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Race Updates

Race Update #2
Hello registered racers,

You are (almost) here! We hope you’re looking forward to racing along perhaps the most beautiful “freshwater ocean” in the world. Thanks for racing with us in the Lake Michigan Edition of the Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race (to be called the Michigan Adventure Race from now on since we are not just in GR or urban areas anymore).

Please see the Race Information page for all the details about logistics, race format, tips, etc. This is especially important for teams who have never done one of our races.


Early check-in: Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus, THURSDAY, June 12, 4:00-7:00 pm
Same-day check-in: Hoffmaster State Park, overflow beach parking, Saturday, 7:45 am to 8:45 am (gate opens at 7:30 am)
Race briefing: 9:00 am to 9:25 am
Race start: 10:00 am (waves at 5 minutes likely to keep challenge lines short)
Race cutoff: 3:30 pm
Lunch: 3:00 pm start (approx.)
Award ceremony and raffle: 4:00-4:45

Hoffmaster State Park 6585 Lake Harbor Road, Muskegon, 49441
Use the main entrance at the bend at Pontaluna and Lake Harbor Roads. The second entrance is the campground.

The park gate at Hoffmaster opens at 7:30 am and the Michigan Recreation Pass is required to get in. Many of you already bought this when you renewed your license. If so, Hoffmaster staff will likely route you around to the left so you don’t have to wait in line to get in. If you need the pass, get it at the park gate Saturday morning for $11. Good until your next license renewal. Out of state resident vehicles/residents must pay $9 for a daily pass or $31 for the annual pass. Learn more here.

Go right/west after the guard shack and park in the overflow beach lot, just before (north of) the main beach lot. There will be no bike corral so keep your bike on your car. Check-in is on the south side of the lot. You’ll see us as you turn into the lot. Portajohns on the north side of the lot.

Check-in and Waiver
Early registration is on THURSDAY, June 12, 4-7 pm, at Bill and Paul’s Sporthaus, 1200 East Paris Ave SE in Grand Rapids, or same day at Hoffmaster. 10% off adventure racing gear at Bill and Paul’s. See the Required Gear page for a list of applicable gear. Your teammate or friend on another team MAY give their signed waiver to you so that you can grab their bib number (provided in the next race update) and shirt. Without their waiver, we cannot give out these items. Attach your number on your backpack or wherever most visible.

Make sure you keep track of your passport. Also, put your name and mobile phone number on it in case you drop it so someone can call you and leave it at a checkpoint for you to pick up. Read more about the passport and race format on the Race Information page if you are new to adventure racing.

Registration Changes
You can swap in a new teammate or make other changes online through June 11. Instructions are on the Register page. We’ll make changes manually after that. Shirt changes can be made through this Wednesday.

There are a small number of sites left if you want to camp Friday and/or Saturday night. Check the Hoffmaster reservations page. No wandering the trails Friday night if you can’t sleep though!!

We would encourage you to invite friends and family to watch the race. We will offer race maps to spectators so they can check out some of the fun challenges. Please have them bring their own post-race food, but if we have food left they can then purchase for $5. Need to make sure racers get served first.

We will race rain or shine. In the event of a thunderstorm, we will postpone the race until conditions improve. During (building) or before (car) the race, please seek shelter during these conditions. No prize is worth risking your life. Race organizers reserve the right to cancel the event in the case of extended severe weather. We will do everything possible to get the event in, but refunds are not available if it is cancelled due to significant costs we must pay in advance of the race. That said, we would try to race the next day rather than cancel.

Required Gear
Please review the Required Gear page if you haven’t already. A few notes:

  • EACH person must have a container with 40 oz. of water or energy drink capacity (full at the start).
  • Depending on the weather, we may remove the requirement for a rain coat and long pants.
  • Some challenges along Lake Michigan may get you wet and with Lake Michigan still cold, we recommend having dry clothes in your pack as well as in your car, ready for a quick change.
  • All equipment for the kayak and paddleboard challenges will be provided. The challenges are optional like anything in the race.

See the Race Information page for details. All CPs are optional. The format will be “breakout” or “score” style. You can get any checkpoint in any order. There will be a run section and a bike section. Within the bike section, there will be a short on-foot orienteering section. You’ll leave your bike at a designated corral. Several places along the bike section have bathrooms as well as access to food and fluids. We may or may not have coolers of water out on the course since you can fill up at public places.

Each checkpoint will have a punch with a unique barb pattern that we will check after the race. The goal is to maximize the number of checkpoints on your passport within the time limit. Keep in mind that it could take some teams over 1 HOUR to get back to the finish if you are still at the southern most sections of the course late in the race.

You may not use GPS devices to track your location or measure distances. Bike computers are allowed for distance and speed. You must stay within 100 feet of your teammate!

