August 2010

numbers and another update

your team numbers are now on the team list

Bins - an executive decision by race guru jason has been made to change the rule about what could be left in bins for the packraft section.  you still only get one 20 gallon bin but pack it with whatever you want - you can leave whatever you want in it when you head out of this TA without penalty.  This was done so teams can put extra clothes/food, etc in there, which for new teams might be nice because they'll have no idea what to expect!  careful packing is still key though because it's only a 20 gallon bin after all.  Once again, life jackets don't have to fit in the bin, but can be put in a sack or tied/clipped/bundled together and labelled with team number.

swag bags are full and only going to get more full, with an extra bonus for female racers.

Canoes - if you're listed as having a canoe reserved for you from either UND or Crookston, please note that race staff will not be responsible for picking them up, etc.  I've reserved the canoes - now it's up to you!  UND pickup is only open until 5pm on friday - don't be late or you can't get your boat!  Crookston stays open a bit later i believe.

That's it for now!


PFD's/life jackets

All teams must bring their bins (with pack-rafts, paddling aids, inflation aids, etc) to the start line for the race day check-in (by 7 am please).  name and number of team must be clearly labelled on the bin, for easy identification later.  [NOTE - your number is NOT the number on the website now.  numbers will be assigned this week, so check back later for details].  In addition, you'll drop off your lifejackets (PFD's) in a garbage bag (or mesh bag, etc), also marked with team number at the same time.  This is different from information in the first packrafting post, but it also means you don't have to carry pfd's on one of the bike legs!  woo hoo!


Course revisions, etc.

Clockwise from upper left:  Jason setting the harder of the two tree climbs; Death Star balls adorn Jason's bike shorts; contemplating the best way to reach a CP during a pre-run of the course. 

Jason has been here since Tuesday and will have had a full course run through by the end of the day (thanks Ben for taking him through the final bit!).  As such, we've made a few changes worth noting and learned one or two things that should also be mentioned.  Here's the list:

1)  NETTLE: There is some stinging nettle on the course.  Not as much as last year, but it's still out there and, depending on route choice, may be prevalent in areas.

2)  CLIMBS: The climbs, which are all optional points (called rogaine points to differentiate them from the mandatory Checkpoints) are not necessarily easy.  Each of the three climbs has a different character, and only one team member will need to surmount each climb (and it can be the same team member for each of the climbs - that is up to the team).  All equipment for the climbs will be provided and trained belayers will be used to ensure safety.  Climbers will be allowed to rest on the rope during the climb if needed, but a time limit will be enforced - once the time limit has expired a climber who hasn't reached the top of the climb will be lowered to the ground and have to go to the back of any line to take another attempt.  If there is no line, they can try again immediately, but will still be lowered to the ground to ensure fairness.  The time limit will be short (3-5 minutes, TBD) and several sets of harnesses will be available at each site to keep things running smoothly and minimize any potential wait time.  In addition, each climb will be accessible at at least TWO points during the course, so if there is a long line when a team first hits the climb they can always skip it and hope there is not as much of a wait when they pass near it again.

3) BIKE FERRY:  The bike ferry across the river for the pack - raft section will now be mandatory.  Because there may be teams that were planning on skipping this section and chosen packrafts unsuitable for carrying bikes, the race will provide one or two inflatable boats at the ferry point for use on a first come first served basis.  They will not be inflated, however (although means of inflation will also be provided) so teams choosing to use these boats will need to inflate them, ferry bikes across the river, and return the boats to the original side of the river.  The ferry is short (less than 25 yds) and manageable, and a great 'adventure' aspect of the race, and it ensures a more continuous flow of the course.  Besides, everyone will already be wet!  I strongly advise teams not to have their first experience with blowing up and using their packrafts be during the race!  Get it out, blow it up, and figure out how you're going to use your boat.  This will save lots of time over trying to figure everything out after 3-4 hours of racing.

4)  DIFFICULTY:  This is - as advertised - the hardest race in North Dakota.  It is possible that all of the teams will not finish.  A fast and experienced team will, barring a big mishap, likely clear the course in 8-9 hours (I might have to revise this after the first full trial run by a non-local doing the course continuously next wednesday).  If this is your first race, don't expect to get all of the optional points.  Navigation can be challenging for new teams, and can considerably slow down the pace of even very gifted athletes.  Top adventure racers exhibit mastery of many skill sets, and also have honed through many races their ability to keep moving and minimize time in transition areas.  If you're not a top adventure racing team then you might have more fun making it your goal to finish the race as a ranked team, than to compete directly with the folks who have alot of races under their belt.

