We caught up with 30 year old endurance phenom Chelsey Magness from Team Yoga Slackers and here’s what she had to say about all things adventure racing.
TGN: Hi Chelsey, let us start by saying thank you for stepping into the spotlight and sharing your story with us. Our readers are curious, what is your main discipline or sport that you participate in?
Chelsey: Adventure Racing and Mountain Bike Racing
TGN: Awesome, a girl after our own heart. Tell us, what part of the country do you live in?
Chelsey: Bend, Oregon USA.
TGN: When you’re racing what class do you compete in?
Chelsey: I am in the Elite/Pro category in Adventure Racing and in July of this year I went Pro in MTB racing, too.
TGN: That’s great Chelsey. Congratulations on your recent success.
TGN: Chelsey, our readers are very curious to find out what it’s like to compete as a professional athlete in your disciplines.
Chelsey: In Adventure Racing, I love it. I love racing with my team, as I race with my husband and two of my best friends. We are always challenging each other and learning a lot. Many times we can seem like brother and sister, but that is the fun of it. We really are family, and we have seen each other in the best of times and in the worst of times. In Mountain Biking, I just turned Pro at the end of my season, I was on the podium in every one of my races this past season as Cat 1 and I am excited to be racing against the pros next season!
TGN: You’re very lucky to have the opportunity to race with your friends and family that’s for sure. So what made you decide to be an Adventure Racer and how has that affected your life?
Chelsey: I actually started adventure racing because of my husband, Jason Magness. On our fourth date we did our first adventure race together. It was a 4-hour race, and we had to finish in 3 hours because of a yoga training we were attending. We ended up winning the race and making it to class on time, I was scraped up, bruised and in love.
Adventure Racing has affected my life in many ways, some of my favorite lessons I’ve learned are you can do anything you put your mind to. Adventure Racing is all about mental toughness. There is no room for self-doubt or second guessing, that only makes the team go slower. There is, however, always room for “How” questions – “How can we go faster as a team?” “How can I help my teammates?” It’s also all about confidence. By going past my known limits and finding ways to dig deeper inside myself, I have been able to prove to myself time and time again that I am stronger than I think.
Find a way, or make one. In adventure racing there are no set routes, flags or cones to follow. All you get is a set of checkpoints, and how you get there is up to your team. I am grateful to be on a team that is adventurous and thinks outside of the box. We are always looking at the map and taking in all the possible route choices. The more fun, epic and wild we can make our journey – the happier we are. I take this into my everyday life as well, before I started this path of teaching, racing and training others I was on course to be a nurse. While that was of interest to me, it didn’t set my heart on fire like what I am doing now. Physically and mentally NOT taking the beaten path gave me the courage to make my own path in life.
TGN: That is great insight Chelsey, we can relate to a lot of what you just said. You truly have a passion for the sport. Tell us, what are your biggest goals and aspirations for this season?
Chelsey: Team YogaSlackers has had a really great season so far and we are very excited to compete in the Adventure Race World Championships in Ecuador. Last year was our first time at Worlds and are really happy with our performance finishing in the top 20 (we got 17th place). We learned a lot from that experience and want to be in the top 10 this year. I’m also really looking forward to Expedition Alaska in June 2015 – a 5 day race that takes place in the Kenai Peninsula. I was born and raised in Alaska and have always wanted to race there!
TGN: We’ll be rooting for Team YogaSlackers and following your tracker the whole way at AR Worlds. With that in mind, do you follow any strict training plans to help you perform at peak level on race day?
Chelsey: I think it’s really important to allow ample time for recovery and not to over train before any race. The week before a big expedition race, I try to get 9-10 hours of sleep a night, drink plenty of fluids and eat well. I also try not to stress; yoga, slack-lining and meditating help me de-stress.
TGN: Sounds like you’ve figured out what works for you. We’re curious, what is your biggest accomplishment as an adventure racer? Or your scariest moment as an Adventure Racer?
