END-WET Course Book (2016 Version)
Greetings! This course book is intended to serve as your one-stop shop for END-WET information. Both swimmers and support paddlers may find the course book to be helpful. If you still have questions after reading the course book, drop us a line! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The solo swim categories are described below, along with rules pertaining to inclusion in each category. There is no distinction between genders in this race; men and women are competing against one another for placing!
Non-Wetsuit Category: FINA OWS swimming guidelines apply. Athletes in this category cannot use any buoyancy aids or speed aids (no wetsuits, pull buoys, hand paddles, fins, snorkels, etc.). Rash guards, music, and dive masks are fine, however, as is any type of fabric swimsuit. Grease is also allowed.
Wetsuit Category: Wetsuits are allowed; speed aids are not.
In order to be considered an official finisher of the event, in any class, the following guidelines must be followed:
a) Racers must complete the full 36 miles under their own power, uninterrupted by stops on land. In the event that a swimmer “touches bottom” in the middle of the river, they will not be disqualified as long as they don’t use the bottom for forward progress. Exceptions will be made in the event of lightning-related issues.
b) Swimmers cannot have contact with their support boats or paddlers. Incidental/accidental contact won’t result in disqualification. This means swimmers can’t hang onto the boat during feeds!
B) River Conditions
The river is varies in width from about 150 feet to more than 300 feet in places. The current averages between negligent to 1 mph or so, depending on water levels. In 2012, the river was at record low levels and most swimmers touched bottom at least once. In 2013, flows were up and times were faster and no one touched bottom. Current river conditions can be found here: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nd/nwis/uv?site_no=05082500
The visibility within the river is approximately 8 inches because of the high turbidity. The water itself is clean and safe to swim in, however. The banks are lined with majestic old cottonwoods, many sporting eagles’ nests. It's awesome!
Logistically, supporting a swim this long is a challenge. Multiply that by 30 and add difficulty because the river is so inaccessible during most of its length, and well, you get the picture! Here are some logistical details to keep in mind…
Swimmers: remember that this is the longest race in North America and much of the river is essentially inaccessible from the shore. Please think carefully about what you need to be successful at the race and don’t pack what you don’t need. It’s important that you have enough, but be aware that some support boats might have a limited amount of room.
Nutrition should be split roughly in half, as there is a resupply point at mile 15. The resupply items should be in mesh bags (or something similar) that can be easily handed to your support boater from the shore, and must be clearly marked with your full name on them. Support boats will be able to hand off trash/empty bottles at the resupply point, but please note that anything left here should be considered abandoned. Any support paddler wanting to pick up their own items at the resupply point should add them to their swimmer’s bag. All resupply bags will be transported to the resupply point by race volunteers.
C) Social Media Updates
For those with loved ones, friends, and fans following along, we plan to offer live updates during the race. This is largely dependent on the support paddlers. The river will be marked on river left at every mile, starting at 1 and counting to 36. Support paddlers will be asked to text a race volunteer (contact info to be provided at race check-in) at each mile marker throughout the race. The race volunteer will post location updates as often as possible for swimmers on the ENDracing Facebook and Twitter pages. Please use hashtag #ENDWET if you are posting about the race.
D) Nature Calls
It’s a long race and bathroom breaks are inevitable. Support paddlers: be aware there aren’t any enclosed bathrooms along the race course, so you’ll need to find a good place along the river bank to relieve yourself. If you end up needing to go to shore for a pit stop, make sure you discuss how you’re going to communicate this to your swimmer. Swimmers: please be gracious and understand this is unavoidable.
We will have an EMT in a boat on the water, but this boat will be there for medical emergencies only (not to supply food, water, Advil, etc.). In the event that a swimmer can’t continue, the best case scenario is to pull out at a manned checkpoint (a few will be available on the race course). If this is not possible, then it’s up to the swimmer and support paddler to determine the best course of action. It’s advised that support paddlers keep their phones waterproofed in case of emergency.
The race will go on even if it’s raining. In the event of severe thunderstorms and lightning in the vicinity of your location, swimmers who opt to ‘wait out’ the storm on shore will not be disqualified. If the forecast is for a day full of severe storms, we will make a call as to postponement/rescheduling prior to race start.
A pre-race email will be sent to all racers and support paddlers at the beginning of race week. This email will include a link to the course book for reminders, a few more finalized details, and any changes that have been made to the race (if applicable). We will also include the swimmer-support paddler pairings in the email to give swimmers the chance to contact their paddlers before they arrive to town.
