Race Report: USARA National Championships

USARA National Championships recently took place in the great state of Maryland. Team NYARA was there in full force with two teams — one in the Master’s division (Rodney, Amy and Bruce) and one in the elite co-ed division (Brice, Cara and Mikal). Both teams did an AWESOME job. We are excited to share the race report from Team NYARA (elite coed division).

From Cara:


We arrived in McHenry, MD on Thursday to discover beautiful rolling hills and fall foliage in full effect. We checked in and got some pretty nice swag including Darn Tough socks, a USARA baseball cap, warming gel, and a race t-shirt.


After settling in and checking out the white water rafting paddle board course, we headed to the pre-race meeting. It was during this meeting that we realized that we were missing a paddle! Mikal frantically called some local outfitters, and explained that we had an emergency and needed a paddle “STAT!” The guys at High Mountain Sports were kind enough to stay open late and provide us with our missing gear.

Race morning came and we got our maps and began plotting the points. While Brice and Mikal were off somewhere acting like a bunch of goofballs, I came up with this BRILLIANT plan to bypass the paddle section. You see, none of the points were mandatory, and you can do the legs in any order, as well as double back to pick up checkpoints from a previous leg as long as you use a means of equal or lesser travel. This would save us several hours on a cold and windy paddle, and we would only lose 3 CP’s. We got confirmation from the race director that it was legal, and so it was set. I guess we weren’t going to need that paddle after all!


The race started with a trek up to the top of the ski mountain where Mikal did 3 rounds of the white water paddle course while Brice and I looked over the maps. Mikal did a spectacular job and got faster with each trip. Most other racers were coming out of there exhausted, refusing to go another round, but Mikal did it three times like a champ!!!


We were one of the first few teams to finish and head back down the mountain to start the mtn bike leg. We had a bit of miscommunication which cost us some time in the mtn bike leg, as I was giving Brice the clue for CP 4 when we were in fact looking for CP 5. This was, of course, a learning experience which we quickly remedied with better communication throughout the remainder of the race.


Following the mountain bike leg, we ran with our bikes to the canoe put-in to get the CP, then started the bike section. We rode to CP 10 (which we would not receive credit for) and set out to collect the foot O points as well as 2 mtn bike points on foot. Our plan was working out very nicely. We then proceeded to do the course in reverse order.

We were the first ones to arrive at the score-O where we received a new map and had to accumulate 100 points total. This is where the real fun started. The elevation was unbelievable and had your calves screaming almost immediately. Luckily after climbing a few of the mtns, you just got numb and it started to get easier. It began pouring off and on, but it was actually quite refreshing, it just made things a bit more slippery.


Brice’s navigation was spot on, literally having us walking right up on CP’s. Unfortunately, there was a recent story in the news of a hiker on the east coast who was killed by a bear. I had been warned about a large population of bears where we were and we heard a very close by camper yelling at a bear to go away. Well, this combined with a little too much caffeine, and I got myself pretty paranoid. Luckily Brice and Mikal knew the right things to say to alleviate my worries and we spent most of the night trying to make as much noise as possible. Some of the noises were just plain comical and it ended up providing some amusement and helped to pass the time.

Aside from climbing one extra mountain, the O-section went pretty well. As we made our way back to the TA, it was about 3:30 am and we were lucky enough to have my husband Gregg and Derek Lawrence waiting for us 🙂 It was so uplifting to see friends and family at this point in a race! (I think most racers would agree the 3-6am time frame is usually the toughest). It was just what we needed as we fueled up and transitioned into to our biking gear.


We started to get more and more pumped to finish strong. We then headed out onto a 7-9hr bike leg. We had some long climbs ahead of us, but we kept a tight pace line and were religious about refueling and staying hydrated. Everything was going great until in an attempt to take a shortcut we came upon a really spooky old abandoned house and a broken down trailer in the middle of nowhere. It reminded me of something out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough! This led us into an unbelievably thick never ending bike whack. It was such a relief when we finally saw another team and eventually got the CP.

