Revision of The Wilderman from Sat, 12/21/2013 - 12:21

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About: In 2003 I participated in the first ever offroad iron distance triathlon, the MXT, in Park City Utah.  I finished in 20 hours, give or take.  It was the first race I had ever done where people were allowed to be hooked up to an IV during the event and then continue.  It was epic.  But it was discontinued.  Why?  Maybe it was overdone.  It had corporate sponsors.  Maybe it was too hard  (only 68 people finished) - so hard that it wasn't accessible.  Maybe it didn't make money.  Who knows.  

According to one researcher, more people have been to the moon than have completed an offroad ironman (check out a brief history of the endeavor HERE).  Crazy.  But I'm not sure how long that is going to last, because the off road ironman is coming back.  But this time it's with ENDracing - a grassroots extreme endurance events company based out of, of all places, North Dakota.  And we like 'too hard', have never used big corporate sponsors, and for some reason didn't really get into the whole making money thing.  But we do put on great events.  

If you thought Ironman was the end of the road - the big enchilada - the pinnacle of multi-disciplinary solo effort endurance sports - think again.  

Think Harder---Think Better---Think Cheaper---Think Wilder.

Welcome to the Wilderman

Course Details:  Basic course map. Overall the course will get progressivly harder as you go.  Here's why -

  • The Swim:  The swim will take place in the Mt. Carmel recreation area reservoir, outside of Langdon, ND.  It will be a ONE loop swim with a beach start in two waves, 3 minutes apart (mens and women).
  • The Bike: The bike course will start at the reservoir, connect to a loop through the gorge which will be completed twice, and end at a remote location.  Bikes will be transported from the remote location to the finish line for you. HERE is a link to a video from last may of a trip I took to the region for biking and paddleboarding. The biking starts at 2:00.  You can see the nature of the trails that will make up roughly 40 miles of the course - fast and flowing.  There may be a few short sections of tougher terrain, but if conditions are dry the bike course will awesome.  The balance of the miles will be on gravel or minimum maintenance roads.  Again, lots of climbing, though no single climb will be bigger than 400' of ascent. Each loop will involve at least one river crossing (without a bridge), which in most years is fordable at thigh deep or less levels.  If it is a high water year we will provide lifejackets at the crossing and possibly a rope and/or raft (for ferrying the bike). Normal or low water years you will be responsible for your own bike at the crossing.
  • The Run:  The run is going to be a doozy. We're still working on the final configuration of trails to get the 26.2 miles, but we can tell you this much - it will be grueling.  Starting at the remote location, the run be a continuous one way trip to the finish line. 75% of the run's length will be in the gorge proper on a network of hunter trails and creek bottom running.  20% will be on gravel roads.  Less than 5% will be pavement. It is spectacular country but the ascents and descents will be frequent, sometimes very steep, and often punishing.  The  2-3 miles of creek bottom running  may involve flat, easy, shale bottomed creek or a more rugged boulder filled creek or both - check out some photos of the famous Speights Coast to Coast race for an idea of the inspiration for this section.  The run will involve one significant river crossing, at which lifejackets will be provided in the event it is too deep to ford.

Race Details:

Date:  August 2nd and 3rd, 2014

Location:  Pembina Gorge, near Walhalla, ND.

Registration: (less than 1/4 the price of Ironman!)

  before Jan 1 Jan 1-Jun 31 Jul 1-Jul 26
Solo Wilderperson - Register $175 $200 $250

Registration Cap:  Race will be limited to 250 participants.

Amenities/Lodging: There are accommodation options in Walhalla (camping and motels, 11 miles from race start), Cavalier (camping and motels, 30 miles from race start) and Langdon (camping and motels, 25 miles from race start).  The Pembina Gorge is located approximately 1.75 hours drive from Grand Forks, ND and 1.5 hours drive from Winnipeg, Manitoba.  We will post more details about accommodation options in the next few weeks.

The course:  The course will involve a 2.4 mile swim in a reservior, a 112 mile bike ride (in two laps - approx. 50% gravel roads, 50% single and double track, or creek riding - with a few river crossings thrown in for good measure), and a 26.2 mile run (10% mininum maintenence road, 15% creek bed running, and 75% single/double track). It is going to be challenging with many descents into and out of the 400 foot deep Pembina Gorge.  It is going to be a HARD course.

Registration includes: Swag (TBD),  pre race meal (friday night) and post race refreshments (finish times will vary widely).  Course will have a cutoff, TBD, but somewhere between 24 and 36 hours.  .  Racers also have the option to purchase additional ENDracing swag for deep discounts during registration - stuff like socks, hats, and merino wool baselayers.  

Safety: This is a difficult endurance race in a remote setting.  Much of the course does not get cell phone coverage.  Although we will have ATV's on hand to help with medical emergencies, extraction of racers from some sections of the course will be difficult and time consuming.  Racers should approach this event with a 'self rescue' mentality - particularly for the run course and at the very least, understand that in an emergency situation (broken bone, etc) it may take a signficiant amount of time before help arrives.  Racers may choose to carry a SPOT tracker or similar device which may speed up response time (if an injury occurs to a racer without such a device, we will likely only know once a fellow racer who passes them and becomes aware of the situation reports it at the next manned checkpoint/aid station). Racers carrying emergency devices will be responsible for making sure emergency signals are communicated to the appropriate race staff (numbers will be given pre race) either directly or through a third party (loved one following their progress at home, for example).  Mandatory gear will need to be carried on both the biking and running portions.  The list will be published leading up to the race, but will include essential items such as water purification, space blanket, a light source, basic first aid, and navigation gear (GPS or compass). 

Other Details:

  • Mosquitos are present in the area.  At dusk and dawn they can get particulalrly bad if you are moving slowly.  We recommend bringing spray with a higher DEET content for areas with dense bush,  using premerthin treated clothing, and/or nylon long pants/sleeves, or just not stopping!
  • There is some poison ivy along sections of the course although racers staying on trails should not be affected. Racers with severe poison ivy alergies may want to wear long pants/socks/calf sleeves during the running portion. I am personally severly alergic to the plant but have only ever had an issue when i've been off trail.
  • Tentative course map will be posted soon, although is likely to change somewhat as we get feet on the ground and collect GPS data from all the trails.  

Tattoos:  We will aim to have tattoo artists on site to provide those finishers that want to get a W-dot tattoo to commemorate the occasion.  Ok, we may be joking, but we may not!