Its time to step out of your comfort zone and grow to your full potential as a wild human bean.
This is not a normal race! There are is zero course marking, you will need to find your own way. There will be no aid stations, you will need to carry everything you need. The obstacles you face will not be made of wood and metal. Rock and mountain, wind and rain, fatigue and the dark will be the hurdles you need to overcome. Self-discipline and motivation are not listed below but you will need to bring plenty of both.
All items on this list are mandatory but are open to the in interpretation of the individual. We strongly recommend that all kit list enquiries are submitted to ROOTS before the race weekend so to allow time to make amendments. With entry to LOST you will be added to a group chat with ROOTS Marshalls so you have a direct line for questioning, and all other Seeds can benefit from both questions and answers.
Ruck Sack Around 75 litters to carry all items listed below.
4 Litres of water A bladder is recommended.
Purification tabs Enough to clean 10 litres of water.
10,000 cal Food is a personal choice.
OS Land ranger 147 Normal is fine, adventure is better.
Map case Water proof
Note pad Water proof
Pen Click pencil and/or Sharpie
Compass Degrees and Scale markings
Broom handle Any size
Sleeping Bag Suitable for the environment
Bivy Bag Suitable for you and your sleeping bag
Tarp 2m x 3m minimum
Water proof box 2 blue cylums
2 cable ties
Fully charged mobile phone
20m of para cord
Knife with a lockable sheath
Axe with a lockable sheath
Flint Flint and Stricker
Personal first aid kit Foot care and hydration support
Pack of tissues These are for personal use
Anti-bacterial hand gel For cleaning hands
Poo bags Add cable ties if you wish
Head torch Water resistant
Spare batteries for your head torch.
This is a very basic kit list and all items need to be approved by ROOTS before the start of the race. This is to ensure that equipment selected by Seeds is safe and fit for poupous.
All item on the list will be used but will remain fictional and fit for future adventures. If your application is successful you will be added to a private group chat with ROOTS Marshalls and other Seeds for an open and transparent means of enquiry. THIS LIST IS FOR YOUR SAFETY, IT MUST BE CORRECT!
Patience – Logic – Strength
Where are you?
Second to fitness the skill most likely to keep you safe in the outdoors is the ability to navigate. The act of pinpointing your exact location at any given moment is a skill easy learnt but mastered over a life time.
As with any action, physical or mental, its vital to start with a solid foundation so not to accumulate any bad habits. By understanding the principles behind the teaching and practicing the same steps over and over you can perform the basics no matter how cold, wet or hungry you are. Navigating may be a new skill to you but the ROOTS method is guaranteed to make it stick. Do it fresh, do it tiered, do it in your sleep.
Many people believe they already have a basic understanding of how to navigate using a compass and a map but more often than not a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Without the underpinning information and a good understanding of why things work, many people will be blissfully unaware they are making mistakes and endangering not only themselves, but also the team dispatched to rescue them.
Getting to grips with the basics in a friendly stress free environment is what we provide at the DAY adventure. Our navigation workshop will last about two hours and is designed to lay a solid foundation that you will get to practice again and again as the adventure unfolds.
During the DAY you will start at the top and work your way through,
Map data and keys How to select the right map and understand why it’s important.
North The difference between the 3 Norths and how it affects you.
The grid system How a 2D map represents a 3D globe.
Scale The distance on the map in relation to the distance on the ground.
Orientation How to line up the map with your direction.
Map to ground Locating your position on the map.
100m pacing How to track your progress on the map
Parts of a compass What’s there and how is it helpful.
Bearings What way to travel.
These are the basics and we would expect Seeds looking to complete in LOST to have a good understanding of their meaning.
Everything we do at ROOTS is designed to get seeds to complete the NIGHT race, an unaided ultra-marathon adventure race like on other. One of the hardest races there is on the planet. To do this you will need far more than a good grasp of the basics.
To develop your ability to navigate further we increase the skills taught at our LOST adventure. We look to expand on the simple techniques delivered during the DAY and demonstrate how to use the information to maximise your output and plot the most efficient way to your destination.
LOST is a 24 hour adventure so naturally you will need to develop your ability to perform all the navigations skills you picked up during the DAY and repeat them in the dark. Getting lost is inevitable, its how you recover that’s important.
During LOST the navigation workshop covers,
Handrailing Following a feature towards a way point
Attack points Straight line travel towards a way point
Back bearings Pin pointing your location
Resections Identify and avoid
Altitude As a way marker
Fall lines Efficient waypoints
Contouring The preservation of energy
Route selection The path of least resistance
Lost procedures How to regain control
This is a huge amount of information to absorb. These skills will not simply stick in your mind without a great deal of practice. We provide a safe environment for you to grow and make mistakes without endangering yourself in the process. Making mistakes is an important part of learning, with ROOTS you can be thrown in at the deep end and rest ashore that we are never too far away to ask the right questions to get you back on the right track.
Patience – Logic – Strength “
We live in uncertain times. The thin veneer of reality is set to crack and rupture any day now. Are you ready?
