Questions with the Race Director: Hike-a-thong

Hey all you adventure racers — check out our latest chat with a race director. Presenting Eric Caravella, race director for this year’s Hike-a-thong. If you’ve never participated then read on — this is your year. If you are a veteran then still read on because Eric is funny.
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1. What is a Hike-a-Thon(g)?
It’s anything you want it to be! As long as your version of “anything” involves spending a Sunday morning on awesome trails with some super rad people who may or may not be wearing thongs on the outside of their clothes.
Basically it’s a trail run. But it could also be a trail walk. Or it could be a cutthroat race against your friends. Or a team relay where you work together with your friends to conquer the whole course.
This year, participants will be given trail maps with 3 loops highlighted, all starting and ending at the same location. Each loop will have a couple of checkpoint flags along the way, also marked on the map. After that, the goal is simple. Go punch some checkpoints and enjoy yourself!
The Hike-a-Thon(g) has always been a fun way to shake off the cobwebs early in the season. There are no official rankings, no timing chips, no awards ceremonies. Every year we get runners who like to go fast and push themselves. And every year we get hikers who just want to see the sights. Everyone gets to participate at his or her own level and enjoy as much of the course as they like, and at the pace they like. Do one loop, two loops, or all three. Do them in any order. And in any direction. Team up with your friends and make it a relay. Like the loop you just did? Do it again!
It’s a different format for anyone tired of the same old 5K. The Hike-a-Thon(g) showcases some really interesting North Jersey terrain and sights, and you get a free thong. What’s not to love?
2. How hard is it?
The trails in Ramapo Mountain State Forest are challenging to be sure, but I designed the event so that it is approachable for anyone (even those that have been hibernating for much of the winter). The full distance is 13 miles, but not everyone wants to run a trail half-marathon in February so I divided it up into three shorter loops (3.7mi, 4.6mi, and 4.7mi). The shortest loop has an overall elevation gain of 780 feet, so it’s no stroll around the shopping mall… but I’m confident anyone capable of an hour or two of hiking can enjoy part or most of the course. Come check it out, I suspect you’ll find the sights worthwhile and you might even find yourself going farther than you thought yourself able!
For those of you looking to go fast and challenge yourself, the full 13 miles will be plenty. Just try to look up once in a while and take in the awesome scenery!
3. What kind of navigation will be required?
The Hike-a-Thon(g) will take place on trails only, no compass work is required. There won’t be any course markings out on the trails. You will get a topographical trail map (NYNJ Trail Conference Map) with the loops highlighted and the checkpoint locations indicated. It will be up to you to find your way around the intended loop and punch the checkpoints I have put out for you. If you’re concerned, I will be happy to go over the maps with you and explain how to read them. The trails are very well used and very well blazed. All the checkpoints will be hung trailside, so off-trail travel is not part of this event. If you find yourself off-trail, stop that! Stick to the plan! You’ll never be much more than a mile or two from the start/finish, so bring a cell phone for emergencies and you’ll be fine.
4. What should I bring?
Again, bring a phone that you can carry with you for emergencies. Bring a ziplock bag for your map if conditions are wet. Dress appropriate for the weather, of course. The Hike-a-Thon(g) happens rain or shine (or snow!) I will scout the trail conditions a day or two ahead of time and report back if I think special footwear might be required. I will have some snacks at base camp, but bring food and fluids enough for the time you plan to spend on course. The good thing is you will return to your car after every lap, so you only need to carry enough food and water for each individual lap. And lastly, even though you will be on trail the whole time, a compass is never a bad thing to have (just in case).
5. What will I see?
I have designed the loops so that each one of them has its payoffs. Scenic vistas, lake views, a sleepy campground, awesome stone ruins, and one checkpoint location you won’t soon forget!
6. The only reason I sign up for this stuff is to get SWAG… whatdya got?
You make it to the starting line, you get a NYARA thong. Isn’t that enough? If not, I’ll have snacks and drinks for everyone too. And maybe even some shirts if I can find them.
Also, for those of you who have resolved to be more altruistic in 2015, you get to feel good about yourself for helping our fluffy friends in need. NYARA will be donating 15% of the registration proceeds to the Arthur Foundation. Learn more here:
7. If I run faster than everyone else, what will I win?
Hmmm… a sense of personal accomplishment? But in my opinion, (and my mother’s) if we go out and have fun then we’re all winners!
8. Will I look silly if I choose not to wear my NYARA thong outside my clothes in public?
I cannot guarantee that you won’t be subject to ridicule. Come on….. everyone else is doing it!
9. But won’t I look ridiculous if I do wear my NYARA thong outside my clothes.
Of course you will.
10. Should I sign up?
11. Should I coerce my friends into signing up?
12. What if we don’t have fun?
Then you’re doing it wrong.


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