5)  FINAL THOUGHT:  we have a wonderful turnout this year - lots of teams from minnesota, fargo, and even further afield in iowa.  It's going to be an epic event - have fun with your fellow racers and your team-mates, believe in yourselves and you'll have a great race - whether or not you finish.  We've got great sponsors, awesome volunteers, and tons of passion into this thing already - it's going to be amazing.  And try to remember as you're miserable and suffering out there (which is virtually guaranteed to happen at least once during the race) that it was designed to push you out of your comfort zone and that, yes, i have done the whole course - twice.  (-=

END-AR Schedule


Map to Key locations

View END-AR racer directions in a larger map.
note - zoom out to see canoe drop location.  Location of UND is provided solely for those teams who have rented/reserved canoes from UND (you should know who you are!)

Please pass this on to your entire team, and make sure the you utilize the time before the race the best you can.  This goes a long way to an enjoyable (somewhat) race experience.  Stress out on the course, not getting to the start line!
Race Schedule
Friday, Sept 3rd.
4-7:30 PM  Team Check in at Northern Heights Rock Gym (see map at bottom for all locations) Teams will get course book (good for planning strategy), race numbers and swag bags. Staff will be on hand to answer race questions.
6-7PM  Clinic at Northern Heights Rock Gym.  Members of Team YogaSlackers will cover the following topics:




  • UTM plotting (tips and techniques for quick plotting pre-race and in the field) 
  • Towing Systems
  • Transition area Tactics
Don't miss this clinic if you can help it!  The clinic will be followed by a Q&A where you can ask more specific questions and get the advice of the pros....
5 PM on:  Canoe Drop open.  The canoe drop will be available (unmanned). If you leave your canoes overnight you do so at your own risk. You have the option to do this in the morning as well.  The location is on Private land, however, in the middle of nowhere, and considered very safe.
Saturday, Sept 4th: (All events except canoe drop are at START)
5:30 AM - Canoe Drop opens
6 - 7 AM - Race Check in opens at start line (for teams unable to make it to Friday night)
6 - 7 - Bin drop off for all race teams.  All bins must be labeled with team #.
6:45AM - Map pick up.  It will be good to pick up your map as soon as possible and begin plotting the optional points!  DO NOT WAIT TILL THE LAST MINUTE!!!!
7:30 - Pre Race meeting  (all teams MUST be present)
8 AM - Race Start
4 -7 PM  Food at finish line
7 PM Awards!








Super smoothie

So here is a little training secret.  Maybe it can help your team reach the podium.
We offer up three time tested smoothie recipes.  Enjoy.

Hope the training is coming along well!

Sponsor Update, and big win for Team YogaSlackers

This past weekend, Team YogaSlackers faced off against 2008 Adventure Racing National Champions, DART-Nuun/Sport-Multi. The YogaSlackers only non-1st place finishes this year have come at the hand of DART-Nuun, and so the energy was high. Daniel, Chels, and Jason pushed hard for 26 hours, racing a near flawless race to finally beat their AR idols...

It was the first time the YogaSlackers had beaten a national champion team, and hopefully not the last. The members of DART were a bit shocked, but thrilled to have such good competition. And to think - The team that is now YogaSlackers started right here in North Dakota...and used to be called "the North Dakota Nobodies". That was over 75 races ago....

Now - SPONSORS! We've been blessed again this year, with more support than ever. Great prizes from Ergon, Ellsworth, Ibex, Numa, Prana, Stuffits, Inov-8 - basically ALL the sponsors of the YogaSlackers team have offered to support this race! From grips to packs to unbreakable sunglasses to cash - you'll be racing for lots of great stuff!

And with Nuun to hydrate you, Tanka Bar and Power to Go Energy trail mix as fuel - there is no excuse to go get in those last few training days, bond with your team, and get ready to live.

Upcoming media

August 2010

I'll be doing an interview with Kerri Drees on 97 Kyck tomorrow at 12:10 pm.  There may be an opportunity for callers - i'm not sure.

After5 - the local GF entertainment magazine (free at various locations around town) had us on the cover (above) for August and the editor, Jordan Meyer wrote a great little piece about the event (scroll to the last page to read).  He heard about the race when covering the winter triathlon back in February and has been getting in shape with the aim of completing the upcoming race ever since - and for someone who has never adventure raced before he seems to have a pretty good idea of what to expect!

Lastly, look for a welcome to racers to start appearing on the digital billboard at the corner of Demers and Washington come August 30th, courtesy of the GF visitors bureau.

