Pack Rafting Strategies: Hand Paddle How-to

NYARA will have three teams racing at this year’s Untamed New England 4-day race in Maine. One signature of Untamed is the pack raft section. Most adventure races have trek sections, paddle sections and bike sections. Untamed likes to link up the trekking and paddling into a unique section that involves long distance trekking with strategic waterways/crossings. Alpacka Raft (a race sponsor and general supporter of AR) makes some great boats which have become the gold standard for races that include pack rafting.

The overall goal of the pack rafting section (aside from not popping your boat) is to keep weight down and speed up. Teams have a number of strategies from using four individual boats, to squeezing two people into a one person boat. Some teams use kayak paddles that collapse into four pieces others rely on hand paddles. Here’s a quick how-to that gives you step by step instructions for DIY hand paddles. The big upsides include: huge cost savings (these babies can be made for the price of a 5 gallon bucket), weight savings (they weigh almost nothing) and space savings (they take up almost no room in the pack).

For all you visual learners out there, here is the step by step in photos. For everyone else, we will detail the steps below.

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This whole process will take under 15 minutes.
1. Get a five gallon bucket
2. Using a hack saw, cut off the thick ring at the top if the bucket
3. Flip onto its side with the newly cut side facing you
4. Lay your hand on the bucket with fingers slightly spread out (like how you would paddle)
5. Trace an arc around your hand
6. Using some heavy duty scissors and/or exacto knife, cut out the shape you traced
7. Place hand on the cutout and mark (about knuckle height) outside your first and third fingers
8. Use a big ol’ nail to punch holes into your two marks
9. Get something stretchy — elastic, an old bike tube, etc.
10. Stick the elastic through the hole on the left, tie a knot on the back side (concave side)
11. Pull the stretchy stuff through the second hole so that it is laying flush on the surface ( you want it to have enough tension to hold onto your fingers) then trim and tie off

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There you have the finished product — with some action shots. We will keep you posted on how well they work in our tests.

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Jersey Inferno — Race Update # 1

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Two months to go before the Jersey Inferno makes its second annual appearance in the great state of New Jersey. The race director’s have sent out the first of several race updates with some interesting details about this year’s course. Check it out and sign up today!!

2014 Inferno Newsletter #1

First race ever — Q&A with a brand new racer

Most of the readers of this blog have probably done several adventure races and are familiar with the sport. It’s hard to remember how overwhelming it was in the beginning–you had never set a bearing on a compass and a seeing a tow system on a bike was similar to spotting an alien. So instead of focusing on our team and other elite teams, we decided to do a post for all of you who have never done an Adventure Race before.

Whitney Hedberg, from Team NYARA teamed up with Annie Hooper, for Annie’s first adventure race ever. The duo decided on AXS Moab 12h adventure race. We sat down with them after the race, to hear what Annie thought about her first race and what recommendations she has for other people who are in the same boat (or kayak) and looking to do their first race.

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NYARA: First some back ground, Annie – who are you and why did you want to do this race?

Annie: I’m a 32 year old anthropologist, psychologist and mom.
Whitney and I have been friends since we were 9 and I learned of AR through her. After being pregnant and having a baby I really wanted to do something for me. AR racing just sounded fun!

NYARA: So the race is now over. How did it go and what are your initial thoughts?

Annie: It was incredible. It was so hard but so fun. I feel so satisfied.

NYARA: What was harder than expected?

Annie: It was hard to think about the training that goes into it. It was also nerve wracking to sign up and really commit. Once we started the training I really enjoyed it. Even if the race would have been miserable, I would still be really glad I signed up because it gave me a goal that required months of fun and challenging preparation.

NYARA: What was easier than expected?

Annie: I had never mountain biked before starting to train for this race, but the biking was not as hard as I expected. It was actually a lot of fun!
Also, when you hear 12h it is really intimidating, but once we were on the course, the hours just flew by.

NYARA: How does this compare to other races in other sports you have done?

Annie: This is one million times more fun than other races I’ve done (running or running/biking). The variety of disciplines that you get to do makes time go by so fast.

NYARA: This race was extremely bike heavy, with over 65 percent of the course on bikes. I happen to know that you got on a mountain bike for the first time in your life just a little over a month ago. How did you deal with this, and how did you feel about the mtb sections of this race?

