Adventure racing is
big risks and endorphins
Definitely Extreme
Psychology of Adventure Racing
Competence and Responsibility
Code of Conduct
Personal Equipment Check-List
Foot and Shoe Assessment
Interview with SA's Team
Practical Guide to Seconding

Code of Conduct

The evolution of Adventure Racing in Southern Africa has taken this exciting sport onto a new platue. With the acceptance of the Hi-Tec Adventure Quest as a World Series event and the launching of various new adventure race presenters the establishing of a Code of Conduct for the sport became a priority.

Owing to B.I.G. Sports having been instrumental in establishing the sport in Southern Africa, as well as drawing from our experiences during this period, we have established a Code of Conduct for B.I.G. Sports. We encourage other Race directors to adopt this Code of Conduct or alternatively to establish their own; and exhort sponsors to ensure those events that they take ownership of are managed professionally, responsibly, but most of all safely.

The Aims of the Code of Conduct

  1. To establish a Code of Conduct for South African Adventure Races presented by B.I.G. Sports, with the aim of facilitating the maintenance of professional race management and a frame of reference for saferty standards and emergency response protocols for all Adventure Races presented in Southern Africa.
  2. To provide competitors with a benchmark for evaluating the standard of professional commitment and level of compliance thereto with regards to co-signatories of the Code of Conduct.

The Participating Races

  1. Co-signing of the Code of conduct is voluntary and up to individual Race Directors.
  2. Events and the Race Directors of qualifying events for the Hi-Tec Adventure Quest are encouraged to accept the Code of Conduct. Should they elect not to accept this code of conduct they will be required to establish their own Code of Conduct, which is to be publicly available to all Adventure Racers and interested parties.
Adventure Racing Safety

Safety in an adventure race refers to the minimisation of serious or permanent injury. This can be achieved through minimising the risk of injury in the first place (prevention) or by having the ability to deal with injuries or incidents in a timely manner.

  1. The most important measure of safety in a race is expected response time to incidents requiring outside assistance. Stationing qualified staff at high-risk areas and having a clear emergency protocol and effective communication system minimises response time.
  2. Safety is also a matter of ensuring teams are properly prepared for the challenges they will face to reduce the potential for incidents that require outside assistance, and designing a course that avoids unnecessary or extremely high risk areas.
  3. It is important to note that the past results of a race are not necessarily a good indication of the 'safety' of that event. Regardless of how fortunate or unfortunate they have been in the past in terms of mishaps, if they do not take the necessary steps to minimise the risk of serious injury or have the ability to deal with injuries when they occur, the event should not be considered 'safe'.

Participant Preparedness, Course Design and Management, and Incident Protocol

1) Participant Preparedness
It is the race organiser's responsibility to ensure all participants (competitors, support crews, volunteers, staff and media) are informed of and properly qualified and prepared for the challenges they will be faced with during the race.

It is the race organiser's responsibility to ensure the following:

