Race Report: Cowboy Tough: No sleep for the weary.

CT Finish
Cowboy Tough ARWS gave us a truly epic race course, long distances, a great race and a few unfortunate events. It was a truly wild and well organized event and read on to see why NYARA will keep coming back to this one, year after year. First up is Team Captain, Olof Hedberg covering the first half of the race followed by Eric Caravella bringing in the humorous wrap up. Here’s Olof:

Our team for CBT had been set for a long time and preparations had gone on for months. We thought we had everything under control when, the night before we were planning to leave we realized all the gear didn’t fit in our car. After a short panic followed by a brainstorming session we made some phone calls. Thanks to the generosity of the Board of Summit Nordic Ski Club we were able to borrow the Club’s 15-passenger van, which comfortably accommodated us and our ridiculous volume of gear. We are so grateful to have such a great community around us.

Preparations – Shame on British Airways
The mandatory points were pre plotted, but we spent a lot of time plotting the five dozen or so optional points. The maps were big and there was a lot of information to digest, but this was a small issue compared to Mikael’s with his bike being stuck somewhere between London and Denver. British Airways apparently only likes to charge you for taking your bike, but does not actually feel obligated to put it on the flight. He was promised it would show up on the next flight and in time for the race start, but we started to realize they had just lied to his face. In reality the bike arrived on Saturday – 5 days later than planned and 3 days after race start. Nice one British Airlines, well played.
Thankfully race director, Mark Harris offered to lend us not only his bike, but also bike shoes. After 2 hours of cleaning, adjusting, tire swapping and fixing Mikael was all set to go.
After going to bed early and getting to sleep in late relatively to AR standards, we loaded up busses (best busses ever in an AR!!! – I want to come back just so I get to ride these busses to the start again) and get ready for the start in Buffalo.
CT -- prolog
Prologue – In the lead in an ARWS:
I have always said that unless we get skiing incorporated into an AR I will never lead an ARWS. If we ever do get to ski (glacier, back country, cross country, whatever) I would be shocked if we didn’t take the lead (Maybe Björn and Josefin in Haglöfs aside). There was no snow and no skiing in Buffalo, Wyoming. Instead we had an urban-O where we had to swim to the bottom of a pool, do a shot of Whiskey, get a gun casing and some other stuff. The start of the race went of with a gun shot by Wyoming Governor, Matt Mead. We jogged around the streets, completed the tasks and dream of my surprise when we showed up first to the TA. The next team was right on our heels but apparently I was wrong – it is possible for us to lead without the use of skis – if only for a few seconds (but I’m still wishing for that long brutal ski leg in a race).

Bike ride #1 – Chasing Tail
Next up was an uneventful bike ride to the paddling — well it would have been uneventful if it wasn’t for Eric having to chase some tail (we will come back to that one). I quickly compensated for our fast prolog and made a turn too early, which set us back to a ~top 10 place. On a CP during the ride we had to enter the fairgrounds. In the fairgrounds there was a herd of young cows with ribbons on their tails. Each team had to collect one ribbon. Eric “wildlife appreciation” Caravella was the given the option and before we could even blink he got a ribbon and ran back to us filled with the joy of a four year old who just got candy. The wildlife whisperer strikes again. We rolled into the TA ~10 – 15 min after the leaders and got in the water.

Paddling – The CP that wasn’t
With Mikael “the paddle master” Mattsson, our kayak skills have definitely improved, and we do a one of our better paddle sections. That doesn’t mean we are good enough to keep up with the best, and SAFAT paddles by us like they have a motor on their boat. We continue to grind our teeth and power through (except Mikael who looks like he is on a Sunday afternoon paddle with his family). When we hit the last CP we see the other teams park their boats. But here comes the issue, soon afterwards the teams comes back and continues to look along the shoreline. We pulled up and didn’t see a CP. Continuing along the shoreline we checked every cove together with a bunch of other teams. They called it after 30 min and headed back to the TA, while our 30 min wasn’t up yet so we continued to search but when Mikael says “We need to check this cove too” we are over one kilometer from the plotted CP. Realizing our 30min are up we headed back to the TA to finish what would be the first and last kayak section of the race.

