Age or ability really don’t matter at a Mini Burn!

What can I say, I’m the happiest and proudest;

(1) mother

(2) daughter

(3) & Mini Burn Founder

in the world today.

Check out this Mini Burn training!

Next race October 10 @Margampark

Burn Adventure Race – the Ultimate Fitness & Strategy Test

It’s 10 years ago, in October, that the Burn Series Adventure Races started up in Wales, inspired by the New Zealand culture of sport.

The first race, Cardiff Burn was based in Cardiff City Centre. Since then the race has evolved and has now been relocated to the heart of the world-class mountain biking trail centre at Afan Forest.

The race begins at Margam Country Park, an 850-acre deer park which is connected to the trail centre by forestry and single tracks making the mountain biking phase an exhilarating experience.

The Burn now involves a challenging and hilly 10Km off-road run on a mixture of technical surfaces, 1km flat water kayak, a short foot orienteer and finishing with approximately a 45km mountain bike orienteer.

The course checkpoints change every year and you are guaranteed the opportunity to ride the trails at Afan Mountain biking centre.

The current winning time is just under four hours with a cut off at six hours.

I am delighted to say that we are the only Adventure Race in the UK which is 100% off-road which is probably why we have attracted four Adventure Racing World Champions, an Olympian, numerous professional mountain bikers and 12 different nationalities to our races.

With the Covid crisis currently dictating what we can and can’t do I am offering a full refund or an option to transfer to a future event if the event be cancelled due to Covid. I am putting in place numerous safety measures to ensure that on race day we are as safe as possible. You can read more about these measures on our website.

So why not make a weekend of it? Race with us on the Saturday, so we can show you around, and then enjoy the remaining trails at Afan Mountain Biking Centre on Sunday.

We are relying on your support to ensure the Burn can go ahead so please spread the word if you can.

The Mini Burn race (a shorter version of the Burn) is already well subscribed with over 100 entries already!


Some checkpoints are up high!

We do try and mix it up a little every year and hide our check points in some fun places!

Next race: October 10, 2020 Margam Country Park ,South Wales

How to get into one of our kayaks

Here is a short video for you to see exactly how easy it is to get into one of our kayaks.

This is 11yr old Anya showing us how to do it.

I know it’s a question often on peoples minds in advance of a Mini Burn race so hopefully, this will put you at ease and do remember we have plenty of water-based staff to help you also.

Next Race: October 10, 2020 at Margam Country Park in South Wales

How to turn a kayak

This is Anya, 11 who has been out today demonstrating perfectly how easy it is to turn our kayaks!

This is a single sit-on-top kayak. You will either be in a single or a double during your Mini Burn experience depending on the number of people in your team.

If you are two adults and a small child you can all go in a double as there is a child seat in them.

Next Race: October 10, 2020 Margam Country Park, South Wales

Mini Burn Training with the family

So today we all donned out Mini Burn t-shirts and set out on the first stage of our Mini Burn training.

A 3km run; but it’s wasn’t all running, we skipped, cartwheeled, ran back and forth and mainly just had fun!

Is map reading now an ancient art?

It’s certainly not for the Mini Burn and shows that you need brains and fitness to win!

The maps we use are orienteering maps and you can download some from South Wales Orienteering Club under ‘Permanent Courses’ to have a practice at your local park.

Check out some of our earlier latest news posts also to familiarise yourself with the maps from Margam Park from past Mini Burn events.

In the words of a World Champion

A few years ago we were joined at the Mini Burn by World Adventure Racing Champion, Nick Gracie, and his 8 yr old son George. You can hear what they had to say here.

A blustery 3km run

There is nothing better than a little wind resistance to help your training along!

4 days to go…whoops did I say six!

I was so excited to be out on my bike in my Mini Burn T-shirt that when I got home to my computer I realised I hadn’t excelled in maths!

