July 2012

END-WET Feedback

Well, the inaugural event is over!  It exceeded my expectations in every regard, from the support from the official communities involved (city governments, sheriffs and fire departments), the sponsors, the volunteers, the media attention, the spectators, and of course the athletes!
Despite the fact that it was a great success, here are a few of the improvements we'd like to make for next year.....
1) Dedicated finish line tent.  
2) PA system at finish line announcing swimmers as they come in and providing music.
3) Race clock at finish line
4) Van that provides on the hour shuttle service from Oslo to Grand Forks starting with first finishers.  
We welcome other suggestions and racer feedback.  Here's some of the comments so far.....
I've done many events in my athletic " career " and I have to say that Andy ranks right up with one of the best race directors I ever had. It was an honor to be part of that July 21st end wet event.
 --Daniel "Mr. Butterfly" Projansky (solo swimmer)
Just wanted to say thank you to Andy and Rob for putting together the best race this area has ever seen. Everything from the first practice swim right through the award ceremony was fantastic. And thanks to all the volunteers, sponsors and others who helped out.
--Scott Jensen, Grand Forks, ND (solo swimmer)
Thank you for introducing me to my potential. I had no idea what this adventure racing and endurance stuff was 3 years ago. Now I can't get enough.  I've learned a lot about myself along the lines of your various bloggings. I'm definitely still a novice, but I think doing your races have been the best learning experiences of my life.
--Joe Vacek, Grand Forks, ND (solo swimmer)
The race exceeded my expectations by miles. I truly enjoyed the challenge and am happy that I finished it faster than I had thought.  It was perfectly organised thanks to both of you and I'm sure will grow into s/th much bigger. 
--Tobias Frenz, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (solo swimmer)
Thanks a ton for your efforts with END-WET.  I will be back next year with a few additional boats filled with friends.
--Steve Cassola, Fargo, ND (solo kayaker)
Race Report from Leonard Jansen, solo swimmer:  http://www.marathonswimmers.org/forum/discussion/187/end-wet-review-
Putting on this event has been a definite highlight of my burgeoning 'career' as a race director of 'extreme' events.  A huge thank you to everyone involved in making it so!

END-WET Live Tracking!

The swimmer icons show the positions of solo swimmers and the man/woman icons show positions of teams.  Cell reception can be spotty at times.  You can get up to the minute tweets by following us on twitter (ENDracing) or checking out the facebook page HERE.  If you're a spectator and want to actually see the race in real life, click HERE for a map and directions to prime viewing locations.... we'd love to have you out cheering on these amazing athletes!

View END WET in a larger map

Swim Tips from a Pro

Leonard JansenLeonard Jansen, who is one of the swimmers who is participating in next week's solo swim of 27 miles, gave me these tidbits in an email where I requested tips for my upcoming trial swim of the course next week. Thought I should pass them on as I know of a few local swimmers who are not seasoned veterans who, like myself, benefit very much from the wisdom of others... thanks Leonard!
I'm not sure what you are using for sunscreen, but one of the things that open water swimmers often do is to put on a layer of sunscreen, let it dry and then overcoat that with a heavy layer of Desitin  40% zinc oxide baby rash cream (or a generic equivalent). It's good to have some vinyl or nitrile disposable gloves to put that crap on because if you get it on your hands and then touch your goggles, it makes it hard to see. Better yet, have some one else put it on you with the gloves. Don't use latex - they rip/dissolve very quickly. If you are wearing a wet-suit, then you only have to worry about face/hands/feet. BTW, sunscreen that is good for running is not necessarily good for swimming because water-resistance is not the same thing as sweat-proof and you can't trust the manufacturers to tell a straight story. The best three that I know of are:
1) SolRx 44 or 50 SPF (not cheap, but a good bang for the buck)
2) Waterman's Scientific (EXPENSIVE!!)
3) Bullfrog Superblock SPF 50
The first 2 are almost impossible to get in a store (at least in PA). The Bullfrog is readily available. Regardless of what you use, the smear-on kind is better than a spray-on kind, as a rule. These (and Desitin) can be hard to remove - use original Dawn dish-washing liquid. Also be sure to use Vaseline under your arms if you are NOT wearing a wet-suit - I forgot it in my race 3 weeks ago and had hamburger for armpits after.
One thing about the race (and also applies to your swim, too): Since you generally plan for the worst - i.e. having enough feed, etc to last for 12 hours (12 oz * 24 feedings = 288 oz or  2+ gallons) - the fluid feedings can take up a good amount of space or simply be too big for a kayak. Two possible solutions: 1) resupply points along the course during the race or 2) Kayaker has something attached to the kayak that contains these. To the latter point, I have a synthetic MESH laundry bag that attaches to the kayak via short FLOATING rope and carbineers. I then use 2 liter seltzer bottles with 4 feedings in each and put them in the bag. The seltzer bottles are pretty tough, don't come unscrewed by accident too easily (and you can add duct tape over the cap, too) and they will float since they are only about 3/4 full. The kayaker then only needs to keep one in the kayak and the rest stay in the water until needed. (I get the mesh laundry bag for $1.00 at Dollar Tree chain stores.) That means having 6 * 2 liter bottles with 4 feedings each and the mesh bag has no problem with that. It does drag a bit on the kayak, but isn't exhausting.