The list of possible reasons for life as we know it to get unceremonially turned on its head is long and very real. Political actions around the globe heighten tensions between superpowers and what we hear in the news is only the tip of the iceberg. Climatic changes are real and have already begun to drastically alter the fragile environment we have set up home in. There are untold astronomical doomsday predictions that threaten our way of life every day. All it would take would be for a hitherto unknown strain of the common cold to infect one human to set off an unstoppable chain reaction that leads to a mass extinction of humans here on earth.
When just one of these events occurs the world around us will change very quickly and only those intelligent enough to be well prepared will survive to rebuild a new civilisation. These few people will be well aware of the clear and present dangers that surround us every day. They will be mind full of the impact they have on the environment. They will consume a healthy sustainable diet and recognize the importance of maintaining a better than average level of fitness. They will be looking to increase their knowledge of the world they live in and look to understand all that surrounds them in a bid to one day master it all. These will be the few that inherit the earth.
ROOTS Adventure Training may very well appear to be an endurance event with a quirky twist but there is more to us than meets the eye. Scratch the surface and you will find an underground network of highly functional individuals who don’t fear the impending doom of modern civilisation, they welcome it.
Strong mobile humans who are capable of withstanding all that this country’s wild expanses can through at them. We understand the importance of being ready to push the limits of our understanding and fight to become stronger and more successful. We gravitate to the front of a crowd and take pride in our ability to make decisions and lead others to follow in our footsteps. We are the leaders of the new wold.
We challenge those alongside us to continually demonstrate their abilities and never fail to hold them accountable for their actions. We support one another and push hard so that they may continue to grow and become an unstoppable force of nature.
We are all born wild, but only a few remember. These few are ROOTS.
Patience Logic Strength
Good question! We like questions. Well…
ROOTS are the support network that helps you grow and stand tall. We provide tuition and support for those looking to take on the great outdoors and race outside of the course tape around the wilds of the UK.
ROOTS is an opportunity to find the limits of your mental and physical abilities. Its a self navigated, unaided gauntlet of trials and tests that you either have the ability to compleat, or you do not.
We design a top secret adventure race course that will crush even the fittest of athletes. We will show your weakness, then its to you.
Each year we host three events,
DAY LOST NIGHT
These events increase in difficulty as the year progress and we look to develop Seeds from outdoor beginners to badass adventure racers ready to go into the wild and concur whatever it is they set their minds on.
The DAY is our entry level event and will last around 15 hours. During this time Seeds will receive basic training on fitness, navigation, running, climbing and general race preparation. Our unique style of delivery will force Seeds to undergo intensive tuition on these subjects and then immediately be required to demonstrate their understanding against the clock as they race to compleat the task in time. The DAY is a team-based event that will test your nerve, skill and endurance to its limits.
LOST is our intermediate event where we build on the skills Seeds have been introduced to during the DAY and look to develop them during a gruelling twenty-four-hour test of strength, focus and determination. In addition to building on existing skills LOST will introduce night navigation, self-medication, and survival techniques necessary to compete as an adventure racer.
Throughout both the DAY and LOST the ROOTS Marshalls will be on hand to support Seeds as they look to grow and increase their ability to cover ground and solve problems. This all changes as we finish the year with our NIGHT race. Now Seeds are alone.
This is the toughest ultra marathon in the UK and the only the very best of humans will come close to crossing the finish line.
ROOTS is for people who have taken responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. Are you watching what you eat and attending the gym regularly but aren’t entirely sure why? You need to get back to your ROOTS and start engaging with the great outdoors. There is no better test of a humans ability to endure and thrive than the great outdoors.
Start training your mind and learn the necessary skills to explore all the incredible terrain and wilderness the UK has to offer. We can help you develop the skill set needed to achieve the goals you have set for yourself or provide an adventure for you. If you are looking to set your self a challenge in the great outdoors and want to explore the wilderness ROOTS are the people who can help your adventure come to life.
The word adventure has never been far from popular culture and has long since conjured up tales of intrigue, danger and romance.
But what does it mean to you?
The Oxford Dictionary tells us that whether used as a verb or as a noun, it manages to signify a certain degree of risk and danger. An adventure is an exciting and unusual experience. A bold, usually risky undertaking, with an uncertain outcome.
It’s the whole unknown element that gets my juices flowing.
With the growing number of adventure races cropping up here in the UK, the trend seems to be that by adding the title ‘Adventure’ to a race increases its sex appeal. But where do we draw the line?
Not wanting to diminish my point by descending into semantics, but the logical part of my brain seems to need calcification.
So, what is an adventure race? And for that matter, what is an endurance event?
I think we can all agree that a race is a race. Everyone involved must complete a set task and the person that completes it the quickest is crowned the winner. Or best at that particular age, but let’s not get sidetracked by that conversation.
My point here is to gain some sort of distinction, a general way of categorising an event. Is it important? Probably not but, as I mentioned the OCD riddled half of my brain needs answers.