Today we took to the water

We really want to give you every opportunity to take part in our Family Adventure Race. It’s one of a kind in the UK where you can compete alongside your children, in all of the sports and enjoy a fun family day out. Don’t leave it too late as the EARLY BIRD Entry will close on July 1.

The Mini Burn Stage of Fame

This year we will have a ‘Mini Burn Stage of Fame’ at the event centre.

Before you set off or after you’ve finished your race you will be given the opportunity to address the crowds.

Here are some examples

  • Maybe during lockdown you’ve uncovered a hidden talent that you want to show off.
  • Or tell us what you are looking forward to the most during the race or maybe what you are most nervous about.
  • We’d love to hear about any funny incidences that you experienced during the race.
  • It’s also a great opportunity to introduce yourselves and let your competitors know what they are up against! Let the race begin!

We can’t wait to hear and don’t worry, as usual, I will be at the start/finish arch prompting you with some questions. It’s, of course, all voluntary so no pressure.

Let’s settle your Covid-19 concerns!

So I want to share with you the measures we will be taking on October 10 at the Burn Series Adventure Race in order to ensure an environment which is as safe as reasonably possible for both the Burn & Mini Burn races.

Luckily not too much needs to change but here are a few things we will be doing in addition to the normal organisation.

  • In the registration marquee, your race numbers will be laid out on a table for you to collect and in this pack, there will be a full briefing sheet and instructions for attaching your timing chip to your wrist.
  • We will limit the number of people allowed at any-one time in the registration marquee.
  • There will be a larger marquee for racers to be before/after the event and in the case of bad weather. In this marquee, we will have social distancing reminders and it will be well ventilated with as many sides open as possible. (Fingers crossed for good weather!)
  • We will have a briefing marquee with an automated briefing running on continuous so you can attend the briefing at your convenience*. (* For the Mini Burn only)
  • We will supply hand sanitizer and hand wipes around the event centre.
  • All paddles and buoyancy aids (BA) will be wiped with antibacterial cloths after each competitor.
  • You will not be handed your paddle or BA as in previous years. You will need to pick them up and put them on yourself. There will be someone present to instruct you on the fastenings if need be.
  • All marshalls will wear gloves
  • At the end of the race, your medal will be on a table under the finish arch for you to pick up yourself. (In the case of bad weather, we will put them in the registration marquee for you to collect)
  • We will have one marshal who cuts off your timing chip at the end of the race and downloads your data. You will be asked to tear off your results from the printer yourself to minimise handling.
  • As always I (Maria), will be present on the startline to wave you off and welcome you back. Any questions please do ask.

Mini Burn preparation Step Five – Brag about it!

Okay so I don’t actually like the word ‘Brag’ as it sounds big-headed but if you struggle to commit to things then using peer pressure is often the best way to keep you on track.

Once you’ve entered the event, let your friends and family be part of your training by sharing every step of your programme with them. Use apps like Strava to measure your distances and times and post it out for the world to see.

It will be amazing how motivating it is to have lots of people behind your goal, and not just you.

This could also be the perfect opportunity to raise money for a charity close to your heart. Fundraising pages like Justgiving makes this so easy to do

Mini Burn preparation Step Four – Get some answers!

So I am regularly receiving e-mails from potential Mini Burner who are not quite sure of how the day is run. I fully understand that the concept of an Adventure Race is a little complex and certainly nothing like a 5k fun run!

So this is what your day will probably look like;

You will arrive at Margam Country Park car park with a car full of everything. Hopefully, you’ve remembered the kids! You park up and after quite a bit of faffing, you will finally have everyone out of the car with their bikes and a race bag each containing the kit and food/drink you need. Don’t worry there is a cafe at Margam Park where you can buy food also and a bike shop for any last-minute emergencies.

You will then begin a short walk, uphill I’m afraid, waving to the gate staff as you go who will let you in for free because you are a Mini Burn competitor.

Once at the top of the hill you see the Castle (which in fact is a gothic house and not actually a castle!) to your left and if you look across the grass to your right you will see our event centre. We’ll be super excited to see you when you arrive!

