The Wilderman

July 16 2016, Walhalla, ND

"This race was by far the hardest thing I have ever done. I love ironman races because of the challenge and the people that do them. I love the crowds, the energy, and the strategy. This offroad ironman had very few people, but quality supersedes quantity." - Jess Anderson, 2015 Female Winner

Location: Walhalla Country Club, 12114 County Highway 55, Walhalla, North Dakota

Wilderman full: 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of mountain biking, 26.2 miles of trail running.
Wilderman half: 1.2 miles of swimming, slightly more than 66 miles of mountain biking, slightly more than 13.1 miles of trail running.

This is an epic race. Please--before you decide to do this race read the race reports from previous races (links at the bottom of the page).  Go in to this baby with your eyes open...

About: Accordng to one researcher, more people have been to the moon than have completed an offroad full distance triathlon.  Crazy.  But I'm not sure how long that is going to last, because the off road full distance triathlon is back--this time with ENDracing, a grassroots extreme endurance events company based, out of all places, North Dakota.  

If you thought Ironman was the end of the road - the big enchilada - the pinnacle of multi-disciplinary solo effort endurance sports - think again.  

Think Harder---Think Better---Think Wilder.

Welcome to the Wilderman*

Course Details (for the full distance):  Course Map. Overall the course will get progressivly harder as you go.  Here's why -

  • The Swim:  The swim will take place in the Mt. Carmel recreation area reservoir, outside of Langdon, ND.  It will be a two loop swim with a beach start.
  • The Bike: GPX data version 1, version 2 (right-click, save as).  The bike course will start at the reservoir, connect to a loop through the gorge which will be completed twice, and end at a remote location.  Bikes will be transported from the remote location to the finish line for you.  About 1/3 of the bike takes place on a state maintained multi-use trail system.  General mountain bike skills are all that is required and although there are many hairpin turns and undulating terrain, the trails are relatively wide and don't require expert biking skills.  There may be a few short sections of tougher terrain, but if conditions are dry the bike course will awesome.  The balance of the miles will be on gravel or minimum maintenance roads.  Again, lots of climbing, though no single climb will be bigger than 400' of ascent. Each loop will involve at least one river crossing (without a bridge), which in most years is fordable at thigh deep or less levels.  If it is a high water year we will provide lifejackets at the crossing and possibly a rope and/or raft (for ferrying the bike). Normal or low water years you will be responsible for your own bike at the crossing.  Recent roadwork has shifted about 15 miles of the ride onto pavement, but don't worry, you'll be thankful for those precious miles each lap.  In 2014 the fastest bikers completed the distance in roughly 9 hours. 
  • The Run:  GPX data version 1, version 2 (right-click, save as).  Elevation Profile. The run is going to be a doozy. It will be extremely grueling.  Starting at the remote location, the run is  a continuous one way trip to the finish line. 75% of the run's length will be in the gorge proper on a network of hunter trails and creek bottom running.  20% will be on gravel roads.  Less than 5% will be pavement. It is spectacular country but the ascents and descents will be frequent, sometimes very steep, and often punishing.  There are approximately 6 miles of creek bottom running.  Some is easy, shale bottomed creek while some is more rugged with possible boulders, deadfall, and/or other obstacles. The trails will vary signifigantly from good double track to rough and rutted (and at times overgrown) ATV trail, to very narrow singletrack.  The run will involve one significant river crossing, at which lifejackets will be provided in the event it is too deep to ford (extremely unlikely).  Most runners be tackling the run at least partially in darkness to add to the difficulty.  In 2014 the fastest runner completed the run portion in just under 7 hours. 

Course Details (for the half distance):  Half racers will do one lap of the swim and one lap of the bike -- with a few extra miles at the beginning and end of the bike this means they will do about 63 miles of biking total.  They will then face the second part of the run.  This means that they won't have nearly as much elevation gain as folks on the full course but will have some of the tougher creek sections, and the river crossing on the run.  The run will be about 17 miles. Good times!

Race Details (2016):

Date:  July 16th 2016

Location:  Pembina Gorge, near Walhalla, ND.  HQ at Walhalla Country Club (12114 County Highway 55).