Annie: I really focused on starting slow and mentally preparing that it was going to be hard no matter what. Passing guys on the first big uphill also helped a lot. 🙂

NYARA: You had help from Whitney in preparing for the race. What advice did you get from Whitney that was especially helpful?

Annie: Not to lose momentum in TAs. It is so easy to stop and linger and then lose time. Eat early and often was also very important.

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NYARA: Twelve hours can sound very intimidating for someone, like you, who hasn’t raced longer than a half marathon before. How was it and how did you deal with the distance?

Annie: Before the race, I tried not to think about it too much. Doing 5-6h long cross training sections really helped me.
During the race, time was the furthest thing from my mind. There are just so many other things to think about. Navigating, finding checkpoints (CPs), strategizing transitions, and enjoying spending time outdoors with a great friend all made time go by so fast.

NYARA: Whitney – Annie had never raced before, but you still managed to finish 3rd. What was the key to that, and what qualities did Annie have, that made her a great race partner?

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Whitney: One of the keys to success was to stay positive and attack the course one part at the time. Annie was a gymnast in her youth and I think that training really helped her take on the challenge and keep the right mental state.

NYARA: Last – do you have any recommendations for other people who are looking to get into adventure racing?

Annie: Go for it – just sign up for a race because ultimately, it is much more fun than it is hard.
Also, if you think you want to do an adventure race – you do.

So there you have it. If you are a beginner looking into AR racing, NYARA had some great races for you. Check out the Krell adventure run on Staten Island or the Jersey Inferno at Mt Creek for two fantastic races this summer!

Training Report — How do you train for a four day race?

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Olof and Whitney Hedberg with Denise Mast at the top of Cerro Pedernal

 

A common question adventure racers get is “how do you train for a multi-day race?” There are probably as many different answers to this as there are adventure racers — here are a few ideas from Team NYARA.

Team NYARA members Whitney and Olof Hedberg escaped the brutal winter in the Northeast and spent their winter training in the sunshine of the Southwest. Here they talk a bit about their training strategy and share a couple of their sessions as they prepare for Untamed New England this summer.

Untamed New England is a 4 day race and, for us, 4 days is a pretty long time to do anything. So our training revolves around a few different elements: developing strength and flexibility; skills training and getting in some long days.

 

 

 

 

Strength and Flexibility:

We focus on plyometric strength training — lots of jumps and dynamic strength moves.

For flexibility we practice yoga at least once a week.

Skills Training:

In four words: Bushwack and climb stuff.

Some recent skills-building adventures have included:

Hiking/Scrambling the Rabbit Ears in Las Cruces, New Mexico

Length: ~ 5miles (90% bushw
acking)
Start elevation: ~5650 ft
Peak: 8130 ft
Vertical: ~2480 ft
Difficulty: Mostly 3rd class with 2 shorter (~20ft) 4th class sections
Time: ~8 hours with breaks

Hiking/Scrambling Cerro Pedernal in Northern New Mexico

Length: ~ 6.5miles (40% bushwacking)
Start elevation: unknown(maybe 8,000 ft)
Peak: 9,862 ft
Vertical: ~1,800
Difficulty: 3rd class for two short sections
Time: ~4 hours with a lunch break on top

We also take full advantage of La Luz — a trail that starts in Albuquerque and goes to the top of the Sandia Mountains. The 9 mile (oneway) trail gains more than 3,000 and is mostly runable. The best part is it has some awesome scrambling and bushwacking objectives that you can access from the trail — including one of our favorites, The Thumb.

All of these trips involved route finding, bushwacking through some pretty gnarly desert — think cactus, lots and lots of cactus — and scrambling up things. The more time you spend outside exploring, the easier it becomes. Most important, you have to do things that are both fun and challenging.

Long Days:

You have to make your training fun and challenging so for our long days we often use ski mountaineering — Say what?

Ski Mountaineering trips are seriously good AR training, even though most races include little to no skiing. Typical backcountry trips take 8 hours and include miles of skinning or boot packing, downhill skiing and occasionally some climbing. Skinning and booting up mountains are great for overall fitness while hauling skis on your back helps prepare your back and shoulders for carrying a backpack full of AR gear for four days. Route finding and strategy choices are common when you are out in the mountains and especially with ski mountaineering — navigating variable snow conditions, avalanche risk/safety and varying ability levels. A couple of our recent trips include Heaven’s Hill in Santa Fe, NM and Mount Daly outside Marble, CO.

