March 2012

CP tracker and packrafts

END-SPAR racers!  If you're keen to be ranked by CP tracker and have a shot at the free entry into CP tracker nationals, you better mosey on over to CP tracker's website and get your team registered.  It's absolutely free for teams to register and only takes a few minutes.  Once your squad is listed on the site, you can 'add' END-SPAR to your roster - the ranking will happen automatically when we post race results.

Rankings are explained on the site and remember - we'll award the free entry to the top 3 or 4 person coed team based on point totals from both END-SPAR and END-AR.  You'll need 4 people to race in CP tracker nationals, but you'll have some time to figure out a fourth if you only have 3 now.  This 'prize' will be non-transferable and will roll down the rankings until we find a team able to head out East and represent!

Scene from the 2011 Swamp Donkey AR

We've also got some other great races that will be prizes for END-SPAR - an entry into Swamp Donkey Adventure Race, an entries into the MNOC adventure-O, entry into our own END-AR24, and finally entry into the 12 hour 'Bend'-AR, put on by Team Yogaslackers out in fabulous Bend, OR.

Lastly, preliminary forays out onto the course suggest that unless we get some more snow or rain leading up to the race, the river will be pretty low.  This means a couple of things to racers - the 'river walk' section might be a bit easier than we'd hoped (don't worry, we'll make up for it in other areas), and the pack-rafting section might be moved from the turtle river (where if the water is too low it'd be faster to walk than paddle) to the reservoir.  It'll still be an optional section, but significant in terms of time for teams hoping to clear the course, and challenging navigationally as well.  This is good news if you've got those cheap rafts, which - based on the two sections I 'ran' last weekend - could quickly be destroyed by rocks and gravel bars in the bony river.

If you did buy a nice boat though - don't despair - there will be no such concessions for the 24 hour race where regardless of river level, the fastest (and only way) to get through much of the course will be on the Pembina river..... you'll be glad to have a bomb-proof vessel come August.

GearJunkie/Yogaslackers heads are on the block

They have giant targets on their back.

Maybe you should just follow them, draft off them, and then sprint past them at the finish.

If your kids ever become adventure racers you can tell them the story of how you beat GearJunkie/Yogaslackers and watch their eyes and their admiration for you grow exponentially.

But you have to beat them first.

Some say it will be impossible.  I favor just improbable. But i know for a fact that there will be some racers among those toeing the line at the upcoming END-SPAR event that will even be outright fitter than they are.  Then again, AR's about way more than fitness.

Regardless of how things shake out, it will be a pleasure to have them race with us next month.  Hopefully, they'll agree share a bit of their vast experience with us so that no matter how you start, you end up a little bit faster by the end.

believe it or not, you can learn a lot from what is behind that blank stare....

Adventure racing mentality

I got an email from a friend and fellow ENDracer, Chase Christenson, yesterday.  Chase is on team Aborted Unicorns along with Max Whittaker and will be defending his title as Overall END-SPAR champ again this year.  He and Max have been the fastest team in any category to clear the course at both previous editions of the event.

He recently participated in the iceman triathlon and i remember wondering why he so far back in the field..... i reasoned that maybe he was getting soft as he aged.  Nope.  Blisters.  Here's his account and a little insight into what makes a good adventure race mentality (especially for the really tough races!).  Chase writes -

the blister

I sent you two pictures of one of my feet. I received similar sized blisters on both of my heels during the END Iceman Triathlon.  Thankfully, the blister on my right foot popped during the race and I had a blood/puss filled sock. 

The blisters became painful and large somewhere around the halfway mark during the ski section. I mostly blame the lack of snow throughout the season for the blisters. I had tried out my new ski boots only once (we didn't have much snow). During that trial run I got a blister on my left heel, which I attributed to poor choice in socks. Come race day, I had my sock layering down and I was ready to go. Or so I thought.The pain was pretty awful during the ski, but I managed to hobble in,I knew the bike would be OK because feet don't more around as much while biking.
I put on my running shoes after the bike and almost tapped out right there. I looked around at the race course, looked at the warming hut filled with cookies and soup. I decided to give it a shot and stop if the pain was too much. My jog quickly turned into a walk through the snow about 1mile away from the TA. I watched other runners pass me, Iturned around more than once to go back. At one point I even startedmaking a B-line towards the warming hut, trudging through the snow. 

