Our 2014 Races

Please click here for our updated 2014 race calendar.

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Navigation 101 & Dirt Cheap Night Orienteering – Sept. 28

$15 for nighttime trekking and orienteering at Robinette’s orchards and woods. A really fun time! 100% thumbs up from past racers. Go to www.miadventureracing.com for details.

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Race Update – Sept 25

While hundreds of thousands experience basically the same obstacle and mud races from city to city across the U.S. this year, no one will experience anything quite like the ArtPrize Edition of the Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race. Except you!

Looking back at our five urban adventure races since last July, we don’t believe there’s a group of racers anywhere that can strike a better balance between having a fun time and helping others with racing your butts off on very challenging courses. We expect nothing different on Saturday.

This update highlights some important and/or new information as you prepare for the race. Please read through it as well as the entire Race Information page for additional details if you have not recently. We do not plan to send a second update.

“Yo. What up racers? I’ll be bitter if you don’t visit me by the end.”

We welcome a great group of sponsors: The North Face, Gazelle Sports, West Michigan Bike & Fitness, Central District Cyclery, Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus, 8thDay Gym, Health Motion Physical Therapy Services, Grand Rapids Boot Camp and Fitness, Body by Vi, Downtown Alliance, Founders Brewery, and Zanfel. Thank you all. Some sponsors will provide offers after the race. Pre-race offers are:

We also want to acknowledge some awesome ArtPrize curators and venues. Almost every one of them agreed to open just for us at 8:30 am instead of noon Saturday. I think that says a lot about our community, ArtPrize and how the race is viewed as part of the ArtPrize experience. We really wanted to share those venues with you but we are honoring their wishes to remain anonymous for now…

Early check-in: Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus, 1200 E. Paris, between Burton and Cascade. 4-8 pm. It saves you a little time and stress if there are lines in the morning. Free Red Bull and 10% off  hydration, compass, headlamp, and barefoot footwear products. If you live far from Bill and Paul’s, no worries. Check-in shouldn’t take long in the morning.

Find your team number on the sheets we’ll provide to help us be efficient with check-in. Please feel free to pick up shirts and bibs for your friends. Bring a bag with you to carry everything. You do not need to bring an order confirmation/ticket from EventBrite.

Same-day check-in and bike drop, north side of Ah-Nab-Awen Park: Saturday from 6:30-7:20 am
Race briefing: 7:30 to 8:00 am
Plan your route, final prep: 8:00 to 8:25 am
Race start: 8:30 am (NOTICE CHANGE FROM 8:00 AM back in August)
Race cutoff: 12:30 pm
Lunch: 12:00-1:15 pm
Award ceremony and raffle: 1:00 or 1:15 pm is the target

Parking, Bike Corral. Here’s the “race central” map.  The Scribner Lot under US-131 is the perfect place to park – the bike corral is right across the street. Note that Scribner is one way (south to north). Get in the LEFT/west lane to access the lot. Please do not try to park in the bike corral lot on the east side of Scribner. That parking is for volunteers and sponsors only. See the Race Info page for details.

Restrooms. Portajohns are located at the bike corral. Because the park has restrooms about 150 yards south of us, we ordered two fewer portajohns than normal. Consider doing your warm-up jog down to the restrooms if there are lines.

You can access your car when you transition from one section to the other or anytime during race. You may also leave running/biking gear at the corral. We will watch the corral throughout the race.

Review the Required Gear list one more time. You may be penalized for missing items. Some key items are:

  • You NO longer have to bring eye protection. I bought enough for everyone to share during a challenge; that will eliminate confusion over what is acceptable. You can still bring your own if you wish and wrap-around bike lenses are fine. Don’t worry, you won’t be using a soldering torch or anything crazy.
  • Pants and a water-resistant jacket: Please throw in the car. We’ll only have you pack if we get an unexpected cold rain. We hate unnecessarily heavy packs too.
  • Hydration: Each person needs 40+ oz. on the bike and on foot. Two aid stations on the course plus at the park. Bring cash or a credit card as a backup.
  • $5 for a charity challenge to support Hunt for a Cure, an organization that raises funds for the fight against cystic fibrosis. I’m sure they’d love it if you would donate the $5 even if you don’t need it to conquer the challenge, as many of you do each time.
  • The passport is on waterproof paper. If you tend to lose things: 1. Reinforce the corner with duct tape, make a hole fairly deep into passport corner with a paper punch, loop a thin, strong rope and tie to hydration pack. 2. Include your cell phone number on the passport.

