Barriers to Entry

Okay, I try not to rant on this blog because honestly who wants to read someone’s ranting all the time.  But, today is different.  Today I want to talk about barriers to entry.  I hear it all the time about how there are so many barriers to entry when it comes to adventure racing.

  • You have to use a compass…
  • You have to plot UTMs…
  • You can’t use your cell phone or GPS…
  • There is too much gear to buy…
  • The races are too expensive…
  • I have to travel too far to race…
  • The races are too long, too hard, too…whatever.

Yep!  You’re right!  And that’s what makes this the “Best Damn Sport Ever”.  It’s hard.  Sometimes it’s a pain in the ass.  Sometimes you get lost, or you don’t finish a race.  Maybe your gear sucks.  That’s life.  I’m not sorry.  I’m not apologetic.  You want to play the game, then get the gear and get your butt out there and learn how to do it.

You want convenient, go run a 5k.  The course is marked.  You’ll be done in 30 minutes and can go home with your t-shirt.  You can impress your friends on Instagram with a couple of photos, hell you can probably tweet to them while running the course.  There ya go, no barriers to entry.  You probably already own a pair of shoes and you can probably swing the $30 entry fee.

As adventure racers, is that what we want?

Enough with the hand holding and wondering how do we get the next generation into this sport.  Maybe they’re too busy playing video games.  That’s cool.

The motto for Eco-Challenge, the race that started this for many of us, was:

For veteran adventure racers, Eco-Challenge is designed to punish, torment, and take no prisoners.  For the wide-eyed rookies, it is designed to be all but impossible.

People try things, they fail.  Or perhaps they don’t do as well as they’d like.  It’s okay.  We fail…all the time.  It’s adventure racing.  We’re not very good at it.  There are some REAL teams out there crushing courses.  We’ll never be half as good as them, but that’s okay.

The allure of adventure racing isn’t how easy or fun it can be made.  The allure is in the multi-faceted nature of it.  You have to do the disciplines but you also have to manage your team, your gear, your nutrition, yourself.  You have to be able to plot, to navigate, to read a map and compass.  It’s a lot, and it’s hard, and it’s not for everyone.  That’s okay too.

I don’t like basketball, but I couldn’t imagine someone lowering the barriers of entry for me.  I’m sure no one is sitting around thinking…man, what if we make the hoop a little bigger, or the post a little shorter.  Most people suck at dribbling, why don’t we just allow people to run with the ball instead of dribbling.

I wonder what other sports have people wondering, “How can I make this easier for someone.”

That’s right, none!

You gotta pay to play.  Gear, training, skills, experience, teamwork, If you want it, go get it.  It’s not fair, but it’s worth every damn penny.

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