Fire and Ice(man), and everything nice

First the fire - 
I'm recently back from participating with Team Yogaslackers in the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge, a six day stage race taking place in the fabulous United Arab Emirates.  Since its inception in 2007, the race has quickly gained recognition as one of the toughest and fiercely contested adventure races in the world.  Maybe this is because the perks of this race don't end with fantastic scenery and a grueling course - it's actually a government supported event (to the tune of 1.5 million US dollars).  This results in fantastic media coverage, swanky accommodation (2 nights booking in a 5 star resort hotel included in entry fee), rock bottom entry fees, and a prize purse of over $150,000 that pays down to 30th place.  Team Yogaslackers, captained by my twin brother Jason, took 19th place last year after dragging first time adventure racer but world class mountaineer Eric Myers (who claimed the race was harder than climbing both Everest and K2 in a comparable six days - and he's successfully climbed them both) for miles across the deserts of the "empty quarter".  

Teams crossing the Empty Quarter
The 100+ km desert trek stage is always the toughest test of the race.  In previous years teams were given 36 hours to complete it, during which they were forced to take a minimum of 8 hours of rest.  For reasons that I imagine can only be appreciated by a select group of deranged elite racers and/or particularly sadistic race directors, the race organization made a few changes to the stage for 2010 - they made the first two days of the race all leg work (biking and running), made these initial stages harder than ever before with twice as much elevation gain as in years past,  added a 96 km mountain bike leg over hilly terrain on roads often unrideable due to massive sand drifts that segwayed immediately into the desert trek, added only two hours of time (38 instead of 36 to complete the entire section of bike plus trek), and oriented the trek in the opposite direction so that teams were forced to climb the soft and steep side of dunes and descend down the hard stuff.  Unseasonally high temperatures upwards of 100 degrees fahrenheit didn't help.  Ouch.
It was brutal, but we made it.  I struggled mentally the most about 22 km from the end.  I wasn't thinking straight and my addled brain had me doing the math incorrectly and convinced we now wouldn't make the cutoff and had shot ourselves in the foot trying to get just one more optional CP.  There was lots of yelling and swearing.  Heat and exhaustion do strange things to you.  As adventure racers, we do such strange things to ourselves.  Yogaslackers ended in 14th place - beating out several super fast teams that were just eaten by the desert.  You can see more photos of the race by visiting the official race site, or the websites of Checkpoint Tracker or Breathe Magazine, both of whom covered the action.  Below are a few more photos from the race.

L to R: Team Yogaslackers near the end, me near my low point.

The bike section leading into the desert trek.
Then the Ice -
Registration for the ColdAvenger Extreme North Dakota Iceman Triathlon opened on December 1st.  People are signing up and taking advantage of early bird registration prices, which end with 2010.  All registrants will receive a deep discount on gear from our title sponsor, ColdAvenger for the purchase of up to two masks - awesome cold weather training gear that we promise will allow you to, as their slogan states, "stay out longer".   We will be giving away five of the masks leading up to the event via a drawings held the last week of January. We'll draw one female yeti, one male yeti, and one team from registered racers on Jan 31st, so make sure you're registered by then to be eligible!
Cash prizes of $100 for the top male and female "yeti" and $300 for the top team are up for grabs, but won't be easy pickin's - the top male from last year was the first registrant this year and I've got it on good authority that the top female (who happens to be my wonderful wife) will be back as well.  Then again, I also know of lots of new local talent looking to make their mark this year by vying for top spot. 
Rest assured though, there'll still be awesome swag and loads of raffle prizes thanks to our wonderful sponsors for those who are just looking to challenge themselves against the course or just come out and have a great day of fun racing.   We'll keep registrants posted via a separate newsletter as we finalize details about racer swag, additional event sponsors, course details, and any cross country skiing and/or winter biking clinics that we put together in the coming months. 
Cheers and Happy Holidays
ENDracing Team