After Friday at 6 pm, we ask that you do not visit any ArtPrize venues.

During race
The bike section can be completed in about 17 miles. The singletrack mountain biking is not long but it’s steep and rugged and not appropriate for road bikes or inexperienced mountain bikers. You MAY run this section, but only if you follow the entire singletrack course, run in the same direction as bikers, and stay to the far side of the trail. Do not run against bike traffic and do not take short-cuts.

Biking in traffic while looking at a map is a high-risk activity. Please come with a frame of mind that safety is more important than shaving a minute or two off by racing at a reckless speed and ignoring traffic lights and laws. Usually you’ll fly right by a flag anyway so it will just have the opposite effect. If your teammate didn’t show you the waiver, he or she signed it for you so holler if you need a copy. Watch for pedestrians.

Should you bring a bike lock? Your call. There will be a few occasions on the bike where you and your teammate will need to go inside an ArtPrize venue for a few minutes. Make sure your bike is pulled well off the trail/road and away from parking spaces.

The on-foot section is 5-6 miles. Last year, many people chose to do the on-foot section before ArtPrize opens, but keep in mind that lines will be longer at the on-foot challenges as a result. Ideally, we’ll have about half of you choosing each section to start with.

The maps fit onto a single sheet of 11×17, front and back, in case that helps you select a map case if you own multiple sizes (I have a map case fetish). Due to vandalism, we do not have an orienteering section so no topo maps (snfff, snfff). Some CPs will require bushwhacking but the maps won’t help you with terrain. You will need to use other features on the map and good eyesight to pinpoint the flag.

I did not see any poison ivy on the course.

We’ll have Peppino’s pizza (mix of veggie and meat toppings) and fruit. Pizza is five times less expensive than a sandwich lunch so those who don’t want pizza can bring their lunch in a cooler. Please bring a water bottle for Gatorade or water to reduce waste. You can bring your own beverage if you desire.

There are many things for family and friends to do around the start/finish while they wait for you! At 8:00, they can take a map and clue sheet and follow you around, as long as they don’t help! We won’t have pizza for them, but they can bring lunch and eat with you. We have a photographer, but we always love to get more photos. If your friend is a photographer, we’ll give you (and them) a discount on a future race if they provide photos that we use in the future. Email mark@miadventureracing.com before the race.

Looks like we will finally race at a “normal” temperature (50s and 60s) after experience temps under zero or over 90 for all of our past races. Keep in mind that the temperature at the start will likely be in the 40s however.

We’re looking forward to seeing you Saturday!

Mark, for Greg, Matt and Brian

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Registration Now Open – ArtPrize and Zombie

ArtPrize Adventure Race and Zombie Dash Registration Now Open!

~Experience the only adventure race on the planet that throws you in the middle of a world-class art festival and makes you engage in its art while you run, bike, climb, and search for hidden flags.
~Experience the only running race in the world that throws you in the middle of hundreds of zombies, at night and in an urban, post-apocalyptic environment.

Early bird rates now in affect so no dilly-dallying, dawdling or deliberating.

Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race: ArtPrize Edition
September 29, 2012
Ah-Nab-Awen Park, downtown GR

  • Our 2nd annual ArtPrize-themed race features Amazing Race/Minute to Win It-like challenges, road and mountain biking, running and searching for flags among ArtPrize venues and a fun rope descent down a monster hill (in the works)
  • 98%+ thumbs up rating among 500+ survey respondents
  • Length: 4 hours
  • Cost: $59 per person ($118 per team) early bird rate.
  • At $15 per hour including tech shirt and lunch, it’s one of the least expensive events of its caliber in Michigan
  • Register here.

