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Race Information – Ludington

Ludington Edition
Ludington State Park
May 20, 2017
6 and 12 hours

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Experience 6 or 12 hours of intensely fun and challenging trekking, orienteering, paddling, and biking over some of the most beautiful and rugged terrain in Michigan at jaw-dropping, eye-popping Ludington State Park. You and your teammate(s) will race together to find as many checkpoints as you can in the time period. This is a “classic” style wilderness adventure race. No urban sections or Amazing Race-type challenges like many of our races (See the ArtPrize and Winter Editions). You’ll have plenty of 100% natural challenges.


Don’t let the long duration keep you from an incredible experience. Just adjust your pace, maintain a positive attitude and make sure you know how to follow a pre-marked topographic map and use a compass to find off-trail checkpoints. If you are gassed early, no worries. Head on in early and be proud of how you raced.

On the fence about which race to choose? We encourage teams to try the 12 hour race which will feature some amazing areas that the 6-hour race won’t be able to get to. We’ll haul into the wilderness by bus and drop you off. You will experience an epic expedition as you journey back to Ludington State Park by bike, foot and boat. We’ll offer lots of optional checkpoints so you can skip a few if necessary to get back before the deadline. Both courses feature a nice mix of packed, marked trails and off-trail running with virtually no sand.

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You may race in one of seven divisions. Prizes will be be awarded based on a minimum number (TBD) of teams in each division. Solo racers who team up with one or more other racers are not eligible for solo awards. Just register in the above categories with the same team name (I and II) and pair up unofficially.

  • Solo: females, males
  • Two-person: co-ed, females, males
  • Three-person any gender (may add same-gender divisions if there’s demand)
  • Four-person any gender (NEW; if enough demand)

Course Design
6 Hours
Trekking, paddling and biking sections AND the checkpoints within each section can all be done in any order within each section (score-o/rogaine style).

  • Trekking/Orienteering: 8-11 miles. Some of the finest navigation in Michigan. Expect a variety of terrain, from hardwood forest to lakeside swamp to Lake Michigan dunes and from epic ridge climbs and descents to fast-moving woods. Mostly intermediate-level difficulty with several beginner checkpoints. A combination of very definable checkpoints and more subtle placements to test your ability to process many types of information (contour shape, elevation, vegetation types, man-made features, distance, direction, water features, etc.). Very little to no loose sand.
  • Biking: 18-25 miles. Some really fun singletrack along with paved roads. Some amazing Lake Michigan views provided, free of charge. Road bikes are allowed in the race but NOT on the singletrack trails. Trail bike rentals available (see Gear page).
  • Paddling: 1.5-1.75 miles. We will provide the kayaks and canoes. Because the paddle is short and can be done at any time, we will rent 40 boats and they will be first come, first served (a lot less expensive for you then everyone having to rent a boat). Very likely any wait for a boat will be short. No boat available? You can do a trek or bike section and try the paddle later. All rentals come with PFD and paddle(s). The trekking sections and biking section all come back to the start of the paddle so there will be multiple opportunities to paddle. Personal boats allowed if you want to transport them to and from your car during race (otherwise they may get lumped in with the rentals).
  • Challenges. We will NOT have Amazing Race challenges in this race. Ludington has amazing terrain and we want to give you as much time as possible to experience the incredible land and water.

12 Hours
The course design features lots of variety. Checkpoints are expected to be mostly or entirely “score-o”/rogaine and optional; they can be done in any order within each section although many will be set up to be point to point as most of the race is a journey from wilderness drop-off until your return to Ludington State Park.

Transition areas and major sections will be done in order (to track teams for safety and allow volunteers to work multiple areas). All transition areas will be mandatory. If you are running behind, you should be able to get to all of these TAs without problem as they are on the way back to the state park.

