Reviews: The Complete Guide to Adventure Racing

Get Out There and Do It!

By Anna DeBattiste (Colorado, United States)

The adventure racing world waited a long time for a resource as comprehensive as this one. It is no surprise that we were finally provided this resource by the man who founded Odyssey Adventure Racing, a company that produces more races than any other US AR company and also offers a great racing academy. One of the best features of The Complete Guide to Adventure Racing is that rather than giving us “the gospel according to Mann and Schaad”, it provides multiple views from various experts on controversial topics such as nutrition, strategy, team dynamics, and sleep management. You may occasionally find that the contributors disagree with each other, which only serves to underscore the strategic nature of the sport. What I didn’t expect was inspirational content in addition to the detailed information of this text. By including first-person stories from other racers, race directors, and observers, the book becomes a “good read” in addition to an instructive one. It makes you want to get out there and register for the first race you can find. Buy this book and you’ll see what I mean!

A Wonderful Resource for Outdoorsmen/women, Racers or Not

By Harry Blazer “scrutinize” (Kalispell, Montana USA)

I know Don Mann personally. Don is an exceptional human, with great integrity, compassion and commitment. Not only was he a legendary seal, but he has a mastery of an incredible array of competencies, from scuba diving to sky diving, from ultra marathoning to mountaineering that make him uniquely suited to author this incredible resource – in fact the perfect person. Believe me — he has been there — from the jungles of South America to the mountains of Nepal; not only in the service of his country, but also as a premier adventure racer himself and as the leader of the most ambitious adventure racing company in the world. Whether you are a budding or serious adventure racer, this is one of those books “you don’t leave home without”. But don’t take my word for it; listen to Ian Adamson’s words from the foreward of the book: “Having the fortune to get to know Don through subsequent races such as the Raid Gauloises…, I am glad to report he is one of the most sincere, kind, dedicated and personable characters in the sport. He has a wealth of experience as one of the earliest US athletes in adventure racing and through teaching dozens of camps and hundreds of athletes…Don brings a lot more to teaching than his expertise, however. In addition to being an elite endurance athlete, he has a contagious enthusiasm for the sport…The combination of Don’s and Kara’s (co-author) experience, passion and exceptionally clear writing delivers in great detail the nuances of the elements of adventure racing.” Do yourself a favor, whether you are into adventure racing or just enjoy spending some serious time outdoors hiking, climbing, biking, kayaking, whatever….Buy this book!

I loved this, and have purchased copies for others.

By Doug Gray “Business Coach”

As an adventure racer who recalls when Don Mann owned Odyssey AR, I recall his midnight encouragement at CPs. At Primal Quest in Moab in 2006 Don was just as enthusiastic. This books carries some of that sincere, enthusiastic voice. His energy kept me running for years. I recall running together on the backstretch of the JFK 50 mile ultramarathon. We talked about books. Some time later, Don shared his enthusiasm for me by writing a testimonial for my book. For anyone interested in learning about our sport I strongly encourage you to read this book. Doug Gray, PCC, and author of Passionate Action: 5 Steps to Extraordinary Success in Life and Work

Destined to be a Classic

By Rex Palmisano (Boston, MA)