This year we will, of course, be employing some social distancing measures but this doesn’t change much as we already have access to a huge area for our event centre.

When you arrive you are directed by some super friendly volunteers into the transition area where you will be able to find a space for your family. Of course this year everything will be 2 metres apart. You put your bike down (the best way to place your bike is upside down on the handlebar and saddle) and drop your bags down. Only competitors will have access to this area.

Once you’ve left your bike and kit you step into the well-ventilated registration tent, clearly signed, and gaze at the entries board to find your race number. On the table next to it, you find a pack containing your number, race chip and instructions for the day. Who’s going to get to it first and most importantly who will end up wearing the timing chip? It’s up to you who wears the timing chip but the kids do love it!

Don’t worry we will have antibacterial wipes so you can wipe down everything before you touch it, although we would have already done so for you.

Back in the transition area, you are almost ready to go and you sit and wait to hear the announcement of your wave. There will be an open-air briefing marquee that you go to 5 minutes before your start time. There will be 4/5 families at a time listening to the briefing and any last-minute questions can be answered then.

The time has come for your family to join me on the start line. Before you set of , you’ll have the chance to leave the world a message on our Mini Burn Stage of Fame, talk to your fans, tell us a joke or maybe what you’re looking forward to the most and when all had been said, at the sound of the horn you race off into the distance on foot….following the ORANGE signs.

It’s a good flat run of 3km and after seeing only one or two other families on the course, you soon find yourself back at the event centre with a volunteer marshal shouting ‘dib your timing chip’ at you whilst pointing to the control box. You fumble around but manage to get the dibber into the control box to hear the welcoming sound of a beep and a flash so you know you’ve now got an officially registerd run time.

Everyone is still smiling but the sweat is beginning to run so it’s a relief to now have a little sit down as you head over to the lake, 100 metres from the event centre, for your kayak.

Neil, our kayak manager, is super helpful and will do everything he needs to do to help you get into the boats. Your buoyancy Aids and paddles will be lying on the floor ready for you to pick up and put on. We will wipe them down after each competitor.

Now the kayak is where the fun begins. There is virtually no fear of falling out of the kayaks but a lot of fun trying to get them to go in a straight line. Remember both paddlers should paddle on the same side at the same time and if you’ve got a very little one in the boat with you then maybe just having them sit upfront with no paddle is best!

Two loops of the lake and you’re back shore side. The lake at Margam Park is very small so you’ve never really been out of reach.

A few wet bottoms but mainly laughter and you dib your timing chip in the control box at the entrance to the bike transition area.

Now is when the hard work begins. You make sure everyone has their helmet on and you’re all stocked up with drinks and snacks for the ride. As you head out the last thing you hear is a volunteer marshal shouting is ‘remember to follow the YELLOW signs’.

All begins well and the riding is relatively easy. You cross some grass but mainly well-maintained tracks with a small section of private road, all within the perimeter of Margam Park. After 4km you turn right onto a slightly more gravelly track and a climb begins. You walk some of it but manage to ride most of it. Once onto the top track of the lower Margam Park estate you spot in the distance your destiny. Straight on for short course or right for long course.

Now it’s decision time. We really hope most of you will choose the long course because even though tough, the reward when you’re at home that evening having achieved the completion of the long course will be immense!

The climb gets steep and steeper still. Most of you are off your bikes, some might even be carrying bikes. It’s hard work and cracks begin to show. Some of your team want to give up but then you spot a sign telling you to push through the pain. It’s simple but it helps and before you know it you’ve managed to get to the very top of Margam Park with views, on a clear day, out to the open ocean. You can see for miles in almost every direction. You stop for a brief moment before finding the midway checkpoint, clearly marked, where you dib your timing chip, so we at the event centre know you’ve made the long course.

From now on, after a lefthand turn, it’s all downhill. You keep a close eye on your breaks the whole way but enjoy the mixture of open moorland and single trail. Maybe it’s the first time you’re little ones have ever done anything like this so maybe a few photo opportunities is worth a brief stop. Our photographer might just pop up when you’re least expecting it too.

