Taking on the Operation Flinders Challenge, whatever the distance you choose, can be just that - a real challenge. Having said that, it is a goal that can be achieved with the right preparation. Planning for success in the event is crucial.
The first step is to set your goal – 15, 31, 57 or the ultimate 85km. How much are you prepared to challenge yourself? In setting a challenging but achievable goal, we then need a plan and a method that will see us strive for, and achieve this goal.
Start with a basic fitness program and get some experience walking. Walking for 3 or 4 times a week for 30-45 minutes will quickly build a basic level of fitness. At the weekends, test yourself with some longer walks that include some hills. It is important to have walked the trail (of your event) before the event. This will enable you to become familiar with the route, and minimise time lost by searching for the track. When tired or walking at night it is easy to take a wrong turn. Being familiar with the trail is a big advantage.
It is extremely important that you prepare your body for all possible weather conditions. Extreme heat or cold weather WILL influence your ability during your event and can seriously affect you if you are unaware of your physical limits. You should prepare yourself by training sensibly on the trail in various conditions and learn to become aware of what your body can and cannot achieve. It is extremely important that you keep your fluids up and rest or retire the moment you begin to feel unwell or stressed. It is good practice to train with at least one other person and to let someone know your plans when you are training on the trail.
Clear parameters have been set for the Operation Flinders Challenge and the event will be cancelled should the conditions be deemed dangerous by Event Management in consultation with the Emergency Services.
It is important to develop a basic plan, but more importantly, to stick to it. Set out your approximate arrival time at each checkpoint (this can be calculated by walking sections of the trail beforehand). Consider where and when you might like to have a longer break. A word of warning, many teams find it harder to get going again after long breaks. Short and sharp rests are preferred. Gaining an understanding of your walking times will provide assistance to your team and support crew.
Your practise walks will give you an indication of your speed. Keep sectional times for future reference. It will help your timing for support crews to provide additional water and food. Regular contact with support crews will enable you to have changes of clothing and additional warm/wet weather gear should the need arise, without having to carry it yourself.
Navigation at night can be a little daunting. A night walk must be completed at least once in your preparation. It will prove valuable if at least one member of your team has completed a night section before the event.
The team that stays together, finishes together and achieves together. There is no greater satisfaction in knowing that you have helped other team members complete your goal together. The Operation Flinders Challenge is not a race - all teams who finish together are winners.
These notes are designed to encourage and assist people in their preparation for the Operation Flinders Challenge. Above all, remember…..have fun, use common sense, and the safety of all teams is the number one priority.
You will need to re-hydrate regularly. As mentioned, weather conditions can be very hot. Your practise walks will give you the opportunity to carry your water and give you an idea of how much you will need in given conditions. It is important to take hydration seriously over the weekend. Water is best for beating dehydration, but occasionally a sweeter, energy-type drink makes all the difference to lagging spirits and tired legs.
Begin preparing the food you will take on course in the days prior to the event. Foods such as cereal bars, dry biscuits and tinned fruit can be organised several days ahead. Fresh foods such as sandwiches can be prepared the night before. Avoid additional stress by ensuring you have got the foods that you need well in advance of the night before competition though! Don’t forget your drink bottles!!
The term “carbohydrate loading” is used to describe the practices of endurance athletes to consume large amounts of carbohydrate in the days prior to an endurance event such as the Operation Flinders Challenge, with the aim of maximising muscle carbohydrate stores and improving performance.
Classical carbohydrate loading practices required 2-3 days consumption of large amounts of carbohydrate-rich foods. Recent research, however suggests that an intake of ~10g Carbohydrate per kg body weight in the 24-36 prior to an endurance event, combined with tapering training will maximise muscle carbohydrate stores. A Sports Dietician can help you design an individual carbohydrate loading plan.
Tips for carbohydrate loading:
Before you start a long training session or an event such as the Operation Flinders Challenge, ensure you are fully hydrated. If you are well hydrated you should be producing regular amounts of clear or lightly coloured urine in the hours prior to exercise. You can achieve this by drinking 400-500ml per hour of fluids in the 1-2 hours leading into exercise.
For individual advice on event preparation contact a Sports Dietician.
Replenishing your energy levels during the event is important. That’s where your support team earns their keep. Breads, jams, fruit and soup will be available at Checkpoints; however it is recommended your support team provide additional food. Pasta, rice, rolls and breads are a great source of slow burning carbohydrates, and will help you tackle the latter part of the trail with more energy. A hot cup of soup at Mt. Lofty or Mylor can be a welcome respite, particularly in cold temperatures. Carrying glucose based sweets and energy/nutritional bars will supplement the food available at checkpoints and from your support team. Go easy on the salts and electrolytes, as your major issue is keeping fluids up. Lightweight, high-energy bars or pieces of fruit cake can also prove helpful.