This book is destined to be an AR classic! No doubt in my mind. While Don Mann and Kara Schaad are the principle authors, their decision to incorporate the wisdom, advice and lessons learned by themselves, other racers, and support people from the racing community that makes this book a gem. Kudos to getfitnow and Hatherleigh Press ! They have presented another smart, graphically designed book (check out Stew Smith’s “Max Fitness” for another example). The book is nicely sized, uses gray charts for emphasis, key points are bullet listed, concepts are bolded, and both black and white and color photographs are sprinkled throughout. This book proves adventure racing is a compressed expression of human experience and that it is all about what the human spirit is capable of in adversity. A metaphor for life. Chapters are thematically structured. No stone is unturned for the beginner or experienced racer. In retrospect this book is extraordinarily ambitious in scope and depth. Don and Kara do not fall short of these checkpoints. Everything -and I mean EVERYTHING- is covered, from clothes, navigation, trekking, paddling, biking, climbing, horses, etc. If it can happen in a race, Don and Kara cover it. The writing is intelligent as it is balanced: technical discussions include practical application of concepts and principles. Don, Kara, and numerous contributors avoid technical jabberwocky where possible by illustrating their advice in each of their thematic chapters. The two chapters that I found most technical were mountain biking and climbing; and it is deservedly technical. It is the symmetry, however, between information and implementation that makes this book a solid winner. The book calls itself a primer but that is not accurate. A primer teaches you basics, like grammar. This book shows you the language after grammar. For example, the “Getting in Gear” chapter, will give you a gear list and reasons on why to pack X, Y, and Z. Anecdotes “from the field” in the same chapter from experienced racers will illustrate techniques and often, some hard-earned lessons on why you pack that X, Y and Z. Concept reinforced by Application. Theory is supported by Experience.. Anecdotes from racers supplement the expert guidance and tips in each chapter. Racers explain how using a concept that Don and Kara explained earlier in the chapter saved them time and averted injury. They also are honest when they violate key principles and paid dearly with lost time, frustration, and injuries. There is a purpose to everything that is explained in clear, concise language. These racers are real people not super-humans. All the anecdotes from racers throughout the chapters deliver high and low points from real races. Don and Kara have done the readers a service by collecting years of experience from these racers. Racers feel strong, wimpy, irritated, and triumphant in a race. Want motivation: read any one of the essays by Angelinka Castaneda and I guarantee you that she will set your attitude straight. She is gutsy, humorous, and heroic. These anecdotes also assist readers in learning about the many Adventure Races that have cropped up all over the US and abroad. Special mention should be made of the contributions made by medical staff and support people. Read some of their anecdotes and you realize the behind the scenes are as hard as front line action in a race. Where do Don and Kara exceed my expectations? It is in chapters, like “Nuts and Bolts” where you learn training trips to prepare for an Adventure Race. It is in chapters, like “Nutrition and Hydration” where you learn what types of food you eat. What makes this book real? Any one of the real race scenarios: afraid to carry extra water for hydration because you’re too macho about weight constraints? Read Don’s brief description of dehydration at the X-Games in Baja and avoid paying the price. This isn’t Survivor! You’ll learn and be glad that bears are poor sighted Winnie the Poohs that can really ruin your day. You’ll also learn more than you’ll ever want to know about creepy crawly things. Don is tough, but you’ll see that an ill-placed hand on an electric caterpillar humbled the retired SEAL. He is also honest about his mistakes (over-training). All these racers in this book have done it all and the reader benefits from their mistakes and relishes their victories, while understanding that it is solid principles and techniques outlined by Don and Kara and other contributors that make the impossible seem approachable. This gem of a book puts all that knowledge and experience at your fingertips. It is up to you to put your body beyond that last 10% of your perceived barriers. An elite few do it all the time by working hard and smart. As I said earlier, this book is destined to be a classic. I expect to see updates and future editions.

The “How to Book” for Adventure Racing

By John Vonhof “The Foot Guy” (Manteca, CA USA)

I recently spent a week providing foot care assistance to racers in the Primal Quest Expedition Adventure Race and discovered the seriousness of the sport. Adventure racing has made the big time and more and more athletes are entering its uncharted territory as they tackle sports they know nothing about. Many athletes are well-honed teams that work together well and are strong as they race. Many others however, need help as they try sport disciplines new to them and they struggle trying to understand how to build all this into a dynamic team in a race setting. This is where The Complete Guide to Adventure Racing comes in. This one book can make the difference between learning the ropes from people who know, or learning by trial and error-and maybe getting hurt in the process. Adventure racing is about multiple sport disciplines: trekking, running, climbing and rappelling, mountaineering, white water, mountain biking, navigation, team dynamics, food for fuel, support crews, training, lots of gear, and more. This book covers all that and more in an easy to read format. Many racers and sport specific individuals have contributed their tips and stories about how to race well and succeed. Don and Kara have advanced the sport by writing this book. There is something here for the adventure racing veteran to the newbie. Shorten your learning curve by reading this book. John Vonhof Contributor to The Complete Guide to Adventure Racing Author of Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatments for Athletes