Then I asked myself a few questions; What would Andy say? What wouldMax call me? What if this happened to me during an adventure race? Ihad to go on.

Bravo Chase.  ENDracing approves.

And the second essential Ibex item is....

the El Fito 3/4 length knickers

A few of you took advantage of the deal on Ibex Shak jerseys that we offered as part of our first event in 2012, the ColdAvenger Iceman Triathlon.  We'll be offering a new piece of what forms the Yogaslackers 'essential' AR kit at each race.  What's up for END-SPAR?  Wool bike shorts!

You can choose between the Duo/Seree short (for men/women respectively) or the El Fito 3/4 length knickers.  We'll offer a 20% discount off retail (including tax, shipping AND endracing logo...) for either choice.  Which to choose?  The Duo is a staple for general riding and paired with a good, durable pair of leg-warmers (mine are Ibex of course) will serve well in the toughest AR.  The knickers, however, stand out as better as a single piece in AR - protecting your knees and shins from all the nasty thorns and burrs that some race directors (not me of course, i would never do such a thing!) like to send their racers through.

Wool in general has some advantages over nylon/lycra bike shorts - the thicker weave is more durable, blocks more wind, and keeps you warmer even when wet (and you will, of course, be wet), and dries quickly.  We will place the order with Ibex on April 9th to ensure time for delivery and screen printing, so make sure you email me your intentions before then!

Packrafts for sale!!!

The 2012 Alpacka fleet

All boats are SOLD!

Many racers who have done one or more of our adventure races in the past are hooked and know they will be doing every event we offer.  Of this group, some of you have expressed interest in getting alpacka rafts - knowing that they'll last for years. Please keep in mind that although alpacka rafts represent the most durable option, they are pricey!  lots of teams have used cheaper (sometimes drastically so!) alternatives with great success.  yeah, it's unlikely that that $10 intex boat you buy from amazon will last more than one or two of our races, but lets be honest - your shoes and socks might not last more than one or two of our races either!  Anyway, for those of you interested in the alpackas, read on....

Alpacka has signed on as a major sponsor of our events again this year and will be donating two of the 2010 model alpacka rafts for us to give away (one at each of the adventure races).  In addition, we've made a deal with them that allows us to purchase new boats and gear at 10% off of retail (the best deal anyone gets as they don't use distributors in order to keep end costs as low as possible for the consumer).  We're willing to pass on this full savings to registered racers that want to order new boats.

In addition, we've got the exclusive rights to sell the last remaining 2010 model boats.  These are all NEW boats, but without the 'big butt' design that was launched in 2011.  The big butt is an improvement over the previous design in terms of tracking and stability in serious whitewater.  That said, i've been doing serious whitewater and having epic adventures in my own boats since 2005 and have yet to upgrade to the new design.  The old design is just as bombproof and functional as the new one... and if budget is your main concern (you'll save 100 bucks or so on the old model craft) then you'll want to consider one of these.  Here's whats left:

Available 2010 model alpackas
2 undecked alpackas - $670 ea - both SOLD
2 decked alpackas - $770 ea - both SOLD
1 decked yak - $770 - SOLD
1 decked denali Llama - $770 - SOLD
1 double duck (undecked) - $750 - SOLD

as far as recommended craft?  the scout is still my favorite one person boat for AR, and the cheapest option at $550 new (under 500 with 10% off).  however, since AR is a team sport where speed of travel is important, many teams have success with bigger boats and doubling up.  The denali llama (or yak, or even the alpacka, depending on racer size), with practice, can be a great alternative boat that is able to effectively transport two racers on many types of water (all you're likely to see in our races).  And it can also then be used as a single person craft for non-race situations (lake fishing, serious whitewater, etc.).  Honestly, you really can't go wrong.  My one acrossed the board recommendation is to consider carefully whether you want a 'decked' boat - for most AR purposes the deck probably isn't needed, and if you later decide you want to add a deck, Nancy at the alpacka workshop will happily put one on for you, for the same price it would have cost you in the first place. 

