Race Update #2
Adventure racing is the most unknown, misunderstood, underrated sport in the U.S. And yet no other sport blends individual effort and teamwork, brains and body, challenge and fun like adventure racing. Why isn’t AR popular? You need the courage to try it – to overcome the fear of the unknown, the fear of “falling.” You need to (or should!) figure out how to read a topographic map and learn the basics of a compass, get some basic gear and read through these crazy long updates. Once you get through this, adrenaline, fun and great memories await. Thanks for your courage and for flying with us Saturday!
The field is set. We’re looking forward to the largest winter adventure race ever in the U.S. with 433 of you (eclipsing last year’s race by a whopping three racers). An amazing 178 of you are doing your first adventure race on Saturday!
- Here’s the team list with your team number.
- Confirm that your team’s information is correct. Email me if it is not.
- If you are racing as a family and you would like your kids names added to the team list, please email me.
- Sweatshirt sizes can be changed once same-day check-in ends at 8:15 am Saturday (once everyone has a crack at the size they ordered).
- Those who registered after last Wednesday do not get a sweatshirt with entry; you can purchase at 8:15 if any remain for $20 each (we waive late entry fees so there’s no double penalty). Otherwise, we’ll have our new Michigan Adventure Race sweatshirt for $30.
Early check-in: Camp Roger Ridge Hall (dining hall), Friday, 4:00-7:00 pm
Shuttle begins: Lakes Elementary, Saturday, 6:45 am (runs continuously)
Same-day check-in: Camp Roger Ridge Hall, Saturday, 6:45 am to 8:15 am
Race briefing: 8:30 am to 8:55 am
Race planning: 8:55 to 9:30 am
Race start: 9:30/9:35/9:40/9:45 am (waves)
Race cutoff: 12:30/12:35/12:40/12:45 pm
Lunch: 12:00-1:30 pm
Award ceremony and raffle: 1:00-2:15ish
Early & Same-Day Check-in
- Early check-in is at Camp Roger tomorrow (Friday) from 4-7 pm. in the new Ridge Hall (dining hall) at the top of the hill. For early check-in ONLY, access the camp via Pottawatomie Trail just east of the Bostwick Bakery on Belding Road. Do not use the west, gravel road entrance. Park in the guest lot to your left as you arrive (but not on Saturday). Directions for early check-in ONLY. We will be giving away 25 Merrell buffs/headware to the first 25 racers to check in (no, you can’t get one for your absent teammate).
- (Saturday) Bring a gear bag and drop it off in the cabins to the left/south (after shuttle drop-off; look for the signs)
- Walk up the road/hill to Ridge Hall (farthest north building, brand new).
- Bring with you:
- Team number from team list above — will make lines go faster
- Waiver, signed. We will have waivers there if you forget.
- The following required gear: whistle (each racer), emergency blanket (each racer), pen/pencil, phone, compass. See the gear page for details. We will do the gear check at check-in (trusting you to keep it in your pack in exchange for not delaying you with a gear check during the race which is what most adventure races do).
- Pick up your race/bib numbers, passport (one per team) and sweatshirts (for those who registered before 1/18).
- Put your bib on your hydration pack or an outer layer, front or back.
- You can pick up stuff for your teammate and friends, but only if you trade us for their waivers. They must still check in with our gear check volunteers Saturday who will likely be located at the waiver table, before check-in. Bring a bag with you if you are picking up stuff for several people.
Get yourself to Young Ave. at Belding Road in Rockford (unless you are bringing a fatbike). If possible, please carpool with a teammate or someone from your area doing the race. Space at the church and school on Young Ave may be tight. If the parking lines are covered by snow, please note how cars are parked in photo below and try not to leave gaps between vehicles. Every spot taken? Try Old Belding Road and hoof it in (please fill the shuttle lots first though).
- Plenty of room this year with the new Ridge Hall! Restrooms there or in the changing cabins.
- Refer to the camp map. You may print and use this during the race (we will not have copies)
- You may also print and use the Pickerel Lake Park map (we will not have copies). Some checkpoints may be on this land. Not much detail, but it could help you find your bearings if you get turned around. Please stay off Pickerel Lake and Camp Roger property between Thursday midnight and start of race.