After one more mtn bike section, we had a long windy road ride back to the Wisp resort. The sun was up by now, however the temps remained in the 30’s with an occasional drizzle. It was during this leg that we had the pleasure of being chased by an angry little dog. It was trying to bite my foot as I attempted to sprint away (uphill) when Brice started calling him towards him. I thought “is he crazy?” but little did I know he had a plan. When the dog began chasing him, he proceeded to squirt him with his water bottle and the dog ran away! It worked like a charm!!! We arrived back at the resort with enough time to head back up the ski mountain to get 1 more CP, after which we ran to the finish! 🙂


Overall this was a very fun and challenging race. I believe that our strategy to skip the paddle section helped us very much as some teams spent several hours on the water only to gain 1-3 more CP’s. It was also great to see everything we have learned as a team this season really come together. In the end, we finished in 11th place!!! I’d like to give a big thanks to Mikal and Brice for being such enjoyable and hard working teammates and to Gregg Guilfoyle, Kevin Marx, and Derek Lawrence for coming out to show your support!!! I can’t wait until next season!!


From Mikal:


Team NYARA had a very successful race at this year’s National Championships. It was a gorgeous venue and my teammates were, as always, great company for 30 hours of racing. We put together our best race yet at the biggest race of the season, which was awesome. I am very proud of the improvement we made over a short period of time and that it resulted in an 11th place finish! Cara gave a great overview of the race, so I won’t repeat all that. I do, however, have to clear the air: the brilliant strategy was my idea, not hers. She must still be a little tired from the race and not remembering correctly. When we got our maps, both Brice and Cara were stoked about the paddle and talking about how that was the leg where we would pass everyone and make up some serious time. I politely interjected that it might be a good idea to skip the whole thing, since there were only 3 points and the paddle was at least 6 hrs of cold, wet kayaking into a headwind (both ways). They were both hesitant, but I eventually explained the whole strategy and convinced them. Turns out it worked perfectly, just like I had planned! Brice was great with the Nav, Cara had her strongest race of the season and when you combine those two ingredients with my strategy, you get one hell of a race! I can’t forget mentioning the MVP of Team NYARA, Gregg, who infused energy into our team at the perfect moments and was constantly finding us on the course to encourage us. Thanks Gregg and thanks to Cara and Brice for a great season of racing and a fantastic finish at Nationals!

From Brice:


I’m ecstatic about our performance at the 2014 Nationals, taking 11th place among a large field of the best adventure racing teams in the country. Among all the things we did well, there’s one that really stands out: skipping the entire paddle section. I’m usually pretty humble and prefer to give other people credit for ideas that were developed as a group. In this case, however, it was no team effort. Put simply, this was my idea. However, as the race progressed and it became obvious that the strategy was a good move, Cara and Mikal started saying it was their idea. Thirty hours later, they each had completely rewritten history. Unbelievable. I can assure you this was my idea, and you should greatly discount anything Cara or Mikal write or say. At this point, they have brainwashed themselves and I think they each actually believe that it was their idea.

In addition to my remarkable idea of skipping the paddle, here were some other highlights for me:
· Gregg’s support. It was awesome seeing Cara’s husband so much during the race. Being an experienced adventure racer himself, he knew exactly what our next challenges were at each point during the race. He did an excellent job keeping us motivated all the way to the finish line.
· Making noises for bears but not spooking Cara. Whenever Mikal or I made some noise so that animals would hear us, Cara would think we saw a bear or something. Eventually, we figured out some noises that worked, but this was more difficult than you’d think. Every time Mikal did his “wwwwwwhoa!” I would laugh so hard I could barely stay upright. This was pure comedy.
· Improving on things as a team. This was our third race together. After each race, we discuss how we can improve for our next race. At this race, we made meaningful improvements on a variety of issues because we had talked about them. This was a great success for us as a team.

So we took 11th place as Team NYARA in the Coed Division, while our NYARA Masters team (Rodney, Amy & Bruce) took 3rd in the Masters division! Great showing for NYARA at Nationals!

Q&A with a first time racer — 24hour

Cradle Canoe

As promised here’s a short Q&A with Mikal Davis who raced as part of Team NYARA at GOALS ARA’s Cradle of Liberty.

Q: What was the biggest difference between 24h racing and shorter races?

No sleep was the biggest difference for me. I wasn’t fully prepared for my eyes refusing to stay open. Planning for nutrition/food was also quite different. I could have eaten more earlier in the race to avoid the 3am wall-hitting.