Bike #2 – Can you see the flag?
Another gravel road leads us to the foothills. Not anything special, but also not boring in any way. Half way through we have to stop and communicate with each other trough flags like they did during the war (a communication method known as semaphore). It was actually pretty cool and impressive how they could do that over long distances. One problem here – since there had been OPs on the paddle many of the top teams still got stuck behind a lot of lower ranked teams in this bottle neck and there was no way to progress until the teams in front of you had completed the task. With Whitney “Hawkeye” Hedberg on our team we completed the challenge on our first try but we were still stuck there for over 30 min of which 18 was just waiting for other teams to complete it. The fun part of the episode is the Whitney actually has really bad eyesight (at least compared to me) but she is probably the most observant person I have ever met and that made all the difference. She and Eric worked together to help the team in front of them – to speed up the process — and they in turn helped us. Overall we were two of the fastest teams! Yeah for cross-teamwork. We finished up the bike ride with a climb to the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains.

Day 1 Hike – Up into the mountains we go
We quickly dropped our bikes and started hiking together with Yogaslackers, Nordic Racing, Canada AR and Dart Nuun just in front of us. This section involved lots of elevation gain from 6,000ft to over 10,000 ft = awesome! Yogaslackers were having a rough time. Canada AR kept fantastic speed and hiked past us like we were standing still. After the first bushwack we also passed Dart Nuun who was dealing with a sick teammate. This was when Mikael starting to have trouble. His speed suffers and even after we take his pack he throws up. We are slowly moving forward into the night, but many of the teams around us are dealing with sick teammates so everyones speed is suffering. We got two optional CPs which took some time but were set in truly beautiful places.
The two last CPs were the biggest “tricks”. On the map leading into gem lake it looks like there is a good sized trail leading straight to the lake. We try three different trails with no luck. In the end we decide to just backtrack to a known location and set a compass bearing. It’s a long slog bushwacking hours and hours trying to stay on bearing and keeping track of our location. It’s slow moving but safe and as the sun goes up we feel sure we will make it to the TA before the cutoff. We are lucky as very few others do and the field gets reduced to just 7 teams making the cutoff.
CT -- biking2
Bike #3,4,5 – 200k and 24h of biking
Day 2 was going to be long and didn’t get better by me taking the wrong way out of the TA. Somehow I got really turned around after sitting down to eat, and I switch my maps up side down, so we headed out back the way we came in. An hour later we corrected the mistake and we are biking through the misty Wyoming morning towards a cool rappel. Our speed was still slow as Mikael was still suffering after throwing up all night, but we are slowly getting there.CT- foggy rapell
The rappel was totally covered in clouds when we got there, but right as we were about to head down there was a break in the clouds and we could see the ground far below us. We didn’t have high expectations for this rapell, but it turned out to be really cool.
Then it was back to the bikes….ct- biking
….. 205 kilometers of biking for the day. Eric clocked it. We arrived at the TA and were happy to get out of the saddle for a bit and run up and down in the canyon searching for Ops by foot. We grabbed a bunch, got back to TA, changed and were back on our bikes just before the cutoff for another long ride…

Bike #6 – Epicness awaits in Crazy Woman land, and burgers from us…?
The next day started with an epic bike leg with a ton of route choices and vert. It started off fantastically with nav straight on point and the miles flying by us (if by flying we mean slowly passing as we are hiking bikes over ridges etc.). We stop to try to sleep at one point, but as soon as we lay down clouds roll in and rain started pouring down – no rest for the weary. CT - crazy eyes
We were 90 % of the way to the CP when, overconfident, we made a turn too early. This wouldn’t be too bad except that it was pretty steep downhill. The trail was also marked with orange ribbons, which contributed to our overconfidence. 2- 3k later we are totally cliffed out by Crazy Woman Canyon. Options are discussed, going back and around would mean we would lose about an hour. Down climbing with our bikes could be impossible. We look around and decided to go for option 2 – bike climbing. A pretty intense half hour goes on while we scramble with our bikes to get down and up to the other side of the canyon. “I thought that wouldn’t be possible” Mikael says somewhat putting the finger on the doubt we all had been feeling. But making it to the other side gave us extra energy. Ten minutes later we roll into the CP and NYARA President, Denise Mast is standing there flipping burgers. NYARA had joined forces with Rev3 and put together a secret burger oasis in the middle of the course. How frikkin awesome is that!!! I’m still slightly shocked, but more convinced than ever – we race for the coolest club!
Burgers swallowed nearly whole and on to the next CP. The landscape changes once again and we bike into a section that looks like the Moab desert. This course is truly amazing and we stop for a minute to take in the view of “The Red Wall”. Mark and Rev3 have done just an amazing job, and Day 3 might have been the best of them all, starting in the mountains, finishing in desert/ranch hills.