Back on to the lower part of the Park you round the castle/gothic house, which is where you meet the short course competitors, and loop around the back of the Go Ape course before returning to the event centre tired, hungry and probably rather muddy, if the weather has not been too kind.

Now it’s time to see who really has what it takes when you return your bike to the event centre, dibbing your timing chip on your way, hearing the beep and flash and knowing you’ve got an officially registered bike time. You are handed a strange-looking orienteering map.

All that stands between your family and the finish line now are 5 checkpoints that you need to navigate to. If you’re not really racing then hand the map to your kids and see what happens but if you need to give them some guidance or in fact, you need some guidance yourself then just give us a shout before you leave and we’ll point out a few things for you to get you on your way. All checkpoints can be reached in just 2km on foot with good navigation.

Exhausted, excited, maybe a little overwhelmed and you all run hand in hand over the Mini Burn finish line where your arrival will be announced and a medal will be placed around your neck.

You’ve Done It! You’ve Done it!…now it’s time to rest and revel in the experience.

Mini Burn preparation Step Three – A little Training!

You will not be alone if you are worried about your level of fitness. Many people assume you need to be superhuman in order to take on an Adventure Race. Now for extreme expedition Adventure Racing that you see the likes of Bear Grylls being involved in, the answer is yes, you need an extreme level of fitness and experience.

For Mini Burn, however, we are introducing adventure racing at a concept level. This means that you get to experience what a proper adventure race is like but on a very scaled-down version.

I can confidently say that the vast majority of the population would be capable of completing a Mini Burn providing the will is there.

If I break down the event it may help you plan a little more. The 3km run is completely flat. The average time to complete the run is 21 minutes. That means the speed is 8.57 kilometres/hour which is a slow jog or a mixture of fast walking and slightly faster jogging stints. Of course, some run it much faster but others will walk the whole way. The best practice is to do some gentle brisk walks/jogs increasing the distance to build up to 3km.

To train for the kayaking some upper body strengthening exercises for the back and shoulders is beneficial but remember it’s only a 1km kayak. If you haven’t kayaked previously then it’s worth watching some videos online to get an idea of the technique required.

The cycling is by far the most challenging aspect of the race and you’ll spend between one and two hours on your bike. It goes without saying that the best training is to get out on your bike, preferably for some off-road riding. To build up your strength and fitness then road cycling is also very good and aim to take in some steep hills if possible. There is no need to be concerned about this section because in past feedback survey’s, it’s always voted as the favourite part of the race and if some sections are challenging then you can always walk and push your bike. It’s worth practising this as a family also. Aim to build up to at least an hour non-stop ride in your training.

The final 2km foot orienteering phase required more navigation practice that fitness training. Below is an example map from a past race. Take a look at the map and see if you can answer the following questions.

Which way is North? Can you identify some contour lines? Where is Margam Castle? What does the blue on the map represent? What does the green represent? What is the map scale? What is the distance between 109 & 108?

Mini Burn preparation Step Two – A Strategy

So unlike a standard triathlon, where fitness outweighs strategy, with Adventure Racing having a good strategy could mean the difference between a win and a second-place.

It goes without saying that you’ll need a good level of fitness and the ability of all in the team to cycle well. One strong kayaker per boat would also be beneficial and one member in the team being a strong navigator will definitely be to your advantage. Having clear team roles needs to be determined in advance.

With a time gap between the top two teams of usually one to three minutes only, means that race placings will be determined by the team’s ability to move at the pace of the fastest person in that team.

How does one achieve that? There are techniques used in adventure racing that aren’t used in other sports. On both the foot and bike things such as distributing the carried weight around the team and using towing devices can make a significant improvement to the team’s overall speed. A towing device on foot means that both team members need a belt or backpack and a simple bungee cord between the two racers. It’s amazing how much this can speed up a slower person.

