Big News!

Team NYARA is excited to announce a brand new partnership with Montbell. For those of you who don’t know Montbell, it is an awesome outdoor gear and clothing company whose motto, “Light and Fast” speaks to the adventure racing community.


“Teaming up with Montbell America is an exciting opportunity for us, as we have been fans of Montbell’s apparel and gear for many years,” said Olof Hedberg, Captain of Team NYARA.  “We cannot wait to bring more awareness of the Montbell brand to the entire adventure racing community as it fits in with our philosophy of being “light and fast.””

“NYARA is a great partner for Montbell as adventure racing is one of the few sports that is exposed to all types of situations, extreme weather and terrain,” said Yusuke Igarashi, Marketing Manager for Montbell America. “We are excited to partner with NYARA as they are the perfect athletes in which to use Montbell’s high quality, ultra light gear.”

Montbell and adventure racing are really a match made in gear-lover’s heaven, so stay tuned for some great gear reviews!

Race Report: The Jersey Inferno

In addition to producing the race, NYARA fielded several teams at the this year’s Jersey Inferno.

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We have a great race report from Rodney Villella, but first a few photos of Team NYARA racers:

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Breaking in a Newbie – Literally

By: Rodney Villella

Rodney and amy blog

On June 6th, NYARA hosted its 12 hour Jersey Inferno Adventure Race. Amy & I were planning on racing the event with our regular teammate, Pete Spagnoli, but at the last minute, he had to go out of town. We were looking forward to our first Adventure Race (“AR”) of the season and always prefer to race in the “premier” coed category if possible but most of the other NYARA racers already had their teams set. We asked the race directors, John and Aaron if they knew anybody that might be interested in joining us and this is how we got connected with Vanessa.

Now to be honest, we typically don’t like to race with people we don’t know, but since this would be our first race of the year and we have had limited time to train, we figured what the heck. Plus, even thought Vanessa had never done an AR before, she has participated in many mountain bike races and since the race was at Allamuchy State Park, we figured it would be bike intensive.

We were excited to share some of our knowledge and experience with a new racer and hoped we could show her what a great sport Adventure Racing is. The hard part for us was going to be trying to keep up with her.

We had a few phone conversations/email exchanges with her to let her know what to expect on race day and make sure she was prepared. We take for granted all the little things we’ve learned along the way, so we tried to make sure we covered as many details as possible to make her experience as good as it could be.

Again, this was the easy part. The actually racing was going to be our challenge. We met Vanessa in the parking lot in the wee hours of the morning before the race. On race day, there is always limited time to go over details of the race, so we hoped our earlier conversations with her would be sufficient and she would learn as we went.

The gun went off and the event started with a foot section. Here was our first opportunity to see the toughness of our new teammate. About 2 hours into the event, a rock jumped up and grabbed her foot. Vanessa arrested her fall with her forehead. At that moment, I though oh no…I hope it’s not serious. She was a bit dazed but got right up. She had a nice “egg” on her forehead but shook it off as if it was nothing. We were super impressed with her grit and determination…

The next leg was biking and this is where Vanessa wanted to open the throttle. The only problem was she had to wait for Amy & I. Vanessa rode right behind me tight on my rear wheel as I navigated the tricky course. And here is where our second attempt to break her happened. There was a section of trail that had a narrow boardwalk over a swampy area. I slowly and gingerly started out and realized I was about to fall so I quickly slowed down, stopped and unclipped. I started again and tried to remount my bike but it was a slow process. Vanessa following closely behind and assumed (unfortunately, erroneously) that I was just going to quickly continue on.   She literally slowed to a track stand before she eventually teetered over and fell off the boardwalk. All I could hear was the crack and splash of her fall as I slowly continued on. Again, I thought oh no, I hope she is not hurt too bad. I waited at the end of the boardwalk for her to make her way over and she was totally fine. In fact, we laughed a little bit about my lack of technical skill and how we should have told her to never follow too closely behind me on the bike as I tend to pull “Crazy Ivans” with reqular frequency.

The third leg of the race was a quick paddle that was relatively uneventful. This led to the last leg of the race which was an final mountain bike section. By this time, Vanessa had learned not to follow too closely and I made sure to announce my radical maneuvers in advance. But there was still opportunity to test Vanessa’s toughness. We were bushwhacking to a control point off trail when she must have stepped on a hornets’ nest. She was stung three times on the hand and one time on her upper leg. Aside from a few ouches and light expletives, she said she was fine and told us to just continue on. By this time, I was completely convinced that she will make a great adventure racer as she is one tough cookie and just wants to keep moving forward.