And now let’s hand it over to Eric…

Hey all, Eric here… taking over the report for Olof who had to jet off to Sweden for XC ski camp with his team (talk about “no rest for the weary”!) Anyway, our original plan was to have slept by this point in the race, but as Olof mentioned, we got rained on. Once the sun came out and was beating down on us (with no real shade or shelter to be had anywhere) we figured we’d just make the most of the daylight and try to grab some CPs. Mikael had been able to snag a few minutes of sleep here and there alongside the road the night before. I played 20 questions with Whitney to help keep her awake (and not for nothing, but when she tried to stump me with “Alf”…I guessed it in 6 questions. Booyah for small victories.) But we were all hurting for sleep. I became convinced that every turn and every trail we took I’d been on before. Spookiest hallucinogenic deja vu of all time. I knew it made no sense as I had never been to Wyoming, let alone to the private ranch we were on. Still, I couldn’t resist the urge to try to predict our next turn and guide us to the next CP using my recollection of experiences that had never occurred. Good strategy, right? Anyone surprised it didn’t work?

CT -- biking

Anyone else surprised that as soon as the sun went down I became useless as backup navigator and fell asleep on the side of the trail? But we were so close to the TA and our sleeping bags that we just pushed on. We got to TA and our magnificent, glorious, floating-on-a-cloud sleeping bags. Our heads hit the pillow and it was lights out for 60 minutes of the most sublime sleep imaginable.

End of Day O-Course – half a dozen (non)high points and a porcupine

Sleep is a game changer. Even just 60 minutes of it after 63 hours of racing. Once we shook off the cobwebs it was out on foot for the end of day O. My brain was back in the game and Olof and I were able to nav the night points without major issue. Until we decided to go for the “high point” CP. We scrambled up this nutty ridge and scampered about, climbing everything that looked like a high point but evidently never was. Unfortunately we ran out of time before we found it, so we had to head back to TA to get out by the Start of Day 4.

I was lagging behind a bit on our way off the ridge and almost stumbled over a humungous porcupine, lumbering around in the dark. I had never seen one before, and I got really excited (since I’m wildlife guy). I ran ahead and caught the rest of my team and told them about the porcupine, and Olof (in his typical non-wildlife-guy way) said “we’re going to skip the porcupine” and ran off toward the TA. No further discussion, the Captain has spoken. Off to the TA we went.

Bike #246, at least it seemed – Grinding back to Casper

Race rules dictated that we must leave the TA on the Day 4 bike ride between 4am and 5am, and had to be back to Casper by noon. The ride was 75 miles, give or take… and we were just about to get out of TA at 5am. Mikael and I are the pacers on all bike legs, but since he hadn’t been feeling well I was worried about getting back to Casper on time (and about how much work it would be for me to pull the team 75 miles over what could possibly prove to be insanely wide open and windy terrain). Everyone kept telling me the ride couldn’t be that bad if race organizers figured everyone would be able to make it within 8 hours, but I was still concerned and yelled at anyone that got out of the paceline. The first 20 miles were very hilly and scenic, and the sunrise was spectacular. But I was busy calculating our progress and average speed so I barely noticed.

Eventually the road flattened out and the grind really began. Longest gravel road ever. But thankfully, Mikael was in great shape and helped tremendously. We even grouped up with a couple other teams and formed a big peloton, great for our pace and a morale boost!

Packrafting to the Finish – why are Olof and Whitney swimming?

We made it into Casper (in plenty of time, I can admit when my teammates were right) and grabbed our packrafts. We jogged 2 or 3 miles along the trail next to the river to the put-in. And I have to say that even though we could almost smell the finish line, this was my lowest point in the race. My legs were locking up and I could barely keep up a jog… it was misery. We arrived at the put-in after what seemed like an eternity, and inflated our rafts. In an interesting strategy decision, Olof opted not to tighten his air valve all the way. Let’s see how that works out!

Mikael and I crammed our two 6+ foot personages into our comically tiny raft and pushed off toward the first rapid. Mikael had never packrafted before but did an expert job of negotiating the drop successfully, so we slowed down to watch Olof and Whitney take their turn. In the 60 seconds between pushing off and arriving at the first rapid, their raft had apparently lost enough air to fold up in half on itself during the drop and eject them both into the freezing cold water. Funny to watch, probably less so to experience.