Race Briefing & Start
- The pre-race meeting will be held at 8:30 am. You will then have 30+ minutes to plan your route starting at 9:00 am.
- The race instructions will be on BACK of the map (8.5″ x 11″) so you’ll only need one piece of contact paper if using it to seal the map. Each of you can have your own map and race instructions.
- The map will be 1:10,000 scale (1 centimeter on the map equals 10,000 on the land, or 100 meters)
- Every major trail and most minor trails have been added to the map so use those to your advantage.
- For those with a compass with adjustable declination, you can adjust your compass 5.8 degrees West. For those with a standard compass or who don’t have the foggiest idea what declination is, just ignore this bullet. Adjusting for declination (making your compass a bit more accurate) is not necessary when checkpoints are so close to each other.
- Talk to your teammate(s) about your strategy now – will you generally go for nearby challenges at the start or plan to hit most of them in the back half of the race?
- Wave start like usual to reduce the chance of lines at the challenges. Times below.
- Co-eds always go last because if we do co-ed first or second we have no way of determining if there are male or female teams mixed in accidentally or intentionally.
- Because co-ed is such a large wave and we also have a 3-person division this time, we’ll split into four waves instead of our usual three to further reduce possible wait time at a challenge.
Wave 1 at 9:30 (return at 12:30): 44 female teams
Wave 2 at 9:35 (return at 12:35): 45 male teams
Wave 3 at 9:40 (return at 12:40): 1st 50 coed teams (#90-139)
Wave 4 at 9:45 (return at 12:45): Remaining 31 coed teams and 31 three-person teams (#140+)
We have to scan and count 5,400 boxes on the passports, enter scores and times into our scoring system and determine the top finishers. There is no chip timing for this type of race (except a $35,000 version that is not 100% reliable). Hope you can stick around, get into some warm clothes, enjoy some food and share stories. Hopefully we’ll have the results with not too much of a wait. If you can’t stay for the awards, we’ll share results by Sunday via a race recap email and Facebook post and mail any awards that fit in an envelope.
Our trophies and medallions are made from Michigan hardwood trees and hand-burned/designed by Frans Girls right here in Grand Rapids.
We’ve split the 3-person teams into male and co-ed/female/family divisions and went 3-deep in the co-ed/female/family group because more 3-person teams entered than expected. Next year, we’ll look at creating a separate family division if word continues to get out about the family deal (kids 13 and under free). For now, families are still eligible for prizes in the 3-person division and kids 13 and under will receive a medal for participating.
1st place: one pair Salmon shoes (certificate to Bill & Paul’s to try on), one gift certificate, trophy for each team member
2nd place: each receive wood medallion and prize from table
3rd place: each receive wood medallion and prize from table
4th place: each pick a prize from table
5th place: each pick a price from table
1st place overall: one pair Salmon shoes (certificate to Bill & Paul’s to try on), one gift certificate, trophy for each team member
1st place males (if not overall): each receive trophy and prize from table
(added) 1st place co-ed/female/family (if not overall): each receive trophy and prize from table
(added) 2nd place co-ed/female/family: each receive prize from table
(added) 3rd place co-ed/female/family: each receive prize from table
Everyone in the race has been entered into the raffle. We’ll have all the items on the table, first come first served. You must be present to win. We generally raffle off 40-75 prizes (gift cards, shirts from past races, $30 IceSpike traction devices, $39 Zanfel poison ivy wash and more).
For those fretting over what to wear (don’t we all), the current forecast for race time is 28-30 degrees with a feels like temp of 18-20 degrees (factoring in some wind). Likely a small covering of snow on the ground but not enough to slow you down much. Let’s hope it covers over this nasty brown goop. Remember that you will feel about 15-20 degrees warmer if you will be running much of the race. Start off a little cold. You’re warm up quickly. See our gear recommendations on the gear page if you have questions on what to wear. Please go easy on packed roads and the stairs down to the lake as they may be slick.
- The fatbike loop is on, snow or no snow. Conditions should be frozen dirt and allow you to finish the loop quickly. Due to limited bikes, one person will run the south side of Little Bostwick Lake, one person will bike the north side. Switch at the halfway point or just keep going around.
- We have various size bikes but no guarantees you’ll get the perfect fit. Volunteers will adjust the seat if it’s way too high or low for you.