Let’s get to it. Does a multi-discipline race constitute an adventure race? Really? Are you sure? Is a triathlon an adventure race? No. Multiple modes of transport are certainly great ingredients for an adventure, but my confusion comes when the route has been pre-plotted, and even course marked for you to follow. This is not an adventure. It’s just another race. A kayak or a stand-up paddleboard is without a doubt an exciting way to travel, adventurous even, but when provided for you by an event to get from point A to point B it’s just the same as the track matting in the car park. That may seem harsh but allow me to liberate.
A few years back a couple of mates and myself took part in the Killarney Adventure race. I can confirm without a doubt that it was indeed an adventure. The race started with a fell-run, followed by a bike ride, another fell run, a kayak, another bike ride an finished with a run. The event was very well organised, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a fun way to see Killarney national park on the West coast of Ireland.
The adventure part of my experience started at home when I packed the car with a bike, tent and running shoes. The adventure ended when I arrived home and unpacked that same kit, and cleaned it ready for the next adventure. My point is that the adventure was the overall experience and not just the race. By this extension, all races are adventure races. You must pack a bag, travel to a destination, complete a task and travel home. An adventure! The ‘Adventure’ race was, in fact, the least adventurous part of my entire trip. Had I packed a bag, a bike and a tent, then travelled to the west coast of Island to explore under my own steam then the adventure would have been ten fold.
The closest I came to an adventurous race format is the mountain marathon style of event. Between the start and the finish of a mountain marathon, there are a series of checkpoints each worth a certain amount of points. The winner is the person who reaches the most checkpoints before crossing the finish line. The finish time of the event is pre-determined and lateness results in the deductions of points. Very exciting and adds an excellent dynamic to a race. My point is the removal of a pre-determined route or cores increased the sense of adventure. Admittedly there is only ever a few different options to take depending on speed and navigation ability, but still the more options there is, the more possible it is for the unknown to appear and kick you in the balls. After all the whole point of an adventure is to learn new things. I’ve always learnt a great deal when an adventure chucks up an unexpected challenge, and I’ve had to adapt to overcome it. All adventures finish with a moral to a story, right?
My struggle continues further if I try and categorise endurance events?
The dictionary tells us that it is the ability to endure an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way. My confusion is easier to manage in this instance as the word endurance is often used as an adjective to describe the very events I’m pondering. Easier to manage but no less annoying.
Is a Marathon an endurance event? Whatever your level of fitness, you’ll defiantly need to ‘endure an unpleasant or difficult process or situation without giving way’ to get that new PB.
The events I am concerned with here are not necessarily a question of self-motivation or drive. These events are designed to create an uncomfortable situation from the word “go”. The only way to make it to this finishing line is to simply endure whatever is put in front of you. In this state of enduring whatever has been put in front of you too complete, I strongly believe you will gain that same learning experience you would gain from any adventure. Unforeseen problems and challenges that need to be negotiated to succeed. It is part and parcel of these events that the course is kept a secret from the participants. They are pre-determined, and the event marked all without the information been reviled to those determined to endure. For me, this adds to the adventure.
Imagine back in the day when you had an exam looming on the horizon. You would revise and study those topics to be tested. Now imagine that same test was sprung on you as a complete surprise. What one would you learn more from? What one would you remember longer?
Like these long-forgotten exams of the distant past, all my adventures, races, challenges, expeditions and day trips are undertaken with the same goal in mind. To better myself. The only difference now is that I’m looking to improve my body as well as my mind in a way I believe works better.
Training is training, but an event is either a social or a test. I guess, like most things, it all depends on your point of view… either way, it is getting out there to find your adventure!
Looking at taking a trip out for the day then you probably need a bag. Let’s call it a day bag, for obvious reasons. But what should you look to take with you? This is short list of personal preferences I would look to pack on any trip.
Every adventure will come with its own unique set of issues to contend with. Hills, trees or trails all have a different verity of potential problems not to mention trying to take in to account the seasons. Trying to prepare for every eventuality will require you to strap a caravan to your back every time you want to set foot out of the house. Let’s take a look at some of the basics I would look to carry on a daily basis. Light weight versatile bits of kit that could get you out of the poop in any environment. Ill try not to go to in-depth with each item and just skim over the highlights, I have a tendency to chops on a bit when I get excited.
The most important item is your bag, it’s true to say that there are other items that are far more life preserving but unless you have bloody big pockets you are going to need a place to put them all. My bag is the first item ill select when packing for an adventure and there is a hole list of things to consider but let’s keep it simple.