We are spending the month of April hanging out in Leadville, CO and racking up lots of loooooong ski days (and strong legs). Not to mention getting in some high altitude training — the town of Leadville sits at over 10,000 ft in elevation. We will keep you posted on our progress.

 

 

What are you doing this weekend?

Hey adventure racers! We hope you are all planning on racing Fool’s Rogaine this weekend. It is a super fun race and a great way to try out adventure racing for the first time. Check out our 10 Questions with the Race Director — Alan Young for more info. Or just register here!

 

For some weekend inspiration, check out this short film following a couple on their adventures through South America. It will definitely make you want to get out there and explore:

 

 

 

 

10 Questions with Alan Young – Race Director for Fools Rogaine

fools_banner  On Saturday, April 5th NYARA is putting on the Fool’s Rogaine in Wawayanda State Park.   It’s not the biggest or most serious race of the year, but instead a race where both beginners    and experts will be challenged. Race director Alan Young is known to always add special  elements (or tricks) that will surprise even the most experienced adventure racers while the  course by itself is easy enough that you can still enjoy it even if it is your first adventure race.  We sat down with Alan and asked him a couple of questions about this years race.

1) How many tricks are you planning into this years course ?

TRICKS! How dare you insinuate that I deploy tricks into my race, I prefer to call them the will of the FOOL. There will be at least one or maybe two or three…….

2) Do you have any specific gear suggestions for this years race ?

Besides good footwear, compass, whistle, map bag and a pack to carry food and water for 6 hours a large bribe for the officials will secure your first place finish!!

If the weather is to be wet, then bring some rain gear.

3) Do I really need a MTB, or can I do the whole thing on foot ?

Nope. Bikes are an option and are not required.

Due to the elevation and amount of snow we have had, this years race MAYBE a foot race only. We will make a call the week of the race to see if the trail conditions have improved for the use of bikes.

4) How strong navigation skills do I need to finish this race ?

I think it is more will power and determination that gets people to the finish line. But navigation is always a part of this race. There are always at least two routes to each control point: the easy, less technical route and the riskier, cross country route. I design the course so that there are a mixture of easy and hard controls for every level of experience. You must decide your own course.

5) Is this a solo event or should I bring a team mate ?

Solo and teams are all welcome. Solo is great fun till you get completely lost and then you’d wish you had brought a friend so you can blame them on that stupid route choice….. Teams are great because you can always blame someone else and laugh about it afterwards, if your still talking to each other…..of course.

6) Do I need to carry my own food and water – and if so – how much should I bring ?

Enough for 6 hours and don’t feed the bears!!

7) What scale are the maps the racers will have ?

Ohh your really digging for beta here….. let’s just say the main map is 1:25,000 and there could be 1:50, 1:250, 1:500…….

8) Can I sign up on race morning ?

We strongly discourage this practice. Please sign up on the website so that we know how much prep we have to do before the event. We can always try to accommodate when we can though.

9) When I’m finished with the race and being fooled – will there be something edible at the end ?

Most clothing items will be inedible after the race and if not then you really need to try harder. We’ll have the usual spread of health conscious items: brownies, Twizzlers, M&Ms and then for the weird people maybe some fruit and granola bars. But yes, there will be food and drinks at the finish.

10) Do you have any last minute suggestions to all the racers to make this extra awesome ?

Bring your swimming gear (and an pickax) and go for a dip in the lake after the race, very refreshing …….burr!!

Team NYARA in Action

A shout out to Team NYARA members Chris Rice and Austin Planz they have both been out there braving this crazy winter…and bring in some pretty impressive results! Austin has been training in freezing, snowy Connecticut to race in the desert. He recently finished a solo stint at the 24 hours in Old Pueblo outside Tucson. He finished 15 laps (around 243 miles!!!) and was 11th in class and 17th overall in the solo division. Awesome job, Austin! Check out the race preview video here: 

Chris has also been training like crazy in the arctic weather — and its paying off! He recently finished the FebApple Frozen Fifty, which is part of the NJ Trail Series, in 4th place overall. This is a grueling 50 mile trail race — which lived up to its name this year. Great job, Chris!

