On June 9’ the Fusion Adventure Race was hosted by the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago. This is a day-long event spread over three locations and it is comprised largely of running various routes guided by human markers facing various obstacles along the way. Completing quizzes are worth points when answered correctly and tokens to be collected along the way. It truly is a test of physical fitness and mental stamina to be able to perform at your best throughout the competition as the three locations are driving distance away from each other. The start time for each leg was hours apart, allowing the mind and body enough time to cool down and switch mode, only to be innervated again to complete another leg of this very challenging course, the second leg of which is reputed to be the most difficult one of all three. By the time competitors arrive at their final leg of the race, some have to actually use their hands to move their legs and straighten them out to get out of their vehicle. Now, the Fusion Adventure Race is promoted to be an experience that digs to the very depths of determination and resilience of a competitor and the pride of just having completed the course through a team effort.
The demands of the race are so extreme that the only way to really have any chance of completing all three legs of the race is as a team with a significant measure of serious training and preparation encompassing physical strengthening as well as team building. However, the existence of prize money for the overall winners of the event inevitably creates a competitive element to the experience, beyond the gratification of merely completing the course. Therefore, while some train to simply complete the Fusion Adventure Race, other athletes and coaches train with the intention of winning. I must say though, for an event that is on its 5th leg of existence, I was surprised at the many simple but major errors that took place along the course. Now, it is not that I am naïve to think that there will be a complete absence of challenges during a sporting event, particularly one like this where there are so much more logistics involved, combined with the very dynamic nature of the race, itself, but errors that cost team points and athletes to compromise their best possible performance are errors that are significantly less tolerable. Sometimes, I wonder if the organisers for these sporting competitions under-estimate how much their competitors give of themselves, despite not being professional athletes, to heed the unforgiving demands of their event. What might seem to be a simple adjustment or oversight by an organiser can have significant impact on the athlete’s final performance. Particularly with reference to this Fusion Adventure Race, there were instances where the man marker was not at his station to indicate and advise runners at their stopping point. This error cost some teams dearly as their front runners continued on past the marker and actually got lost for over 45 minutes. This was not the only blunder that tarnished the first leg of the race. In fact, that first leg of the race was tattered with so many mistakes it was eventually completely discounted from the overall point system.
The thing is, no matter how the organisers would have tried to make up for the errors, it would not assist the athletes with their recovery, nor would it cancel out the extra mileage already placed on the body to that point in time. As an athlete, having made the sacrifices to be at his/her best for the event, an incident like that would be extremely upsetting as in fact many of the athletes were, particularly the ones who were lost for over an hour. Sadly, the faux pas of this race were not unique to this year, although this year was probably the first time the errors were of this magnitude. Last year, I have since learned, there were also many instances of man-markers being unclear of where to send the runners. As a result, some participants of last year, made the decision to not participate in the event again this year, reason being that it was felt that the respect of having sacrificed and train as hard as they did was not shown through the obvious lack of careful planning by the organisers of the event. The Fusion Adventure Race is currently the only one on like it. The BG Energy Challenge was the only other one held in Trinidad that could really compare, and seems to be perceived as the Gold Standard for such races. I hope that the Port Authority of T&T is better able to show their appreciation to its racers next year, by learning from their errors this year and of those previously, so that the race continues to build momentum.
Editor’s note: Asha De Freitas-Moseley is a certified athletic trainer with the National Athletic Trainers’ Association of the USA. Athletic training is practiced by athletic trainers, health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to optimize activity and participation of patients and clients. Athletic training encompasses the prevention, diagnosis, and intervention of emergency, acute, and chronic medical conditions involving impairment, functional limitations, and disabilities www.nata.org