July 11 update – pre-race information
There are few, if any, races in the world that require you to use brain power, speed and endurance in equal measure, especially non-stop for four hours. Congrats on taking on such a challenge.
This is a long racer update but should ensure you are well prepared for the race. See the Race Information page for additional details.
Early check-in: Gazelle Sports. 4-8 pm. It saves you a little time and stress if there are lines in the morning. Free Red Bull and Accel Gel too. Don’t make a special trip if you live far from Gazelle. You do not need to bring an order confirmation/ticket from EventBrite.
We may require you to look up your team number (which I still need to organize) at both check-ins.
Same-day check-in, canoe drop-off, both at Fifth Third Ballpark: Saturday from 5:15-5:45 am
Race briefing: 5:50-6:15 am
Plan your route, final prep: 6:15-6:25 am
Race start (all teams): 6:30 am
Race cut-off: 2:30 pm
Lunch: 2:00-3:00 pm
Award ceremony: 2:45?
Same-day check-in, Fifth Third Ballpark: Saturday from 6:15-6:55 am
Race briefing: 7:00 to 7:30
Plan your route, final prep: 7:30 to 7:55 am
Race start (all teams): 8:00 am
Race cutoff: 12:00 pm
Lunch: 11:30 am until…
Award ceremony and raffle: 12:45 pm
Access the ballpark via the main entrance next to AJ’s fun park. Follow the cones around and park in the main lot behind the outfield. Keep your bike on your car when you arrive (no bike numbers needed). Everyone except those who choose to start with the challenge inside the ballpark will be starting on bikes from the parking lot. Check in or hang out in the right field Pioneer Deck. Restrooms , water and Gatorade are available.
You will very likely not pass through Fifth Third Ballpark during the race so pack anything you want with you.
Hydration: Saturday will likely mark five GRUAR races in a row where the temperature has been either below zero (February 2012) or above 90 at some point in the race. Extreme racing! Good thing you are a bunch of badasses. Nonetheless, PLEASE bring plenty of capacity for fluids. We highly recommend that you max your hydration pack and water bottles at the start and at least once during the race, more for the 8-hour race of course. You EACH need 40 ounces capacity (60 ounces each for 8-hour teams) but that’s certainly not enough for long. You may think the weight will slow you down but what really slows you down is dehydration and having to constantly fill up. We will have two aid stations on the course and there is water at most City parks (drinking fountains).
Convenience stores are on the course so don’t forget your required $5 for food/water. Consider bringing $15: $10 for fluids/food and $5 for the charity challenge.
Review the Required Gear list one more time. We will subtract a checkpoint if you are missing the item we ask for you on the course. We added scratch paper so throw in a sheet for some multivariable calculus story problems. Kidding. You will NOT need pants or a water-resistant jacket.
Once Friday evening check-in is done, we ask that you do not visit any areas along the Grand River or anywhere close to it (Founders Brewery being the exception). You should be getting some sleep, eh? Anyone found scouting the course during the night or just prior to the race will receive a 33 checkpoint penalty. Ouch.
Both races are on the long side. They are not very difficult, but there’s a lot to get through. The vast majority of racers over the past year have urged us to keep the race this way so that almost everyone has to make strategic decisions about what to do when and how to squeeze in that last checkpoint before heading back. Four-hour racers: we will note which checkpoints and sections are advanced. You may wish to leave these last. We don’t want you to miss out on what is traditionally the “fun” sections for less experienced racers.
The four-hour race will have very little mud or bushwhacking. Although long, it will be a very fast and furious course. If you are using a road bike, we highly recommend wider, knobbier tires. At least four miles of biking will be on dirt, with some patches of sand and mud if we get any rain. Yeah, right.
Eight-hour racers should be prepared for plenty of bushwhacking (e.g., this photo shows a massive field of cattails with a flag somewhere in the middle. No worries – there’s a clue here in the photo and race instructions that will help a lot). Make sure you know how to remove and re-attach your front tire as your bikes are going in the canoe (to avoid an eight mile run back to the canoe start!). Bring a couple of bungee cords or straps to attach your bikes to the canoe in case you tip over (odds are very slim and the river is shallow in most places, but better to be safe than sorry).
Most maps are 1:24,000 scale topo maps (1 cm = 240 meters). The downtown map is a street map (1 inch = 1/8 mile). All maps are 11×17, front and back. Keep in mind that maps were created in the 1970s so not everything is there. I did my best to add streets (and ballpark) that have been built since then.
Mom speaking: 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 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.
If you are extra-sensitive to poison ivy, you may want to wear long socks or pants and/or put on Ivy Block (Amazon.com). Some wild areas have lots of deer flies too. They don’t seem to bite, but you may want to put on some bug spray if they irritate you.
Should you bring a lock for your bike when you are off hunting flags? If you sleep with your bike or the value is greater than that of your car, I would say yes. For everyone else, I think the risk is pretty low but we will never say “no” to that question. I would suggest you pull it several feet off the trail and even into the woods if you have concerns. Most of the time, the hunt for a flag will take under five minutes.
We’ll have Peppino’s pizza (mix of veggie and meat toppings) and fruit from Kingma’s. Pizza is five times less expensive than a sandwich lunch. Those who don’t want pizza can run over to the nearby Subway and bring it back. Please bring a water bottle for Gatorade or water to reduce waste.
There’s a small kids playground next to our deck. Family and friends can bring lunch and eat with you. They can also take a copy of the maps and follow you around, as long as they don’t help!
- Worried about losing your passport? That would suck. 1. You may want to bring a paper punch and make a hole fairly deep into passport corner, loop a thin, strong rope and tie to hydration pack. 2. Include your cell phone number on the passport.
