Race Report: Team NYARA at the Jersey Inferno

Team NYARA, post-race

A big thanks to the race directors for all the careful planning and hard work that went into the 2014 Jersey Inferno!  The course was tough, but extremely fun and enjoyable.

For this race, Team NYARA consisted of two NYARA newbs, Cara Guilfoyle and Mikal Davis, plus a NYARA vet and expert-navigator Brice Wilson. The three of us didn’t know each other going into the race, but immediately meshed well and were able to leverage each person’s strengths; Cara was the mountain bike ace, Brice kept us from getting lost and Mikal got to share his twisted love of running up hill!

We started off with the KOM and set up a great towing system that we would use on all the foot sections. We kept a conservative pace, knowing it would be a long and hilly day and made it to the paddle in the upper half of the pack. The paddle was short and sweet and soon enough we were back on foot, headed to the rappel. We managed to not get help up for too long, and after some more uphill towing and spot-on navigation from Brice, we hit the transition on were on our bikes. In our excitement, we forgot about some of the OP’s, but fortunately were able to get them all without losing much time. We finished the bike section with the blazing saddles DH course, during which the “Mikal Davis curse” struck again! Last year, Mikal’s teammate had a rough crash and had to pull out of the race to get 10 stitches in his forearm. This year, sure enough, another one of his teammates took a tumble in almost the exact same spot! Luckily, Brice walked away with some minor scratches, and we were able to finish the course with big smiles and only a small amount of blood.

blazing saddles badge of honor

The last foot section was fantastic. Lots of hills and interesting CP placement to say the least! We were on the heels of team S.W.I.F.T. throughout the entire race and caught up to them on many CP’s in the last trek, but they managed to sneak away from us at the end! Not to worry, we still we able to bag 3rd place in the Coed Elite Division. Nationals here we come!

photo 1 (1)

Since we had two fresh faces on the NYARA team, we also wanted to add a bit on their impressions of racing with NYARA for the first time:

Cara: The Jersey Inferno was my first AR racing with team NYARA. As race day approached, I found myself getting pretty nervous about racing with a new team, especially one I have never met before!!  After a hellish 4 hour drive from Allentown PA to Vernon NJ in pouring rain (was supposed to take only 2 hours) I met my new team for dinner. My worries quickly dissipated as we started to get to know each other and started making plans for the race. We all had our own strengths and weaknesses and quickly devised strategies to move faster as a team.  The race itself was challenging with unrelenting elevation changes. The bushwhacking was thick and just about every checkpoint was off trail. There were also several checkpoints requiring swimming . The good thing is, we are all triathletes so we had no problems swimming, however one was in the middle of a SWAMP! It was the most unpleasant checkpoint I ever had the pleasure of finding! True teamwork kicked in when Brice, our navigator and team leader, helped distract me when I kept bumping into “things under the water”. After trying to stand on it and failing miserably, he also showed me the proper technique for crossing thick boggy moss in a military crawl J Works like a charm! Overall we had a great race. Mikal is one of the strongest runners I know and Brice’s leadership, navigation and strategy was spot on.  I had an amazing time in the Inferno with these guys and we finished strong taking 3rd place.  The race was very well organized and the Mountain Creek Resort is a great venue. Thank so much to Olof, Whitney, and Eric for putting together a great race!

Mikal: Following in my big sisters footsteps, this was my first race with NYARA and definitely not my last. Olof, Whitney and Eric managed to improve upon an already hellish course and made it even more interesting than last year. I loved swimming in the swamps and am always happy to ride some fun, flowy DH (even if it is on a HT.) A big thanks to the race directors and my teammates for making it a great race!

Race Report: NYARA Men at the Jersey Inferno


NYARA men finishing strong!

Three Cheers for Olof, Whitney & Eric for a great time in the woods this Saturday!  From the organization of the race to the beer at the finish, it couldn’t have gone down smoother!

Chris and I (Team NYARA Men) had a great day in the woods, that began with a lung busting run from the base lodge to the top of the Bear Peak Lift.  Of course the second point was way down hill only to complete the “King of the Mountain” with a run/walk (mostly walking) to the top of the South Peak.  We were close to the top 25% of the pack at this point when we headed out to the paddle put in on the back side of the South Peak.  We paddled to a couple points around the lake and gained some time on a few teams.  Most of the paddle points were near the water but a couple required some off trail navigation.