Size dose matter, don’t believe what they say. Too big and you’ll end up carrying stuff for the sake of it, to small and you’ll find yourself having to empty and repack every time you want something out of it. For an everyday out and about bag 15 to 20l is more than enough. I’ve no real interest in reviewing bags or forcing my preferences on you here, a bag is a bag, and as long as it has two shoulder straps your off to a good start. Having a sternum strap is a massive advantage though. A Sturman strap is the short strap that links both shoulder straps together across the chest. Its non-load baring but dose serve to keep your shoulder straps in place when your bag is loaded. As for waist straps, they really are not necessary, unless you plan on running and then they can be a huge help. A waist strap not only helps keep your load secure and tight to your centre of gravity, a small tweak that will make a colossal difference over long distances, but it also helps distribute the load through your hips instead of it all just hanging off your back. Don’t get me started on bags, ill chew your ear off all day. A simple ruck sack will do, let’s get packing.
“Why do I have to carry a space blanket?” Yer, it’s a fair point, it does seem a little OTT but hang in there. We are looking at standard bits of kit that can be used for a variety of purposes and a space blanket not only fits the criteria but it’s also super lightweight, inexpensive and can provide the single most important commodity in a survival situation, insulation! Forget water and food, shelter is king if things go tits up. We are not packing for the apocalypse here but these things are crazy useful in the hands of a human with a good understanding of basic thermal dynamics and survival skills. All their insulating properties should be fairly obvious, stuffing it up your jumper, as a scarf or ground sheet but the survival applications are huge if you have the imagination to see them. Water catcher, fishing lour, signal sheet, sling, even a bag roll to replace your lost or bust up ruck sack, the list goes on. Let’s not be selfish here either, if you stumble across someone in a bad way this could be there ticket to a decent recovery too. Its probably an item you will carry for years and never use but trust me for all the weight in them your better off having one and not needing it rather than the alternative.
First aid kits come in a verity of sets but for the most part there are broken down in to Personal and Leader. A Leader kit will be much larger and contain equipment for administering first aid to others. A personal, the kind normally specified on race kit lists, is for general maintenance on yourself. Customize its contents to suit you. Personally I like to have some top end fabric tape, its like medical gaffa-tape and fixes anything from blisters too pumping wounds, it’s a bastard to get off but dose the job. I have tweezers, tick removers and a decent amount of antiseptic cream with a few sachets of burn cream for good measure. A triangle bandage, the Swiss army knife of any first aid kit, a few water purification tablets, spare batteries and a long roll bandage for sprains. Another nice little addition iv made is a couple of packs of hand warmers, again because with the right skill set they have a multitude of uses. As far as I’m concerned first aid should be on the national curriculum and taught to all school kids but sadly I’m not prime minister yet so we are left to secure our own training, Nice one parliament! There are two basic types of first aid training, emergency first aid, that teaches you to stabilise a situation and get help. The second is first aid at work, where you become the help. Either of these will give you a good understanding of the basics and most employers are more than happy to have staff trained so ask the boss for some support to get on a course, I promise you the most important kit you will ever carry is in you head so get learning.
Hydrate! No other single action will affect your level of out put than not taking on enough water. Its easy to forget even when its lashing it down with rain you need to drink. A camel back or bladder is great if you are going on a really long walk and opportunity’s to refill are scares. I find low level trips and woodland walks are trickiest to secure a decent supply of fresh water. There are just way more animals and farming going on. Up high in the hills you stand a better chance of finding a clear flow. Don’t real on finding any some, its always best to plan ahead. For an average day out a decent water bottle is more than enough. I like my glass water bottle, it just tastes better. I know what your thinking, SNOB. Yep. I’m partial to a nice Sig bottle too but for me glass is best, even better with a nice napoleon cover, oooo I’m getting thirsty thinking about it. Golden tip here is maintains. Clean your water carrying device, whatever you chose, clean it. Every time your home. Getting the shits can ruin your day at the best of times. Getting the shits outdoors will ruin everyone else’s day too. No one wants to see you squat down venting demons.
Calories are a tricky one to judge and are very personal. What I can advise it its better to go over the top. Ok so you may not burn off 5000 calories on your average day out but food is great for moral and after all we want to enjoy our time out as much as we can so scrap the diet, and pack the cheese. All of the cheese. Salted nuts are a good snack too, not only do they help with your hydration levels but they are calorie heavy as well. What ever you decide just make sure to bring all the rubbish away with you, and yes that means apple cores and banana peels. I will slap any one that pipes up with the “but its biodegradable” bullshit. How many banana trees have you seen growing in the UK? Well then for the love of my sanity put it in your bag. If it doesn’t grow there don’t plant it!
A whistle is another tiny little item that can genuinely save your life if things go south. It may not have a multitude of handy tips and tricks allocated to it but if you need to be recused then this little sucker is going to get the job done. There are a hoist of ways to signal you are in destress, 3 fires in a triangle, sounds cosy but bloody hard work. Launching of red flares, handy if you have them. The release of orange smoke, again not an ideal item of kit to lug about all the time. Raising and lowering slowly and repeatedly both arms outstretched to each side, again not really ideal if you are injured or stuck on the ground. No, when it comes to efficient signalling for help your whistle is king. 3 solid blasts followed by a 60 second pause, then another 3 solid blasts. Repeat this paten until you are recued or you pass out. Like the blanket before, its better to have it and not need it than to die.