- Biking through City Parks on bike trails is permitted, but at a safe speed. Volunteers are allowed to assess checkpoint penalties for excessive speed. Use the road if speed is critical.
- Canoe tips: see http://www.facebook.com/grUrbanAdventureRace
- Orienteering/navigation tips: see http://grurbanadventurerace.com/learntorace. We would like to have more land so that using a compass is necessary, but there isn’t much near downtown so practicing using this presentation should get you by for most checkpoints.
We’re looking forward to seeing you Saturday. Bring plenty of sports drink, agree as a team to fill up often when you have a chance, and avoid high-velocity interactions with cars and trucks. Bike with confidence, not recklessness.
Mom, for the other moms.
June 21 update – Fifth Third Park is new venue, canoe leg details
Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race
July 14, 2012
Fifth Third Ballpark
The Amazing Race often starts or finishes at some professional sports team’s arena. Racers in the Summer Edition of the Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race will get a taste of that now that we’ve moving: from Riverside Park across the river to Fifth Third Ballpark.
We’ve been on the wait list since February and when July 14 opened up this week, we grabbed it, thanks in part to sponsorship dollars provided by gold sponsors The North Face and Gazelle Sports.
No more portajohns, goose goo or lack of shelter and water. Things won’t be quite so luxurious on the course but we think both races are fair. A nice mix of easy and challenging orienteering/navigating, fast bike trails, our cool downtown, Amazing Race challenges, and a paddle down the Grand. And you can call it a day at any point if you’ve had enough. Ask anyone whose done it: it goes by a lot faster than you think. Details on the race information page or register here for a fraction of the cost per hour of a national/chain race.
Canoe vs. No Canoe
For those of you already registered for the 4-hour course, we surveyed you on the option of a canoe leg with a 2-mile return run or scrap the canoe leg (our plan to use the Riverside ponds and Grand River in a loop “dried up” quite literally this month; the exit to the Grand is gone and the ponds are nastified). The majority voted to keep the canoe leg. We were leaning that way as well so we are keeping the canoes. How can we have a race along with Grand River without utilizing such a great resource? By the way, the Grand River is much cleaner than commonly perceived based on a 99.5% reduction in sewer overflow since the late 1980s. So here’s how we are going to improve the canoe leg:
When 4-hour racers finish their canoe leg, they will likely receive a map of hidden checkpoints (CPs) to get on the way back to the start of the canoe where their bikes will be. This will break up the run, add more value to the canoe leg, and keep bikers from being able to get these CPs since the points will not be on the maps received in the pre-race meeting. We think we have the best of both worlds with this solution.
We like to keep lots of things secret in this race – it’s part of the adventure – but we do want to thank the Grand Rapids Rowing Association for allowing us to use their docks/river access for the start of the canoe leg, just south of Fifth Third Ballpark. So we’ll give you that. In return, please support their very special campaign called Eights For Hope. In association with their 25th annual Grand Regatta – taking place this Saturday, June 23 at Riverside Park – the GRRA is looking to raise a total of $5,000 to support the cancer research efforts of the Van Andel Institute. Please check out this worthy cause at www.eightsforhope.org!
Hope to see you on July 14 at Fifth Third Ball Park (or at our adventure racing/orienteering clinic on July 7).
April 18 update – 8-hour race option announced
We’re excited to announce the addition of an 8-hour version of the Grand Rapids Urban Adventure Race: Summer Edition on July 14 with start/finish at Riverside Park. Registration is now open. 60% of those responding to our survey chose the 8-hour race over a 6-hour version.
What about the 40% of us who voted for the 6-hour version?
- The 8-hour race will be designed to be completed by the top teams in 6-7 hours.
- Primary difference between a 4- or 6-hour race and the 8-hour race:
-Longer bike and canoe legs (usually easier than making the run section longer)
-You will get dirtier (rather than “artificial” mud pits common in many races these days, this will be the real deal)
Will you have clinics to help us get ready?
- Yes. an orienteering clinic for all racers and we’ll help 8-hour teams learn how to properly load and strap your bikes into a canoe either by clinic or email. I’ve never had a canoe end up at the bottom of a river, but better to be safe than sorry.
Will the 4-hour and 8-hour races share some of the same course?
- Yes, the 8-hour teams will complete the full 4-hour course as part of their race.
- They will start the race 1.5 hours before the 4-hour teams and will have the advanced portion of the course all to themselves.
- The 4-hour race will be a lot of fun if you prefer to stick with that.
Where can I find out more? What is the cost?
- More details on the Race Information and Registration pages.
- $85 early bird per person if you bring canoe
- $99 early bird per person if you rent a canoe (not $110 as previously stated)
- Very few early bird slots available so jump on it if you know you want the 8-hour
How will prizes work?
- Top finishing teams from previous races should strongly consider 8-hour race so that other teams will have a crack at the 4-hour honors and prizes
- If you stay with the 4-hour race and won a top 3 prize at two or more previous races, we’ll likely allow other teams that placed below you to get first crack at choosing a top prize. You get what’s left. That might feel a little socialistic, but you have the opportunity to work your arse off like a good capitalist to earn those 8-hour top prizes.
We will need additional volunteers at the advanced sections to make this race happen. Will you help us recruit a few? Please have them email email@example.com.
We want to acknowledge the great 6-hour races GRAAR has and continues to put on in the area and the 10-24 hour events Infiterra Sports offers outside of West Michigan. We’re really excited to hopefully fill a gap by offering 8-hour and longer adventure races in West Michigan while continuing to put on short races to draw more newbies into the sport that generates the greatest combination of smarts, smells and smiles on the planet.
Finally, one interesting note… Red Bull just asked if they could provide energy drinks at our teeny little races. Sweet! I guess we better start offering 24-hour races when you’ll really need some pep in your step!
Mark, for Greg, Matt and Brian