On the bike, a bungee cord attached to the seat and threaded through a semi-rigid tube (to stop any rebound whiplash!) and then a loop for the towee to hold onto with the first two fingers will really help on the uphill and flat sections of the course. It’s worth practising this so the towee can get used to catching and letting go of the tow as and when they need too. It will transform your families cycling outings also!

Transitions will also need to be finely managed with the team’s overall aim of getting in and out as quickly as possible. Sometimes is good to divide up roles such as one person ensures everyone had water bottles and another ensures everyone has their helmets on for example. This could be a great opportunity for a younger teammate to take some responsibility. For some teams that are of equal ability, they might find it more efficient to focus on getting themselves organised. Plan for the unexpected. You may find that you get wet in the kayak and before setting off on the bike you want to change your trousers, which you hadn’t planned for. Ensure these are accessible and turned the right way around and you know where they are so you can slip them on quickly. Just remember every minute spent in transition means you’ll need to increase your overall speed during the race in order to win!

So, enough talk about winning, the vast majority of our competitors are here to have a great day and whether you are aiming for a win or just an enjoyable day out with your family it’s important that all in the team have the same goal. Your strategy may be to spend as much time on the course as possible, stopping for a brief picnic and this is absolutely fine with us too!

Mini Burn preparation Step One – The Right Kit

Okay so this is not just a simple running race and therefore you do need to think a little more about what kit to bring. Having said that it’s nothing complicated and nothing particular fancy is needed.

For the run section, you don’t need to carry any compulsory kit so just some comfortable outdoor clothing such as short and t-shirt or legging is fine. The trail is mixed with some hard-packed surfaces and some grass. Make sure you have run a few km in your shoes beforehand to ensure they fit correctly and work with your foot. Some grip is good to have so we recommend a trail shoe. Google it, there are lots of options out there. A regular road shoe will be okay but you may need to be careful on the grassy and stony sections particularly in the event of bad weather!

Everyone always wants to know about the kayaking and understanably it’s not a sport most people have done. The good news is that we provide everything for you, kayaks, paddles and buoyancy aids. There is full water saftey and our friendly kayak team will help you in and out of the boats as well as provide instruction on the water if need be. A word of warning though, you may get wet from splash and the drain holes that sit in the bottom of the boat! If the sun is shining and it’s a warm day, you’ll soon forget about this but if the conditions are not so favourable then you have a few options. Wearing a pair of waterproof trousers is a quick and effective way to keep your bottom and legs from getting wet. The other option is to have a new set of clothes for cycling in the transition area. We don’t have full changing facilities so you may want to bring a towel.

So for the cycling section, you may be on your bike for up to two hours. The long course is 10km with some good hills taking you up to 350 metres above sea level. Given this there will be some compulsory kit for you to carry so one member of the team will need a small backpack. You’ll need one phone for team and an extra top layer, water bottle and some energy snacks per team member. If the weather is really bad we may also add waterproofs to this list. Remember compulsory kit is only for your safety and comfort. You can either wear your trainer or some cycling shoes and make sure your clothing is comfortable.

Not to forget you’ll also need a fully functional bike. We do recommend a mountain bike because the terrain is very varied with some more technical riding in places. Please don’t be concerned about this because you can always dismount and hike-a-bike any sections you feel are beyond the ability of your team. You may also want to bring some spares such as a spare inner tube. We will have marshalls on the ground that can help you fix punctions, chain breaks etc but they could take some time to get to you so best to try and do it yourself. (We’ll post a video on how-to shortly)

The final phase is back on foot for some orienteering so you can wear the same clothes you ran or cycled in.

Some competitors bring a small box or a bag to leave in the transition area to keep their kit in. We provide a marquee to keep this dry in case of rain.

We hope you’ll want to hang around a little after the event and enjoy the food at the event centre and cheering on other competitors so a warm and dry set of clothes would be an advantage.

As always, if you have any questions then do let us know!