The race ended with an individual mountain bike “time trial” and this is where we finaly set her free to do her thing. She took off and ultimately won the women’s “Blazing Saddle” award for the fastest female on this mountain bike TT section. Well Done!

So team NYARA’s newest member got a proper introduction to Adventure Racing with a contusion on her forehead, a nasty fall off a boardwalk, four hornet stings, Queen of the mountain biking TT and a 4th place Coed finish. Not too shabby.

We would like to thank the newest NYARA RD’s John & Aaron Courain for putting on a great course and all the volunteers that helped to make it happen. We would also like to thank Vanessa for being patient with our pace and hope she learned enough and had a good enough time to try this AR thing again sometime soon.

Race Report: Run, Row, Rock and Roll 12 Hour Race (Nebraska)

Team NYARA headed to the Nebraska for a new to us 12 hour race put on by Angry Cow Adventures — and they won!

Race: Run, Row, Rock and Roll 12 hour race
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Team: Chris Edmundson, Olof Hedberg and Whitney Hedberg
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Your Dream Team

This race report is brought to you by Whitney Hedberg who for reasons that will be come clear will be referred to as “mandatory equipment” for the rest of the report.
I was excited to race with Olof and Chris for this race. We had never raced with Chris before but knew he has a lot of AR experience so I was looking forward to seeing him in action. I was actually a kinda last minute add in when another racer backed out. The week before the race I spent 6 days hiking the Colorado Trail with a friend. The last day of our trip made a turn towards epic including lots of snow, lots of elevation gain and loss and lots more milage than planned. It was awesome. And it left me with a strained quad. After a few days rest I decided that my quad felt good enough to race so we hopped in the car to make the almost 10 hour drive to Nebraska (picking up Chris in Boulder along the way). As luck would have it, Chris is a great Physical Therapist who became my real-time quad consultant.
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Pre Race: Hot or cold? Depends on who you ask.

Race check in was the night before the race — which we love because it gives Olof-the Rain-Man-Hedberg plenty of time to use his freakish brain to memorize the course. The race start was a 30 minute bus ride away from the town we stayed in. We had the option of paddling or doing a foot section first and we opted for paddling. Solo racers had to provide their own boats while we had the pleasure of using nice, stable (slow) aluminum canoes complete with canoe paddles. The long course involved crisscrossing a lake lengthwise and portaging over a dam several times. At our first dam portage we learned that we were only allowed to have two paddles — we missed that rule somehow — and so started my role as the heaviest piece of mandatory equipment that Olof and Chris have even had the pleasure of carrying. While I sat in the middle and guiltily “navigated” the section, Olof and Chris paddled like whoa. We managed to leave the water in second place (of the teams who paddled first) only a couple of minutes after a solo racer in his speedy kayak.
The first trek section was fairly short and the Rain Man had it planned out down to the last centimeter so it went well. Actually, it went well for a while. Then good ol’ “mandatory equipment” perked up again and her strained quad started causing problems…we had to walk the last couple of points, but after our strong paddle section and quick transitions we felt like we were still in a good position. As we barreled into the TA for another fast transition I think our intensity may have frightened a few nice volunteers. 🙂 The volunteers were friendly and let us know that we were in the lead. I was super happy to get on the bike because I knew that my quad isn’t as affected by biking as it is running/walking.
The first bike section was very straight forwarded navigation-wise and was completely on gravel roads. I typically think its boring to ride only on roads, but these were fun. Fast rolling, short hills through pretty farmland was probably some of the most fun dirt road riding I’ve done. We kept good speed on the bikes and felt good going into the second TA. Before heading out on the trek we did the Team Challenge, which involved stacking huge buckets into the tallest tower possible. We went for speed more than sound engineering then headed out on trek number two.
The terrain was interesting — lots of rolling fields and pasture that were connected by tree filled reentrants. It was beautiful. As we started this section it was clear that “mandatory equipment” wouldn’t be moving very quickly as my walk looked robotic at best and my running looked a lot like an aging zombie. We decided to mostly walk the section — which would eat into our lead, but hopefully save my quad from getting any worse. The section was fun and included lots of barbed wire, one hip deep river/swamp crossing and several herds of cattle. The Rain Man’s navigation was spot on. The mandatory aging zombie was slow. Oh, yeah, and I couldn’t do downhills at all. So picture me — often referred to as an amazon women because I am far from small — draped over poor Chris piggy-back style, feet nearly dragging on the ground, as he does his best to get us both down the steep hills. Heaviest. Mandatory. Equipment. Ever.
When we got to the final checkpoint, it wasn’t there. We searched for it with a solo racer for around 25 minutes and decided it had been stolen. Then another co-ed team rolled up. Lead over. We told the other team that we couldn’t find it and planned on leaving then headed out. I put my game face on and zombie-ran myself all the way to the TA where we quickly reported the missing CP and jumped on our bikes hoping to regain some of our lead.
The final section of the race was a bike section with a short paddle/run. The bike was super fast and fun. We flew towards the final TA. When we got there we learned that one person would paddle up river while the other two ran — all meeting at a CP, then another would paddle down and two would run back to the TA. Chris took one for the team and paddled up stream while Olof and I jogged. We realized the run was pretty short so decided that even though I was zombie-runner it was best that I ran twice and Olof paddle back.
Chris got off the water and was a little bit wrecked by the tough, strong current and less than fast kayak. We jogged back together and in my shining moment for the entire race I was able to offer him the help of hanging onto my pack while we both zombie-ran back to the TA. We arrived at the same time as Olof who wanted to join in all the apocalyptic fun by getting leg cramps that had him zombie marching to his bike then zombie yelling for the first few hundred meters of the bike.
The final bike was through Fairbury to the finish at the Burkley Wellness Center. As we did the final push through town I was happy knowing we had won the Co-ed Elite category. We pulled into the Burkley Wellness Center and were treated to showers! with fresh towels! and delicious pulled pork sandwiches.
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Huge thanks to Angry Cow Adventures, all the friendly volunteers and especially Craig Bontrager (and his family) for putting together such a fun race. We enjoyed our trip to the middle of America and meeting all the nice people there who also love this crazy sport. Oh. I can’t forget to give a shout out to the Capri — the epitome of a motel. Complete with neon sign.
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Night-O – Many CPs in little time with Rocky Mountain Orienteering Club.