Not just for Adventure Racers

Reviewer: A readerThe Complete Guide to Adventure Racing by Don Mann and Kara Schaad is destined to become the definitive work on adventure racing. I am not an adventure racer myself, but I am a runner and mountain biker with aspirations to do an adventure race one day soon. I have found this work to be not only informative, but inspiring as well. I especially enjoyed reading the articles by top adventure racers, tips from experts in every field of adventure racing and the personal stories of those who have fulfilled their dreams of extreme challenges. The book is well written and the photography and illustrations are first class. Don and Kara have assembled advice and instructions from the best multi-sport athletes in the world. I have read every book ever written about adventure racing and this is, by far, the most informative. I consider it an invaluable addition to my “library” of sports and fitness literature. If you have ever competed in an adventure race, simply have a dream of someday pushing the limits of your physical boundaries, or you just want to read interesting stories of those who have, The Complete Guide to Adventure Racing is a “must read”.

Great reference book on the sport

By “nagimaki” (Tecumseh, Ontario Canada)

I am new to AR (3 races to date) and was looking for a good reference book on the subject. This book exceeded my expectations. It is well organized and filled with practical information and detail. It has section with tips and advice from experienced racers, there is also first person accounts of races and experiences. It is also a great price for all the information you get.

This is the book you have been waiting for!

By Robert Pino (Chicago)

This complete guide is everything you need to get excited as a new adventure racer! A friend of mine told me about adventure racing and peaked my interest. I read this book and I am hooked! Practical, Inspirational, and challenging! Kara Schaad and Don Mann did a great job. A real page turner for every sports fanatic.

By Far the Best Book About AR

Reviewer: Bob Miner: Finished reading this new book on the way back from the Walkabout AR three weeks ago.Reviewed it again the last couple of days. I’m sure I’ll go back over it many times.What a great book. By far the best book about AR with loads of practical information. Everyone interested in Adventure Racing, experienced or novice, should study it carefully. 

The Complete Guide to Adventure Racing

By Tony McShane (Evanston, Illinois United States)

It’s great! It is just the right mix of anecdotes, tips, war stories, check lists, and instruction. It’s a great tool for focusing training and preparing for the next race.

This Book Rocks!

Reviewer: A readerAs a new adventure racer, I am so happy to have one source where I can go to get answers on just about ANY adventure racing question I might have. This book is so inclusive, that it covers not just the disciplines, but also important things like gear selection and support crew responsibilities. My husband who has done all the “big” races, also loved this book and read it in 1 1/2 days. He learned things he never knew that will help him in races. All racers, novice and experienced, should get this book. It has SO MUCH more useful information than the other AR books out there.

Ready for racing

Reviewer: A reader I read the book straight through and I found it very useful. I feel like I have gained a basic understanding for the sport of AR, and I am more excited and motivated to “get out there” now then ever.

Great Book

By Brant T Upchurch (Lafayette, In United States)

I couldn’t put it down. This book has tech info along with personal experiences. It covers a wide range of adventure racing. I did my first 12-hour this summer. I will use my new knowledge for my first 24-hour in march. THANKS!

Informative and inspiring!

By “robkloss@home.com” (Wilmington, DE United States)

This one was well worth the wait. Packed not only with excellent info for would-be adventure racers, but also contains short accounts from the racers that will either make you want to do it more or scare you off!

*****A must have for ANY Adventure Racer! *****

Reviewer: A readerThis book earns its title! It is clear that the author’s have gone far and wide to get the best information available on adventure racing. With the commentary and stories from adventure racers world-wide, this book delivers big! Great photos, too.

Hello Sir from Ireland!

By  Graham (Ireland)

Just wish to say its an honour to make your accquaitance!! I bought your adventure racing book many years ago ,and have used it like a bible since !! Your an inspiration sir. It has served me well during my time in the military (Royal Navy and Royal Irish Rangers Regt) and now working as a diver on the underwater search team for the police service in Northern Ireland. Your chapter on fitness and staying in shape I read on a regular basis to keep me focused . Again I wish to say its an honour and say thank you for your inspiration to do more and be more. All the very best.

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