CT -- running to finish

After they collected their belongings and added air to their raft (fully sealing the valve this time!) they were back on the water and paddling like a boss. We all cleared the rest of the rapids without incident, and pulled out our boats for the run to the finish line. We were all smiles and shared a big group hug, before Olof went off somewhere to pass out and I began crushing BBQ like it was my job. Great post-race food, Rev3. Kudos!
It may very well have taken you all as much time to read this race report as it took us to experience it, and for that…. we apologize. But Rev3 truly packed a lot of adventure and memorable experiences into the Cowboy Tough race this year that we certainly were not at a lack of things to write about. Wyoming is an incredible place, with so much diversity in terrain and wildlife (we also saw coyotes and a momma moose with her baby!) that I can’t wait to go back to explore some more.

Thanks to my team who were awesome as always, to Denise Mast and NYARA (for the burgers AND the support), to Montbell for supplying outstanding gear for the race, to Rev3 and Cameco who crushed it with an amazing event overall, and to Governor Mead, Casper and Wyoming in general for supporting our sport. Huge thanks to the great photographers who captured the race — Randy Eriksen, Michael Sero and Johan Lundahl.

Race Report: Krista Griesacker

Team NYARA is proud of Eric and Ann Marie for a super strong performance at this year’s Krista Griesacker race. The race is put on by GOALS ARA and is typically a 12 hour Race. This year Team NYARA raced in the two person co-ed category and won it! Ann Marie gave us the following report. Enjoy!

Strategy and speed, or some combination of the two, is what will help your team win. It was an honor to race the GOALS Krista 12 hour race with Eric Caravella as Team NYARA this past Saturday. Although I had always been the navigator for my team for my past 10 years of racing, I was more than happy that Eric would be the navigator for this race so I could focus on trying to keep up with him – this was the dynamic that would work well for our team.

Monsoon rains came down just before the pre-race check-in on Friday night, setting up tents and getting gear ready was a soggy affair with the constant dripping of water through the trees, and the forecast was for scattered storms on race day, too. Of course we all know the race will go on regardless. The usual Hawk Mountain Civil Air Patrol base camp facilities were wonderful, and comfortably familiar. At check-in we get the map and start marking points, copying down from the maps hung on the walls. Eric immediately was focused and very detailed, really paying attention to the elevation of the points, putting together a list of question for the Race Directors to fine tune our race.

At the race meeting, Race Directors Brian Reiss and Derek Lawrence were clearly thrilled with the racecourse they had planned, and they set a fun and upbeat mood for the next day. Morning arrives, and Team NYARA totally missed the 6 am meeting, clueless, never heard the loudspeakers calling for us – fortunately we didn’t miss anything other than taking attendance. Then we hopped on the buses for an hour ride to the town of Tamaqua for the race start.

After a short prologue to spread out the teams, the race starts on bike, in a hidden gem of technical singletrack park that hosts some local Mt Bike races. There are no checkpoints in here, instead the course is marked with blue arrows and flagging, sending us up down and all around, full of alley-oops, and up and overs, some a little too dicey with wet roots and drops. Altogether very fun if you like Mt biking. Ultimately, the only checkpoint we were going for was M1 sitting atop the ridge. Once on the ridge, it looks like a 6k double track to the west, plus a road ride with serious elevation. Or, as we checked out when studying the map on Friday night, the other option was instead to bomb down to town and take the level road across the valley to TA1. The problem was that after following the marked course on the way up, I was turned around and unsure of the descent. Eric had a good feeling for it, and when Team REV3 went blowing by us on the downhill with the same plan, that locked in our decision to head back to town.


After cruising through the valley, we were the second team to arrive at TA1. TA1 sat in a saddle between 2 highpoints to the east and west. The next part of the race consisted of 2 optional foot sections, ‘A’ and ‘B’, each with 7 checkpoints, set up on those highpoints. When studying the map, Eric decided to start with ‘B’ as the terrain was more obvious. Eric takes off like the wind, I did my best in here, but my legs were burning on the endless uphill. Picture a mountain goat teamed with an old Galapagos tortoise. Once we reached the plateau, the navigation needs to kick in – we are looking for a minor saddle 1k west, and the saddle is so minor, and the ridge so broad, we were afraid of missing it. Fortunately, Eric nailed it right on, and we kept going. Eric’s pace counting was fabulous through the course of the race, of the 3 long stretches that he counted, the most he was off was by 5 steps. Yeah, just 5.