Your head torch is an essential bit of kit and they have come on leaps and bounds in the last few years. A head torch that would have cost 60 or 70 quid just a couple of years ago can now be picked up brand new for less around 30. I have a battery pack one I use for running and events but my day one uses batteries I can replace easily. The two main things to look for when picking a head torch are battery life and lumens. How long its going to last and how bright is it when its dark. Lets cut to it here 7 hours is more than enough and Lithium batteries are always better than alkaline. Xenon and Krypton bulbs may give a better light but LED are far more reliable. Your just walking, not piloting a speeder bike the forest moon of Endor. As long as you can see where your putting your feet in the dark you are good to go. My day torch cost me less than 20 quid and iv had it for years.
Lets get tooled up! Wait that sounds irresponsible but you know what I mean. Picking a knife can be exciting and if your anything like me you’ll be distracted by shiny full tnag blades, with single bevel edges and hickory carved handles. All very nice but it is important to get the right one. A knife is an important item of kit because of its difficulty to replicate. Let me explain. Your triangle bandage in your first aid kit is super useful but if you have lost it you can achieve many of the same uses with a buff or a space blanket. Trying to cut something without a knife will have you looking for sharp rocks or trying to bite your way around the problem like a savage dog. Unless you have the time and inclination to mine copper and tin, build a forge and craft your own bronze blade, trying to replicate a good knife if tricky to say the very least. Items of kit that are neigh on impossible to replicate are quite literally worth there weight in gold.
Now the law states that to carry a blade for no spersific poupous then it must be non-locking and no longer than 3 inches. If your off for several days then something a bit larger will become more versatile but honestly a well made decent legal carry is all you need to open cheese and make lunch.
So your all packed and ready to go, but where are you off? I could go in to great depth here about the importance of navigation and how being lost is a sure fire way to ruin your day and the days of a rescue team sent to help you out. If this happens then I’m quite sure they will assist you no matter your situation but if they arrive and see you are ill prepared and have attempted something without any form of navigation they are going to be calling you every name under the sun behind your back. And rightly so. You should always know where you are heading, where you have come from and how you intend to fill the gaps in-between. GPS units are incredible bits of kit, but do you know what datum to set your unit to? Have you checked your batteries? Have you secured connection before heading out? Having a GPS dose not mean you are impervious to getting lost. I believe that navigation using a compass and a map is another subject that should be on the national curriculum, taught to everyone from a young age. MAT FOR PRIMINISTER RIGHT?! Its very basic maths with simple addition and subtraction with a light coating of areas and angles. Is a skill that can be grasped in the time it takes to watch a movie, YouTube is crammed full of videos on the subject. After you have grasped the basics get out there and practice on a local path you know well to help you tune in and get a feel for how to track your progress on a map. I don’t want to undersell the art of navigation, it really is a skill that comes in various levels of ability. I do want to encourage you to get involved and start to build you understanding of the process. Like shelter is king in any survival situation, navigation is lord almighty of any adventure so start filling your head kit as well as your bag.
Smart phones these days come with a variety of navigation apps and I my self use the OS app on a regular basis. I use it to plan and prepare routs and familiarise my self with the general lay of the land before heading out but the phone is on the list so you can call for help if something or someone has gone belly up. Lets not be lazy, every trip out is an opportunity for you to improve not only your general fitness but also your skill set and map reading should be the one skill you are practicing constantly. Its great that we have a phone as a plan B to confirm our location and dismiss and doubt about dissensions to prevent you getting in to bother in the first place. We are lucky to have that safety net but a phone is defiantly for calling and taking pictures. Always check your battery is full and remember all batteries will dissipate a lot faster when they are cold so look to keep your phone on your person for both heat and easy access should you take a tumble. Pop it in flight mode and enjoy the environment around you. Most smart phones still track GPS information when in flight mode so your location will still be assessable providing you have already downloaded the necessary maps. The accuracy will be poor and I stress, it is no substitute for a map and compass
And that my friends is all she wrote. Again this is just the bare naked basics for an average day out. There is scope to carry cordage, stoves, shelters, layers and all manner of other location and seasonal items of kit depending on your objectives, these are just the bits I wouldn’t leave the house without. Think ahead, collect information, make a plan and see it through.
Patience – Logic – Strength
Where do you turn if your thirst for adventure is no longer quenched by a straight forward obstacle course race. What options do you have when you finish a race and feel like you still aren’t satisfied. One avenue you may want to explore is to test yourself in a adventure race that’s not only designed to test your body but also to test your mind.
Roots Adventure is one such company that has designed events to take you outside of your comfort zone while also helping to expand your knowledge. Ranging from 12 through to 24 hours these events will help teach you multiple of survival and navigational skills you’ll need
to ‘survive’ their adventures.
To learn more about what ROOTS has to offer we caught up with the founder Matthew Talbot to find out what it is he feels makes ROOTS unique and how it all began.
