Thoughts from an END-AR24 victim

The woman from the couch and her team reaching the finish line.

It was a brutal race this year.  But don't take my word for it - i didn't do it.  I'll let Vern Nelson do the talking - 

"I thought I would reflect for a few days before I sat down and wrote a few thoughts about my recent adventure in North Dakota. Before I begin, I want to thank my team mates Elwood Friesen and Rheal Poirier for putting up with my advanced age and general whining. How does one begin....

Many good stories start in the middle, so I will begin there. After 18 hours of racing, I was sitting in a cabin in the woods pondering whether or not I was able to continue. At least I wasn't crying like the woman on the couch across from me. She wanted to quit, but her team wouldn't let her because they'd be disqualified. Beek, The checkpoint volunteer was doing his best to comfort her while she made a decision. I managed to interrupt him long enough to get the final map of the race which our route home.

My heart sunk when I saw the map. The final leg required us to ride our bikes down and across a river, and then drag them up a 120 meter cliff on the other side. I was pissed! Really, you spring this one me after 18 hours? I showed it to my team mates who took it a little better, but not much. We turned to Beek looking for an out: 

"What if we quit? How long before someone comes to pick us up?"

Beek responded: "Pick you up? Nobodies coming to pick you up. You can rest on the couch for a while, but if you're not injured you have to get yourself out. The best way is to ride down and across the river, and up the 120 Meter cliff on the on the other side. Once you get to the top, you can ride home."

So we gathered up our stuff and that's what we did. The crying woman must have reached the same conclusion because she pulled herself together and off she went with her team.

The ascent of the cliff turned out to be harder than anticipated as it was made slippery by the rain from the night before. The mud was clumping on the tires until it jammed in the frame and the tires wouldn't turn anymore. It was insane: Climbing a 120M hill with a 12kg pack and a loaded 15 kg bike with wheels that won't turn. Somehow we made it, but it took everything out of us. It was 10 o-clock in the morning and i figured I was on my way to a sever case of heat stroke. With less than 2 bottles of water left, We decided to skip the last 3 checkpoints and head for home. If the ATV trails were as bad as the hill, we probably couldn't ride them anyway.

We made it to the finish under our own power where I just lay down on the grass and baked. Turns out I didn't have heat stroke. It was turning out to be the hottest day of the year and my mind just didn't register that it could be that hot at 10:00 in the morning.

And what happened to the crying woman you ask? Well, her team somehow convinced her to head out on the ATV trails and they finished the course. They came in 3rd in 3-4 person coed. You never really know what you're capable of."

Sitting Still


My wife will tell you i can't sit still and she's right.  It's not just my body though, it's my mind too.  My head is usually full of wonder and new ideas and what-if thought experiments - particulary when i'm inspired by the events and people around me.

And this weekend's event and people were, well pretty darned inspiring.  And with all that inspirational energy coursing through my mind and body, i've been pacing and wondering and what-ifing even more than usual.

So what does this mean?  It means that things are going to change a little bit for next year's END-WET.  It means that i'm going to work harder to better develop the part of the experience that was the most lacking in my mind (the finish line) and to ensure that everyone of you that finishes this race is recieved like a hero.... because really thats what you are.  

You see one of the reasons i do this is because we need heros up here.  It's a hard thing to sell kids in North Dakota on a life of adventure and endurance and the benefits of physical and mental challenges.  You guys are all my ambassadors. You guys are my muses.  So when you read what next year's race holds in store, just remember that you are partly responsible....

2014 END-WET details

  • Date - TBD.  Possibly earlier in the year so water temps are a bit colder and flows a bit higher.
  • Start location - Belmont Park/Frog Point (new start location)
  • END location - Grand Forks, ND
  • # Portages - 0
  • Distance - roughly 36 downriver miles
  • Time cutoff - TBD, a minimum of 16 hours
  • Last 5 miles very spectator friendly
  • Improved finish line atmosphere (more spectators, better food, showers, community support, fireworks?  live music?)
  • Cost - under $300/solo swimmer (includes support), cheaper if swimmer provides support.
  • Cap - 40 solo swimmers, 10 relay teams



'Go Uff Da' Photo Contest!

We want to see you going "Uff Da!"  Send us a photo of you preparing for the Uff Da Mud Run being held on September 7th and be entered to win Uff Da schwag, free entries, and social media fame.

Ole and Lena are already training.  Why aren't you?

The Rules: Send in your best "Uff Da training" photos to enter. We’ll judge on photo look and feel, originality, fun, and humor of the subject captured in action.  Bonus points for taking other mud/obstacle runs as seriously as we do.

To Submit: Do ONE of these things:

  1. Email your photos here. (mail to if the link doesn’t work on your system).  Include a one-sentence description.
  2. Tweet your photos to @UffDaMudRun.  Make sure your account is public otherwise we won't see your entry.
  3. Post your photos on the ENDracing Facebook page.  Include a one-sentence description.

Photo Rights: You keep all rights. Submitting an image gives ENDracing the option to display the images on website and social media. NOTE: By submitting an image you are agreeing to that you are 13 years old or older and that you are able to enter contests in your jurisdiction.  You can only submit photos you have taken or have the rights to--for example, no professional photos from other races, but if your friend says you can use her photo of you to enter, that's okay.

The Prizes! We know what you want, so we're giving away free race entries to the top submissions and secret schwag items to the runners-up, as judged by the Uff Da race committee and ENDracing crew.  

Why so serious, Ole?
Lena has the right idea.

Example photos. We’re looking for your best "Uff Da" shots (and even better if they make us go "Uff Da!")

Deadline: Submit your photos here starting today. Final submissions must be made by July 31, 2013 at midnight. Good luck! 