Chelsey: My biggest accomplishment in adventure racing is finishing every Patagonian Expedition Race that I have ever entered. This has been by far the most physically, mentally and emotionally challenging race I have ever been through. In these 7-10 day long races I have seen many peaks and valleys within myself and my team. We have always come out of it a few layers lighter and grateful for the chance to see places that very few people ever get the chance to see – both literally and emotionally. Scariest moment? In the 2011 Patagonian Expedition Race we decided to trek and swim in our drysuits. After bushwhacking in our suits for 24 hours, they got little holes in them and in the middle of a 2 km swim across a glacial lake on our Therm-a-rest pads I lost feeling in my arms and legs. I ended up having to hold onto Jason’s feet while he swam me to shore. I was so hypothermic that all I remember is waking up in the middle of the guys under a tent fly with them stuffing food in my face.
TGN: Finishing every Patagonian Expedition Race is just incredible. It’s said that it’s one of the toughest races due to the extreme elements, as you figured out first hand in that scary situation. I’m sure you came away a lot stronger and with a whole lot more knowledge.
TGN: Having a background in Adventure Racing ourselves we know that as endurance athletes we often find ourselves relying on a vast array of gear. What are the necessities to compete at your level in Adventure Racing?
Chelsey: Adventure Racing takes a lot of gear and I am a self proclaimed gear addict! The following gear is in my go-to Adventure Racing duffle:
Ibex Wool short sleeve, woolie long sleeve and arm warmers. Wool doesn’t stink and can be worn in hot, wet and cold climates. Very versatile.
Buff: I am a collector and hoarder of buffs. I always have one on my wrist, in my pack or on my head. I love getting them from different races around the world!
2XU – Compression Bike shorts, calf sleeves, elite tights and recovery tights. They are super comfortable and great for long races.
Pearl Izumi Bike shoes are the best biking shoes for running and biking in.
I love PrAna Knickers for bushwhacking.
Inov-8 X-Talon 212’s and the Roclite 282’s are my favorites, they are super sticky and comfortable during the longest races.
The Osprey Rev 24 or 18 packs are amazing. All of Ospreys packs fit me super well, I have a small waist and their packs ride and run comfortably.
I can’t ride any bike without Ergon Grips. Even my commuter bike has them!
Taking care of your skin in a multi-day race is crucial, so we rely on Joshua tree skin care products. Jtree Salves keep my skin happy and chafe free!
Fenix Lights are light, easy to use, and SUPER bright. I rely on my lights so heavily in Adventure Racing. Fenix Lights are the brightest lights I have ever used.
Nite Ize – their Gear Ties have saved my ass so many times in both Mountain Bike and Adventure Races.
I have a custom painted XS hard tail 29er Ellsworth Bike, she is 18 pounds and is my baby. Love my bike.
Now, food is a whole other question but we love it all. Having a variety in an Expedition Race is key so we don’t get sick of anything and it keeps you eating. Keeping enough calories and water in the body is super important in Adventure Racing. Some favorites are GU, Pro Bar Bolt Chews, Omni bars, Epic Bars, anything from Honey Stinger , Clif blocks, Tailwind, Osmo, and Alpine Aire.
Definitely Alpacka Pack rafts and Thermarest Neo Air Xlite: We never leave for a race without at least 2 or sometimes 4 Alpackas because we never know what the course will hold until we get our maps. As I said before, we are always looking for that less traveled and more adventurous route option. Our go-to models are the Scouts and Alpackas
Switch Sunglasses – Eye protection is huge in this sport, as are fast transitions. Being able to switch our lenses fast and easy from dark to light to clear lenses is a big help. My favorite are the Stokes.
TGN: It sounds like you have a lot of great support from some pretty amazing companies, it also seems like you have this down to a science, but I guess it kind of is a science. That’s what it takes in your high caliber races. When you rely on your gear so often for results you tend to become partial to certain brands or styles of gear, what are some of your favorites and why?
Chelsey: I love my Ellsworth Bike, it is that simple. When I am on it, I feel like it is apart of me. Not to mention our team has grown very close with Ellsworth, we even stay at their house and go on adventures together.
I love Ibex Wool. Wool is an amazing material to race in and I love the company. We have been working with them for years and they are like family to us.