In a final note - i lost my cell phone while GPSing (we should all start using this word so it will be in the dictionary soon - how many other words do you know that turn an acroynym into a verb?  RSVPing perhaps?) the packraft section of the course and as such will probably never find it again.  Though i have to say that if anyone does find it on race day they can expect a fairly sizeable time credit.  I'm going to try and get a new phone today or tomorrow, in the meantime you can call my wife's number if you need to get a hold of me, and i'll call you back when i can.  701-330-1639 (Tammy).

Most private property permissions have been secured, although there is the possibility of one dispute which we're working on.  I implore all of you, when you're rich and own lots of property, to at least hear the requests of people who take the time to ask for permission to use your land.  And if you don't want to let them use it fine - just say so without making excuses like 'there's too much liability' (there's not - we'll have a 1 million dollar insurance policy for the race) of 'there's too much wildlife' (which the owner is going to go and shoot at later i'm sure).  Ok. sorry for the brief rant - cheers everyone.


packrafting 2 (and some general thoughts)

I've been getting lots of questions about the packrafting section so thought a second blog was in order. Above you see a google maps satellite image that shows an example of what the packraft section will be like (note - this is NOT the actual packraft section!) The ORANGE marker indicates the transition area where bikes are dropped and teams get their bins. The BLUE markers are checkpoints on the packraft section. Teams must get at least one blue checkpoint to continue being ranked. As in the above example, they are staggered on either side of the river. While it may be possible to stay on one side of the river and pick up a few of the points without ever deploying the packraft, it's important to note a few things 1) all the land is private property and travel through or immediately adjacent to fields will not be allowed. teams choosing to travel on foot between checkpoints, or even along one shore until they are a straight river crossing away from a checkpoint may face difficult travel conditions. If they choose to keep boats/tubes inflated, travel may be further slowed and/or rafts may suffer damage. I'm not saying that such modes of travel aren't allowed - teams may find game trails or other trails along the river bank or even sections where travel is easy (ie open forest, etc) and faster or more direct than travel by floating/paddling down the river. 2). Passage from the river to the obvious road leading back to the TA may not be possible from all locations. We will indicate on the map you receive (or mention on the course description you'll get on race day) which egress points are options. Teams should plan accordingly. On the above map, for example, assume the CP's are numbered from south to north, and that teams aren't allowed to cross the fields near CP 2. A team could then choose to get CP 1 only -paddling back across the river and navigating through the forest south to the TA; 1, 2, 3, and 4 - and taking the road(s) W and S to the TA, or 1-6. 3) Note that on the maps you actually receive, several of the CPs won't be pre-plotted - you'll simply have the UTM coordinates and need to plot them yourself or skip them!

When teams return to the TA they'll have three options. The PURPLE marker represents a bike leg CP which is optional. Teams can ferry bikes across (by whatever means available) and bike directly to the CP, skip the CP entirely (and still remain ranked) or bike south to the nearest bridge, cross the river, and bike back north to the CP before continuing on.
Lastly - when teams leave the TA their bins must be empty of all non-packraft related gear. Packraft related gear includes: boats/tubes/etc (which can also be left on the other side of the river for the teams that chose to ferry bikes), pumps, paddling aids. All team food, clothes, etc that was originally in the bin must either be consumed or carried with the team.
PFD's will be arriving to the packrafting section with the team and leaving with the team, so figure out a way to comfortably and efficiently carry your PFD's. you'll be carrying them on about 10-12 miles of biking and 4-6 miles of foot travel.
PLEASE ask questions - either directly to me or perhaps more usefully on the google groups page, where my answers can be seen by all.
OK - thats all for the packrafting stuff - now one or two general comments. Please read the race rules, etc - especially new teams - and ask questions ahead of time. In addition, show up for the clinic on the friday evening before the race if you can (6-7). Practice with your team - go for runs or bikes together - think about how you're going to deal with obstacles, what roles/strengths each person has, what gear you'll need, etc. Get excited about this - it really is going to be the hardest race in the state!
One thing bears mentioning as teams work on strategy. Although some separation is natural (especially as the race wears on or a team is looking for a non-obvious CP), the general rule is to stay within sight or about 50 yds from one another. A more important rule that we'll be enforcing much more strictly is that the entire team must go to each CP. As i told one of the racers today - if there is a difficulty or challenge associated with a CP then it is meant for the entire team - not just the strongest or fastest member. This isn't so important for a CP that is 20 ft off a trail in open woods - but if the CP is 100 ft deep into a wall of weeds or on the far side of a 15 foot mud pit - everyone needs to claw their way through or get dirty. It is an adventure race after all.
NEW TEAMS - completing the course is going to be a challenge. don't get sucked in to trying to do every CP - unless you're AR phenoms you won't make it. The course is designed to challenge the very best and still be 'doable' (by opting out of some/all of the optional CP's) by first time teams. be honest in your assessment of your own place on this spectrum and you stand a good chance of finishing. Over do it and you'll have to come back and try again next year.
Lastly i want to plug the sponsors - we've got a lot of great sponsors and can't put on the quality of race we do without their support. if you've done our races before you don't need to wait till after the race to show your appreciation - send an email, buy your new base-layer from them (and of course mention the race!), or, in the case of the local sponsors, just stop in and tell them thanks for helping make this happen.
If you got all the way through this - i guess you're probably as excited about the race as i am (;
Cheers everyone