END-WET Sponsor Shout Out

All the nitty gritty details (and there are a lot of them) have just been announced on the Facebook page and the main END-WET page - so make sure to give that a thorough read if you're racing or volunteering in the event next weekend.  But what about the fun details?  well, there are those too, thanks to our fabulous sponsors!!!! Here is a well deserved shot out....
First of all there are the cities of East Grand Forks and Grand Forks and Oslo who have all been great partners for the event.    They're supporting logistical operations and going to be on hand for the awards ceremony to help recognize individuals that complete the solo swim.  Oslo is also going out of their way to enhance the racers experience and make them feel welcome at the finish line during their annual celebration, Oslo Days. Click on the link to see their schedule of events.... looks like swimmers who finish in less than 12 hours will be just in time for the hypnotist.  Maybe you can volunteer and get hypnotized into believing your shoulders are still functional.  Or maybe the great smells from the chicken wing cook off will get you moving just a little faster that last mile when you are dragging.  But we're getting ahead of ourselves a bit.... so lets go back to the beginning -
Dakota Harvest, a fantastic local bakery and long time ENDracing partner, is once again stepping up to the plate to be involved - this time serving as a the location for the friday night meeting between solo swimmers and their volunteer kayakers.  They will also be providing light refreshments for Darren Miller's talk and the swimmer's awards ceremony on Sunday (11 a.m. at the Fire Hall Theater) - which you'd be foolish to miss - both Darren's talk and Dakota Harvests bittersweet chocolate and sea salt cookies would alone make it worth attending!  Amazing Grains, a local and organic foods co-op, is helping us show our appreciation for those volunteers by providing them with gift certificates for SNAG (Saturday Night at Grains) - a themed seven course meal prepared by a rotating group of gifted chefs - which in my opinion is the best dinner in town, hands down.  Blue Moose, another local stand-out eatery with one of the nicest views of the river in town (and the biggest deck!) is also coming through with great prizes to be given away. Finally, Happy Harry's has donated growlers of micro-brew for solo swimmers and their volunteers which may be just what they need after 12 hours of swallowing river water (which FYI is awesomely clean!).
Dakota Harvest and the Blue Moose, as well as at the farmers market in the town square) will host a Jumbo map of the river race course with pins in it indicating racer locations (to the nearest checkpoint) and the time they arrived at each.  It will be a great way for folks going about their day to keep track of the event as they spend a great saturday morning or afternoon in the downtown Grand Cities.
END-WET also has a few great national sponsors that are sending some gear for us to pass on as prizing  - SeasonFive,Hydroflask, and Numa - so fast racers might just walk away with something in addition to a great day on the river and a tremendous sense of accomplishment.
As always, appreciated sponsors are happy sponsors.  Lets make sure they know how much they are appreciated.  Cheers everyone!

No Rest for the Wicked

It's a crazy summer for us (me) at ENDracing - the launch of a new event (END-WET) that has attracted some top athletic talent from around the nation and even internationally (thanks for coming Tobias!), a big race myself (untamed New England), and making sure 'the toughest race in north dakota' (END-AR24) lives up to its billing and doesn't disappoint.
Robert Treuer has been a huge help on the END-WET front and we're now in what we call the 'approach' phase for that event - all the critical pieces seem to be in place so that even if all the bells and whistles that we'd ideally like to have surrounding the event don't come through, it will still be a fantastic event and every bit the supreme challenge that we imagined it would be.
My race in New England is over and i'm more or less fully recovered.
As for END-AR24, i was a bit stressed thinking i would only have 5 weeks after the swim to get things in order for this event, and that it wouldn't be enough.  so i took yesterday off of END-WET planning and drove up to Pembina to get a handle on the course - feet on the ground so to speak rather than just my google maps design of the course.  It was a good move.  The course is going to be epic - a real expedition style event in 24 hours.  There is real wilderness up there folks, so if you're entered (or planning on entering) you should be warned.  If you get lost deep in the gorge you need to be prepared to get yourself out - to the river or to the rim.  Some of the terrain is very challenging.  Here are my notes from my excursion yesterday:
  1. I covered and tagged the first six checkpoints. it took me roughly six hours. i expect it will take teams anywhere between 4 and 8 hours.
  2. Hand paddles are, in my opinion the way to go. Otherwise, make sure you have a paddle that fits inside your pack. There are a few sections of bushwhacking on this first leg. The brush is, in places, very dense, and in places you are crawling or ducking under trees, etc every 25 feet.
  3. Liquifaction. Although the river is very low, there is a unique thing about the soil in that there are places where it becomes saturated with water. what looks like solid dirt will suck your feet down. it's awesome.
  4. The river is very low this year. there are 2 packraft sections. depending on river levels, it may or may not be faster to use the raft. Yesterday the flow was 150 cfs in the pembina river, and my speed floating was about 4 mph, but i occasionally hit bottom and had to walk my boat for sections. overall i think i averaged a bit better than 3 mph, which i think is faster than i would have been bushwhacking along the river, or even walking down the river. it will be interesting to see where things are on race day.
  5. There are new biking trails. i will explore this section in a later visit, but it is highly promising.... so expect more trail biking and less road biking this time around. and expect a BIG bike leg at night. Fun stuff.
  6. 6) plan on a way to purify water, as there will be times when you could be 12 hours between places to refill, other than creeks or rivers (of which there are many).
  7. Light is right. think about what you will need (gear list coming soon) and don't take too much extra.... as i mentioned some of the terrain is brutal (steep, dense, etc) and a 30 pound pack will be your enemy right off the bat.
  8. Packrafts - if you have the cheap ones and the river is as shallow as it was for me, they probably will not last that long, or you'll have to be pretty careful with em. I hand-paddled in an alpacka scout, lying down so as to distribute my weight on the tubes (not the floor) and was paddling in 6-8 inches of water, and minimized my walking.
  9. Finally, the long course option is going to be a bike leg.
Happy planning and training everyone!  if you're not signed up for the 24 hour race yet, remember prices go up after the end of July!