Q: What was the high point of the race?
The first 18 hrs (maybe excluding the canoe section, which was a bit of a disaster for us–but we recovered well!) Olof was nailing the navigation, Whitney and I were feeling really strong and the team was moving at a great pace. All of that equated to high spirits and fun racing.
Q: What was the low point of the race?
The low was hitting the wall around 3am and not being able to contribute to the team as much as I would have liked. It was a great learning experience, but it didn’t feel good at the time.
Q: Was there any piece of gear that was essential for 24h racing, Especially one that is not that important in shorter races?
Apart from extra bright flashlights, I would say using platform pedals helped us out a lot. We saved on weight by not having to lug around biking shoes and I did not feel like our biking suffered as a result. I will definitely use platforms in my next 24+hr race.
Q: What did you learn from this race?
I learned what to expect at 3am and have a good idea on how to combat the drowsiness next time–better nutrition and more caffeine!
Q: Second place overall is pretty dang good your third adventure race ever. Is there anything you can see that the fast teams are doing differently vs. mid pack teams?  Also, do you have any recommendations for racers who are looking to be lead pack?
Fast transitions are an easy way to cut time. This requires lots of organization and forethought, but can cut significant time over a 24+hr race. Overall, NYARA has been great to race for in the last 2 ARs and has lots of potential in the team. I am excited to keep racing and to go to nationals for the first time this October!
Thanks again to GOALS ARA for a great race!

Untamed New England

Team NYARA had a great showing at Untamed New England this year — two teams finished 11th and 16th overall. A little known fact is that Team #31 — Carpe Vitam — snuck in an extra two Team NYARA members. Austin Planz and NYARA President Denise Mast both raced their first expedition race with Carpe Vitam on this year’s brutal course. We are really proud of them and thought it would be interesting to hear their thoughts as first-time expedition racers. Check out this Q&A with them below. Meet Austin and Denise. They are known to throw back a cold one while carrying tons of gear through the Maine wilderness.




Q: Considering neither of you had ever raced over 30h before – how did you prepare for this race?
Denise: Actually, I did more running than I probably needed. Our team had two 24-hour training sessions that were valuable in understanding the team dynamics as well as our strengths and weaknesses. We’re still looking for my strengths.

Austin: Physically, I did not have time to train for the race. (Don’t tell my teammates). The biggest prep was gathering gear and food and separating them into gear bins.

Q: What was the biggest difference between racing 24h races and expedition races?

Denise: Obviously the time! Establishing a steady, even pace that works for all team members was big for us considering we got so far behind at the very beginning of the race. We were the last team to reach the rappel section but from there on out, we were more focused and maintained an even pace that helped us pick off a lot of teams.

Austin: The hardest thing was getting use to the distances; needing to settle into a particular discipline for the long hall.  Paddling all night, trekking dawn till dusk, don’t find that in a 30 hour race.

Q: Was anything easier than you expected?

Denise: I think I expected to be more fatigued during the race than I was. But caffeine worked its wonders as well as my teammates’ constant joke cracking. Laughter is the best stimulant out there.

Autstin: I’ve been more tired and beat up after a 6hr race.  Our slow and steady pace and cheery disposition made the race easy on us.

Q: Was anything harder than you expected?

Denise: Going through withdrawal after getting home! I miss the guys, I miss the anticipation about racing and am ready to do it all over again if my teammates would have me.
Austin: It was way harder getting back to reality than I could have ever imagined.

Q: If you could re-do this race – what would you focus on in terms of preparation?

Denise: I would do a lot more back strengthening and carry a heavy pack around often. The shooting pains down my neck to my lower back because of the weight of the pack were not fun.

Austin: I would have set up a better bike tow system.

Q: You guys started silly slow (if I’m not mistaken you were in last place a couple of hours into the race), but then steadily moved up in the field to 23rd. What was the key to your success there and how did you manage to hold it together when so many other teams around you dropped off?

Denise: Our navigation team did a great job after the first few hours of some big screw ups. After that, we seemed to pass teams with better navigation choices that left other teams dumbfounded.

Austin: After our less than spectacular start, we made a team decision to look at the map, not get lost, and enjoy ourselves.  It got amusing seeing teams perplexed as they continuously passing us, usually looking like we were goofing off, and having no idea how they keep getting behind us.  Also, we kept pace steady, everyone else just got slower.

Q: Any piece of gear that you found critical for a race this long?

Denise: My North Face RDT rain jacket was amazing. It repelled water but also acted as a warm outer shell for cold nights.

Austin: Most critical gear is Aquaphor!! and maybe dry bags for when you capsize in pack rafts!

Q: Any piece of gear that you didn’t have but wished you had out on the course?

Denise: I needed a better dry bag for my pack. The one I brought wasn’t large enough so all of my stuff got wet during the paddling sections.

Austin: I wish I had a Sherpa or a masseuse.