We collected 6 of the 7 CP’s in section B before we heard voices in the woods behind us, we tried to scurry up the next hill to stay hidden, but tortoises don’t scurry, and soon after we were caught by 3 teams, including GOALS. For the first time in my life, my hamstrings cramped and that pain just stopped me in my tracks. (My thanks to Val who shared some electrolyte tabs so I could keep moving). I was discouraged at this point because I knew Eric could be flying out ahead, but he was a fabulous teammate, he never gave up on me, and he picked some decent lines that I could follow. We grabbed the last CP and started the descent back down to the TA. We had to strategize here – do we try for anything on the ‘A’ side? Most other top teams were going for all or part of the ‘A’ loop, the phrase “staying competitive” was tossed around quite a bit. But it was a major hill climb to get up there, and my legs were already tired. And we were only halfway through the race – we still had the paddle on the river (if it had any water this year was still unknown), and a very long one direction trek to get back to the finish. We decided to skip ‘A’, go directly to the paddle, and concentrate on the Optional points on the long trek back, hoping that the clock would work against any team who took too long up there on loop ‘A’. Foreshadowing of things to come…

We arrived first at the paddle and were pleased to find enough water to float our boat, so off we went. With only 2 bodies in the boat, we did make it over most shallow spots, and finished the paddle in about 1 hour, way ahead of the 2 hours we planned for. Now I’m feeling guilty that perhaps I should have pushed the hill for the ‘A’ loop, but it’s too late now. Eric reset his altimeter, and we headed off for 3k on the road, then back into the woods we go. The 3 optional points in this section were tricky, set on vague state gameland boundaries and vegetation boundaries. F3 was set at post 20 on the vegetation boundary, and the elevation just wasn’t working. After looking around for a bit, we decided to skip it, go get F1, then come back at F3 from another angle. F1 was no picnic either, and as a navigator I would have walked away from this one, but Eric was determined and cool, and did I mention determined? And sure enough, battling though endless rhodo bushes, there it was.

We set out again for F3, and came back to the exact same spot we were before. Now we need to start widening our circle, something isn’t making sense. Ultimately we find the CP 65 feet higher than expected which causes Eric to question the elevation, the altimeter, and the map. But the good side of all the wandering around was we knew that the dotted line on the map indicating a trail was a lie, and on the trip to F1 and back we had also already found the re-entrant up to M8, so Eric was confident as we started the last hill climb. M9 was a beautiful vista off the AT, one of those uber awesome spots where you can see for miles and makes the race pause for a moment. Well, I paused and enjoyed the moment, Eric was checking the map and planning our descent. Off we went, scrambling down an endless major boulder field, Eric estimated 800 meters angling off southwest to hit the trail (it was actually 803 meters to step onto the trail, awesome!). We scrambled down this trail – more like a stream runoff – and popped out by the soybean field just short of home base. When we checked in at M11 around 5:30, they told us we were the first team out of the woods, which was another indication that for some teams that went for the ‘A’ loop, time was not going to be kind. When the Race Director seems relieved to finally see a team emerge from the woods, you know the cutoff time will become a determining factor in the results.

For Team NYARA to finish, we had one last bushwhack up and over. What we didn’t know was REV3 was right behind us, and instead of the bushwhack they decided to run the flat road around. As Eric and I skirted the active shooting range, heading downhill for the finish, we heard cheering up ahead as REV3 arrived first overall, AND clearing the course. Team NYARA came across the line as the 2nd team to finish, but short of points from the ‘A’ loop. Now it was wait and see who else could get in before the cutoff, and how many points they would carry.

Outside of the race clock, the Obstacle course was open for 1 additional bonus point, and it is just too much fun to miss! My teammate really stepped in to help get my sorry exhausted depleted body up the rope climb, and over the 6 foot wall, I had every good intention but I was so maxxed out I fell off the rope swing into the mud puddle, and I didn’t care one bit!

We found some food and chilled out, and waited. And waited. The clock ticked on. Where is everyone? In the end, only 10 teams that started the race made it in by cutoff. Our closest competition in C2 came in with 1 extra point, but too late, so they lost the point and tied our number. Team NYARA won with a faster time, 1st place in Co-ed 2 division, and 4th overall. Other teams missed points and/or the race cut-off because of the length and toughness of that last trek section, and spending too much time on the ‘A’ and ‘B’ loops early in the day. Strategically, we balanced out what my legs could handle with Eric’s sharp navigating, and it ended up to be a really good call. It was an honor to race with him, just to watch a good navigator navigate was cool, and he knew I was doing my best to keep up, and that I was determined to keep moving. And another of my favorite things is the time spent after the race reviewing the course with other teams, swapping stories and laughing. We agreed up front to have fun with the race, and we certainly did!

