Getting started? Here's some advice from Shawn Dietrich

By Times Staff Writer
Published November 4, 2005

Get Campy: Your best guarantee of success is an adventure racing camp. Spend a weekend with experienced racers learning the ins and outs of the sport - navigation, paddling, trail riding, gear to buy, training, nutrition, team dynamics and "crisis management." Many camps culminate with a mini-race to apply your new-found skills. WeCeFAR offers a camp Jan. 28-29 at the Big Oaks Ranch in Chuluota. Information at www.wecefar.com

Get out and PLAY: In Pinellas County check out Fort DeSoto Park - there is great kayaking, miles of undeveloped beaches and many hidden trails to discover. In Hernando County, the Croom tract of the Withlacoochee State Forest offers miles of hilly hiking and biking trails and paddling on the Withlacoochee River. One of the area's most popular training destinations, the Hillsborough River corridor that includes Hillsborough County's Wilderness Parks and Hillsborough River State Park, contains all of the necessary ingredients only minutes from downtown Tampa.

Be a Sponge: WeCeFAR monthly club meetings (first Monday of the month) are a great way to meet folks who have spent time in the woods chasing each other. Or visit local outfitters like Leon Watts at Adventure Outfitters in South Tampa, or Darry Jackson at Bill Jacksons Shop for Adventure in Pinellas Park.

Read, Read, Read: Check out current or back issues of Adventure Sports Magazine. Race directors and clubs also have message boards that make for entertaining reading. Try www.wecefar.com/forum mycfar.com, and floridaraces.com.

Join a Club: There are several Adventure Racing clubs in Florida that can help you find adventurous friends, teammates and mentors: CeFAR in Orlando, SoFLAR in south Florida, Tampa Bay Adventure Club and WeCeFAR.com in the Tampa Bay area.