Race Report: Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge

 

For the Mayan Mountain Adventure Racing Challenge (MMAC), which also serves as the North American Adventure Racing Series Championship, NYARA sent a relatively young, up and coming team, with Olof Hedberg, Whitney Hedberg and Mikael Mattsson all new recruits to NYARA for 2014, and Jason Brown who normally races for GOALS ARA and SWIFT, making an appearance to complete the team. Below is a race report from team captain, Olof Hedberg.

Ready to start the race after weeks/months of preparation.

Ready to start the race after weeks/months of preparation.

We had a lot of uncertainties before the race: none of us had ever raced in the jungle before, the team of four had never raced all together, Whitney was sick before the race and just barely recovering, and two out of four had never done an expedition race before, and at the other end Mikael hadn’t done an AR in seven years.

It was almost a relief to be at the start line, because then all we could do was focus on the race and finally stop worrying about other potential problems.

The race started with a 30+k bike leg. The first 16k was relatively easy if it wasn’t for the fact that I overheated my breaks in the first downhill and we had to stop and do mechanical work while the rest of the teams raced away. How did this happen? – Well one of the brake rotors on Whitney’s bike got damaged on the flight over, and finding a replacement in Belize was not possible. The only solution was for me to race without a front brake, which lead to some problems throughout the race. More on that later.

After being dead last and playing catch up during the first 16k we had our first experience with Belizean mud. Just after punching CP1, the route turned off the road and into a double/single track.  A thunder storm the night before had made the trail so wet that while riding was not an option, neither was pushing the bikes. The only way forward was to shoulder the bikes and carry them while trudging through the mud. Needless to say, a lot of thoughts crossed our minds at this time, but we found relief in that at this point the situation was the same for everyone. After about 3k, the mud-fest stopped and the trails became ride-/walkable again and we caught up with ENDracing/Yogaslackers – a super nice team which we saw again many times during the race.

After punching CP2 at the bottom of a beautiful waterfall, and fixing our first flat, we crossed a river and headed towards our first TA.

The team in great spirits after finding CP2 at the bottom of the first of many beautiful waterfalls.

The team in great spirits after finding CP2 at the bottom of the first of many beautiful waterfalls.

We arrived at the TA in third place in the elite class (and 5th overall), but with ENDracing right on our heels. After switching to foot our first task was a Tyrolean traverse over a river. This was a new experience for some of us, but it caused no problems and we always love well designed ropes elements.

Whitney in the Tyrolean Traverse - Photocredit: MMAC fb page

Whitney in the Tyrolean Traverse – Photocredit: MMAC Facebook page

The next trek was a lot longer than we had expected. It started with me making a navigation error which cost us about an hour. After that we realized that many of the trails marked on the map did not exist in real life and instead there were a few new ones. This is basically adventure racing navigation 101 – trails change, but hills don’t. With our maps last updated in 1992, a lot of changes had happened. So when several of our proposed route choices didn’t exist, and jungle bush whacking didn’t seem like a good option, we chose the long boring road around. A couple of hours later, which we had spent jogging dirt roads, we came into the TA. When we saw other bikes there we joked, “at least we are not last”. To our surprise we were still in 3rd place and hadn’t lost too much time on the leaders. Sometimes the long way around is not that bad.

Mikael defies any fear of snakes or aligators heading towards CP5

Mikael defies any fear of snakes or aligators heading towards CP5 on the trek

 

The author smiling since he is not the one who has to punch CP5, and we are on the right track again after the navigation miss.

The author smiling since he is not the one who has to punch CP5, and we are on the right track again after the navigation miss.

Following that motto we decided to do the same thing on the upcoming bike ride. Dusk was nearing, and instead of riding 30+k on smaller roads we decided to play it safe and ride 40+k on “bigger” roads, which we also knew had a great stream for purifying water.
As the sun set, we saw the 2 person Ecuadorean team about 30 min ahead of us while ENDracing was about 30 min behind on the “out and back” to CP9.
The bike ride was pretty uneventful, but a full day of racing started to leave its mark on our bodies so at the next TA transition to foot we made a heater meal. Eating something hot at nightfall is a great feeling (there will be an upcoming blogpost entirely about food and what we learned from this race).