- Please remove yak trax and any other removable traction before getting on the bike due to the chance of scraping the bike frame and other parts with the metal. If you have your traction screwed into your shoes, ideally you’re the runner in the group.
- We have at least two more fatbikes than last year (thank you West Michigan Bike, Grand Rapids Bicycle Co., and racer/volunteer loaners!). That said, with 400+ racers you should anticipate a possible wait of a few minutes. That’s part of the strategy of this race – figuring out how best to integrate challenges into your planned route. We don’t expect waits at most other challenges because limited equipment is not a constraint like it is with the fatbikes.
- Bummer that we lost our snow (although you certainly will run a lot faster!). We may get a little snow, but not enough to snowshoe it appears. The loop formerly known as the snowshoe loop will now be a quick run along the flagged course, NO snowshoes. Your instructions say that you can go in either direction but now that you will be running/hiking, please go counter-clockwise (you’ll see an arrow pointing right and volunteers will help too) so you don’t have to watch for oncoming runners.
- None of the other challenges require snow so they will proceed as planned.
A Few Orienteering Tips
- Following the tracks of other teams like previous years may be difficult due to sparse snow so brush up on compass and map-reading skills if you need a refresher. Look up the orienteering terms from update #1 if you haven’t yet.
- Just no time to dig into compass education? (it’s pretty quick) You can still find a lot of the checkpoints by carefully following your map and the trails I’ve added to it.
- Don’t forget that if you and your map are facing south (as they often will be), you’ll need to rotate your compass dial back toward you so that north on the dial is facing north on the map (unless you want to go exactly the opposite way of where you want to go).
- Last minute shoe panic? Salomon will have their top-rated Speedcross shoe available for you to demo, perfect for off-trail running and trekking. Very limited in sizing/supply (one size run of Mens and Womens) so first come, first serve on those. You will receive some nice swag if you demo them during the race. Most shoes these days are built so they do not need to be broken in, but you know your feet.
- They will also have a raffle so visit their table to enter or just to chat about Salomon, Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus, adventure racing, etc. (and you might get some swag).
We would encourage you to invite friends and family to watch the race although it’s not the ideal spectator sport. They may use the shuttle system throughout the event. We will offer race maps to spectators after the pre-race meeting (first come basis) so they can check out some of the fun challenges. Four challenges are relatively close to the lodge.
After the Race
- We’ll give out some great prizes for the fastest and luckiest (raffle) racers.
- Devour veggie or meat chili from Honey Creek Inn and pizzas from Peppino’s. The chili will be ready around noon for racers who finish early. The pizza (140 of them) will arrive a little later. We expect that all racers will get whichever they prefer. Please start with two pieces of pizza or one piece plus chili; once we make sure the last wave is back and eating, feel free to have more. We ordered three gluten-free cheese pizzas for those who need it. Look for the small boxes – we will try to set aside from the others.
- You are welcome to bring some fruit, veggies, a snack or dessert to share with a few if you are able. If you are bringing a fairly large amount, email me.
- You may bring your own non-alcoholic beverage (2 Liters would be great for sharing) if you don’t want Gatorade or water.
- We’ll have about 1,000 Oreos and cookies if you have a sweet craving (please share the 1,000).
See you tomorrow 4-7 pm at Camp Roger or Saturday!
Mark, Greg, Matt (and team)
Race Update #1 (ignoring the sweatshirt survey from December)
Thanks for joining us for the sixth annual Michigan Adventure Race: Winter Edition! You are now part of the largest winter adventure race series ever held in the U.S. with over 410 racers (about 430 last year). The average WARM weather adventure race in the U.S. draws about 100 racers, so you’re quadrupling that amount despite the threat of deep snow and bitter temperatures, not to mention mystery challenges. That is so badass. Not sure what’s in the water, but keep drinking it (Grand Rapids was the first city to put flouride in their water so perhaps that’s the secret).
