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END-AR 24 is over!

from Photo set #1 (From roving photographer Wes Peck.  Photos should appear as a slideshow, starting with finish line photos and going backwards in time.  Feel free to download, share, etc.  For any professional use, please ask for permission first!)

Team Blind Squirrels (from the Twin Cities) wins both the overall race and the premiere category (3/4 person coed) by clearing the full course in 23 hours.  Team Swamp Donkey (from Winnipeg), also cleared the full course in just under hours, but walked right by CP 15, getting a two hour penalty and so officially finishes second overall but first in the open category.  Awesome job guys!

More to come later, including complete results, links to photos, and eventually some videos of the action that will allow you to relive it all from the comfort of your couch, and have you impatient for next race.  For now though i want to give a big congratulations out to all the racers (whether official finishers or not) for your accomplishments.  I said it at the awards and i'll sat it again - this was a HARD RACE, and not just by the merit of being a 'so called' 24 hour adventure race - there are lots of those out there (case in point - at another more high profile and long running race in Illinois this last weekend, top teams completed the full course in under 14 hours!)

The grit and perseverance displayed by teams was remarkable.  As i sat at CP 17 watching teams limp in well after first light, i put on a positive face and tried to convince each of them that if they kept pushing they'd have a chance at completing the short course - all the while secretly doubting that some of them could ever to make it.  Amazingly, every team that made CP 17 finished the course before the race close even though this meant they had to dig deep and give performances rivaling that of the top teams on the final river section. Some of them did this even though forced to paddle with one less raft than they started, as the shallow river had by then destroyed many of the less expensive boats.

I've got some many stories like this, i'll try to share them over the next few weeks, so bookmark the site and check back often. Racers captains will also be getting an email in the coming week soliciting race reports, comments, etc so be looking for that as well.  And tell your friends, recruit them, be honest about how brutal it is, but also about how it changes and affects you.

Once again, well done everyone.

A bit of Idaho in video

Jason here (Andy's Twin)....
Just wanted to guest post and wish everyone in the coming race luck.  It was a pleasure to have Andy race with us (GearJunkie/YogaSlackers) for 7 days....and I've put together a little video of some of the highlights and lowlights.  Andy was a total beast out there.  My favorite part of the video is when he explains that he is a shitty biker (lets face it, GF, ND is not a hot-bed for producing technical endurance mountain biking champions) and it is all his new Ellsworth that is getting him through.  In truth he was incredibly impressive on the bike, so much so that I may start dragging a tire around my trails in Oregon.

The story he might not volunteer though is the one about his brief stint as navigator, where he (and we are all at fault for not paying more attention) was trying to lead us to CP 61 and somehow took a wrong turn and over the course of an hour or so led us back to CP 60 in a big loop.  Whoops!

So keep your eye on your compass and stay found!

Jason

no rest for the wicked

My knee is still swollen.  my appetite is still ravenous.  I'm still sleepy all the time.  but can i sleep?  nope.... i've got an adventure race to plan!

things are going well on that front - and they'll perhaps be a little easier, as i learned in idaho that i don't need to be such a softy.  Don't worry, i'm not going to make the course harder, but i'm also not going to give in to some of the impulses that i'd been feeling (and suggestions i'd been getting) to make it easier.  I'm not going to go out and mark important intersections with flagging to help you make the correct turn.  I'm not going to change the start time to eliminate any possibility of semi-technical biking at night.  You'll just have to follow the advice printed on the the wristband given to all the Idaho Expedition racers, and "suck it up princess".

Idaho was good for me because it renewed my own belief in the good that comes from overcoming extreme challenges. Now extreme is different for everyone, and this race may prove too extreme for some - but this shouldn't be seen as a negative.  The pole vaulter can't always clear the bar - falling just short can be as motivational (or more so) than clearing it by a mile.  And if you do clear it by a mile?  well good for you.  I hope to see you in Idaho next year.