Q: Any other last tips or tricks for racers who are looking to take the step from 24h racing to expedition racing?

Denise: Teammate selection is key. I loved my teammates even though I’m sure there were times when they thought I hated them. I experienced some really low points during the race and damn, if all three didn’t pull me back up. In particular, I have to credit my teammate Kirk for getting me to stop panicking when the packraft Austin and I were in capsized on the rapids of the Dead River. Kirk saw that I was panicking and breathing in water with every breath. He looked me in the eyes and basically yelled at me to focus, stop panicking and to swim to shore. I needed that. He shrugged it off like it was nothing but I cannot thank him enough for it. I get teary-eyed just thinking about it.
Austin: If you are looking to make the leap into expeditions, make sure you like your teammates!!  They made my race a ton of fun.  Plan ahead as well, buying gear over a long period of time is easier to hide from the spouse.
A few other fun photos from Denise’s and Austin’s race:
Thanks Austin and Denise! Great job on Untamed New England!!

Untamed New England 2014 – Race Report

UNE starting picture

Untamed New England was a huge success for NYARA with their first team finishing as the third US team and 11th place overall, while the second team, NYARA-Krell placed 16th overall.

Official results are here: http://www.untamedne.com/2014Result.aspx

Below is a short summary by Olof Hedberg – Team Captain for NYARA as well an interview with the team from MadAthlete – NYARA sponsor and general supporter of Adventure Racing. NYARA-Krell will publish their race report next week, so you have a lot more to look forward to. Happy 4th of July everyone!!!!

Like all expedition adventure races, the race starts weeks before you actually reach the start line. For us, the biggest problem this time was that our original team member Chris Rice, got injured and had to withdraw a week before the race. Luckily we have a deep squad and Eric Caravella was able to step in with short notice.

As usual, it was actually a relief once the race started and we were on our way. We decided to race hard to the rappel section. With a rope section so early in the race, we knew it would be a bottle neck–so we pushed hard from the start. Unfortunately there was a lot of paddling – by far our weakest discipline – so even while we pushed the pace, we still had a 1h 30 min wait at the top. After that we went slow and steady during the first 24h trying to take it easy and not burn up. After the O-Relay (about 24h into the race for us) we increased our speed and started passing teams over the next day. Then the last day we raced and pushed ourselves really hard just focusing on the next CP. On the last leg, we met up with the other NYARA team and biked to the finish line together in an 8 person NYARA group – absolutely wonderful! – Olof


After the race – MadAthlete had some questions for the team:

Q: So tell us a little about the race and how it played out.
Olof: Overall the race went fantastically. We had some small problems during the first 24h, with a navigation mistake from my side, and some slow going after that. After the orienteering relay we hit our stride, and from that point home it was all smooth sailing. We only slept 2h and 10 minutes during the entire race, but that meant that we managed to make all the cut offs (one was luckily extended). I’m just so proud of my team and especially Eric and Whitney who did their first and second expedition race respectively.
Q: What was the highlight of the race for you?
Whitney: Getting CP 43. We knew the timing would be tight and maybe even impossible, but we worked really hard and strategically as a team to get to CP 43 with enough time to make the cut off. When we found the CP and knew we had enough time to get to the rafting start, we were on top of the world. It felt so good to know that through teamwork and sheer determination we would be completing the full course. It felt like we won 🙂
Eric: That was my best AR moment to date. We developed a strong strategy and as a team we covered the 40K, grabbed the point, and made the cutoff, securing our full-course finish and improving our ranking to 11th place. It was flawlessly executed and a monumental achievement for us as a team, and I’ll never forget it.
Q: What was the lowlight of the race for you?
Whitney: Probably finishing the long paddle leg on the first day. I was wet, freezing and really tired. Olof seemed to be leading us on an exploration of all the inlets on Moosehead Lake except the one with TA1 🙂 I was so happy to get out of the boat and into dry clothes. Also the folks at Good To Go had delicious warm food waiting for us. Talk about a turn around!
Q: Was there an MVP on your team?
Olof: I don’t believe in MVPs in Adventure Racing. In other team sports the concept is significant and valid as one person can turn a whole game around. In Adventure Racing you can never go faster than the slowest person, which means that the most heroic accomplishments you often see are made by the person who is the weakest at any given point. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any team sport where your performance is so tied to each individual on the team.
Q: What was the funniest moment on the race?
Eric: My funniest moment was during the whitewater rafting leg. Whitney evidently was frustrated by too few wildlife sightings during the race, and too few hours of sleep. She began pointing out bears and moose along the river shores, where there were zero actual animals. In Whitney’s mind, she was convinced the river edge was a veritable zoo. But in reality, she just needed a nap.
Whitney: For me it was Bruce and his ability to be asleep before even sitting down. He put up a strong effort to stay awake, but when sleep took hold he was out. Watching him fight the sleep definitely make me giggle a few times during the race.
Olof: I get a trail mail from Switzerland saying “There is a funny picture of you sleeping on the main website.” It was so absurd that due to the fantastic internet updates during this race, I’m in the middle of the Maine forest not knowing anything about the rest of the world, and my sister-in-law in Switzerland knows more about my sleeping habits than I do. Just created a really funny feeling.
Q: What new gear did you use or try in the race? How did it perform?
Eric: Trekking poles!! Expedition pace is slower than 24hr AR pace, of course, but even if you’re not running, the relentless hours on your feet can still take their toll. Walking with trekking poles did wonders for alleviating some of the stress on my feet, I would have been so much worse off without them. Additionally, if the race course is mountainous, the poles will allow you to use upper body strength to get you up those hills. I’m convinced this is a major reason my legs felt so good for the whole race, because lord knows it wasn’t because my pack was light. Who carries a packraft over so many mountains??
Whitney: I used the Sea to Summit Traveller Tr I sleeping bag to meet the individual gear requirement. I assumed that I would only be carrying it, not actually using it so I was glad it was super light and compact. But then I did end up using it for the 2 hours we slept on the course and I loved it. It is designed to be a quilt or a bag — the foot has a drawstring closer, which gave me flexibility and allowed me to strategically leave my feet outside the bag to air out 🙂 I was perfectly warm and comfortable while sleeping in it — way better than a regular bivy (which isn’t much smaller/lighter). It will be a new staple in my pack.
Olof: Hand paddles. We had practiced packrafting with a normal kayak paddle in the back and hand paddles in the front. It worked amazingly for the pack raft section. The slow down during the paddling was minimal, and they were so much easier to carry during the Abenaki trek.
Q: What was the most important piece of gear you used during the race?
Eric: Bean Burritos and Bacon
Whitney: My Ghost Whisperer puffy. While I don’t use it much, it is like an insurance policy. I know that if I start to freeze, I can throw on my puffy and be fine within seconds. I ALWAYS bring it.
Olof: I loved our Alpacka GNU. It’s fast, light and super maneuverable. Every time I got in it I was so happy to be flying over the water and resting my feet.
Q: What do you wish you had during the race that you didn’t carry?
Eric: A chain saw
Whitney: More salty food. And plain old water. I was really not happy with my food/sports drink for this race and will be changing things up a lot next time.
Q: What is something new you learned during the race that you will apply to future races?
Whitney: To do the thinking before hand so that I can just go when I am on the course. I think working modularly helps here — in terms of food, clothes, gear, water. I found that using water bottles instead of a bladder worked so much better and could easily transition between disciplines. With clothes, using arm warmers and calf sleeves meant I could quickly regulate my temperature without having to stop — they also provided good protection when bushwhacking. For food I thought in terms of 10-hour bags so that I could quickly grab what I needed for the next section without having to think about it. Breaking everything down into small, simple pieces that can be multifunctional is key.
Q: If I had to do it again I would…..
Whitney: Sing more songs — its a tradition to sing ridiculous songs while racing and for some reason this race was lacking in the singing department.
Eric: If I had to do it again, I would wear long sleeves in the Abenaki bushwhack.
Olof: Take my jacket off in the Abenaki section so I didn’t destroy my brand new rain jacket.
Q: Any parting words?
Olof: It was just an amazing experience and the team really got together and put up a great race. It was great to see that we could pull off such a great finish even with an inexperienced team and the potential for future races is just so much higher. We learn new things in every race and continue to become a stronger, more cohesive team. I have high hopes for Team NYARA in upcoming races.

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


Pack Rafting

Olof and Whitney Hedberg will be racing Untamed New England this summer for Team NYARA along with Chris Rice and Bruce Swanson. Team NYARA’s strategy for the infamous pack rafting section is to use two rafts that are each designed to hold two people. One raft is the Alpacka Explorer and the other is the brand new Alpacka Gnu. Whitney and Olof have been busy testing and modifying their Alpacka Gnu. Since neither have ever used a pack raft before they have been focusing on getting up to speed.

Step one: Figure out how to blow the thing up. Then do it faster.