It all started a few years back after a busy few years of chucking my self-round a variety of OCRs all around the country. Like thousands of other mud loving crazies, I had run, jumped and crawled my way around most courses available at the time, constantly looking for longer, harder challenges to test myself against. Then on the suggestion of my good friend Ben Kirkup, I stepped it up a gear and started to add endurance events to my already busy calendar. These quickly got out of hand too, becoming longer, heavier and harder as I was still looking for that event that would put me on my arse and make me look up wide eyed and confused with exhaustion. I wasn’t satisfied by simply enduring hardship for a given amount of time. I had proven to myself I could stay awake for days on the move and chip away at any task put in front of me while keeping my sanity and finding something to smile about. What I was looking for was an event that forced me to stay in the moment and focus intensely on the task in hand, not an event where I could switch off and drift away to a happy place and simply put one foot in front of the other until I was given some bling and a pat on the back. I was tired of events where the goal posts were moved simply to prolong the event; I wanted something more emotionally engaging, something that would reconnect me with the genuine hardships encountered by all those historic adventures I learnt about as a kid. Head down covering ground and solving problems to stay alive and make it home safe. Well it simply wasn’t available here in the UK so I invited a few OCR friends to come and take part in a race with a difference on a cold January morning back in 2016.
The idea was to put on an event that wouldn’t just beat people up for hours, that’s too easy. We wanted to add purpose and meaning to the hardship so people left better prepared to deal with life and look to start setting their own goals and challenges. Our events are hard work but we never move the goal posts; if it takes us 18 hours to finish then it takes us 18 hours, no short cuts, no quitting, it takes as long as it takes. That’s why we provide accommodation with our events.
The format is to break down the event into chapters and have a teaching point for each chapter. This would allow racers (seeds) to get to grips with a survival based skill and then use that skill to solve a problem and complete a task against the clock. Let’s say the chapter was titled ‘Suspended’, we never like to give too much away, surprises are fun to deal with. The challenge would be to hoist a large weight off the ground suspending it in the air. Seeds will receive a short demonstration on how to tie the appropriate knots or how to use an axe to make pegs and pins. They will then be given a time to complete the task in and the countdown will begin. Tick tock; the team will have to work together to formulate and execute a successful plan to avoid the ridiculous forfeit we have devised to help them remember their mistakes. It sounds harsh but we do it with a smile on our face so it’s not all bad. We most definitely are not a shouty get up in your grill type of event, we focus on the building of abilities not the destruction of them.
Over the years I’ve managed to rope in many of my friends, all of whom are outdoor professionals, to help deliver ever more elaborate scenarios to test seeds with. Last year for the first time we managed to add an abseil in to the DAY event; giving people the opportunity to learn how to make their own harness before giving it the ultimate test, off the top of a cliff. This chapter was about nine hours in to the event, they’re fatigued, we had been running hills and ridge lines, getting wet raiding caves and tunnels and carrying heavy stuff for hours all against the clock. Now we were asking them to focus on a new skill that would untimely determine their ability to stay alive. Genuine lifesaving skills learnt and proven against the clock. That’s the event I was looking for. To be pressed mentally as well as physically and be forced to engage with my surrounds for my own preservation. Danger is a great mental marker and really helps you focus on remembering something. We could see the fear forcing seeds to practice their harness over and over again in the cave before we climbed to the top.
We like to lay heavy on the mental ability of all our seeds. After all, you carry all your most important items of equipment in your head. Doing press ups is all very well and good but without the skills you simply won’t survive in the wild. All ROOTS events are self-navigated so runners are constantly being asked to verify their location and bearing as well as answer questions on other runners and lessons they have already been demonstrated. It’s my personal experience that mental fortitude is the foundation for any personal best performance. It’s all too easy to find an excuse not to do something, only when we are mentally fixed on success will we achieve it. For that reason we pick on people mentally as well as physically. I don’t mean we call you names, shout at you or tell you, you smell bad, we are not like that. I mean we provide a situation where forgetfulness and carelessness will only make life harder for you. Don’t panic, navigations skills are always chapter one. Learning to read an OS map and use a compass is ROOTS events 101. It’s the foundation of learning to adventure safely.
Sooner or later civilisation as we know it will crack and it’s only a matter of time before we all go mad max. It’s our belief that there is a colossal amount of skills humans have spent thousands of years perfecting and passing down through the generations to survive in the wild. Skills that we have managed to discard in just a few decades. Spending time outside training instead of in the gym helps those forgotten skills come back to us. We want to help people set their own adventures and challenges safe in the knowledge that they have the necessary skills to cover ground, solve problems and make it home safe. I love a good OCR, it’s a great way to get active and meet people in similar situations as yourself who get out there with a get stuck in approach to all the muddy miles and arduous obstacles is great physical and mental training for the less exciting aspects of our lives. Whether our goal is to be faster or stronger or simply make it to the finish line, being outside and active is indisputably good for you. Well we believe that it’s even better for you to be alone and outdoors. Outside of the course tape without medics on stand by or aid stations to break up the miles. We believe that all humans have a primal instinct that lies dormant as we flounder in our own convenience. Lets leave the phones behind, head out in to the wild and get back to our ROOTS.