See everyone in a few days!

PS - don't forget coffee mugs if you want sat. morning coffee, towels (for after race showers) and flip flops!  Also, the river is a bit low..... this will make for an interesting race, as there may be a fair bit of strategy involved in when to paddle and when to trek along the river banks...... teams that have figured out how to paddle quickly may take the day as the current is only (as of today) averaging around 1.5 mph, less than half of what it was a 5 weeks ago.... good stuff!

Radio silence

I head out tomorrow at an 'alpine start' hour to catch a plane in Fargo, enroute to Spokane, the nearest major airport to race HQ for Expedition Idaho, a 7 day expedition style adventure race.  I'll return (fingers crossed) on Sunday evening.  During that time I'll be unable to answer phone calls or emails, but will have someone somewhat familiar with the race checking the email regularly.  He may not be able to take care of everything, but he'll do his best and give me a big list of items that need my attention when i return - i'll try to follow up with everyone/anyone by the tuesday of race week at the latest.  This being said, there are a few general items that should be made clear at this time:
  • Registration for teams will close after 7 pm on Wednesday, August 24.  I leave for the race site on Thursday morning and will need to know by that time the full field.  Payment either by check or paypal needs to be made by this time if you want to race.  
  • The Team list is now up (sorry it's taken so long) on the race page.  Teams that are listed as "pending" have confirmed their intent to take on the toughest race in the state, but have not yet put their money where their mouth is!
  • Swag has been ordered.  Only the first 60 registered racers will be getting all of the swag.  
  • There has been a lot of discussion about what constitutes a 'cross bike' for this race, and so we have come to a decision as an organization to define cross bike by the tire size.  Because cyclocross races typically require a maximum tire size of 32 mm, we will require a MINIMUM TIRE SIZE of 35mm.  We don't care if you have drops, or massive gear ratios - in theory you could show up with a bike that is by all measures a mountain bike that had these features.  The defining feature of a cross bike, as we see it, that gives it a speed advantage over a mountain bike on certain terrain, is that of tire size.  Feel free to disagree - but that is our position for this race.  That being said, the advantages cross bike riders might have on one section of our course might be negated by a later section, where rough terrain and ruts will be more likely to taco the thinner wheels of the cross bike.  If you decide to show up and ride a cross bike without modifying it with 35mm or greater tires, your team may be assessed a time penalty!

Radio Silence

I head out tomorrow at an 'alpine start' hour to catch a plane in Fargo, enroute to Spokane, the nearest major airport to race HQ for Expedition Idaho, a 7 day expedition style adventure race.  I'll return (fingers crossed) on Sunday evening.  During that time I'll be unable to answer phone calls or emails, but will have someone somewhat familiar with the race checking the email regularly.  He may not be able to take care of everything, but he'll do his best and give me a big list of items that need my attention when i return - i'll try to follow up with everyone/anyone by the tuesday of race week at the latest.  This being said, there are a few general items that should be made clear at this time:

  • Registration for teams will close after 7 pm on Wednesday, August 24.  I leave for the race site on Thursday morning and will need to know by that time the full field.  Payment either by check or paypal needs to be made by this time if you want to race.  
  • The Team list is now up (sorry it's taken so long) on the race page.  Teams that are listed as "pending" have confirmed their intent to take on the toughest race in the state, but have not yet put their money where their mouth is!
  • Swag has been ordered.  Only the first 60 registered racers will be getting all of the swag.  
  • There has been a lot of discussion about what constitutes a 'cross bike' for this race, and so we have come to a decision as an organization to define cross bike by the tire size.  Because cyclocross races typically require a maximum tire size of 32 mm, we will require a MINIMUM TIRE SIZE of 35mm.  We don't care if you have drops, or massive gear ratios - in theory you could show up with a bike that is by all measures a mountain bike that had these features.  The defining feature of a cross bike, as we see it, that gives it a speed advantage over a mountain bike on certain terrain, is that of tire size.  Feel free to disagree - but that is our position for this race.  That being said, the advantages cross bike riders might have on one section of our course might be negated by a later section, where rough terrain and ruts will be more likely to taco the thinner wheels of the cross bike.  If you decide to show up and ride a cross bike without modifying it with 35mm or greater tires, your team may be assessed a time penalty!