Schedule (2015): 

July 10 (Friday), 4:00-6:00pm - Race check in, Walhalla Country Club (12114 County Highway 55).
July 10 (Friday), 5:30-6:30pm - Pre-race dinner (buffet style), Walhalla Country Club.
July 11 (Saturday), 7:00am - Race start (full and half), Mt. Carmel Dam Recreation Area (east of 104th St NE and 108th Ave NE, Langdon, ND 58249).
July 11 (Saturday), 9:00pm - Half cutoff (14 hours), Walhalla Country Club
July 12 (Sunday), 9:00am - Awards (full and half), Walhalla Country Club
July 12 (Sunday), 11:00am - Full cutoff (28 hours), Walhalla Country Club

We will make an effort to provide finisher shirts and awards for half finishers who need to leave before Sunday morning on Saturday night, but as our main focus will be on the race still in progress, this may not be possible in all situations.  Your patience and understanding is requested.  Shirts and awards not claimed will be mailed to the address you provided on registration. 

Registration: Less than 1/4 the price of Ironman!  

  Dec 1-Feb 1 Feb 2-May 31 Jun 1-Jul 9
 Opens Dec 1 $200 $225 $250
 Opens Dec 1 $150 $175 $200
Online registration closes 23:59:59 July 9.     No registration after Jul 9.

Registration Cap:  Race will be limited to 100 participants between both distances.

Amenities/Lodging: There are accommodation options in Walhalla (camping and motels, 11 miles from race start), Cavalier (camping and motels, 30 miles from race start) and Langdon (camping and motels, 25 miles from race start).  The Pembina Gorge is located approximately 2 hours drive from Grand Forks, ND and 1.5 hours drive from Winnipeg, Manitoba.  

Registration includes:  Pre race meal (friday night) for full and half wilderpeople.  Wilderpeople sticking around for Sunday morning can purchase tickets to a great breakfast/brunch for $10 each onsite. Wilderman swim caps for all racers.  All finishers of the full will get a commemorative T-shirt.  All finishers of the half will get a non-transferrable $50 credit for entry into the full next year. Other prizes will be awarded to top finishers of both the full and the half depending on sponsors and race numbers, but please don't do this or any ENDrace for the prizes--prizes are not our focus--quality suffering is.

Safety: This is a difficult endurance race in a remote setting.  Much of the course does not get cell phone coverage.  Although we will have ATV's on hand to help with medical emergencies, extraction of racers from some sections of the course will be difficult and time consuming, and much of the run portion is simply inaccessible except on foot.  Racers should approach this event with a 'self rescue' mentality - particularly for the run course and at the very least, understand that in an emergency situation (broken bone, etc) it may take a signficiant amount of time before help arrives.  Racers may choose to carry a SPOT tracker or similar device which may speed up response time (if an injury occurs to a racer without such a device, we will likely only know once a fellow racer who passes them and becomes aware of the situation reports it at the next manned checkpoint/aid station). Racers carrying emergency devices will be responsible for making sure emergency signals are communicated to the appropriate race staff (numbers will be given pre race) either directly or through a third party (loved one following their progress at home, for example).  Mandatory gear will need to be carried on both the biking and running portions.  The list will be published leading up to the race, but will include essential items such as water purification, space blanket, a light source, basic first aid, and navigation gear (GPS or compass). 

Other Details:

  • Mosquitos are present in the area.  At dusk and dawn they can get particularly bad if you are moving slowly.  Also, Dermacentor andersoni and Dermacentor variabilis are present.  (Wood ticks and dog ticks. We have not seen any deer ticks, Ixodes scapularis, but have heard that some may be lurking.)  We recommend bringing spray with a high DEET content for areas with dense bush, using permethrin-treated clothing, and/or nylon long pants/sleeves, or just not stopping!
  • There is some poison ivy along sections of the course although racers staying on trails should not be affected. Racers with severe poison ivy allergies may want to wear long pants/socks/calf sleeves during the running portion. Race creator Andy is personally severely allergic to the plant but has only ever had an issue when he's been off trail.
  • With the addition of the half distance option, the cutoff for the full distance has been stiffened up a bit.  If you are not up for the challenge of attempting the race with the new cutoff, try the half option, which is still far from something to sneeze at! 

*Please note, the Wilderman IS NOT IN ANY WAY AFFILIATED WITH IRONMAN.  It is a triathlon, however, that covers roughly the same distance in each discipline as an Ironman Triathlon.  As we mentioned, the Wilderman is harder, better, wilder, and a heck of a lot less expensive than the Ironman event.  Here are some extra trademark symbols in case we missed them somewhere: ™™™™™. 


Year Racers Results Photos Videos Race Reports Press
2015 13 started, 12 finished Results Wes, Beek   Tom, Jess  
2014 26 started, 17 finished (full only) Results WesBryan Video CalebDavidScott  

All profits from this event--and all ENDracing events--support Ground Up Adventures a local North Dakota non-profit dedicated to bringing adventure to the region's youth and larger communities.