When considering your food requirements for the event, the rule of thumb is take with you what you want and need, especially if you have an individual “palate” or special requirements.
In general you should aim to consume 60-80g carbohydrates per hour during the event. This can be achieved through regular intake of carbohydrate containing fluids and food. For individual advice on meeting carbohydrate requirements contact a Sports Dietician.
Remember to familiarise yourself with the foods and fluids you are going to consume during the Operation Flinders Challenge so you won’t have to worry about it during your race!
Some examples of foods to choose during extended training sessions and on event day include:
During the event it is time to put all the practice during training into action. There will be plenty of fluids (including Sports Drink, water, tea and coffee) available at the checkpoints, so refill those bottles. Aim to drink to your estimated fluid requirements or at least 150-250ml every 10-15 minutes. Thirst is a poor indicator of hydration status so remember to “Drink Early, Drink Long, Drink Smart”.
Are there any nutrition supplements that may improve performance in the Operation Flinders Challenge?
The answer is yes in some situations, but any race supplement strategy should be practiced in training first and individualised advice is recommended.
The Operation Flinders Challenge is not an easy event and it requires proper training. Much of the trail is over difficult terrain, and you will be out in the open country for many hours. If registered for the 57km or 85km events, it is important that you plan and train for the event in advance, including undertaking night training.
The weather during the Operation Flinders Challenge event weekend can be unpredictable. It may be hot and dry; it may be cold and wet, particularly at night in the Mt. Lofty Ranges. In some instances the weather could peak in the mid-30’s during the day and then plummet to 5 degrees at night, again preparation and planning is the key.
To view some great gear online visit:
You should check your comfort in your preferred attire by completing some longer walks in this clothing. At night ‘long johns’ or ‘thermals’ can be a godsend. Wearing these under shorts/shirts will keep muscles warm in cold temperatures. A light waterproof/windproof jacket will also assist in keeping warm, along with a beanie.
Socks are important. Keep your feet clean and dry. Wool socks are preferred to cotton, and should be changed regularly. Checking for, and the prevention of blisters is paramount. Some experienced participants apply blister-blocks or strapping tape to their feet and toes before they walk, to help minimise problems that may arise later. Prevention is better than a cure.
Possibly the most important factor in you achieving your goal are your feet. You need to be comfortable in your footwear and sock combination. Using untried socks and shoes can be a dangerous approach.
The first section to Checkpoint 1 is a hard surface walk. It can be hard on your feet, plodding along the concrete path. It will be important to complete this section with your feet in good condition. For this section, make sure your feet are well cushioned. A different pair of shoes may be an option. Lighter shoes and boots have proved to be the most successful in the past.
A. Once registered a medical form with your bib number/s will be posted to the individual/team captain prior to the event day. This form is to be handed in to the relevant sign in marquee on the morning of the event where you will then be allocated your bib/s for the day.
A. Yes. A new bib recording system has been put in place, which scans participants through each checkpoint, indicating name and team to checkpoint staff. This is why each bib is allocated SPECIFICALLY to individuals upon registration and MUST NOT CHANGE.
A. Yes, you must raise the minimum donation per your category. Failure to do so could restrict entry into future events.
A. No, but you are welcome to walk with other teams if you have a larger group of people interested in participating.
A. Yes, the Operation Flinders Challenge is a team event and all teams must check-in and check-through each Checkpoint together.
A. Your bib will be given to you at the time of signing in on the morning of the event when you hand over your team medical questionaire. This is to ensure that all medical forms are received and also allows the event staff to know exactly who is participating on the weekend.
A. It is strongly recommended in the 85km event. You should travel as lightly as possible along the trail and your support team meets you with food, a change of clothes, night gear, etc. It is unreasonable to expect you to carry everything you’ll need for entire event.
A. There are some areas of the trail where mobile phones do not work. Teams are required to carry phones on two different networks to extend the coverage.
A. Non-chafing training clothes. Make sure they are light weight and comfortable. Be prepared for the cold, particularly at night.
A. It is up to you. Experienced walkers are divided on this point so the best thing to do is get training on the trail and find out what is best for you. Some also prefer to have spare shoes (and socks) so they can switch back and forth during the event.
A. Check-in and check-through desks, toilets, water (cold and boiling), basic provisions (fruit, bread, jam and soup) and first aid facilities. Most Checkpoints also give you the opportunity to meet up with your support team (relatives/friends helping your team with comfort, encouragement, change of clothes, other food & beverages).
A. Registrations will close Monday the 25th September 2017. LATE ENTRIES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.