Details, details.

Vetting the course

Well, i leave on Saturday to participate with team GearJunkie/Yogaslackers in the Idaho Expedition race, so i'm desperately attempting to get all the details sorted out for END-AR 24 before my departure.  The maps are almost done (all 18 of them), the passport is waiting to be printed, and the course booklet has been written.  I'm including a link to the latter HERE so that you can start getting excited/worried/nervous, planning strategy.  I'd advise you to read it thoroughly (racers will be responsible for knowing this information!) and ask any questions ahead of time.  I'll be MIA from the 13th of august until the 21st, so all emails and phone calls will go unanswered for this period!

A few recommendations for these last few weeks of training:

  1. Get together with your team at night.  Go for a bike, go for a run, whatever.  figure out what you will need for the night section and use it.  It sucks to pull out your headlamp from the closet the day before the race and find that it won't work.  Many teams will be completing the bike course in darkness or near darkness
  2. Figure out how you'll keep your maps dry. Only your master map will be waterproof.  All the supplementary maps will be on regular paper.  A map case or doubled freezer bags might do the trick, but make sure to bring extra in this case so that you won't be out of luck if they get ripped!
  3. Practice inflating, deflating, and carrying your packraft.  Figure out how/who will carry what.  Teams that are efficient in moving through transitions and getting on and off the river will save 30-60 minutes over teams that haven't practiced at all.  
  4. Mentally prepare for a real challenge.  While a 24 hour race of this nature will serve up plenty of physical challenge, it is mental unpreparedness that is the reason that 90% of teams that withdraw do so.  And yes, some of you will withdraw.  My gut feeling is that fewer than 30% of the teams will clear the long course, and at least 25% of teams will not finish the race (prove me wrong guys!)
  5. Hang out together. Discuss team roles/goals.  Part of the mental reason teams withdraw is because its even harder to face the significant challenges of a race like this when you have personality conflicts as well. Most team-mates won't respond well to being yelled at or criticized when they are at their low point.  Know how to best motivate or rally a lagging team-mate and your far more likely to finish as a team (i.e. ranked).
  6. Commit.  Yeah, there will be trails.  In fact, alot of them.  But for teams gunning for the full course, there will also be several sections of rough terrain where more than once you might be tempted to assume that you must be going the wrong way.  "Surely i'm not meant to go through that" you'll think.  Do yourselves a favor and don't give in to this assumption.  If you're on course you'll never be bushwhacking for more than 30 minutes or so, but it may be a pretty grim 30 minutes.  You won't be expected to jump off of or climb sheer cliffs (by the way, 45 degrees is not sheer, though it may feel like it at the time), but there may be times when you're pushing your way through terrain that rivals some of toughest that Patagonia has to offer (albeit for a fraction of the time).  And remember - i've been there and done it too - at least twice.

Cheers!

Andy

Swag Deadlines

I'm placing an order with our sponsors for swag on Monday, August 8th.  Teams who haven't registred, or at least confirmed attendance by that time will still be able to register later, but are not guaranteed all the swag!  I'll likely over-order a bit, and teams registered/confirmed after the 8th will get swag in order of when they sign up, until its gone. 

Long story short - if you're planning to race and haven't registered or signed up - kindly send me an email and let me know the details (team size mainly) so i can get a better idea of our numbers.  Cheers everyone!

Also, we've still got a number of packrafts or other watercraft available for rent if teams want this option.  Can be reserved on a first come first served basis.  Alpacka scouts are $30 each, and we've got a couple of other options as well, so inquire if interested.