The Zombie Dash
October 27, 2012
(Halloween weekend)
Ah-Nab-Awen Park, downtown GR

  • Our second wild 5K run as darkness approaches and hundreds of zombies come out of hiding. Keep your flag football flags on to avoid time penalties. Rule #1: Cardio.
  • Plans call for you to run through a post-apocalyptic street scene with buses, cars and trash strewn all over the road. Beautiful riverwalk course (except for the trashed road)
  • Time: 6:30-7:00 PM start times in five-minute waves
  • Cost: $35 early bird rate, includes long sleeve tech shirt
  • Stay for WGRD’s free Halloween Hellraiser concert at the park scheduled for 8:00 pm
  • Register here

Can’t get enough?  Registration will open soon for Zombie Dashes in these locations:

  • October 20     University of Michigan Flint Campus
  • November 10  Kalamazoo (likely at Asylum Lake)

Other Recommended Races
Kids Adventure Challenge presented by Gazelle Sports

The Pink Arrow Quiver 5K Run and Family Walk

  • Tuesday, September 4, 2012
  • Downtown Lowell, MI
  • All monies go to Gilda’s Club in Lowell, which provides financial assistance for families battling cancer
  • www.pinkarrowpride.org
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Race News – June 1, 2012

Hello Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race, Hurt the Dirt and Zombie Dash racers,

Many of you will never compete in the same race this year but you all share a love for challenging yourselves physcially (and mentally in the adventure races) in the outdoors and that’s an awesome thing. Michigan Adventure Racing is grateful for the opportunity to challenge all of you in new, adrenaline-fueled ways, but the real story is about the incredible growth in locally grown, trail-oriented races and racers, one of the largest groups in the nation. Please read on to learn what we have to offer in June, July and beyond.

Hurt the Dirt
June 16, Seidman Park, Ada (just east of Grand Rapids)
If you haven’t heard about our Hurt the Dirt trail race, check out www.HurtTheDirt.com. Trail racing provides a refreshing, one-of-a-kind mix of adrenaline and serenity like no road race can offer.

  • First trail race ever at awesome Seidman Park
  • Distances: 5k, 10k and half marathon; free 1-mile kids race
  • $4,000 in prizes and raffle.
  • Fewer than 40 slots remain

Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race: Summer Edition 
July 14, Riverside Park, just north of downtown Grand Rapids.
Register at www.grUrbanAdventureRace.com. Two great options to choose from:

  • 4-hour: We aim to make it easier than the Spring Edition with downtown racing, less running, an easier course, but still some challenging orienteering and fun canoeing on the Grand River.
  • 8-hour. This epic adventure will challenge racers even more than the spring race with lots of biking (including singletrack), awesome canoeing, and another run-in or two with a swamp (not so deep, but we keep looking).
  • Look for an adventure racing 101 clinic (focused on navigation/orienteering) to help you get ready, likely on Saturday, July 7, at Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery. 10 am is the tentative time. RSVP to mark@miadventureracing.com.

Recap: Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race: Spring Edition
Congrats to all the finishers who conquered a swamp crossing, canoeing, and the toughest race to date.

  • Special props to Brian and Kristin VanderArk who were the only team to complete all checkpoints and to the other division winners: father-son team of Ben and Zach Horn and two-person female winners Annie Mabry and Laura Howell.
  • Survey results are in. We’ll use these to make future races better so check out how racers felt about the race. Overall, we’re excited to find out that of the 70 surveyed, 55 rated the race as very good, 14 rated it good and 1 rated it average (no poor or very poor ratings) for a thumbs up percentage of 99%. Thanks for loving our races! Some common responses we will review and potentially address are located on the Results page. Overall though you had really positive things to say and we appreciate that.
  • Photos. Photos are ready! Click on View all Photos or try entering your bib number. Michael Smith and Dan Telander are in the process of tagging each photo with your bib number, so you have instant access to your photos.

Recap: The Zombie Dash
Robinette’s orchards was the scene of the largest nighttime zombie race in the world (to our knowledge) with over 600 racers and 200 zombies meeting in darkness. It was a bloody good time. Congrats to Elysa Cole and Wayne Perrin (and friend Nicholas VanderArk) for taking the top spots. The October 27 race planning is well under way. Much more on this in June.