  • Orienteering/Trekking: 12-15 miles. Two large sections. Great navigation. Expect a variety of terrain, from hardwood forest to lakeside swamp to plateaus above Lake Michigan; from epic ridge climbs and descents to fast-moving woods. Distances between CPs will vary from 250 meters to over a mile. Mostly intermediate-level difficulty with a few advanced and beginner checkpoints. A combination of very definable checkpoints and more subtle placements to test your ability to process many types of information (contour shape, elevation, vegetation types, man-made features, distance, direction, water features, etc.). Very little loose sand.
  • Biking: 35-42 miles. Some really fun singletrack along with gravel and paved roads. Not a lot of hills on the bike leg. Road bikes not allowed.
  • Paddling: 6 miles. Beautiful river paddling. Short but sweet. Rental kayaks will be 10-foot solos; rental canoes are expected to be aluminum 16-footers. All rentals come with PFD and paddle(s). You MAY provide and stage your own boat. Details to come. It should be fairly easy to do.

Entry Fee
See the Register page for entry fees. See the bottom of the Register page for information on registration changes, transfers and our refund policy.

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12 Hours
Canoe and bike staging: Friday evening or before 6:30 am Saturday, location TBD but within 30 minutes of start and on the way in to Ludington for most racers
Check-in, gear check: 6:00-7:30 am
Race briefing: 7:30-8:00 am
Race planning: 8:00-8:45 am
Bus to start:
8:50 am
Race start:
 9:30 am
Race cut-off:
 9:30 pm
Food: 8:30-10:15 pm, pizza
Award ceremony and raffle:
approx. 10:15 pm

6 Hours
Check-in, gear check: 9:00-10:45 am
Race briefing:
 10:45-11:15 am
Race planning: 11:15-11:55 am
Race start:
 12:00 pm
Race cut-off:
 6:00 pm
Food: 5:30-7:00 pm, pizza
Award ceremony and raffle: 
approx. 7:00 pm

Directions & Parking
Our home base is Ludington State Park at the Hamlin Lake picnic shelter. It’s a beautiful setting with scenic Hamlin Lake off to one side and the Big Sable dam and river on the other, re-starting the final leg of its journey to Lake Michigan. We will not have heated, fully sheltered space, just a basic picnic shelter. Come prepared for any and all types of weather.

MI State Parks require a passport on all motorized vehicles that enter a park. Non-resident annual passport is $32. Non-resident Daily Passport is $9.00. Michigan residents can purchase their vehicle recreation passport for $11.00 or their motorcycle recreation passport for $5.00 when they renew their license plate. For more information visit


Please read through our standard race rules. Special rules that apply only to the Ludington Edition will be listed in one of the race updates you’ll receive.

Age Guidelines
We ask that racers be at least 14 years old due to biking in traffic unless the parent discusses the possibility of an exception with race organizers. Racers under 18 must be accompanied by an adult and have a parent or guardian sign the waiver/consent form provided during online registration.

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You will receive a short-sleeved tech shirt with your entry. You must register by May 14 to receive it. $15 after registration if we have any left. Men’s/adult crew or women’s v-neck, slightly contoured. Sport-tek brand, same shirt as other races. If you are normally between sizes, you may want to go with the smaller size. Some racers say the shirts run a little large.

Women’s shirt specifications
Men’s shirt specifications

Navigation Practice/Clinics
Navigation 101/201 clinic. RSVP if you would like to attend the Navigation 101/201 clinic at Robinette’s Apple Haus in Grand Rapids on May 6. Free. If you can’t make it, check out the Navigation 101/201 clinic presentation and other sources on our Learn More page for tips.

See the Gear page for details. Required gear will be standard adventure racing gear (bike, hydration pack/containers, compass, emergency blanket and a few other small items). Kayaks, paddles and PFDs will be provided for the 6-hour race short paddle loop. 

6-hour race. Boats, PFDs and paddles will be provided.

12-hour rental. See the Register page for the prices. Rental boats, paddles and PFDs will be staged for you.

