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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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) 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!