After the paddle section we dropped the boats and headed in the woods to find a 50 foot cliff rappel!  It was a tricky and slippery descent, but a whole lot of fun!  It was a great addition to this years race.  We made the rappel just prior to a big rush of teams and had no delay in getting on the ropes.  I suspect others may have waited a bit there!  After the ropes section we bagged a couple points and found ourselves at the top of Vernon Peak where our bikes were waiting!  We quickly got on course and navigated well through the maze of winding single and double track trails.  There were required points and optional points in this section with twist on the layout.  Most of the points were not listed on the map!  There was a Norwegian section where a map was hanging at each point to tell you where the next point was located.  With a good memory, Chris and I were able to move quickly through this section without having to pull out the maps and write down points.  That was a big help!  After we got back to the TA at the top of the downhill bike (my favorite section), we found ourselves in first place in the two person male category.  Kudos’ to Goals (the overall race winners) with a 30 minute lead on us at that point!

We punched at the top of the trail and ripped down the mountain at times going uncomfortably fast!  It was worth it, as we smoked the competition and I got to repeat a win on the “Blazing Saddles” section.  Thanks for much better flagging this year Olof!  At the bottom TA we changed into our running gear for the last section of the race.  Just as we were packing up to leave our competition was arriving.  These guys were lightning fast on foot and were pretty good on the “nav” as well!  During our run back to the top of the mountain, it didn’t take them long to pass us!  We eventually made our way to the top for a very memorable foot section.  If you were hot at all that day, the course designers gave you plenty of time to cool off in the lakes and swamps of Vernon Valley!  One of the more memorable ones was a 100 yard push through a chest deep swamp with several peat bogs to army crawl over.  The best part was the impenetrable laurel and pricker’s surrounding the edge of the lake.  It did not lend well to a good attack approach!  After a long run to the bottom and about 8 hours or so of racing we finished in 2nd place in our division!  Despite being quite out of shape (me especially), we were very pleased with our finish!

Overall the race was another raging success for NYARA with an impressive sold out field of teams!  I can’t wait to see what’s in store next year for the Inferno!

Also…Good luck to both NYARA teams and all the other local racers who are taking on “Untamed New England” a 4-day expedition race, this week.  Follow them at http://www.untamedne.com/ExpeditionRace.aspx.


2014 Jersey Inferno Results!!


A HUGE thank you to all the racers and volunteers who participated in this year’s Jersey Inferno. We also want to thank Mountain Creek for being a great host — who doesn’t love beer and burgers after a long day of adventure?


We had so much fun hearing your stories and feedback — we thought we should share a few quotes:

About the course:

“We have done several Spartan races and this was not just a level above — this was 3 or 4 levels harder”

“I’ve never seen so much adventure packed into such a short period of time”

“The rogaine section was my favorite section in an adventure race –EVER!”

About a bear…or two:

“As we approached CP E we saw a bear 50 feet in front of us — so we decided to circumnavigate and swim there instead. Once we were in the water we saw another bear poke his head up out of the water between us and the check point. The bears won — we never made it to CP E”

About the biking:

“This is the best biking section I have ever experienced in an adventure race — it was interesting the entire time”

“Blazing Saddles is worth repeating every year!”

We love to hear your feedback about what you liked and what you would change. Drop us a line, leave us a comment here on the blog or on the NYARA FaceBook page.


*we have made a couple of adjustments so standings might have changed


10 Questions with Jersey Inferno Race Director: Olof Hedberg


We sat down with NYARA Team Captain and Jersey Inferno race director Olof Hedberg to talk about the upcoming Jersey Inferno Adventure Race.

