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!

Bears and Other Local Animals

I heard a report yesterday that someone saw a black bear swimming down the Red River through the center of town.  Word has it that he was training for the race too.  I'm a little skeptical on this last point though as i haven't recieved his registration or even an email inquiry as to whether there are still spots available.  
If you're signed up to swim, don't worry, we don't see a lot of bears around here (in fact this is the first i've heard of one), but we do have a couple of other local animals.
One of 'em of note you've already met - 46 year old Robert Treuer - who just today completed the longest swim in the history of the great Red River of the North - 18 continuous miles.  I'll update the facebook page with details when i get them as to how long it took, etc, but don't get your hopes up if his time seems fast - we had a wicked south wind this morning that moved him along nicely.

The other animal is 19 year old Tom Fisher.  He's an interesting case - a natural athlete who has excelled in high school cross country  but never trained for or swam competitively.  In fact, outside of a couple of sprint distance triathlons, he hasn't done any races involving swimming to speak of.  His last time in the water was nearly 10 months ago.  Yeah, i know, you're thinking that this guy isn't too bright - that 'animal' probably describes his level of intelligence rather than his physical prowess.  And while i'd agree that he is probably overly confident - i wouldn't count him out just yet.  Tom is the youngest bike finisher of the Arrowhead 135 - an ultra distance bike race held in International falls in the dead of winter - a feat that he accomplished in 2011 with only a handfull of training rides on a borrowed bike. 
This is going to be an great event and i am really starting to get excited.  For the paddlers (seated or standing), it's going to be a big day.  For the swimmers, it's going to be epic.  

Summer is here!

I know, I know.  I'm late.  There you were, wondering if - as the month of June came to a close with no June newsletter from ENDracing - the flame of adventure had finally been extinguished in the upper midwest.  But have faith people - I'm just busy, and we're just getting started.  Lots to report this month, so lets get into it:
Registration for "the hardest race in North Dakota" is now open.  Actually it's been open for a long time.  If you're going to race we'd certainly appreciate it if you'd sign up already!  In fact, to give you a little nudge, we'll throw some extra goodies in the swag bags of the first 15 teams to register in any category (and yes, if you've already signed up you'll get the goodies too).  The course is set and we're spending lots of time up in the valley tweaking the details.  It's going to be epic of course, but you already expect that.
Cash prizes for top teams will be awarded based on number of entries received.  Starting with the 51st paid racer, $50 of the registration fee from each new racer will be given back to top teams.  If we get 75 racers for example, the prize purse will include $1250 in cash, in addition to all the great merchandise we'll be giving away from our sponsors.  We'd love to do more, but then again, we're already priced so far below everyone else that its really hard to beat our value.
Packraft options for END-AR24 will not be limited to any particular type of craft.  Your packrafts must be non-motorized and transportable.  You will be carrying your boats and paddling gear with you (or using them/it) pretty much the entire race, so light is right!  There will be about 20 river miles in several sections, and some difficult terrain - if you've got some 20 lb. monster you better be training with that thing on our back. There are lots of types (check for intex, stearns, sevylor, etc on Amazon for the less expensive options, feel free to email with any questions) of boats - I'm going to run the whole thing in a $15 dollar cheapie in a couple weeks and report back - so get something and practice in it!  This is an EXPEDITION style race (lots of people claim this and what they really mean is that it's point to point - hardly expedition style) - there will be no gear drops, etc.  Although there will be opportunities to fill water and transition areas where left-over sponsor product (bars, power to go, etc) is offered - you won't be able to count on this.  This is the real deal - its going to be a hard race that favors slow, continuous progress over short bursts of speed.  You will NOT have to carry your bikes on non bike sections of the course however.  More details will be provided to racers in race specific emails.  And FYI - we've still got a handful of packrafts (scout model) available for rent for the 24 hour race, as well as three larger decked boats for sale and about half of retail.  Check out the Alpacka section of the store for more details.
Radio:  I've got a radio interview on Prairie Public radio on Wednesday July 6th, at 3 pm.  Tune in if you're interested.  I'll be discussing ENDracing in general, as well as the upcoming race.
Teammates:  If you're looking for a team-mate, either as a single racer or as a team of two looking to expand your circle of commiseration during END-AR24  shoot me an email and i'll see who i can connect you with.  Also, if you'd be open to having someone join your team, please let me know as well.
Volunteering is fun!  If you're not sure you're up to the challenge of the hardest race in the state, there's only one way to find out - sign up anyway.  Barring that, at least get out and volunteer.  We're still looking for a few committed volunteers who are willing to be out in beautiful and remote sections of the course to keep track of racer progress at manned checkpoints, and to serve as course cleaners.  These folks will be following the last team through a section, stripping the course of checkpoints.  It's a great morale boost for that last team and gives the volunteer a way to see (in a small dose) just what doing a 24 hour race by ENDracing entails.  Volunteers get a free post race meal, some sweet swag, a chance to win prizes in our awesome prize drawing, and major props from us.
Training races coming up include the MNOC Adventure-O, put on by reigning national champions WEDALI.  The course features trekking, paddling, and biking, as well as orienteering, all within 90 minutes from the twin cities.  Teams doing MNOC as well as ENDracing will receive a $15 per racer discount off the already low entry fee into END-AR24. Lets get some local teams out there to represent!  If you do end up out there, make sure and put in a good word for us.  Ian (the pres. of MNOC) doesn't seem to know how cool we are yet, and we'd very much appreciate you passing on the word.
Gear is now becoming available on Ground UP Adventures website, and we'll continue to work to provide you with a way to buy the stuff you need for racing (at a discount when we can) in a way that helps support our mission to bring adventure to the upper great plains.  Check out the store for a list of our sponsors, then click on each to see more about why we love them and how to get their stuff.  We currently offer alpacka rafts (limited), Hydroflask water bottles (custom designs!), Inov-8 gear, Numa sunglasses, and pre-orders on custom Swiftwick socks.  In the next two weeks we should have Power to Go energy, Raw Rev bars, and Stuffitts shoe savers available.  Links are provided in the store to all of our other sponsors - visit 'em - check out their gear, or send them an email thanking them for supporting our cause.
Thats it - i'll cover anything that i missed next month.
Cheers  -
ENDracing Team