Down the Road/Trail
See our race calendar at www.MiAdventureRacing.com for what’s in store. Dates are tentative.

Thanks to our sponsors for helping make this happen: Gazelle Sports, Patagonia Footwear, Bill & Paul’s SportHaus, 8th Day Gym, West Michigan Bike & Fitness, Ada Bike Shop, Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery, New Balance, Swiftwick, and Zanfel.

And thank you for being the best racing community in the U.S.

Mark, for Brian, Greg and Matt

Michigan Adventure Racing

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April 9, 2012 eNewsletter: Summer Edition registration opens

Thanks to you, we believe West Michigan now has had more adventure races (our four and at least two others) and racers (over 2,000) since our first GR Urban Adventure Race last July than any city in the nation! Once the Spring Edition is complete, we’ll have one full year of races in the bag, one per season. Is that too many? 2012 is our year to find out. Smaller numbers per race isn’t a bad thing as long as the sport is growing overall.

We’re already working on 2013. The lakeshore and/or Rockford are possible race spots in addition to winter and ArtPrize races. The Virgin Islands could be on the list as well next winter if one of you owns a plane… At least we all can dream, right?

Summer Edition – registration now open
The Summer Edition brings the race back to the downtown area.Riverside Park Here’s what’s in store for you:

  • Start at Riverside Park north of downtown GR with several stops downtown.
  • Some fun orienteering, canoeing on the Grand River (far north of the dams of course!), Survivor/Amazing Race-like challenges, biking and running too.
  • $30 canoe rental waived. Because you won’t all be canoeing at the same time, we can order fewer canoes. On the house.
  • Same great $59 rate for early birders. Sign up here.

We are considering a six-hour option for the Summer Edition for those who want to push themselves a little further. This course would visit the same checkpoints as the four-hour race with a two-hour addition that would extend the canoeing significantly as well as add some biking and possibly running. We will only offer this if there is demand. If you are interested, please indicate so in this one-question survey.

Spring Edition – easy canoeing, more orienteering
Plenty of time to get in on the Spring Edition race at Millennium Park. Why this race may be the best one yet:

  • Millennium ParkA nice blend of wilderness and path-based racing just five minutes from downtown GR.
  • Smaller field will mean more finding checkpoints on your own and likely few to no lines at challenges.
  • First time to canoe in a GRUAR race. If you are new to canoeing, no worries; it will be a short, flat-water leg. We believe your marriage or friendship will stay intact. Again, the $30 canoe rental is waived. $65 per person entry fee.
  • Helpful clinics: Information on our May 3 paddling clinic and May 6 orienteering clinic can be found here: www.grUrbanAdventureRace.com

Hurt the Dirt – $3,000 in prizes
Check out the Hurt the Dirt trail races. Racing on trails takes running to the next level. Here are some highlights:

  • First trail race ever at Seidman Park, a top running trail in West Michigan.Seidman Park
  • New sponsors this month: The North Face and Patagonia Footwear join New Balance, Gazelle Sports, and more.
  • Prize/raffle package approaching $3,000; odds of winning some sweet gear and gift certificates is really good.
  • 5k, 10k, half marathon. www.HurtTheDirt.com

The Zombie Dash – April 28 at Robinette’s
The most anticipated event of 2012 according to GRNow.com readers. Look for a separate Racer Update soon if you are registered or go to The Zombie Dash to learn more.

Trail building volunteers needed
The soon-to-be Merrell Trail on 10 Mile in Rockford is expected to be one of the best running and biking trails in West Michigan. Can you offer a few hours to help create it? No trail building skills needed. The West Michigan Mountain Biking Association will provide instruction. Details here.

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Michigan Adventure Racing to sponsor Banff Mountain Film Festival

The Banff Mountain Film Festival takes place in Banff, Canada each fall, and the Banff Centre then sends the best films to locations around the world. The films highlight climbing, mountain biking, mountain expeditions, as well as other outdoor adventure, as well as remote cultures and the world’s last great wild places. The festival has all of the adrenaline of X-Games fused with the exploration and education of National Geographic.