Fall Wrap-Up

We've been busy over the past month!  Late October saw me making my way out to Moab to participate as part of team Yogaslackers in the Checkpoint tracker Adventure Racing National championship.  I barely made it as flight cancellations forced an overnight drive from Grand Forks down to Minneapolis in order to just make a last minute connection to Las Vegas where another long drive got us to Moab just at the tail end of registration, proving once again that often the hardest part of adventure racing is getting to the start line!  We (Yogaslackers) went hard and crossed the finish line in 2nd place, nearly two hours ahead of third, and 20 minutes behind first place Team Osprey, arguably one of the top 10 teams in the world at the moment.  Unfortunately, six hours of penalties levied to both teams took us back to 7th and 10th place respectively.  Those interested in a bit more detail on this somewhat controversial turn of events can find the 'official' explanation by CP tracker here, and Yogaslacker's take on things by reading through the post comments.  As a result of the race, I realized how far behind the rest of the team I am in terms of biking ability and now have my work cut out for me in order to get stronger before Yogaslacker's next big race, the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge which takes place Dec. 10-15.
In other news - ENDracing's next event, the Extreme North Dakota Iceman Triathlon (END-IT), is slated to open registration on December 1st.  The planning committee is having weekly meetings and things are starting to come together.  The race will be held at the same location as last year but the individual sections of the course will be slightly different.  Because we are expecting a bigger field, we're hoping to improve the mass start, streamline the transition area, and have a large warming tent (in addition to the warming hut) to accommodate the larger numbers.  All the cool stuff (sledding, 'cliff jumping', off trail biking and running) will of course remain a part of the experience.  We've also recently secured a title sponsor - Talus Outdoor Technologies - a company that makes fabulous extreme cold weather headgear that is perfect for winter training.  We're psyched to be partnering with them and want to extend a big thank you for their support in helping to make this year's race better than ever.  We'll soon start offering discounts on their products through our website - some of the proceeds of which will back to fund future ENDracing activities.  In addition, folks who sign up for END-IT will be offered a special code for a one time special deal on Talus gear so that they can get some and get training, no matter how cold it gets in the coming months!  Finally, as was the case last year, all profits from this year's event will be put directly back into local non-profit organizations to help them do what they do.
Finally, I'd like report that the Grand Forks Cyclocross series ended the last weekend with it's third race.  I participated in the last two races and had a blast.  Cylcocross is often called the 'hardest hour in cycling' and I found this to be an apt description.  Both races were awesome courses and well executed by the UND Cycling Club.  Their next event is an ice-bike race in celebration of Valentines day - scheduled for Feb. 13th.  Hey - that sounds like a perfect opportunity to practice your winter biking skills in preparation for the the Iceman Triathlon!
Cheers  -
ENDracing Team

Looking Towards 2011

Even though the racing season is over for us at ENDracing, we're already back out there trying to get things started towards a great 2011.  Committee meetings for the Iceman Triathlon have commenced (check the website for current info) and we're looking to improve everything about the event and have double the number of participants this year.  The spring adventure race is already half planned (lots of great stuff in store - including a new mystery challenge, awesome mountain biking, our tallest climbs yet, and yes, more pack-rafting!!!!) and I've just secured the venue for the 24 hour fall race.  Additionally, we're going to be starting a non-profit organization this fall with the mission of building an infrastructure for adventure based activities in the Grand Cities (ENDracing will be an arm of this organization).  Some of our long term plans (pipe dreams at the moment perhaps, but you've gotta start somewhere) involve building a boat house and starting a canoe/kayak racing club on the Red River/Red Lake River; developing a mt. bike trail system along the Turtle River between Turtle River State Park and Larimore Dam recreation area (site of future ENDracing 24 hour bike races I'm sure!), offering a youth 'adventure camp' during the summer which culminates with a family-friendly,  orienteering race on a semi-permanent O-course along the Greenway.  On the racing end, I'm hoping to be able to add (at some future date) a marathon downriver canoe event, the above mentioned mt. bike race, and possibly a middle distance (<50 miles) Ice-Bike race to the schedule so that those adventure addicted folks in the region would have a high quality adventure based race every other month.  Sounds awesome doesn't it!?  One step at a time, one step at a time.....

And good news for those folks local to the area who are craving even more excitement - it sounds as thought the guys and gals from UND Cycling are putting together a cyclocross series on three consecutive weekends starting at the end of this month.  Look for a link to the info coming soon on the ENDracing site.  


ENDracing Team