All of this can be intimidating at first but if you are new to this race, know that we’ve never received a thumbs down rating from any past racer who completed our survey so the odds are pretty good that the special challenges will be fun and fair as will the search for checkpoints. Those who’ve done the race multiple times have an advantage with their knowledge of the terrain but don’t let that deter you. You’ll gain knowledge for future years and sometimes overconfidence can work against those who are moving too fast. Balance the science of a good compass bearing with the art of using terrain and trails to get you where you need to go and you’ll move through many – if not all – the 21 checkpoints and 5-6 challenges/skills within the three-hour deadline.
Snow or no snow, the race is on. We always design the race assuming no snow. Only the snowshoe loop will be cancelled if there’s not enough snow. It does look like the long-range forecast for race weekend calls for colder weather and possibly some snow. Hopefully the ground is firm for running. We’re going to make all bodies of water off limits for safety based on this warm spell.
If you know of friends who are on the fence, remind them to sign up by 1/25. We had to order the sweatshirts already so although they won’t get one with entry, we do not charge any late fees for them to still sign up. They can get the sweatshirt just above cost at $20 if they missed out.
This race update pretty much covers everything you need to know, thus its prodigious length. However, a few more details exist on the Race Information page if you are new to the race or are missing information.
We want to thank our generous sponsors for supporting this race.
- Spectrum Health. Providing financial support for five of our 2017 races. This allows us to more easily offer sweatshirts instead of regular shirts and keep entry fees reasonable.
- Gazelle Sports. Providing lots of gift certificates as usual. Great shoe fitting expertise and all the gear you need for winter running.
- Honey Creek Inn (along with Grist Mill and Cannonsburg Bottle Shop). Thanks for the tasty chili. The Village of Cannonsburg is just six minutes from Camp Roger. Stop in before or after the race.
- Salomon. A long-time supporter of adventure racing. Thanks for four pairs of shoes to the top finishers (one pair per top team in each division)
- West Michigan Bike & Fitness. Providing fatbikes and prizes. They will get you into the right bike. Great group of people.
- Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus. Great gear and expertise. Gift cards for top and raffle prizes. Get 10% any adventure racing gear in their store with proof of registration. See the Required Gear page for eligible items.
- Peppino’s Sports Grille. Great (discounted) pizza for our after-race feast and a fun place to eat in downtown GR and several other locations.
- Icespike. Race with Icespikes when traction is a challenge. More durable and effective than other traction options. Available at Gazelle Sports and online (and in the raffle).
- Tubbs Snowshoes. Thanks for loaning us Tubbs (and Atlas) pairs. Shop for them at Bill and Paul’s after the race.
- Zanfel. A safe and effective topical solution for poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. You might not need it for this race, but you may later this year!
- Jamie Geysbeek Photography. Jamie takes amazing photos of our race as well as weddings, portraits and other events. Smile as you run by him. If you can.
A big thanks to all our volunteers as well. Please thank them out on the course if you think about it. Volunteers include a team from our charity partner, Camp Roger.
The race is at Camp Roger in Rockford, off Belding Road but parking at the camp is limited to volunteers and fatbike loaners due to the small lot there.
Please park in Lakes Elementary School lot or Bostwick Lake Congregational Church’s lot across the street on Young Ave. at Belding Road. New this year: Shuttle buses will only stop at Lakes Elementary because they don’t have to back up there.
Drop-offs at Camp Roger will only be allowed for situations like a parent dropping off two youth to race. All racers except those bringing fatbikes need to take the shuttle.
We will use two shuttle buses so you won’t have to wait long. Please help us keep things efficient by gathering at the Lakes Elementary front door pick-up spot (somewhat shielded by wind hopefully). Bring a bag of dry clothes and gear with you if you wish. You can leave it in the men’s and women’s cabins across from the check-in/lodge at camp. Look for the signs on your left (south) after you have been dropped off. Restrooms in these cabins as well, along with at the dining hall.
Review this camp map for location of lodge for check-in and cabins for leaving gear bags and changing clothes after the race. You MAY bring this map with you during the race along with the topographic race map. You may ALSO bring other maps with you during the race but you should not need any others.
If you have a fatbike or volunteer in your car (or you are dropping off spectators and returning to the shuttle lot), you may park at Camp Roger and use the volunteer parking lot shown on the map. Click or in Google Maps type Pottowatomie Trail NE & Sunny Hours Trail NE, Rockford, MI. The Sunny Hours Trail entrance off Belding Road, across from Bostwick Lake Inn, is closed. Continue east to Pottawatomie Trail, next to the Bostwick Bakery. If conditions are slippery, take Naonthah, the next drive instead. It isn’t as steep.