Packrafting section and race overview

Hello everyone! I just wanted to go over a few details about the pack-rafting section so that everyone has a good idea of what to expect and there are no surprises of the sort that can ruin the race experience. Here's how it is going to work:

  1. Teams will be allowed one 'bin' (20 gallons or less) which they need to drop off at pre-registration on friday, sept 3 (preferred) or at race HQ by 7 A.M. on race day. Into the bin you can place the following: Packrafts, inflation aids (pumps), paddling implements (ie hand paddles, etc), clothes, and food, and running shoes (optional). Bin must be clearly labelled with team name and number (as given out at registration, not the number that you see now on the team list!!!). Please note, no electricity is available for pumping up the packrafts. If you want to be fast, have this figured out before hand! We may have some pumps available for general use, but these are first come first served....
  2. Teams will need one bag (mesh, garbage, etc) with all of their PFD's in it, also clearly labelled. These will be brought to the start line the morning of the race.
  3. The race starts with a rogaine section. The rogaine checkpoints are optional and teams are only required to get at least ONE rogaine point from this section to remain ranked. After this section, teams will pick up their PFD's and bike with them for several miles to the transition area for the packrafting section.
  4. The packrafting section is also a rogaine section. Teams will locate their bins and pump up whatever floating craft they have provided. The primary purpose of the boats are to provide passage back and forth across the Red River, as rogaine points are located on either side. Of course they can also be used to float along the river. Again, teams are only required to get one point from this section to remain ranked. After getting all the points they want, teams will travel back to the TA, carrying whatever pack-rafting gear they used. Teams pursuing all the points will be traveling a distance of just over two miles on foot. Paddling back up-river in a packraft while possible, will probably be much slower than walking!
  5. Back at the transition area, teams will have two options. The next section of the course is a short bike leg with one optional CP and one mandatory CP. The optional CP is on the other side of the river. teams choosing to pursue the CP can either bike to it at considerable distance (the nearest bridge to the TA is about 4 miles distance), or figure out how to ferry bike's across the river using pack-rafts. Teams that don't go after the CP or choose the long bike option can leave their packrafts at the TA. Teams that use the packrafts to ferry across the river can deflate and leave their packrafts at a specified location on the far side of the river. Teams will never have to bike with their packrafts.
  6. Pack your bins carefully before the race, because when you are heading away from the pack-rafting TA the only thing that can be left in your bin (or the specified drop location on the other side of the river) is your packrafts, paddling implements, and inflation aids (pumps). You cannot leave food, clothing, or shoes in the bin when you leave on your bikes for the next section. Teams that leave their bins full of this type of gear will receive a 30 minute time penalty.
  7. Teams WILL need to carry their PFDs as they head away from the pack-rafting section, and will be carrying them for the remainder of the course. PFDs are bulky but light, so figure out how to carry them effectively and make your peace with it. In my ideal adventure race, teams would carry all gear (except bikes) from start to finish - so if you're grumbling about carrying PFDs - realize you're getting off easy (; The PFD's will be used several times throughout the rest of the course.
If it sounds confusing, don't worry - a description of what you should be carrying as you leave each TA will be provided in your coursebook, so just remember to refer to it often during the race and you'll be fine.
SWIMMING: several teams have asked about swimming during this section. As long as teams have some sort of a 'craft' - be it a pool inner tube, a small one person raft, a tow-tube for fun at the lake - they are fine. a team of three for example might opt for a small one person raft - throw their bags and one guy in the boat, and have the other guys hang on and kick/swim across the river. Alternatively a two person team might get a slightly bigger boat and both cram in and use home-made hand paddles (a five gallon bucket works great - so does plywood i hear) to scoot across the river and stay (reasonably) dry. Whatever decisions you make about how to go, keep in mind that the more points you plan to get, the greater the distance you'll be floating/swimming down the river or finding passage/bushwhacking along the shore, and walking back carrying your boat(s). Please use good judgement and consider the weather as well in making your final decision - being soaked on a cold-ish and windy day is a lot more dangerous than a 75 degree sunny one.
HANDPADDLES: in setting elements of the course i have just been paddling across the river with my bare hands in my packraft. This isn't that efficient but does get the job done. Handpaddles are much more efficient and can cheaply and easily be made or bought. my recommendation is to make your own, as the inexpensive ones you can buy are meant for swimming and less effective at moving a boat, particularly with more than one person in it. That said, they do work, and Jason (my brother) recently paddled 30 miles in his packraft down the green river with tiny hand paddles, and was only slightly slower than the rest of us. Simply google 'handpaddles' to get an idea of your options, and then if you're handy, craft some of your own. If you choose to use a paddling aid such as a hand paddle, it must fit inside your bin.
BIKE FERRY: If you intend to be competitive and try and clear the course (which will of course be possible!) then you may opt to try and ferry bikes across the river using your pack-rafts. Depending on your arrangement, multiple trips and or padding on the raft may be necessary (ie a 5 dollar pool toy may be deflated by a gear teeth pretty easily). Packs, duct-tape, shoes, etc all might work well for paddling, but it is likely in your best interest to try things out before race day so that 4-5 hours into a race that you're possibly winning you don't need to invent some crazy scheme to get your bikes across the river without popping your 2 lb. boat and sending your bike to the bottom of the Red.
Ok, thats enough to think about for today. Cheers everyone. feel free to comment, discuss ideas with fellow racers, or ask questions!