Patience – Logic – Strength
“There is no such thing as bad weather,
just unsuitable clothing”
– Alfred Wainwright, Legend.
This is not a fashion guide. Anyone that knows me will tell you I’m as fashionable as a pair of crocks in a cocktail bar (Side note, I do NOT own a pair of crocks, despite my lack of fashion sense, I am still an adult, just). This is a short guide to help you select the right clothing for a walk in the mountains this winter. Don’t panic you won’t need to list a kidney on e-bay to get kitted out for a walk this winter. I’m tighter than an Eskimo’s pants and hate to waste money on gimmicks and gadgets. Let’s keep it simple and practical.
Disclaimer: For me, a trip to the hills isn’t just about taking in the sights and relaxing in mother nature. I like to plan a route that will push me physically. I’ll add checkpoints that take me off the beaten path and set myself time hacks that push me to cover ground at pace. It’s not everyone’s outlook on being in the hills, but it’s mine so the following advice is based on physically challenging yourself to go to cool places and see cool things.
Right let’s get into it, first things first, what on earth are you going to wear to the party?
The only item here you need to spend cash on is your shell/waterproof. That being said there are a few things you should consider when kitting yourself out for a winter trip to the hills. Gore-Tex or other similar technologies are great but not essential. Merino wool is an incredible natural material, but not essential. Don’t be fooled by brand power and fancy adverts, understand the technology involved and then replicate it the best you can with the budget you have. Ultimately your fitness is what counts.
Your “shell” should be fully water and windproof with a hood large enough to fit a warm hat underneath. We are bombarded with plush goose-filled down jackets, battery-powered heated coats, thermal base layers but honestly all these items, as nice as they are, don’t make that bigger difference when you’re out on the hill. As long as you have waxed seams and at least a 5,000mm rating you should be good for most UK conditions.
Hang on, numbers? WTF? – Don’t panic there is an easy to follow section here to help you understand how to rate a jacket. As this is the most expensive item on the list I would recommend having a read. They have a great breakdown of all nerdy numbers and techy jargon to help you spend the right amount of cash on your coat. Do not rely on shop attendants to give you accurate advice. They are humans, and that means most of them are dim-witted. Do you own research!
As for the Boots, probably the second most expensive item on the list, it’s important to remember a few things. Full ankle support is a must and not just to help protect your ankles. The extra height on the boot will allow you to get your laces nice and tight up your shin. This can help prevent your toes bashing into the end of your boot on the downhill sections; hammer toe is a real demon that will haunt you if you are not careful. Also, consider going up a half size to allow for big socks and for your feet to swell a little as the day progresses.
Let’s not get bogged down in kit selection or I’ll be typing forever. It’s all relative to your budget and adventure, I want to focus on the how and the why and not the what.
If you are out in the winter then you will want to be on the move to stay warm, a well thought out layering system is all you need.
Be bold start cold!
Set off with your base layer, t-shirt and waterproof. Stash your jumper, insulating layer, in your bag to avoid that early stop 15mins into your walk to delayer.
Ditching the jumper works for you two-fold. You are prepped in case of any sudden downpour, and you can very easily regulate your temperature by simply zipping and unzipping your jacket. Having your pockets handy is also a benefit. Being able to store your hat and gloves means you can easily add and remove layers to your extremities without having to stop and reach into your bag. If you are still overheating then vent those pants! Drop that fly and let the cool mountain air blow around your basement dude. Feels nice! And this is why pants are recommended.
In all seriousness, there are a lot of blood vessels that run very close the surface of the skin in that region of the human body so it makes sense. Same goes for your neck and wrists. Sliding your buff from around your neck and on to the top of your head will cool you down, so will rolling up your sleeves to expose your wrists. The same cannot be said for your head; you do NOT lose 75% of your body heat from your head, it’s bullshit so stop contributing to fake news, you nincompoop!
All these little tips help to regulate your temperature and mean you can continue to cover ground without stopping and starting every time the gradient of the hill changes, you suddenly find yourself in a wind tunnel or the could come in and surrounds you like a damp towel. Just like any other machine the human body requires temperature control to operate efficiently. A good understanding of the human body and the basic rules of thermal dynamics is all you need. Survival is what you know, not how much your jacket cost.
Your insulating layer, currently stashed in your bag, can be introduced if movement slows down for any reason or, simply because of its F’in cold up top. Again that full-length zip allows you to control how much cold air hits your chest, keeping you in complete control of your temperature.
It’s that easy! It may all seem very obvious, but you would be surprised how many people I have seen carrying an unnecessary amount of extra clothing. There is a decent argument to include waterproof trousers and even gators here but not one I’m going to entertain. You want them on the list, then write your own damn list I think they fall better into the kit category and would be selected for specific conditions you would expect to encounter on a particular adventure. As far as a basic wardrobe selection goes, that’s your lot. Simple.