Q: What the h*ll is the Jersey Inferno and what makes this race so special?
A: The Jersey Inferno is a 10h adventure race that combines trail running, mountain biking, kayaking, team work and rappelling (optional). We set a course that consists of mandatory and optional points. This means that we have a race that can be enjoyed by beginners as well as experts. If you never done an adventure race before – going for the mandatory points and just a couple of optionals will probably keep you racing for the full 10h. If you are an expert on this you will be able to take all the points and the race will be, in my opinion, one of the toughest races in New Jersey.
Q: Do you have any specific gear suggestions for this race?
A: A mountain bike is essential. It can be rented from Mt. Creek. right at check in (the day before the race). Just remember to reserve ahead of time. If you want to clear the entire course and take all the optional points, a compass is good to have too. For the basic mandatory points it is pretty straight forward and you can do without the compass, but the optionals are definitely a little trickier and a compass is a good thing.
Second – we have a thing called an “Oasis Box” (or a “drop bag” – for you ultra runners out there). Use this amazing feature. As you can see in our second race update: https://teamnyara.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/inferno-update-2.pdf you will have access to the box before the last leg of the race. Fill this bag/box with things you want (extra socks, food and water, sunscreen, an extra pair of shoes, ibuprofen, gummy bears – basically anything that will help you get through the last leg).
Last – a map case and a pen/sharpie are great things to have. This is a race where you tend to get wet (if you are aiming to clear the course), so a way to protect your maps from water is great. A pen to write/draw-in information on the map is also a good thing – you will see why during the race.
Q: What about food and water?
A: Plan on bringing food and water for 6-8h in the start. Then stack ~4h of food and water/sports drink in the oasis box (always have extra). Also – put water bottles on your bike. If you have 2 water bottles on your bike you will have 1.5L of extra water on your bike that you won’t have to carry from the start.
Q: Can I sign up on race morning?
A: NO! We use electronic chips that have to be programmed to each racer. Sign up closes sometime the week before the race and we don’t allow racers to sign up after that. You don’t register for the Olympics on race morning – so you don’t register for the Jersey Inferno on race morning either (ok that was a slight exaggeration but you get the point).
Q: When I’m finished with the race will there be something edible in the end?
A: The race finishes at a beer garden. There will be food, drinks and beer all available for purchase. The award ceremony will be held at this beer garden – so bring some $$$ and hang out after the race.
Q: You have a couple of “races within the race” – tell us about them.
A: Yes – thanks for reminding me. This is another thing that makes this race so special. We have a King and Queen of the mountain stage that starts off the race. The race basically starts up a “small hill” — it is New Jersey after all 🙂 For this part of the race you don’t need to stay with your team. The first man and woman to the top win the king and queen of the mountain award. So basically you have a short (ish) mountain trail race within the Jersey Inferno. At the top you need to rejoin with the rest of your team and you’ll stay together from there on.
The second one is “Blazing Saddles.” This is a stretch of mountain biking where we clock the entire team. The fastest team down this part of the biking course wins the blazing saddles award.
So by signing up for the Jersey Inferno not only do you get a full adventure race, but also a mini trail running race and a mini mountain bike race.
Q: Do you have any tips or tricks we should know about?
A: To use the words of Race Director extraordinaire, Rodney Villella – “Sometimes slower is faster.” Study the map and plan your route. You will have access to the maps 2h before the race start. That gives you a long time to plan your strategy and route. Also – don’t expect to get all information up front. As racers from last year know, additional information might be handed to you during the race.
Q: How would you recommend to train for this race?
A: Well – frankly it’s a little late to start training now. You only have two weeks left but if you could throw in a hill session on foot this week – I think you will find it beneficial.
Q: Let’s say you are a team captain for a team that has never done this before. How would you approach this race?
A: The first thing I would do is having everyone memorizing the following “This is doable – I can do more than I think.” Use that phrase during the race. A few other thoughts:
1) Identify your team’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of running, mountain biking and kayaking. Remember – you are never faster than your slowest person – so he/she will be determine what you are good and bad at.
2) Can we do the rappel or is anyone afraid of heights? The rappel is often easy points so I would really try to go for it. If a team member is afraid of heights – see if you can do something to work with him/her to make it possible. You will have an awesome race even if you don’t do the rappel, but doing it will probably make it even more awesome.
3) Only go for the mandatory points in the disciplines your team is weaker in.
4) Approximate how much extra time and energy it is to take an optional point in your strong discipline. If one wouldn’t cost you that much extra and is close to the route you have chosen to go anyway – go for it. There are many teams that just try to take the mandatory points, if you can just take a couple of optionals you can beat many teams right there.
5) Help each other! I can not emphasize this enough. I see so many team where one person is super strong and has trained a lot, while the other teammates are dying out there. It’s the responsibility for the fitter one to help the slower one. Carry their back pack, help them push their bikes or take out food and feed them. You are a team and together you can do so much more. Also consider over all race strategy. For example – is it beneficial for you to try to go for the “King of the Mountain” or should you stay back helping a slower teammate – knowing that you can’t continue on course until the whole team is up the mountain. Talk about these things before hand so you don’t have to discuss this on race day.
If you can do these things, you will have a fantastic race even if you never done this before.
Q: Do you have any last minute suggestions to racers to make this extra awesome?
A: Don’t start too fast. You will be out there for 10h. I have seen many racers comparing this to obstacle races and they start very fast. They usually look good for 3-6h but unfortunately they often don’t have enough energy for the last half of the race and they drop far down in the field, or in some cases don’t finish at all.
Its good to remember that sometimes there are no easy routes. If you are finding yourself deep in a swap or bush-wacking up a mountain – it’s all part of the game and just try to enjoy that everyone has to do it. That is why it is called “Adventure Racing” – It’s a true adventure.