Welcome Dinner. The Grand Forks Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) has graciously offered to host an informal welcome dinner for any racers in town on Thursday evening. Feel free to stop by and say hi if you’ll be in town early! Dinner is at 6:30pm at the Grand Forks CVB (4251 Gateway Drive, Grand Forks, ND).
Media Swim. The local media usually run a story about END-WET the day before the race. Those interested in swimming a short section of the race course early Friday morning are invited to join the media swim. This is an informal meeting and you don’t need to attend, nor do you need to RSVP. We will have boats in the water but won’t be providing any nutritional support during the media swim. Location and time for the media swim will be given in the pre-race email sent at the beginning of race week. No media swim this year (updated 2016-06-09).
Race Check-in. Racers and support paddlers should plan to meet at Dakota Harvest Bakers (17 N 3rd Street, Grand Forks, ND) to check in between 5:00 – 5:30pm. We will have a race information meeting at 5:30pm and will give racers a chance to go over plans for race day, mingle, and meet with your support paddler (if not bringing your own). Light snacks will be provided.
Support Boat Drop. Support boaters using their own boats will either need to drop their boats and gear at the start on Friday night or arrive early to the race start Saturday morning. Support boaters using an ENDracing boat will have their boat transported to the race start by a volunteer on Friday night. A volunteer will camp at the park to watch the boats on Friday night.
Saturday (Race Day!)
Departure to Race Start. Racers and support paddlers will meet in front of the Blue Moose Bar and Grill on Saturday morning (507 2nd Street NW, East Grand Forks, MN). This is near the finish line and you’ll need to check in before boarding the bus to the race start. Bus departure time is TBD and will be announced at race check-in on Friday night. Racers and paddlers should leave post-race clothes and items in their cars before boarding the bus. If needed, a small bag can be carried with you on the bus with clothes/items needed on the bus ride (sandals, something to wear, etc.). We will also be collecting resupply bags at this point. These will be dropped partway through the race (mile 15).
Race Start. Depending on river conditions, race start will be sometime between 6:00 – 8:00am (to be announced race week).
Post Race. There will be liquid refreshments at the finish line. There will also be showers available at the Red River Recreation Area campground, just ¼ mile from the finish line. After you’re clean and dry, head over to the Blue Moose Bar and Grill for a free meal and beverage.
Award Ceremony. The award ceremony will happen at the Fire Hall Theater in downtown Grand Forks at 10:00am (412 2nd Ave N, Grand Forks, ND). Baked goods and coffee will be provided. We will have a short presentation from Jeff Utsch, this year’s guest swimmer, as well as the presentation of finisher awards and some small prizes for top finishers.
We have a hotel block at the Red Roof Inn Townhouse (link is external) in downtown Grand Forks, a few blocks from the finish line.
To book: 701-746-5411 and use group name "END-WET racing"
Rates: Queen: $70, King: $80, 2 queen beds: $90. Any rooms not booked by May 16, 2016 will be released.
Our swimmers have a monumental task…swimming 36 miles! Support paddlers play an instrumental role in swimmers making it to the finish line! Here’s what support paddling usually entails…
▪ Support paddling is an all-day commitment. Race start is between 6:00 – 8:00 am and most swimmers are finished before 8:00 pm.
▪ Since you’ll be paddling and sitting in a boat all day, being in good/decent physical condition is helpful.
▪ Feeling comfortable on the water and in a canoe or kayak is important. Having paddling experience is a plus, but is not required. Swimmers will be going at a slow pace and stopping to eat/drink periodically, so being a fast paddler is not necessary.
▪ Support paddlers also assist swimmers at their designated food/drink stops. Swimmers will be bringing their own food and drinks that will be kept in your boat.
▪ To help ensure swimmers’ safety, we ask support paddlers to text updates to the race director with their swimmer’s location throughout the race.
Many swimmers like to be in contact with their support paddlers via email in the weeks leading up to the race. Usually, this is to discuss any special instructions or needs that the swimmer has during the race. We will provide swimmers with their support paddler’s contact information.
Swimmers will also want to meet their support paddlers before the race. We have race check-in on Friday night before the race and this is a great opportunity for swimmers and paddlers to meet. Please plan on stopping by check-in if you’re support paddling. Check-in time and location to be announced in pre-race email.
We pay support paddlers $100 and provide a free meal and drink from the Blue Moose Bar and Grill at the finish line. After a long day on the water, you’ve earned it!
The course is relatively remote and inaccessible along much of its length. The main spectator points are at Thompson Bridge (mile 15/21 miles to go) and the last eight miles of the course along the Grand Forks Greenway.
There is driving access to Thompson Bridge. Some foot travel will be required for access along the Greenway; see map for parking locations.