We plan to check for at least one piece of required gear. We will subtract a checkpoint if it is missing.
- Emergency/mylar blanket. One for each teammate. They cost under $5. Stores in the area often run out of it right before one of our races. Go buy one this weekend or order online.
- Whistle for each teammate.
- Scratch paper and pencil/pen. Note that a month or two ago I added scratch paper and a pencil or pen that can write in cold weather (because many of you waterproof your race instructions sheet and it becomes difficult to write on).
- Compass. One per team. Read our Navigation 101/201 clinic presentation to learn how to use a compass if you don’t know how. It’s not difficult.
- Mobile phone. One per team. Powered up and turned off.
- Zip-lock bag, map case, and/or contact paper to seal your map and race instructions and keep them dry. Both will be 8.5×11 so two pre-cut sheets of contact paper slightly larger than 11×17 will work. ALL racers will be given copies of the map and race instructions. How can you become a better navigator if you are never looking at the map, right? Share the glory, share the blame.
- $5 if you want a clue/advantage at our “charity challenge.” Money raised will go to scholarships for kids who wouldn’t normally be able to afford to go to summer camp there.
- Basic first aid items for cuts, etc.
- Layers of clothing, one layer fewer than you feel comfortable in (you will warm up quickly unless we have heavy winds or precipitation).
- Hydration. Extra weight, but you will not perform as well without them.We will not have water out on the course but you can get water or Gatorade at the lodge during the race. In very cold temperatures, your hydration pack tube can freeze. Tips to avoid include blowing excess water back into your bladder, starting with hot water, using an insulating sleeve and keeping the tube tucked close to your body. Or, carry bottles. If you are managing your temperature and clothing appropriately, you can get away with a fairly small amount of fluid. We do not require a certain amount for the winter race. If you are a person with low hydration needs (and dislike weight on your back), one option is to carry fluids in a small, flexible bottle such as the Salomon soft flask.
We have listed many tips on what to wear under the Required Gear page. Take a look or post a question on our Facebook page.
We will provide the snowshoes, fatbikes and helmets for the two of the challenges described below.
You may access your gear bag during the race. Gear bags must be left in the men’s and women’s cabins. Cabins have bathrooms/changing rooms.
Orienteering Terms & Tips
You should also look up the following terms in our clinic presentation or online if you don’t know them (type in “orienteering” and then the term): depression, reentrant, saddle, hilltop, knoll, spur, ridge. These may be the descriptions given for some of the checkpoints you are looking for. Make sure you know how to identify these on the map by the shape of their contour lines. Note that I’ve attempted to track and import every trail in the area onto your race map. Even if snow covered, you will be able to move faster on these trails. Find trail junctions and other map features that allow you to plot a bearing with your compass closer to checkpoints that are off trail. From these CPs, either plot a bearing and/or follow obvious topography to other off-trail CPs or return to the trail.
You will likely need to cover 4.5 miles on foot to get every checkpoint. The goal is to maximize checkpoints within the three-hour time limit (penalties for every minute you are late up to 10 minutes at which point teams will be unranked), not to get every one. Each checkpoint has a unique punch that you will apply to a “passport” card we will give you at check-in. Top finishers may decide to go after some outlier checkpoints that will require the additional distance.
Four of the six challenges you face will be revealed only at the pre-race meeting. They will be similar to what you may have seen on the Amazing Race or Survivor, requiring some mental, physical or combination of skills, but definitely a lot less elaborate or painful than those on TV! Very rarely are teams completely stumped although you may have to try something multiple times before you solve the challenge. They are not too cerebral, not too corny. You won’t be eating food, you won’t be solving trigonometry problems, you won’t be dancing in tutus. Most racers find them to be fair and able to be completed in under 10 minutes.
All challenges are optional (you’ll just have one fewer checkpoint if you skip one). Like previous winter races, I have designed challenges to be at least somewhat physical in nature to keep you moving and warm. For some challenges, teams of three will need to pick two people to complete the challenge. Teams get one checkpoint for arriving at the challenge (look for and punch the flag at the start of the challenge) and a second point/punch if they do the challenge successfully as verified by a volunteer (get punch from volunteer). At one challenge, paying $5 to our charity – a scholarship fund for kids camp at Camp Roger – is meant to help you complete the challenge faster or at less risk of failure.