Quality assurance - defining what's important

I don't know why, but i'm fascinated by looking at other races and seeing how they do things compared to how ENDracing does them.  Most notably, i'm interested in what other race directors choose to place importance on.  I've got some of my own ideas as to what is important, but figured since i'm really most interested in serving the racing community, i'd get some feedback.

One of my ideas is that the tougher the race, the less the trappings matter.  Personally at least anyway, when i enter a race that is likely to destroy me, i don't care as much if things look pretty, signage is professional, if i get lots of chintzy swag (although it is fun to have stuff to take back to my kids after a race!).  I don't care if the race director spent 20 dollars on each checkpoint marker or made them himself  out of zip ties and nylon scraps (anyone remember those home-made CP markers ENDracing started out with?  or the stakes and red plastic plates that served as mile markers for END-WET?), as long as they are in the right place.  I don't care if the map is professionally done by some company in Utah - it just has to be accurate and let me, barring mistakes, get to where i'm going.  What I do care about is what i'm getting during the race itself - it needs to be well planned, well organized, and well run.  The volunteers need to know what they are doing.  The course needs to be well thought out so that it needn't be radically altered on the fly during the race itself, except in extreme circumstances. 

And sure, prizes and free stuff (especially nice stuff like the 12+ ibex pieces, ergon grips, saddles, and packs, GJ technical jackets, and packraft we've got for END-SPAR) is cool too - but is also secondary to the race experience itself.  I've never thought a race wasn't worth what i paid for it when i was brutally challenged in a thoughtful way, and things were fair.  But when that doesn't happen, i better make out like a bandit to not feel cheated by the event.

My aim, therefore, in putting on particularly the tougher events of the ENDracing line-up is to focus first on the race course itself (and requisite logistics), then on the hospitality (good food and a warm fire/showers, etc at the finish line), then on prizes/gear that is actually good stuff (things i'd eat, wear, or buy myself) to give away, and finally (last and least), the swankyness and branding of race pariphenalia (signs, markers, banners etc, etc).  Because after all, that stuff is expensive!  And at the end of the day, IMHO anyway, it doesn't add much to the participant experience.  In fact, if i've done my job well racers shouldn't have any energy or ability to really notice these details anyway, confronted as they are challenges that make up the real reason (i hope) they signed up for the race in the first place.

Introducing team Yogaslackers/ENDracing

At the end of the year in 2012, after END-TOMBED to be precise, my brother Jason (captain of the Yogaslackers Adventure racing team) came up to me and said - "Man, you've got a lot of talented racers up here! You guys should put together a squad to race nationally and see how it goes!"  He then offered to help get the team off the ground by connecting them with some Yogaslackers sponsors.  It was left to me to try and figure out who to ask on the team.  I approached a number of racers (most of whom were ENDracing veterans) and quickly had a skeleton crew of racers ready to committ to a number of big races throughout 2013.  Things came together somewhat hastily and lots of fantastic and strong racers from both Canada and the USA aren't represented - there were simply too many people to choose from and too few spots available. The deciding conditions on who was selected were ultimately my personal experiences with the racers and/or their very recent (still vivid in my memory) race performances, their history racing together as team-mates, and their willingness to committ nearly $2000 in race entry fees and travel costs (about half up front) towards a team that was little more than a 'good idea' at the time.  [Ok, so one of them is also the love of my life, which may have garnered her a bit of advantage in the selection process - although she's also a damned good racer.] 

The 2013 team is comprised of myself, Grant Mehring, Michelle Annandale, Cory McFarlane, Tim Wintoniw, Tammy Magness, and Alanna Butler.  The team will be competing in adventure racing events (though the members may also compete in individual events as they choose) throughout the year with a focus on a regional (the First Basis series) and national series (the North American Adventure Racing Series).  The current schedule includes at least six races, with the longest being the 3.5 day Cowboy Tough expedition race in Wyoming, slated for mid July. Also on the schedule are both ENDracing adventure races.

I will not race on the team, for obvious reasons, at either of the ENDracing events.  While we had initially discussed not having the Yogaslackers/ENDracing team race at an ENDracing event because it might 'look bad', we figured we could just be transparent and explain things.  Both events are part of the NAARS series - the 24 hour one being a regional championship.  The team would have little hope in competing as part of the series without entering these events.  The squad are great folks who are passionate about racing just like all the other racers that will be there and they won't have any special advantages not possessed by other experienced teams that have done ENDracing events before.  We're not trying to make anyone feel bad - you know, a 'hey these guys are worth of the ENDracing name and everyone else isn't' - sort of thing.  Bottom line is that there are lots of talented teams that are racing our events these days, and lots of talented people on all the teams.  And truth be told, as a the race director, I probably want YS/ER to get their ass handed to them at the events I direct our even more than with the other teams (:

If things go well, we'll try to keep the team going in future years and will expand as necessary, replacing racers that move on or adding more racers as possible, so stay tuned.  And if you're interested in being on the team, feel free to send an email.  Keep in mind though that the team committments include doing lots of races (mostly at personal expense) and training hard in an effort to be nationally competitive.  We don't really care if we win or not, but the drive to push hard and suffer immeasurably for the sake of the team should at the very least seem extremely gratifying to members, right guys? . 

Bottom line is that I love all our racers, and appreciate what each brings to this crazy adventure/endurance racing community of ours - from the folks we've chosen to represent the ENDracing name in regional/national races to the folks that work their butts of just to finish, period, to the folks that DNF after flirting with hypothermia in a desolate cornfield.  Whereever you end up or whether you finish at all, it all tastes good because it's all grand adventure, and I look forward to many more helpings both with the team and all of you. 


ENDracing (Andy)