Challenges will be similar to what you may have seen on the Amazing Race, requiring some mental, physical or combination of skills. Teams get one checkpoint for arriving at the challenge and a second point/punch if they do the challenge successfully as verified by a volunteer. Very rarely are teams stumped (no nightmare story problems or anything crazy). At our Charity Challenge we will give you a clue to help you complete the challenge faster if you donate $5 for 20 Liters, our charity partner. 20 Liters helps people in Rwanda get access to clean water.

The Course
Our races are designed so that only a few teams will get every checkpoint. 90% of racers prefer it that way because strategy, time management and course selection are more important as a result, especially so in this race since the bike distance back to the finish is longer than usual (possibly over 10 miles depending on where you are). If you did not see the change, we increased the time available to collect checkpoints from 5 hours to 5 hours and 30 minutes. This will help teams do their favorite sections/challenges and have more time to get back to the finish. However, you are allowed to come back at anytime. Find just one checkpoint and you receive a finishing place and time.

Biking. 30-34 miles. All road, mostly flat and fast. Road bikes are allowed. If you do not have access to a road bike, you can still make your mountain bike very competitive with a few changes depending on how serious you are taking this. Plan on 1-3 miles of on-foot trails+off-trail scrambling in the areas you’ll get to by bike so you may want to bring running shoes and swap out of your bike shoes if you clip your shoes into your bike pedals.

You may also bring this area bike path map if you have concerns about biking on roads. Much of the race can be completed on bike paths.

We’ve never had a bike stolen during the race and all or almost all locations where you leave your bike will be manned by volunteers. That said, feel free to bring a lock for the potential instance where you will leave your bike to venture out of its sight.

Running. 6-8 miles. Hilly for West Michigan standards but much of it is on hard-packed trails since we are not allowed to place checkpoints off-trail at Hoffmaster. Low to moderate beach/sand running.

Orienteering/Trekking. 2 miles. Not extensive or overly difficult, although the terrain is hilly. Map reading will be important; compass experience will be helpful but not critical. Know the meaning of these orienteering terms: saddle, ridge, reentrant, peninsula.

Navigation 101/201 clinic. June 4, 7 pm. Free. Gazelle Sports. Details on the event Facebook page. If you can’t make it, check out the Navigation 101/201 presentation on our site.

You will receive two 11×17 maps, a waterproofed passport and race instructions. We recommend you waterproof your maps and race instructions with contact paper in addition to putting them into a waterproof map case or zip lock bag. The maps will include relevant trails but you may print the Hoffmaster State Park trail map and bring it with you during the race. You may not bring any other maps with you besides race maps, this bike path map and the Hoffmaster trail map.

Paddling. The kayak section will be one mile long and will likely take over 20 minutes. Paddleboarding will be shorter, more to get a taste of it. We are not paddling on Lake Michigan due to water temps and potential for big waves. With the exception of the paddling, challenges should take under 10 minutes each to complete.

Shirts and Merchandise
We’ll be selling our buff headwear for $10 (about half the cost of most), pints for $6 ($15 at most other races), magnets for $2, and our ventilated hat for $15. Future pints and magnets won’t have GR Urban Adventure Racing on them since the race name is changing so they are at a big discount.

Referral Program
Grab two of my business cards at check in (four per team). Write your name and email on them. If anyone asks about the race while you are in Grand Haven or beyond (or at the Epic or ArtPrize Editions), hand them a card. Have them email me and share your name. I’ll put all the cards in a raffle and draw for a free entry (max. $75) once we reach 10 people who sign up for the first time. Thanks Lori Ott for the idea!

Please bring campchairs and join us immediately after the race for the post-race pig roast and awards/raffle. We’ll have BBQ pork on buns, fruit and tortellini salad. Bring your own beverage if you don’t want water or Gatorade. Beer is not allowed in the park. We’ll pass out some great prizes to the top teams in each division. We’ll raffle off a bunch of stuff too.

Post your photos from the race and use the hashtag #miadventurerace so it’s easy to find them.

Ask questions on Facebook or for anything related just to you, email me at

Thanks all. Look for one more update to come shortly before the race. Updates will be posted under the Lake Michigan Edition Race Updates page on the website for future reference.

Mark, for Greg, Matt and Brian
Michigan Adventure Racing

Race Update #1b

I didn’t realize that I was limited to 100 responses in Survey Monkey so I closed the survey this afternoon. Here are the results. Read Update #1 below if you’re not sure what I’m talking about.

5 hours: 14 votes
5 hours, 30 minutes: 59 votes
Either is fine: 27 votes

We’ll add 30 minutes to the race. While a distance based race could never be lengthened, a time-based race has some flexibility in our opinion, especially with these survey results. You can come in at any time before the limit. The biking on this course is faster and flatter than any of our past races and with all the mini-breaks to punch your passport and conquer challenges, all of you first timers will be amazed at how long you can race. The fastest teams will still have a challenge getting all of the checkpoints I believe.