After eating, we started the night foot section. It was a 16k out and back (8k each direction), with a 4-6h foot-o at the far end, making the entire section between 7 and 10 hours. The slog back and forth on the road was not the most fun, but the actual foot-o section was beautiful, with unique trails, small wood bridges and gorgeous waterfalls. It got even more interesting as we had an addition to the team. The film crew following the race wanted some night shots of our team and sent a crew member with a camera along with us on the foot-o. We can’t wait to see how it turned out! Sometime during the night we also passed the 2-person Ecuadorian team and now only had Merrell Denmark (2-person Co-ed), Odyssey and Yogaslackers (both in our class elite 4-person Co-ed) ahead of us.

Jason plotting the route for the night foot-O.

Jason plotting the route for the night foot-O. Photocredit: MMAC Facebook page

As morning rose the second day, we were back to the TA and our bikes. We now had a full day of biking ahead of us, estimating that we would bike for about 20h (it actually took us to ~24h) until we would get to our oasis box. After about 30 min Whitney started having problems with her backpack so we redistributed her weight and I took her food. I have never had such a heavy backpack racing. It was also hills galore and after a couple of hours we stopped to eat a little. I pulled out all the food from the backpack and start counting. It turned out I had food for over 80h in my pack (40h each for 2 people)! I was not happy about it but not much to do about that then, instead just keep biking and eating.

As the day progressed and we caught and passed Merrell Denmark when they made a navigational error. The hilly landscape continued and at one point we dropped more than 300 vertical meters in less than 2k of trail. The downhills were extremely scary for us (me), because I had no front break. This meant that my back brake constantly overheated and I had to stop and pour cold water on it. Over the race I poured over 3L of water on my brake, water that I originally had planned to drink.

The author happy about 300+ vertical meters of hike a bike. At least the breaks doesn't overheat going uphill.

The author happy about 300+ vertical meters of hike a bike. At least the brakes don’t overheat going uphill.

For CP 15 we made a navigational mistake and lost almost 2h. Both Ecuador and Merrell Denmark passed us again. We were still ahead of ENDRacing and we were excited to head towards CP16 and CP17 – there was fresh water and a sleeping opportunity there. At the map it looked like CP17 was located in a small town and we discussed and dreamed about having dinner at a restaurant and getting Cokes at a store. At this point I was pretty thirsty since I had poured most of my water over my breaks instead of drinking it.

We found CP 16 in one of the coolest caves I have ever been to, and we took an extra 5 minutes just to look around. With only 20 minutes left to CP17 suddenly my thirst was not the biggest problem. Whitney, who had been feeling bad for some time, started vomiting up everything in her stomach. On top of that, Mikael was feeling bad and having some problems staying upright on his bike. We rolled into CP 17 and the medical check at the same time as Whitney vomited up the very last of any fluids that were still in her. As an additional blow to our spirits the “town” turned out to be a couple of houses without anything resembling even a mini-mart. While the rest of the team took an hour to sleep, I started the task of thoroughly repacking the backpacks. The CP was also manned with volunteers from the Belizean military (they followed the entire race keeping everyone safe) and it felt great that I could donate 40h of food to them. Not only did my backpack get significantly lighter, but also the food went to good use. Lesson number two: bring extra food, but make sure not everyone does it, because then you end up with a LOT extra. ENDRacing was also sleeping at the TA, and hadn’t yet gone out to CP16. They let us know that they didn’t plan to take CP18 and instead would take a longer rest at the TA, which meant that if we managed to clear the course we would have 3rd place in the bag.

Jason punching CP16 at Rio Frio cave, one of the most awesome caves we have ever visited.

Jason punching CP16 at Rio Frio cave, one of the most awesome caves we have ever visited.