The more physical, skill-based challenges will be fatbiking and snowshoeing (along with one additional challenge that will require no equipment). The snowshoe loop, assuming we have enough snow, will be less than 400 meters and the fatbike loop will be less than a half mile. One teammate can bike the entire way while the teammate runs the opposite way or you can switch off when you cross paths. Due to the number of fatbikes we have, we would have long lines if all teammates biked the entire distance.
If you are not familiar with a fatbike, it’s a mountain bike with very wide tires that ride well on top of packed snow. We will provide the bike, helmet and also the trekking snowshoes for those two challenges. You may bring your own fatbike and snowshoes and stage them at the start of the loop but you must take with you, hide, lock, or return them to your car if you don’t want others to use them. You may wear your own snowshoes throughout the race if you think the conditions warrant it. No cross-country skis or anything besides snowshoes and “regular” shoes and boots allowed.
Early check-in: Camp Roger, Friday, Feb. 5, 4:00-7:00 pm (west side of largest building on side of hill)
Same-day check-in: Camp Roger, Saturday, 7:00 am to 8:15 am*
Race briefing: 8:30 am to 9:00 am
Race planning: 9:00 to 9:25 am
Race start: 9:30 women/9:37 men/9:44 am co-ed (waves)**
Race cutoff: 12:30/12:37/12:44 pm
Lunch: 12:15-1:30 pm pizza/chili lunch in the lodge
Award ceremony and raffle: 1:15-2:00
*At 8:15 am, once everyone has a chance to get the sweatshirt size they ordered, you may switch sweatshirt sizes if yours doesn’t fit. Also, if there are any race sweatshirts left at this time, late entrants will be allowed first crack at them for $20 each since they did not receive them with entry.
**Teams that wish to pair up with other teams not in their division should complete a nearby challenge or checkpoint(s) and meet their other team to begin racing together when their wave starts. The team starting in the later wave can then do the challenge or checkpoint(s) that the other team started with at the end. Sorry, we cannot make changes to the wave start time.
The Camp Roger area and any wooded land within five miles is off limits to racers on Friday, Feb. 5 and throughout the night. For Michigan Adventure Race and standard adventure racing rules, please consult the website.
- Waiver. Please print and sign the waiver and bring to check-in. You may pick up your teammate or friend’s bib and shirt if you have their waiver.
- Race/bib Number: We’ll provide in an email late next week. Please bring to check-in with your waiver. We’ll look you up by number.
After the Race
Change into dry clothes and join us in the lodge for pizza and chili (veggie and meat varieties) as soon as the race ends, followed by awards and raffle once we have tabulated results. No cheap chain pizza – we’re bringing back Peppino’s Sports Grille pizza and Honey Creek Inn chili. Please consider bringing one food or drink (no beer) item to share (e.g., 2 liter pop, fruit, veggie, chips, cookies). We’ll pass out some great prizes to the top teams in each division. We’ll raffle off a bunch of stuff too.
Health Motion Physical Therapy will be on site offering stretching and massaging after the race.
If you are interested in earning race credits for a future race and would like to extend your workout another hour or so by picking up the race flags, email me. We pay $30-40/hour in race credits. Because the snow is packed down into trails by end of race and more than one racer usually volunteers, it goes pretty quickly. I have two bad knees and a bad ankle so we’d love to get some help and pay you.
We’ll have our usual buffs, hats, pints and stickers for sale at check-in. Also our MI Adventure Racing tops and new sweatshirt (same brand and style as the race sweatshirt). If there are any race sweatshirts left, they will be available to late entrants who missed out for $20 each. It’s good advertising so we don’t try to make much money on any of this stuff (unlike the national chain races).
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
At least one more update to come before the race, likely next Thursday with your bib numbers. Updates will be posted under the Race Updates page on the website for future reference. See the Facebook page for less critical updates. Feel free to email me with questions or team info changes at mark@MIadventureracing.com.
Looking forward to the race!
Mark, for Greg, Matt and Brian