Am I going to get dirty? Yes
Am I going to get lost? Maybe. If you do though we'll try really hard to find you. Promise.
What are the distances/disciplines? The course changes every year but generally there is biking and trekking and packrafting. Assuming you don't get too lost looking for checkpoints, chasing down the mandatory points will probably require 3-4 miles of foot travel and 25-35 miles on the bike (mix of gravel and single/double track). If you're going after ALL the CP's, you'll end up adding 2-3 miles to the foot travel (much of it over tougher terrain though) and maybe some biking. If conditions permit we also will try to include pack-rafting and at least one mystery challenge.
May I use a cross bike? We like choices, so yes, you may use a cross bike. We also like fairness though, so if you're using a cross bike, make sure it has a tire width of at least 32 mm. This is equivalent to a 1.25 inch mountain bike tire, so theoretically someone running 1.25 inch slicks on their MTB would have the same (or similar) rolling resistance. Yeah, there are other differences between cross bikes and mt. bikes, but there are differences between mt. bikes as well. Keep in mind that some of the riding may be more difficult on a cross bike - we're not promising that CAN use one, only that you MAY.
Are the mystery challenges lame like at some adventure races? NO! This is a point of pride for us at ENDracing - the mystery challenges are meaningful and actually challenging, or we don't do 'em! While this doesn't guarantee you will like or even be able to complete all of them - each mystery challenge is chosen so that it represents some worthwhile skill or physical challenge in terms of adventure racing or adventuring/outdoor proficiency in general. Challenges may include, or have included in the past: water/snow gathering, fire starting, hunting skills, bike-whacking, bike repair skills/tire changing, injury simulations, rescue simulations, river crossing, tube repair, rope work, DIY gear building, foraging, radio communication, critical thinking skills, etc. You get the idea. What you won't be doing is playing with bouncy balls or carrying eggs on spoons.
How hard is the race, really? It is both really hard and not too bad. Confused? Well, the really hard part refers to the difficulty teams (even top ones) will have in trying to complete the whole course - every mystery challenge and all the optional checkpoints. The 'Not too bad' refers to how hard it is to complete, at minimum, all the mandatory checkpoint and be considered an official finisher. And of course most teams fall somewhere in the middle, purusing challenges or optional checkpoints based on their strengths and as time allows.
What is packrafting? Packrafting is basically paddling a small inflatable boat that is light enough to be carried by one person. Rafts range in size, weight, and cost from one person ultraliight models (under 3 pounds) to bigger, beefier ones (up to 10 pounds). The cadillacs of packrafting are made by a company called Alpacka Raft. They are indestructible and awesome, but quite pricey (several hundred dollars). But the website has lots of good information about the sport and adventure potential packrafts create, so check it out and you'll see why we love it. But don't be dismayed by sticker shock - many of our racers have successfully used very budget models (under $20 a boat) during our races - just search 'inflatable boat' on Amazon and you'll get the idea. For a up to date list of 'quality' packraft options including but not limited to Alpacka boats, click HERE. The list only includes the more quality models available that are designed to be super light and fast, not the super budget you'll see on Amazon or at Walmart.
Do I have to carry my raft? Every race is different, but most of the time the course will be designed such that Packrafts are used as packrafts are intended to be used, as portable watercraft! The nature of living in North Dakota and the variable conditions we face in the spring time mean that final details are often determined in the last week or so leading up to the race, but all things being equal, you should expect to carry your rafts for portions of the race.