PrAna while I don’t necessarily race in all PrAna yoga clothes, I love their knickers for bushwhacking and of course their yoga wear for before and after the races. As YogaSlackers we have been fans since the beginning and they’re like family as well.
2XU – I am a big fan of compression wear, 2XU is my favorite of all the compression wear because their seams do not bother me. I have sensitive skin, and the most annoying and uncomfortable feeling in a race is having a rash on your skin! 2XU feels like second skin and keeps my legs happy!
Osprey Packs – I have tested many race packs, and Osprey has been my favorite over and over again. It doesn’t give me back or neck problems -even after days of carrying a pack. It is comfortable and there are not too many pockets!
TGN: OK, now that’s Epic! If you get to hang and play with Ellsworth, you know you’ve made it big. Our readers want to know, if you had to pick just one piece of gear, your one go-to item to have with you on race day, what would it be and why?
Chelsey: On race day, I am never without my husband. He is either racing right along side me or next to the start line making sure I am ready. He is my biggest fan, supporter, and coach.
TGN: That’s a wonderful bond you share with your soul mate, not everyone is lucky enough to have a teammate and spouse all in one. Now you know as well as we do that nutrition is a very important factor when it comes to performance. What types of nutritional products do use regularly?
Chelsey: On a regular basis I train and race with Tailwind nutrition, Maltodextrin, Osmo, Honey Stinger, PowerBar, Clif Bar and GU energy products. I also make a lot of my own portables, recovery meals and smoothies out of the Feed Zone Cookbooks. I generally love variety and love to eat healthy!
TGN: We love just about everything out of the Feed Zone Cookbooks too, real food is such a treat during 24+ hour races. So, if you could have a Chelsey Magness pro model and design your own product what piece of gear would you choose? or do you already have one?
Chelsey: This is a hard question, as I have so many ideas! Being a 5”1 small female in this sport is hard, as often times the clothes, shoes and packs that I want simply don’t fit. I think the number one piece of gear that I would make is a backpack with an easy to adjust chest and waist strap that fits extra small waists.
TGN: That’s a great decision, there are definitely a limited number of Adventure Racing specific packs available, especially for smaller framed athletes like yourself. You’ll have to keep us posted if that ever goes down because we want to be the first to check it out.
TGN: You’ve already had an amazing year, so what other races are you attending this season?
Chelsey: AR World Championships – Ecuador, Expedition Alaska, Primal Quest if it ends up happening, AR Worlds – Brazil, Multiple Mountain Bike races in Oregon including Oregon 24 and Marathon Nationals, Raide International, and perhaps Patagonian Expedition Race in 2016.
TGN: That’s a seriously impressive line up Chelsey, let us be the first to wish you the best of luck at all those incredible races. Are there any races that are above your radar that you’d like to compete in?
Chelsey: People keep asking me to audition for the American Ninja Warrior show, but I haven’t decided yet.
TGN: That would be awesome! We’ve heard that’s a real tough competition and requires a ton of strength. Your yoga and adventure racing background would be a perfect fit, go show them what Adventure Racers are made of!
TGN: Now that you’re in the spotlight, what words of advice do you have for our readers?
Chelsey: Look at where you want to go and steer in that direction. Ever since the age of 3, when I got on my first pair of wheels and skis, my Dad told me to look where I wanted to go, not at the obstacle. This saying ran through my mind over and over again growing up and learning new skills, from driving a car, to learning how to snowboard, to running down mountains, to white water kayaking. Knowing your line and then following through is crucial. I give this advice to myself in everyday life as well, if an obstacle comes up, get curious and find a way over, under or around it.
TGN: Those are great words of wisdom Chelsey and a great perspective. Thank you again for stepping into the spotlight and sharing your secrets with us, we wish you the best of luck on the rest of your season and can’t wait to follow your tracker at the AR World Championships – Ecuador. We’ll be cheering you on the whole way.
You can follow Chelsey and all of her adventures at www.jandctraining.com, you can also keep up with her racing team at www.teamyogaslackers.com. Follow all of their adventures via social media by “Liking” her on Facebook, following them on Twitter and Instagram or by subscribing to their channel on YouTube.
See ya on the trails!