The team felt slightly better after an hour nap and Whitney’s and Mikael’s backpacks where now significantly lighter. We headed towards the last 5- 8h of biking. When we got to the out and back for CP18 we took a short lay down on the road and made an assessment. Whitney was still very weak but Mikael was feeling better. If we took 5h or less to make the 22k, we should theoretically be fine, making the cut-off at 1.00 pm the next day for the jungle trek. Sitting at home reading this, this sounds like a no-brainer, because who can’t bike 22k in 5 hours? Well, after 40+ hours of racing and seeing some of these “roads” you would not be as sure anymore. Sand and mud often meant you had to walk your bike for miles and what looked like a jeep road on the map could in reality be more of a swamp that no four wheel vehicle had passed in years. To add to the fun, my chain and derailleur had started causing problems (thanks Belizean mud), making it impossible for me to use the small chain ring in the front. After some discussion, we decided to go for it. The out and back was brutal for the team. Jason towed Whitney as much as he could for the first 4k. We all had sleep monsters, and Mikael was sure he saw me ride through a herd of antelopes, while Whitney slammed on the breaks to avoid the men standing in the road. None of this was actually real, of course, but provided amusement for the rest of the team mates.

We came back to the road after a little more than 3h, and had another lay down on the road. Mikael had crashed, and cracked one of his ribs. I hadn’t slept one minute since the night before the race, now 46h ago, and Whitney was exhausted. Jason who had managed to catch some sleep was doing the navigation at this point, as I couldn’t keep my eyes straight. Still we felt happiness and relief. We had made it! We were still in the run for clearing the course!

The Team at CP18 following the NYARA motto - it's better to look good than to feel good!

The Team at CP18 following the NYARA motto – it’s better to look good than to feel good!

At this point we thought there were still 5 teams in the running for clearing, but it turned out Merrell Denmark also decided to skip CP18 so it was actually just 4. Now it was time to take it easy. We rolled down to CP19 and our oasis boxes completely exhausted and ready for sleeping. Our only goal now was to make the 34k out and back to CP21 on top of the Mayan ruin, Caracol before 1.00pm – it was 5.00 am in the morning and we knew this was on a bigger road.
We took a 2h+ break to eat warm food and sleep – seldom has sleep felt so good. It was like all our worries, fears, exhaustion and problems washed away with the sleep and the knowledge that as long as we finished the course, we had secured a third place cemented itself in our brains. Our strategy now changed tremendously. We started playing with huge amount of safety, resting and eating as soon as anyone felt like it or wanted too. We ate two hot meals before even heading out to the ruins. We left for the ruins around 7.30 am and to our surprise, the road turned into asphalt after a couple of kilometers. This was fantastic! The miles flew by. At the ruins we met the film crew again and we stopped to talk to them, did a small interview, and took personal pictures. We knew there was no hurry, since the cut off for the trek was at 1.00 pm and we had almost 4h left for what should be 1h 30 min bike back. Of course, at this point, something had to go wrong- just because things were going too well. 6k from the TA, Jason’s sidewall of the tire got slashed, and our repair efforts didn’t work. This is almost ironic because before the race we discussed having extra tires in our oasis box, but we decided to take them out due to weight restrictions. It turned out to be just a small set back, since Jason was able to run fairly fast while Mikael took his backpack and I rode with two bikes on the flats and downhills. While we lost some time, it was nothing huge and we made it back around 11.30am with an hour and half to spare before the cut off.

The Team on top of CP 20 - the tallest "building" in Belize - The Mayan ruin Caracol.

The Team on top of CP 20 – the tallest “building” in Belize – The Mayan ruin Caracol.

It's all smiles and happy faces as it's not often you get interviewed on top of a Mayan ruin.

It’s all smiles and happy faces as it’s not often you get interviewed on top of a Mayan ruin.

 

The worlds most awesome stair master ?

The worlds most awesome stair master ?

Happy to ditch our bikes, we headed out on the jungle trek, fully knowing we would get caught in the dark zone. Upcoming sleep and food made us excited and the first half of the 30k trek went extremely well and at a good pace.
A search for a new trail and a Y in the road (seriously, we should just have kept going straight), cost us about 2-3h, but at that point we didn’t really care, as it was irrelevant to our overall finish. It was much worse for our Ecuadorian friends. They had pulled ahead during the night, while we slowed down and was roughly 3h ahead of us. Unfortunately the jungle is very unforgiving and they had got some major foot problems. When one team member took off his shoe, the foot swelled up enormously and “looked like it was boiling”, so they had to quit the race in the middle of a jungle road. We feel so bad for them, as they were fantastic racers and deserved a better race finish.

