Three pieces of advice for first time racers (and helpful for all racers)

Actif Epica is a great day out on the trail. We’re pretty sure you’ll see some amazing places, meet some amazing people and that it’ll be a challenge you’ll remember fondly. Lots of good vibes! Inevitably though, there are the nagging questions, the questions that surround the ultimate one: ‘will I be able to finish’?

Here are three observations. These are the sources of most issues for people in previous years of Actif Epica – some serious enough that they prevented people from finishing. Hopefully they can help you feel more comfortable as you make your final preparations.

Safety Gear

In order to finish, you need to start. This means you need to pass the gear check on Friday (yes, it’s Friday the 13th). Pay attention to the mandatory gear list and make sure you have every item on it. If you fail, you’ll need to remedy the situation before you start… this means that if you show up early for gear check you’ll have more time to make an adjustment. There are usually a few gear check fails initially, but so far, we’ve always gotten everyone to the start line with their required gear all set. You’ll want to avoid the stress, though – double check the list ahead of time and leave yourself time if you need to make a change. And ensure you have all your stuff with you. There will be gear checks during the race and/or at the finish. We do this as a condition of our insurance and our special event permits from Province of Manitoba, City of Winnipeg, RCMP and Winnipeg Police Service.


For your safety and ours, you need to have functional marker lights on at all times (“real” LED blinkies, not turtle lights). If your lights aren’t on, or if the batteries die, a race director or checkpoint volunteer can ask you to remedy the situation in order to carry on (or DQ you for not having safety gear). So… put fresh batteries in your lights or ensure they are fully charged. Keep in mind that almost no alkaline batteries will last in the cold and many NiMH batteries won’t make it either; you’ll need to carry spares and change them out. Or you can use lithium batteries, which tend to be less affected by the cold. This one has caught a few people in past years. The same advice goes for your GPS batteries, if you are using one.


The number one physical thing that has forced people out of the race is cold hands. Just getting frostbitten fingers is bad enough. It’s doubly dangerous when you consider that your hands can get so cold they stop being able to function properly. You can quickly wind up unable to do things— things like putting more clothes on or using your cell phone to call for help. Keep in mind that hands can get cold fast. Make sure you have some serious extra mitts easily available (not at the bottom of a bag) where you won’t hesitate to pull them out at the first sign of trouble. And having a chemical hand warmer (like Hot Pockets) with you isn’t a bad idea in case of emergency. Seriously. Remember to keep them relatively warm (e.g. in an inside pocket), since they don’t work particularly well if you try to use them at 25 below.

Ask Questions About Everything

You can never be too informed. If you’re wondering about anything at all, ask someone. We’ve even opened up a new section of the site for questions and answers and conversation. Even the most seasoned pros learn little tips from each other all the time. We’re in this together out there, and (despite what it may look like to some people) we do it all to have a good time.

Posted in Blog.

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