12-hour personal/staging. If you bring your own canoe or kayak, you will need to stage it on Friday or early on the morning of the race. We will provide directions to the staging area a day or two before the race. You can leave your personal paddles and PFDs there as well. Your boat may be delivered after the race (TBD) or you can pick it up if it’s on the way home. If you are renting a boat but brought own paddles and/or PFDs, you can leave them at the staging area as well.

Merchandise (available at early check-in and race day, limited quantities)
Sweatshirt – hooded, pockets $30
Short sleeve ($17) and long sleeve ($22) shirts
Buff headwear $10 ($18-$23 for most others)
Stainless steel pint $10 ($15 on most race sites)
Sticker (removable) $3

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We will race rain or shine. In the event of a thunderstorm, we will postpone the race until conditions improve. During the race, please seek shelter during these conditions. 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. If possible, we’ll provide a partial credit for a future race.

Check-in will be at the Hamlin Lake picnic shelter in Ludington State Park, next to the dam. Sign the waiver and get your shirt, passport, and “bib” number at check-in. Your teammate must provide you their waiver if you are picking up for them. Each checkpoint you arrive at will have a control marker/checkpoint (CP) flag and a punch with a unique barb pattern hanging from it that you will use to punch your passport.

Pre-race briefing
We’ll go over rules, answer any questions and hand out an instruction sheet and maps. Bring your passport with you. The passport is the piece of waterproof paper you’ll punch at each checkpoint to prove you found it. You must punch the correct box in the passport so we can verify you were indeed there. The race instructions/clues will list the rules, describe the course and provide hints about where checkpoints are located. It’s critical that you do not lose or destroy your passport, map or instructions!

The map(s) will be pre-marked with all controls/checkpoints (CPs) and transition areas (TAs). The maps will be topographical (USGS) with a maximum size of 11×17″. It’s possible that a map will be aerial or Google Map if topographical is not appropriate. Map scale will likely be 1:24,000 for macro-navigation and possibly smaller for micro-navigation (orienteering). Waterproof your map with a map case, double zip lock bags, packing tape and/or contact paper if desired. The passport is already waterproof. Most racers find that the time we try to provide with the maps is sufficient for determining their route but you may need to do some route selection during the race.

6-hour racers will head out in waves by division, every 5 minutes or so.

12-hour racers will start as one group after being transported by bus.

Water and Gatorade will be available at the start/finish for the 6-hour race and at multiple transition areas for the 12-hour race; fill your bladders/bottles when you have the opportunity.

Checkpoints may be out of view, tucked behind trees or a hill, but generally are not intentionally hidden (except in public areas to minimize risk of theft). Check your map to see where the point is located and consult your instruction sheet for the clue which will help you determine its more exact location. Some points will require use of your compass, topographical map and an understanding of how to read that map. Each checkpoint will have an orange and white flag with a punch attached to it. Look for the checkpoint number attached to the flag/punch to confirm which checkpoint you are at and punch the corresponding box on your passport.

The goal is to maximize the number of checkpoints on your passport within the time limit. A team that gets 25 checkpoints with seconds to spare will finish ahead of a team that gets 24 checkpoints with one hour to spare. Call the number on the race instructions sheet for minor medical issues. In an emergency, call 911.

Obey all traffic laws. This is an open course so you may encounter vehicles and pedestrians at any point. Call the number on the race instructions sheet if you have minor medical issues. In an emergency, call 911.

We encourage you to hang out after the race. Grab some pizza, congratulate the top finishers (and yourself!), hopefully win a raffle prize, and share stories of getting lost and found. Family and friends should plan for their own food to ensure we have enough for racers. We will have a small picnic shelter. Please bring a chair or blanket to sit on. Also bring rain gear or warm clothes if the weather requires.

Our charity partner is Friends of Ludington State Park, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting wise use and conservation of this gem that is Ludington State Park. The organization works to support and improve the park through the funding of projects, recreational equipment and interpretive programs and by volunteering to assist park staff on projects and trail clean-up.

Questions? is a great place to ask questions and get answers so others can learn from your question. For questions specific to you, email Mark VanTongeren, race director.

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