If you no longer wish to race due to the change, we can transfer your entry to a future three- or four-hour race.

For those frustrated that we are allowing road bikes, our goal with every race we put on is to create courses that require mountain bikes. In this case, there are no such trails nearby so we look at it as a chance to allow those with only a road bike to experience an adventure race. Is it a perfectly level playing field? No. Neither is it when there are racers with $5,000 mountain bikes and others with garage sale specials. Mountain bikers can swap out their tires to road/slick tires and take away a large portion of the road bike advantage. Other strategies to increase bike speed such as tire pressure and tow systems are listed here.

124 of you will be completing your first adventure race on June 14. That’s awesome. It’s also a bit overwhelming with new gear, format, and rules to figure out. Please read through the Race Information and Required Gear pages if you haven’t. Ask questions on Facebook or email me if those sections don’t give the answers you’re looking for.

Race Update #1

If you can’t read through this now, please skip to the bold paragraph and complete the 10 second survey below. Read the rest later. Thanks!

Thanks so much for signing up for the Lake Michigan Edition! We’re at about 320 racers (160 teams of two) so far, our 11th adventure race in a row with 300 crazy participants. Numbers aren’t that important if the race experience is awful, but we all should be excited about having perhaps the longest streak of 300-participant races in the nation — not counting those big city urban adventure races where people take the bus to challenges instead of bike and run 30+ miles. Sheesh!

We have an awesome course designed for you involving great Lake Michigan dunes and views, epic Hoffmaster trails, Grand Haven beach action and pretty paddling challenges. I discovered a very cool orienteering section too so brush up on your compass use if you hope to get those checkpoints quickly. You’ll likely find them without a compass but it may take better map reading and/or more hunting.

With the late winter, design of the course is just now falling into place and I’m discovering that all the good stuff can’t realistically be done in five hours. You’ve asked us in past surveys to design each course so that very few teams get every checkpoint, but this course is a bit beyond the norm. And yet I don’t want to cut out the kayaking, paddleboarding or orienteering and I’ve already trimmed everything else that I can. While Hoffmaster is an awesome venue, it’s over seven miles from the north side of Grand Haven so a good chunk of time will be biking to and from Grand Haven, leaving you less time to squeeze in all of the great Grand Haven areas.

So here’s the deal. It’s up to you. We can keep the 5-hour deadline as is and leave it to you to decide what to do and when, knowing you will likely miss out on some things. Or, we can add 30 minutes to the race (race would go from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm), which may give you just enough time to conquer one or two more of your must-do challenges or finish off all the checkpoints in area. 

Please indicate your preference on this 1-question survey.

Either way, you won’t be forced to do anymore than you want. There’s no set course; you’re just trying to maximize checkpoints. Come in whenever you have had enough.

Distances. Whether it’s 5 or 5.5 hours, expect the following distances to clear the entire course. Many of you will not cover these maximum distances so no need to feel overwhelmed. We are providing a bit more course data then usual to set expectations now, since the distances, duration and number of new races are all greater than past races.

Biking. 30-34 miles. All road, mostly flat and fast. Road bikes are allowed. If you do not have access to a road bike, you can still make your mountain bike very competitive with a few changes depending on how serious you are taking this. Most important: switching to a road/slick/semi-slick tire. Talk to your bike shop for options. For other changes to improve speed, go to Race Information, Gear section.

Running. 5-7 miles. Hilly for West Michigan standards but much of it is on hard-packed trails since we are not allowed to place checkpoints off-trail at Hoffmaster. Low to moderate beach/sand running.

Orienteering/Trekking (on foot). 1-3 miles. Not extensive or overly difficult. Map reading will be important; compass experience will be helpful but not critical. You can attend our Navigation 101/201 clinic on June 14 at Gazelle Sports. Free. Room for 6 more. Gazelle Sports. RSVP to Facebook events page or email if you don’t have Facebook. If you can’t make it, check out the Navigation 101/201 presentation on our website.

Paddling, Challenges. 1 mile kayak paddling. Paddleboarding will be much shorter, more to get a taste of it. Kayaks, paddleboards, PFDs and paddles will be provided, as will any other equipment for the other challenges. We are not paddling on Lake Michigan due to water temps and potential for big waves. With the exception of the kayaking, most challenges should take under 10 minutes to complete.

See the Race Information page for new info on bike shoes (bring running shoes in your pack on the bike leg), bike locks (most if not all areas will have volunteers to watch bikes, but throw in a lock if concerned) and lots of other details based on questions racers have asked over past few months.

I’ll get back to you soon with survey results and the final decision. Standard Race Update to follow in early June. Hopefully a little warmer and sunnier on June 14!

Mark, for Greg, Matt and Brian

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