  • Teams are informed about the challenges and risks they will be facing during the race. This includes terrain, weather conditions, dangerous plants and/or animals, altitude or any other potential hazard that is foreseeable.
  • All competitors have confirmed skills in technical elements of the race (if there are any). This can be in the form of a formal certification (signed by a verified instructor with suitable qualifications) or testing at registration.
  • Teams are carrying suitable emergency equipment to deal with a "worst case scenario" on the race course.  For example, teams racing in a mountain area must have suitable equipment to care for an injured teammate through the night in inclement weather, even if the mountain section is expected to be completed during the day. The extent of the "worst case scenario" is a factor of the remoteness of the location, the volatility of weather conditions and the rescue services available. Organisers must also ensure that all teams are carrying the appropriate safety gear at all times during the race.
  • Teams have knowledge of, and the ability to use the safety gear they are carrying in emergency situations. For example, teams must be familiar with the contents of their first aid kit and have the appropriate knowledge and skill to use its contents. This can be done through certification of ability or through testing/education during registration.
  • All team members stay together (no more that 100m apart) for the duration of the race so as to provide assistance to each other and, therefore, increase the overall safety of all participants.
  • All teams are responsible (and actively encouraged) to offer all possible assistance to another team in trouble, or with injury. Any team refusing to offer assistance should be withdrawn from the event.
  • All teams are given accurate course details with location of checkpoints, marshals, and grid references of noted hazards and alternate routes. The organiser must also ensure that all teams competing can understand all information provided.
  • All competitors have and wear, at all applicable times, safety equipment as required by the race management. For example, all participants must wear an approved helmet while mountain biking, on ropes of any type, or boating in any classified river. They must also wear at all times an appropriate PFD (personal flotation device) while boating, boogie boarding or swimming on moving water. Organisers must also ensure the safety equipment being used meets minimum quality standards and is in fully functional condition.
  • It is not acceptable for the race organiser to assume knowledge of any required skills on behalf of the competitors or to assume competitors will carry the required gear at all times. The race Rules and Regulations, Registration process and Policies and Procedures must be structured to encourage all teams to act in accordance with the above requirements and either penalise or remove from competition any teams that do not meet these requirements.

Other Participants
It is the race organiser's responsibility to ensure the following for non-competitor participants at the event:

  • Race assistants (where applicable) receive a guide/ course book with course descriptions specifically for them, including detailed directions to all transition areas, location and availability of resources, emergency procedures information (including telephone contact information for race management should they get lost or require other assistance), and Rules and Regulations specific to them.
  • All media on the event attend a special briefing where they are given instructions on how they proceed on different sections of the course, safety and hazards. A briefing is given on helicopter use (if applicable). When groups of media are taken out onto the course by the race organisation they are accompanied by skilled personal.  Media all receive a recommended gear list prior to coming and only media with the appropriate equipment and skills are taken to the more remote areas.
  • - All marshals/ officials receive training in the race rules and regulations, course safety and hazards, communication methods and operation at a pre-race briefing.  They are issued with a guide/ course book that lists their responsibilities and details of actions in emergency situations. They are also given a recommended gear list prior to arriving at the race to ensure they are appropriately prepared for the expected conditions for their role.
  • - All safety staff (such as rope riggers, mountain guides, rescue boaters and medical crew) used on the race course are properly trained and certified by an authority authorised to issue such a qualification/certification to fulfil their assigned function and have the appropriate equipment.

2) Course Design/ Management
It is the race organiser's responsibility to ensure that all potential risks and hazards are considered in the design of the race course and appropriate safety measures are in place to manage the risk levels for all sections of the course. In so doing, the organiser must ensure the following:

  • Course avoids high-risk areas such as cliffs with loose rock, territory for dangerous animals, or forest floors littered with deadfall (unless competitors are properly prepared to deal with the increased risk levels).
  • All authorities that may be affected in an emergency situation are briefed prior to the event and given an event schedule, details of the course (with suitable extrication points identified) and race emergency procedures. This includes those that would be involved in a search and rescue situation.
  • Qualified staff are placed to manage areas requiring technical skills or with the possibility of requiring a rescue (unless all competitors have demonstrated a level of proficiency suitable to negotiate the technical elements without supervision). Note: any section of a race course where an error on the part of a competitor will result in serious injury or death (such as long rope sections or highly technical whitewater) must be staffed and supervised at all times by qualified staff, regardless of the skill level of competitors.
  • Rope sections (if applicable) must all have redundant and independent anchors and be fixed by qualified personnel. All rappelling must have some form of safety belay (prussic, fireman's belay, etc). All tyrolean traverses must have a redundant belay system.
  • Officials (checkpoint and transition staff, course officials) have received training in emergency procedures, radio/ communication method operation, and the race rules and regulations at a pre-race briefing.
  • Course has been test-run thoroughly and time estimates for each section have been calculated.
  • There is an effective communications system in place (radio, cell phones) which includes boat to shore communication, communication with checkpoints, communication for key race personnel/ management. This communication system must be suitable for reporting on the progress of teams (such as at each checkpoint), reporting situations requiring assistance and managing the emergency assistance operations.
  • A 24hr manned Communications Centre/ Race Headquarters is operational throughout the race, responsible for monitoring of team movements, coordination of the race.
  • There is a medical plan in place identifying the person in charge, information on personnel, support, emergency communication and medical forms. Local medical authorities/ services have been notified and given course details and there is means of immediate communication with these services. For all events staged over a multi day route, there must be a minimum of 2 EMT or higher certification present at all times during the event.
  • Based on their assessment of hazards, qualified experts in the field can activate alternate courses for teams, following discussion with race management. Water sections must be closed if conditions are deemed to be unsafe by a qualified expert.
  • Weather is monitored throughout the race and information passed on to all staff, officials, management and marshals who can then pass this on to racers and assistants. Race management constantly assesses implications with current and predicted weather.
  • A list of all race personnel and their areas of responsibility is collated, along with any relevant skills and qualifications they may have.
  • It is the organiser's responsibility to be aware of all potential dangers and skills required to travel the intended race course as well as likely alternate routes taken by teams or areas where teams could potentially end up through navigational errors. Rock faces need to be cleaned of any loose rocks and rivers need to be checked for strainers and/or undercuts. Any unavoidable hazards on the course need to be clearly identified for competitors and/or staffed accordingly.
  • It is also important that organisers have a clear understanding of the expected time to complete each section and where teams may make mistakes. In the event that a team does not check in within a reasonable amount of time, it may be appropriate for race officials to begin a search for the team.

3) Incident Protocol (Reactive)
The most significant questions to answer in assessing an organiser's preparedness for Emergency situations are as follows:

  • How does the team notify race officials or necessary EMS of a situation requiring outside assistance?
  • What is the expected response time from race medical crew?
  • Is the medical crew equipped to deal with the situation?
  • If not, how long until the injured person reaches proper assistance?

Incident Protocol is the most important element of a thorough safety system as it is the last line of defence against serious injury. Should a situation occur out on the course that teams are not equipped to deal with, there must be a clear process for teams to follow to receive the necessary attention.

The first step is to inform race officials or Emergency services of the situation. The ideal situation is that each team has a communication device with them that they know how to use to contact the appropriate parties. If they do not have a communication device, there should be a clearly defined course of action for them, such as travel to the nearest checkpoint that has communication with the Emergency crews, or travel to the nearest home or public phone to contact Emergency crews. (Teams must know in advance what number they are to call in this situation). Obviously the latter option is not viable in remote wilderness areas and travelling to the nearest checkpoint is not an acceptable option when navigation is challenging.

Once a team has contacted Emergency crews to report an incident there must be a clear plan in place for getting attention to the person(s) requiring help.  The required attention will differ by type of injury/ location of injured person so organisers must anticipate the possible injuries/ locations and establish emergency protocol for each.

Assessing rick on a course
Ultimately, the aim is for organisers or a third party group designated, to review the course to clearly identify the risks on a given race course. By establishing the possible injuries from the activities in a race, assessing the probability of each injury (by determining the factors effecting the likelihood of the injury and rating the race on those factors) and then determining the required response time for providing the necessary care for that injury it is possible to reasonably evaluate how prepared a race organisation is to deal with the potential problems on their race course.

Operational/crisis management plan
Each event must have an Operational and Crisis Management Plan. This should be established in consultation with Medical and recovery specialists and preferably with the assistance of local authorities conversant with the limitations of regional/local medical and emergency response institutions.

All Race officials must be conversant with the operational management structures for the race with specific reference to:

  1. Line of command
  2. Reaction plans
  3. Emergency medical protocols
  4. Communications plans
  5. Contingency plans

This should be disseminated at a briefing preferably prior to the arrival of competitors, where all race officials are present, thus allowing for full exchange of information between all role players.


Please contact us now - rsa@ndorfin.co.za

© 2003-2024 www.ndorfin.co.za