Patience – Logic – Strength locked
This is where Matt can start to write some really cool-shit!
However, Chris may have to make some tweaks!
I want more content so I can just edit it! 🙂
I want to change the colour of this text (not really a good idea unless you have to)
I want to add a list of items?
this shit is easy!
As I start typing, it’s clear this is going to be a tough one to review for Obstacle Race Magazine. I want to share as much of the experience as I can but am reluctant to give too much away. It’s one of those events that I really think you should just do and find out for yourself.
With that in mind, I’ll try my best to give an insight into what was, in my opinion, an awesome event. Roots aims to take participants back to their roots. To share the love of outdoors, enjoy the simplicity yet complexity of nature and the wilderness, to teach the skills needed to survive in the great outdoors, impart knowledge of local history and encourage team work in stressful and uncomfortable situations.
Roots BirthDAY event was no different. Pre event information, kit list and correspondence was clear and concise; giving little away about what would be covered on the day. Party hats and an inflated balloon were in amongst the usual kit items (clothing, knife, compass, rope etc) so we knew that we were going to a party! Information shared via emails and on event pages of social media also encouraged participants to talk to one another before the event, sharing information about kit, strengths and weaknesses. On arrival at the camping barn in the the Peak District, after a 7 hour drive in gale force winds and heavy snow lying on the single track lane, would this be a taste of what was to come?
Luckily, our 5am wake up call (or get up call if like me, the 4 snorers in the room had kept me awake all night!) saw a clear and crisp morning; perfect conditions for a 12 hour + event!
After a brief introduction about Roots and the team of marshals, we were from that point on, known as seeds. We would soon become a close knit and supportive team of seeds who would get through the day by learning and working together.
A key component of Roots is navigation and before we even stepped outside, our first lesson was to ensure we could navigate using a map and compass, understand how to take a bearing and grid references. This, until now has never been my strong point. In fact, it still isn’t a strong point, however, after the hour spent that morning, I now believe I could get myself out of being lost if I had to! A clear and important lesson before 7am and a chance to put it into practice was just what I needed. What was to come over the rest of the day and the strengths of some of my team members certainly helped my confidence grow!
Before we could set off, there was one thing I knew would have to happen which could have an impact on the team. Kit check. I’d seen before how something so simple could add so much pressure and that phrase “The kit list is a kit list for a reason” had stuck in my head since my last event. Sure enough, even the most experienced in endurance and survival events were given penalties and punishments for not following instruction. I won’t say any more here but as I said… it’s worthwhile remembering for future reference, “The kit list is the kit list for a reason!”
Packs correctly loaded, equipment and belongings checked and accounted for (or not in some cases!) it was time for a taste of the PT we would face over the day. For me, a very welcomed chance to warm up. Over the course of the day, I’d have liked more PT, or at least more intense, but looking around and listening to feedback from the team, I think it was just right. It wasn’t meant to break us, it didn’t, but for some it was close! A decent level of fitness and training in a similar style (think rucksacks filled with weight, lots of shoulder and upper body work and the ability to get down to the ground and back up efficiently!) and equally as important, mental strength and self belief is enough to get through this type of physical challenge. The team element of the physical training was interesting, as we very quickly recognised the need to stay at the pace of the least fit member. Often leaving the fittest in uncomfortable, stress positions for longer than our thighs or shoulders could handle!
Incorporating various elements of team work throughout the day provided every seed with the opportunity to lead and manage the team. Navigation skills were key across the day, but other team activities included carries, scavenger hunts, river crossings and memory tests; all in all, an opportunity for every seed to show the marshals what they were made of! The range of terrain also encouraged team work as we made our way over peaks, into caves, along ridges, through marsh, mud and rivers. The history lessons across the day were very interesting and provided reasons behind the challenges and a story and background to the day.
By sunset, seeds had no idea of the time, no idea how far we’d gone and no idea how far we had to go. The unknown was starting to play on some of the teams minds so a quick opportunity to change into dry clothes, some food and a team sing song up the ascent towards the final section raised moral, much to the surprise I think, of the marshals at the final check point.
team-river team-stretcher carry
The event ended with a team carry back to our starting point where the fire was burning, beers were chilling and possibly the coolest medal I’ve received to date was awarded.
Overall, the Roots BirthDay was a diverse day of PT, team work, history and challenges. It was a learning event and one suitable for every skill and fitness level. The dynamics of this particular team of seeds were strong, mainly due to the varied fitness levels, navigation skills and practical knowledge. It meant that we could utilise the strengths of fellow seeds to support each other through.
Roots day (12 hour) events aren’t meant to break you; instead they are designed to encourage learning, promote team work and make the most of the great outdoors. With that in mind, there’s enough challenge in there to ensure that comfort zones are left behind.
To find out more about Roots Adventures, check out the website, visit their Facebook page or join the adventure team page and share your latest adventures and outdoor experiences!
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