The tour stop at Calvin College on Monday, April 9 will go from 7-10pm and includes 6 to 8 films. During intermission the tour sponsors, such as The North Face, Parks Canada, Outdoor Research, Clif Bar, etc., give away gear and gift certificates, and local sponsors such as Gazelle Sports and Michigan Adventure Racing/Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race will give away gift certificates as well. Ticket prices are $8 for all students K-Graduate School, and $12 general admission. Proceeds will support Grand Rapids Whitewater and environmental field study for Calvin students.

Drop by our booth, learn about our seven remaining adventure and trail races, and say hi!

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TIP: know where you are to get to where you want to go

You can’t get to where you want to go if you don’t know where you are. No other skill is more important in adventure racing than navigation. And the most important rule in navigation and orienteering (navigation on a “micro” level with a compass and map) is to always know your current position on the map. If you are the navigator for the team, rely on your teammate(s) to scan for the control marker (flag). You should be matching up trails, man-mad features, and terrain all around you to topographic features on the map. Keep your finger on the map and move it along as you move along. Verbalize to your teammate what they should be seeing as you approach the feature so you both can confirm you are in the right spot. Pause if the features don’t match the map and re-assess your position. Maybe you just haven’t gotten to the feature. Or maybe you need to backtrack. Don’t wait to long to re-evaluate or you could lose a lot of time getting un-lost.

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Wall Street Journal: “Adventure racing is the fastest growing outdoor activity among Americans”

… according to a 2010 study by the Outdoor Foundation, with more than one million participants in 2009, an 18% increase from 2008. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704071704576276914097802174.html

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Training tips: The 6 “S”s

Some of you have asked for tips on training for the race (we’ll cover during-the-race tips in another post). Here are some things I’ve learned – often the hard way - from years of adventure racing. I try to remember these training tips as a series of “S”s.

Set a goal. Are you using the race to motivate yourself to exercise and just hope to finish? Or, will you push yourself to the limit and/or aim to place near the top? Either way, motivation can really help get you out the door when you’ve tired or the weather isn’t the greatest. Tailor your training to your desired outcome.

Stamina. Put in some mileage on the bike and running at a moderate pace. A no-brainer. The miles will vary based on your commitment but, at the very least, get your muscles used to activity and break in your shoes, saddle muscles, and bike. When possible, run on a dirt trail to reduce wear and tear on your body. Serious competitors will run, then bike and then climb some hills to mimic the race. This is known as a “brick.”

Speed. Racers who compete at high levels will integrate speed workouts into their training regimen. Increase your speed for a short period to elevate the heart rate, back down for a longer period and repeat. Google “interval training” and “fartlek,” an informal version of intervals developed by the Swedes, for more tips.

Skills. Look at each skill described in the race and mimic it in some of your workouts. For example, we’ll have you going up some stairs in the race so it would be good to do a few stairclimbs. Fortunately we don’t have a Burj Khalifa in Dubai at 163 stories! Hopping curbs, changing tires, and biking alongside traffic are other activities to get comfortable with.

Strategy and navigation. Poor navigation will cost a team more time than anything else. If you are not a map reader, make sure your teammate is! Practice by walking around downtown with a map, orienting yourself to the map and surrounding landmarks. Get familiar with a compass if necessary. Strategy, such as route selection and time management, is harder to train for but the more you can learn and research (Google: adventure racing tips), the more prepared you will be.

State of mind. Mental fortitude is the most underrated asset, especially in 12-hour, 24-hour, and longer adventure races. In those races, navigation and mental toughness are far more important than speed. During your workouts, challenge yourself to overcome an obstacle and develop confidence. Train with your teammate some of the time and learn how best to encourage each other and resolve indecision and conflict. Learn to accept and eventually enjoy “the burn.” I’ve conditioned myself to love nasty, long races. Those are the most satisfying to complete so I’ve learned to enjoy every bog crossing, mud pit, stinky swamp, sandy dune, and cold river crossing. None of those in the urban race fortunately!

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