High fives to Aaron Courain and John Courain for taking 1st overall with an awesome showing, and to GOALS for winning the 3 person supreme divine category also clearing the course.


2014 Jersey Inferno Results!!


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


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

About the course:

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

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

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

About a bear…or two:

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

About the biking:

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

“Blazing Saddles is worth repeating every year!”

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


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


10 Questions with Jersey Inferno Race Director: Olof Hedberg


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

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

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!!

10 Questions with the Race Director of Hike-a-Thong


Are any of you doing Hike-a-Thong this weekend? Are you still thinking about it? Well, we asked Race Director, Denise Mast 10 questions that will give you more info about the race and hopefully convince you to do it!


1. Do you have to wear a thong?

You don’t have to wear a thong but you will be given one and we can hope that you carry it along with you in a show of thong solidarity. It makes a great neck gaiter or face muffler.

2. Considering the various polar vortices we have been subject to do you have any specific gear suggestions (i.e. poles, snowshoes, etc)?

Basically, dress in layers. Weather should be in the 30’s and there will be a good deal of hills along the way to keep your body temperature up. The trails are snow covered and it may be a good idea to wear Yak Trax or micro spikes. Unless it snows again before Sunday, snow shoes won’t be necessary. Everyone should also bring a working phone with them so they can call if they get lost.

3. Should racers carry food? how much?

Bring enough food/snacks/water for 6 hours whether you plan on being out that long or not. There are plenty of bail out options and shorter route choices so bring what you feel will be appropriate.

4. What about water?

Same as above

5. If I am the best hike-a-thonger out there what kind of prize can I expect?

The prize for the best hike-a-thonger will be something crazy valuable as evidenced by past NYARA prizes. It’s usually something that I find laying in the back of my truck.

6. Is this a good race for spectators?

Not at all. The Hike-A-Thong isn’t really a race as much as a fun hike/run. The participants will be out on various trails of their choice and spectators won’t be able to see them.

7. If I am new to hiking (and thong wearing) is this a good race for me?

Yes, again this isn’t so much of a race as it is a fun hike or run (depending on how fast or how far you want to travel).

8. Do I need strong orienteering skills for this race?

Nope – no orienteering skills will be needed as the hike/run will take place all on trails. Basic trail reading will be necessary. If you can follow trail blazes, you will be fine.

9. Is this a solo event or can I bring a teammate?

Of course. You can bring friends/family/the dog/whomever.

10. Do you have any last minute suggestions to make this race extra awesome?

Just come out and have fun. Again, no pressure to compete for time or prizes. Participants will have 6 hours total to hike around and be home in time for the big game.

Thanks Denise! For all of you who are still undecided, stop thinking and just register! Click here for details

NYARA Team Blog

Welcome to the Team NYARA blog. We hope this will be a place for new adventure racers (and veterans too!) to learn more about the sport, share ideas and keep up to date with the team.

We are very excited about the 2014 Team NYARA. We have a few new members added to a strong team of experienced and talented racers. Lets get to know everyone a bit better.

NYARA 2014 Team Roster (click on each name to read racer bio):

Amy Bartoletti
Ann Marie Hunt
Austin Planz
Brice Wilson
Bruce Swanson
Charlie Hunt
Chris Obara
Chris Rice
Eric Caravella
Jill McMillen
Jim Kerlin
Mikael Mattsson
Olof Hedberg
Rodney Villella
Sam Scaturro
Whitney Hedberg

Fun facts about Team NYARA:

  • Most Team NYARA racers have serious day jobs — from finance to engineering to working for the NJ State Parole Board
  • The youngest member is in his twenties and the oldest member is…well let’s say it starts with an “s”
  • 12 members of Team NYARA have been racer directors — so not only do they like to experience lots of pain, but also inflict it on others
  • While all linked to the tri-state area, Team NYARA racers call lots of places home from California to New Mexico to Sweden
  • Team NYARA racers all have backgrounds that include the Adventure Racing disciplines, but most don’t stop there. Team NYARA includes climbers, ski mountaineers, x-county skiers, ultra distance runners, scuba divers, road bikers, ice climbers and triathletes

The next major race for Team NYARA is the Mayan Mountain Challenge in Belize — stay posted for updates about prepping for this jungle-style expedition race.

We love feedback! So please follow our blog and leave us comments and questions.