Along the jungle trek.

Along the jungle trek.

We came into the dark zone at ~9.30 pm and got great food and drinks – they even had beer! At this point frankly none of us were excited about the dark zone. We all felt pretty good and wanted to continue. Instead we got almost 6h of sleep and time to hang out with a bunch of other teams – something I don’t think has ever happened before in an adventure race for any of us.

Next morning we were up bright and early to head to a cave for CP24. The cave was guided and off the clock which made it like a fun exploring experience instead of a race. We saw Mayan pottery and relics which had been preserved over 2000 years in the cave. Pretty cool place for a CP.

Heading into an old cave to see some 2000+ years old mayan pottery and CP 24.

Heading into an old cave to see some 2000+ years old mayan pottery and CP 24.

Once we got down from the cave, the race started again with a couple of miles run to the canoes and then canoe back to town. After sleeping for hours we all felt strong, and together with ENDracing we picked up the pace to running. The final paddle was beautiful, amazing and fun. Mikael, who is the master paddler in the team, kept the team organized and focused even though we took our fair share of scenic breaks as the river flowed through the jungle landscape.

The absolutely awesome paddle that was so scenic that at times we just had to take photo breaks.

The absolutely awesome paddle that was so scenic that at times we just had to take photo breaks.

A final run through town took us to the finish line and there was nothing but joy as we crossed in third place and as only one of three teams clearing the entire course.
We could not be happier with the result and we are so excited about the upcoming race season.

Last trek to the finish. Less than 2 miles left and then we are done - but in our heads we have already started celebrating.

Last trek to the finish. Less than 2 miles left and then we are done – but in our heads we have already started celebrating.

 

The race was truly an adventure and included the tallest mayan ruins in Belize, countless waterfalls, and the mountains of the Cayo district, but nothing of that can compare to the hospitability of the people of Belize. NYARA would like to extend a huge thank you to American Adventure Sports for putting on a fantastic race, Friends of Conservation and Development in Belize for making the area accessible, to all fantastic volunteers and fellow racers. Looking forward to see you all again!

Done - what a race and what an experience!

Done – what a race and what an experience!

 


Team NYARA Comes in 3rd Place at Maya Mountain Adventure Challenge

The inaugural Mayan Mountain Adventure Racing Challenge was a 4 day Adventure Race held in Belize, that also served as the championship for the North American Adventure Racing Series.

Team NYARA, reached its goal and a spot on the podium after crossing the finish line in third place.

The course was brutal and became even harder after a small tropical storm passed on Wednesday night, forcing the start to be delayed and the course altered. Fourteen teams started the race, and only three managed to clear the course and take all CPs.  NYARA is happy to be one of those three teams, and together with Yogaslackers and Odyssey to make the overall podium.

Highlights of the race included CP placements on top of Mayan ruins, at the bottom of enormous waterfalls and deep in caves. The mud made certain trails almost impassable, and for miles we had to carry our bikes on our shoulders while trudging through the mud.

The race was also followed by a film crew to create a documentary that will hopefully be shown on NBC Sports.  As NYARA was racing towards the top of the field, a lot of attention was directed towards our team (We actually had a film crew member following us through a night foot-O, filming us for six hours straight). It will be fun to see the final footage as I’m sure our sleep-deprived selves will be quite amusing.

A full race report will follow soon, but for now a big thank you to American Adventure Sports for putting on a great race, all the fantastic volunteers, the wonderful people of Belize and mostly all our fellow racers we shared this experience with. We don’t think we could have started the 2014 racing season in a better way.

Off to Belize!

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Team NYARA leaves for Belize in a little over 24 hours and we are *mostly* ready. It has taken WAY more research/planning/shopping/logistics than expected to pull together our first 4-day race as a team, but I think we have things covered and are in for a great adventure.

If you are interested in following along check out the race website HERE. We will have a GPS SPOT Tracker with us during the race so (in theory) you will be able to track our progress in real time. You can also “friend” Mayan Mountain Adventure Challenge and New York Adventure Racing on Facebook. They will be posting updates and photos.

Check out the race preview video…looks pretty awesome!!

Photo credit: Mayan Mountain Adventure Facebook Page