The course and extra shirts

'On the ground' course planning is underway (as opposed to planning via google maps) in earnest - with the location of the first 10 CP's having now been determined. I always start to get excited when i finally get out and actually experience the terrain first-hand that is going to serve up the thrills, spills, and suffering to teams on race day. So far there are three features so notable (to me) that i've given them names - the 'tunnel of green', the 'wall of weeds', and 'bloody socks trail'. Don't be too scared about the last one - it was mainly a result of poor clothing choice on my part, and will only life up to it's name for racers that decide to go with shorts and ankle socks....

I'll keep updating the site with bits about the course to whet your appetites, but need to introduce one caveat at this point about 'trails'. There are lots of great 'trails' around grand forks, but i tend to use this word very loosely. A trail to me means a path which offers some degree of lesser resistance to passage than the surrounding terrain. In an open forest this probably means some sort of rideable single-track. In a field full of head high grasses this might be a barely discernable weakness through the mass of vegitation that is not only unrideable, but actually requires carrying ones bike (assuming of course such a 'trail' was on a bike section....). In other words, trail is used as a relative term. Don't worry though - you don't have to get all the CP's.... and not all of them are difficult..... (i do want it to be fun some of the time).

Lastly - if you want extra shirts (for family, etc) these will be available at our actual cost, but we need to have orders and sizes by next tuesday. I estimate our cost will be somewhere around 10-12 dollars a shirt, but plan for 15 just in case. Cheers everyone!


AR clinic by Team YogaSlackers pro racers - Sept 3!

The coming race will have elements that have not been seen in a ND event before. Teams will be required to plot points via UTM coordinates. Racing will be intense, with teamwork required to get through the race successfully. Team YogaSlackers members Daniel Staudigel and Jason Magness will host a clinic going over map reading, UTM plotting, and team tactics. The clinic is aimed at newer teams, but will have valuable insight for any team.

Jason and Daniel are veterans of over 50 races, including full length 10-day expedition races such as Primal Quest, XPD, Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge, and more.

Team YogaSlackers is currently ranked #1 in the California ARA series and will compete in National Championships in October.

Location will be announced soon, but save the date, Friday 6-7!

Executive decision

Greetings all.

Local teams are lazy! (;
I've received several requests to extend the 'early bird' registration for a few days, so here's the deal. I'll extend it until next monday (august 9th). At that time we need to have a good idea of numbers so we can order shirts and allow plenty of time for printing. If you've already registered, please shoot an email with the shirt sizes for each team member (unisex sizing). If you haven't registered and plan to race - please do so this week and also send an email with shirt sizes.
If you plan to race but can't get together the dough by next week, just shoot me an email as well - you'll find us more than accommodating. I do suspect we will fill the race (or come very close) once all the local teams get in gear and actually register, so it's shaping up to be a great event.
cheers everyone