I have never been in favor for “micro-navigation” in adventure races. Most often it feels like you are walking around playing “hide and seek” with the course director and it is just pure luck how fast you find the CP. The reason is because of the low detail level of AR maps. More often than not they are extremely suboptimal with boulders, pits and cliffs completely left out, and some times even large trails are left out. So it just becomes a roll of the die if you find trails, or not. I prefer speed, navigation and strategy to be determining factors over luck when it comes to decide who should win a race.

Night-O - BV- 1

So, I was needless to say, a little bit doubtful signing up for my first Night-O meet, and very questionable of my own micro-navigation skills. On top of that I had been talked into doing the “long advanced” course. While I thought that would be good AR practice for me, it was somewhat intimidating having all these orienteering people on the start line. My friend from OK Linne in Uppsala, Sweden tells me that I orienteer like they did in the 1950’s, which I only can assume means “slow and like a yokster” and not “fast and world class”. So before the start I was trying to remember all tips and tricks he has taught me, which hopefully would make me faster once I got on my way.

My start position was 4th from the end (2 min intervals) – which means I got to see the people ahead of me all disappear into the night in one direction. Once it was my turn I punched into the start and finally got to grab a map. – Man this sucks – It’s so much nicer to be able to pre-plan like we get to do in AR.

Running towards the first CP I’m starting to love this. Every boulder, reentrant and pit is on the map. Instead of guessing – you can actually follow the map the entire time. I increase my speed to the edge of uncomfortableness – and start passing people, who started 2, 4 or 6 minutes ahead. It felt so fun “flying” in the night – and knowing down to a couple of meters where you are. I pressed my running to the limit down hills with very limited vision and for the first time I felt like I needed a real orienteering compass, instead of my “hiker” version.

For those interested – Below is the course + my route choice marked in blue. I marked my mistakes with red circles.

BV night-O

The two “big” mistakes were on the way to CP5 – where I headed to far down and had to go up a little unnecessary vert, and on the way to the finish after punching CP10 – where the lure of the road dragged me to far west. Both of them cost me ~45 sec each (maybe even up to a minute) – all others were sub 30 sec.

Night-O results

Unexpected things happen in life – especially in the world of AR. Sometimes a total orienteering rookie makes no big mistakes. Those nights a total orienteering rookie can go and win the whole thing.

Light and Fast!