There you go! If you want one of the 2010 boats, let me know - first come first served.  if you want a new boat, send me an email with the details and i'll place the order.  They've got stock on hand so orders will likely show up within 5-7 business days.

Preliminary Course Notes

Time to start getting excited/scared/sign-up/think of excuses to wimp out.  below are some notes about the course after my google maps work today, as posted on the facebook site. 

regarding END-SPAR: Well, i just finished planning the course! there will be some tweaks as i actually go out in the field, but i'm super psyched already. 10 mandatory CP's and 15 optional ones, similar to past races. Lots of epic nastyness in store for everyone.

A few things to note -

1) you will be able to complete the mandatory points with very little if any technical biking (which is good... because the trails might be a huge mess), but for those aiming to get all the optiona CP's you'll be riding some trails.
2) You are going to get wet if you want to go fast. And it will probably happen within the first 15 minutes of the race. know how to stay warm and prepare accordingly (changes of clothes, etc).
3). Although the packrafting section is optional, there is another new section this year - the 'river walk' section. teams going for the optional CP's in this section will need to have pfd's so even if you're planning on skipping the packraft section you might want to scare up some lifejackets.
4). There will be three optional challenges offered at one of the TA's, each worth one CP. here are some hints - practice building a fire, read about camping with bears, start lifting weights.
5). Practice, practice, practice navigation! Or pay one of our veteran teams so they'll let you follow them. or better yet, pay them to teach you how to navigate. Beer might serve as a substitute for actual payment.
6) Depending on how things go, we might extend the scope of the race allowing for 7-8 hours of racing instead of 6 so more teams can have more fun.

Scared yet? (;


We've written lots of posts about pack-rafts and pack-rafting in the past and have no intention of recreating the wheel - instead, i've just re-linked to them so that those newbies to ENDracing's brand of adventure racing can so some reading to know what to expect during the optional (but so totally awesome) pack-rafting segment of the upcoming spring race.  In addition, i wanted to remind everyone (i've been told by a number of years that they are buying proper pack-rafts this year) that we can order Alpacka Rafts - the top end of packrafting from Alpacka for 10% off.  You don't need Alpacka rafts to enjoy pack-rafting in our races (a team in 2011 used an inflatable air mattress!), but most other boats will wear out after a number of uses, and do require more care during use in an AR type setting.  In END-SPAR you will need to plan on carrying whatever you decide to use for the pack-raft section for a little less than a mile on foot.

Packrafting Links:
Pack-rafting for AR movie  A case for pack-rafting  Another case for pack-rafting  Blog about Alpacka rafts

Alpacka boats cost about $500 for the ideal AR version (the scout).  Lower end pack-rafts can be found at discount super stores like Walmart or on Amazon for as little as $10 (search "intex boat").  Happy shopping!

END-WET attracts more crazy people

I got a call yesterday from Dan Projansky, an insurance broker and banker from Chicago.  He wants to come swim in our 26+ mile jaunt down the Red River in July.  While I'm super excited that our event seems to be attracting attention within the open water swimming community, i'd started getting used to the calls and emails, which seem to be trickling in nearly once a day.  Turns out there arent' that many open water swims of this distance out there, and possibly none at the price we're charging - only $200 for solo swimmers (a similar distance race in NY harbour costs upwards of $1K per swimmer!) - and maybe there are more crazy people out there than we thought too. 

Dan Projansky 'flying' through a 10K open water swim back in 2010

Dan, however, is extra special crazy, as he intends to attempt the full distance doing Butterfly.  Yeah, that's right, butterfly.  How crazy is this?  Well consider this - the longest freestyle race in the Olympics is 6.2 miles - roughly a third of the distance solo swimmers will be covering in END-WET (if you factor in the current speed).  The longest butterfly race?  200 meters, or 1/8 of a mile.  Yikes!  And for even good swimmers, 200 meters of butterfly is pretty brutal.  Dan will be trying to go nearly 150 times this far before his day is over.  I can't wait to watch.

Iceman Video!

Woo Hoo!  Thanks to all the racers, volunteers, and sponsors!
See you in 2013! Or check out ENDracing's other swell offerings if you can't wait that long!