We’re less than a week away from the Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race: Spring Edition! I’m just smiling thinking about how much smiling you’ll be doing on Saturday.

Water is an important part of spring. And you can’t go 100 yards in any direction in Millennium Park without hitting water it seems. So the theme of the race is… drum roll… water. Yes, you will be getting a little wet… perhaps a lot wet. We’ll see. Nothing crazy – we’ll save that for the 8-hour Summer Edition. But remember, every checkpoint is optional. No one is holding a squirt gun to your head.

Long update here since I’m merging the usual two updates into one for this race but please read in its entirety. The Race Information page has many other details so read that as well.

Early check-in, Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus: Friday, 4-8 pm, 1200 East Paris Ave, GR, 49546 (NOTE CHANGE IN LOCATION AND TIME).
We recommend early check-in Friday if you are in the area. Only one person per team needs to be there, and we’ll allow you to pick up bibs and shirts for your friends too. If you are picking up for several people, please bring a bag. We’re trying to reduce as much paper and bag use as possible.
Same-day check-in, Millennium Park (Open Shelter A, Park in Lot A): Saturday, 6:15 am to 7:00 am (bike corral is right at the start; just lay it on the grass)
Race briefing: 7:30 am to 8:00 am
Race start (NO waves):  8:30 am
Race cutoff: 12:30 pm. There is NO grace period this time. To avoid going over the cutoff and becoming an unranked team, be back by 12:20.
Lunch: Pizza (meat and veggie), fruit, cookies. Please bring your own drinking container to help reduce landfill waste.
Award ceremony and raffle: 1:00ish-1:45ish. And hang out as long as you like after.

The course will likely require 6-7 miles of running, 13-16 miles of biking and 2-2.5 miles of canoeing to get all of the checkpoints. Advanced points will be noted.

For those of you who are new to this gig, you’ll be getting maps about 30 minutes before the race. Part of the fun is that scramble to figure out where you want to go when. Despite getting you wet on this course, we are really nice guys down deep so we’re allowing you to print the Millennium Park Trails Map and reference it during the race. The map is not enough on its own to use, but combined with the satellite map, it should be helpful. Topographic maps of Millennium Park are completely useless as the entire park is considered “disturbed earth” – nothing looks like it did when the area was surveyed back in the 1970s.

It would be cool if a few of you sent an email to me thanking Roger Sabine, Kent County Parks Director, for allowing us to race at Millennium Park. Roger was the one who got this whole thing moving in 1998. I will consolidate the notes and send him one mass thank you. We will use parts of Millennium that no other race has ever used (or likely will ever use) so it was great to get Roger’s thumbs up.

Make sure you bring all the required gear. Some special notes below:

  • Hydration. EVERY PERSON must have 40 ounce fluid capacity on them at all times. That’s a safety/liability thing. You should be filling it up when you can. We’ll have water at the start/transition/finish and on the run section, but not on the bike. Stock up, especially based on the warm temps forecasted. It may be a 1 CP penalty if you both don’t have this. Get a hydration pack at Gazelle Sports.
  • Map case. Since you will be getting wet, your maps may get wet. Then you are screwed. So please get a map case from Bill & Paul’s or double up some zip lock baggies. And then seal your maps with contact paper or tape (clear packing tape works better than duct tape by the way…)
  • Bike: Knobby tires highly recommended for gravel and dirt paths. Don’t forget your helmet. Must have it to race. Get last minute bike gear at West Michigan Bike & Fitness or Ada Bike Shop.
  • $5: Many of you will be “saved” at one challenge by paying $5 for extra tries; all $5 bills go to support Healthy Lifestyles programs at Catherine’s Health Center.
  • Socks and shoes. If you don’t like wet feet, bring some extra socks in your hydration pack and have some extra shoes at the transition area. You’ll be going back there multiple times during the race and you are allowed to access your car. If wet shoes cause you serious feet issues, bring closed toe shoes (e.g., Keens, extra running shoes) in your pack for one challenge on the bike section.
  • Poison ivy blockers. I’ve been through almost every inch of Millennium Park and beyond and I’ve only gotten a few mild rashes this spring so it’s not everywhere but it is out there. You may want to wear long pants if you react poorly to it. Ivy Block is a product that may help. And this race is sponsored by Zanfel, the only product known to remove the poison ivy oil. We’ll be raffling off some.
  • Hang out gear. Camp chair, towel, frisbee, volleyball, bocce, basketball, fishing pole, you name it. We haven’t had a good hang out venue since we started so stick around for some fun. Note for your friends and family who may come to watch: the beach may or may not be open depending on the weather. Call ahead. The playgrounds near Open Shelter A are open all day.
  • Need some last minute gear or gels? Gazelle Sports is offering a $5 gift certificate to all racers. Just print it off and bring it in before or after the race.

We’re looking forward to seeing you on Friday and Saturday!

Mark, for Greg, Matt and Brian

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