Month: November 2010

Trekking Tow Lines – the Greatest Adventure Race Advantage Nobody Uses

trekking towlineOur team finished Raid the Hammer which is a 25 plus orienteering adventure run just outside of Toronto in the Burlington area this year. The course features some large ups and downs and is a great blend of trail running, mucky trekking, technical scrambling, and road running.

Our team is still getting better at navigation, so we had to maximize our team strength which was speed.

I always ask people when we are putting on our adventure racing training courses “How fast can you travel on your team in AR?” and the response that I emphatically get 99 percent of the time is “As fast as your slowest person!”.

raid the hammer orienteeringWRONG!

In adventure racing you can travel FASTER than your slowest person because you can tow, you can push, you can share weight, and  you can draft.

It still surprises me in a longer team race such as this one that we just finished this weekend, that more teams don’t tow. There were 100 teams that lined up for the start of the longer race and I only saw one other team towing. Ironically enough it was our neighbours, long time adventure racers, and sometime training partners from the team Beowulf. There is no rule against it, and it is a potent aid to maximize your teams efficiency!

See team Beowulf’s interview on AR Radio here

Benefits of Towing

  • Makes your team go faster!
  • Keeps your team closer together / better for communication
  • Movitates all members of the team because they are able to help
  • Psychologically comforting knowing that you aren’t going to be dropped

Detractors of Towing

  • Carry extra weight
  • Cord sometimes gets caught up
  • Requires practise with your teammates
  • You get silly comments from everyone (mostly because they want to be on tow)

I don’t know about you, but for the weight, I’ll take this little piece of race insurance in my pack any day! Try it and I think you will like it. You will make race more enjoyable for everyone on your team.

non locking carabiners

What you need:

7 feet of thera-band, surgical tubing, or stretchy cord.

2  non-locking carabiners

Just tie off the carabiners with a double overhand knot and you are ready to rock.

Click here to have a look at our Bike Tow system.

Bring back the Canada Fitness Testing!

It has become unpopular to assign labels or to have competition within schools and the new “everybody is a winner” attitude seems to be the purveying train of thought. What happened to rewarding achievement?

Many of you remember the Canada fitness testing as being a day of dread because people actually quantified your fitness level with numbers and levels. This was a source of ridicule and hardships for some, but for others like me and my wife, it was play day and a chance to get “graded” on our fitness which for the competitive types was a challenge and a reward. Maybe I am jaded with my work as a firefighter, but being a first responder at many medical emergency calls, I can tell you that I see overweight unhealthy YOUNG people who require medical assistance ahead of their time. I say bring back the Canada Fitness Testing, because we are reaching epidemic levels of obesity in a socialized health care system. Here is a novel thought, maybe we should give the healthy fit kids some incentive to stay that way! Either we are

all going to pay now, or pay later, as the unhealthy little kids are going to inherently burden the health care system later on in life unless their life choices change, and peer pressure is a great motivator! Pointing out someones physical weakness or inherent incompetence can be done without shaming the kids, and it can be done in a way that we can set goals for them and work on shoring up weaknesses. Why is this such a verboten idea? We grade kids in all other aspects of their school curriculum, but give them no feedback on how Physically Fit or HEALTHY they are. To sum it up, I believe it was George Bernard Shaw who said ” Your body is your window through which you see the world.” At the very least we are going to have a baseline or snapshot of the state of Canadian kids health and wellness through standardized test scores. We owe it to our kids to keep them healthy and fit.

air cadet canada fitness excellence badge

While I was in the Air Cadet system we did the Canada Fitness testing protocols as part of our fitness component. I know that they still do the fitness testing and there are awards to the top cadets. In the air cadet program there are few badges that you can wear, compared to the other elements (army) and one of them is the Canada Fitness badge.

So if you were living under a rock, and you must ask: What were the Canada Fitness Test Standards?

Here they are: It is based on six fitness performance tests that give an overall picture of your general physical

fitness condition. The six tests, each of which have a specific purpose, include the following:

  • a. push-ups, for arm and shoulder girdle strength;
  • b. shuttle run, for speed, power and agility;
  • c. partial curl-ups, for abdominal muscles;
  • d. standing long jump, for power and agility;
  • e. 50 m run, for speed, power and agility; and
  • f. endurance run, for stamina.

How is it scored?

The Canada Fitness testing used levels that were represented by elements such as gold, silver, bronze. There were two others, and they were the level of excellence, and the dreaded participation pin. So after you completed all the tests, you received a grade based on the lowest scoring of  any of the sections. For example if you get silver ratings in 5 out of the 6 test, and then you get a bronze level in the push ups. Then your overall rating and your little fancy badge is a bronze. So the Canada fitness test was promoting overall health and fitness, and was in fact a blend of speed, agility, strength, and stamina. It sounds eerily similar to CrossFit’s 10 general physical skills that they promote as one of the pillars of their fitness program.

Click below to see all of the standards and levels for the now defunct Canada Fitness Testing


I say it was a great test of overall health and fitness and think that the idea should be revisited. After all, what we are doing now to keep our youth healthy and fit is clearly NOT working.