From Whitney: “our first attempt to inflate the raft took a looooong 9.5 minutes. We have gotten a lot more efficient and can now inflate the raft, sort gear and pack the raft in a little over 6 minutes. We feel pretty good about that time”

Step two: Paddle. Then paddle some more.



The pair tried a number of different paddling combinations and have settled on having Whitney using hand paddles (homemade) up front while Olof uses kayak paddles in the back.
From Olof: “This is a good set up as long as we have relatively short distance to cover or are moving downstream. If we have longer, flat water sections we will probably both use kayak paddles.”

Step three: Practice. Practice. Practice!

On the boat: “Although this boat is on the larger size–compared to a single person basic raft–we are super happy with our choice. The great people at Alpacka helped us choose this new model that they designed with adventure racing in mind. It is super responsive and feels fast (especially for a pack raft). The Vectron fabric is really tough and let’s us get the boat really full of air, which helps make it more efficient in the water.”

On modifications: “I love modifying gear to make it work even better, but we haven’t had to do much on this boat. We added some para cord loops in the front and back to make it easier to carry and a couple of extra para cord loops inside the boat for attaching dry bags. The boat comes with lots of sewn in webbing loops and other connectors so we really didn’t do more than tie on some para cord.”

What’s next: “We are testing the raft on flat water tomorrow and will continue training in it on the river. We also want to practice our transition a few more times it get it as efficient as possible” “We are also looking forward to taking this boat on other adventures after the race!”

A big thanks the Alpacka Raft for sponsoring Untamed New England and the sport of Adventure racing.

10 Questions with the Race Directors: Krell Adventure Run


We sat down with Rodney Villella and Amy Bartoletti to get some insight about the upcoming Krell Adventure Run on Staten Island. Here’s what they had to say.

Q). What makes a Krell race different from other obstacles races ?
A). Well, there are actually a couple of unique differences.  First, these events are specifically  geared towards teams of 2 and most of the challenges require some form of teamwork.  Second, instead of a linear course where participants simply follow a course to all of the obstacles, in a Krell race, you will be given a map 15 minutes prior to your start which will show you the location of all the challenges/obstacles.  You get to choose the order in which to do them and you can also do as many or little as you like.  Also, not all of the obstacles will be physical.  Some will be mental (think puzzles and brain challenges) and some will be a combination of both.  What we have tried to create is an event that requires thinking as much as physical brawn.  You’ll need to think strategically and use the skills of your teammate.
Q). Do you have any specific gear suggestions for this race ?

A). The event requires very little gear.  We would suggest a good pair of trail running shoes and a watch to keep track of your time in the Arena (on course).  Some people also find a pair of gloves to be helpful and if I were racing, I would probably use them.

Q). How long is the course ?

A). The beauty of our events is that you can choose your own course, so you can make it as long or short as you like.  Generally speaking, if you are going to try to do all of the challenges/obstacles you can figure on traveling between 3 – 6 miles.

Q). Do I need navigation skills to finish this race ?

A). No, you do not need to have any formal navigation skills.  The map is very basic and the challenges are not hidden.  If you can read a road map or subway map, you’ll be fine.

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

A). This event is specifically geared for teams of 2.  You are also welcome to travel with other teams if you like.

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

A). This is really a personal preference.  We will provide water stations on the course and we don’t think it’s long enough to need any food…but again that is based on personal preference.

Q).  Do you have any tips or tricks I should know about?

A). Sometimes slower is faster.  Take the time to look at the map and plan your route.  Also, when you are on the course, make sure you take the time to read the instructions at each challenge.  (You’d be shocked at how many people don’t really do this.)

Q). Can I sign up on race morning ?

A). While we will allow sign ups on race morning, we strongly discourage this.  First, the price goes up on race day, but more importantly, we won’t be able to have your race packet prepared for you ahead of time, thereby delaying your registration process.

Q). When I’m finished with the race will there be something edible at the end ?

A). This will vary from venue to venue, but generally speaking there will be food and beverages available at the finish.

Q). Do you have any last minute suggestions to all the racers to make this extra awesome?
A). Try to get your friends to participate in the event!  We always find that shared experiences are better than solo ones (hence the team concept) and a little healthy competition between comrades is always fun!  It will also give you other people to talk to about the event when it’s over.


Sounds like an awesome race! If you haven’t registered yet, grab a teammate, tell your friends and head over to NYARA’s website to sign up. Also check out this video — it will make you want to get out there and challenge yourself!