The Adventure approaches...

About a year ago, this guy I barely knew from the internet posted a note on Daily Mile saying that his team would be competing in the Berryman Adventure 36-hour race and that we could follow their progress online and send them encouragement during the race.  I didn't even know what adventure racing was, but I logged on during race day to check out how his team was doing.  In addition to a leaderboard, the website also had this awesome board where you could post comments, shout-outs, encouragement, or taunting to team members.  People also posted some questions about where "their" team was in the course.  Occasionally, pictures from the day were added to the board.

I. Was. Hooked.  I spent the day with the website up on the computer, checking back every time I heard the little clicking noise that signalled a new message.  We left the house, and I wondered how Patrick's team was doing.  The weather was beautiful, and I thought how nice it was that they had such great weather.  As dusk fell, it started to rain and get cold, and I thought about them out there in the rain.  I went to bed, woke up, and they were still racing.  My husband totally didn't get it.  Why did I keep looking at the computer to check on this person I'd met once? 

And, yeah, I wanted Patrick to do well, but it wasn't even about his was about the race.  It just grabbed me.  It was pretty much the coolest thing I'd ever seen.  Within days, I had emailed my brother: we have to do this.  And, because he rocks, he agreed.

"What is adventure racing? ...adventure racing is a team-based multisport event where teams travel through unknown terrain collecting a series of checkpoints (CPs) along the way. Teams use only a map and compass to guide them through the course, and must remain together for the duration of the race. Core disciplines include cross-county running, mountain biking and paddling. Adventure races can also include rope work, caving, white water rafting, scootering, swimming, rock climbing and a variety of mystery events." (from

While I had done some trail running, I could barely use a compass or topographical map, and my one mountain biking experience had led directly to surgery.  I had my work cut out for me before the race.

I had been saving up for a road bike, but once the adventure racing bug bit me, I put aside the road bike plans and started working towards a mountain bike.  It took me until Christmas to get it. And then I had to actually learn how to ride it.  I mean, I know how to ride a bike, but riding trails is a whole different thing.  Especially if you're somebody like me who's timid and scared of everything.  It's been a steep learning curve, but I've definitely improved.
Photo credit: Suzanne Renner
One of my Christmas presents was a book on orienteering.  I read it cover to cover.  Twice.  I took a class on basic orienteering (where I felt more lost after than before).  I non-raced with a map tutor.  My husband and I have done two orienteering meets.  A friend went over plotting UTM points with me.  I will still be leaning on my brother's (hopefully considerably greater) map and compass skills.

Photo credit: Luke Lamb

I've read countless adventure race reports, most of them more than once, and been lucky to find people with adventure racing experience who are willing to share.  I got to spend a day at an adventure non-race and find out first-hand how demanding and exhausting it can be (though at least this time my race won't follow a 21-mile run!).  And I've gotten progressively more excited as the months have passed and the race has gotten closer.  And now it's in 4 days. 

4 days.

So what's this Berryman race you've been talking about?

My brother and I are competing on the 12-Hour Course:
"12-Hour racers will have a challenging course as well and should take this race very seriously! You will need to come well-trained and well-prepared if you want to complete this race. Racers will enjoy racing in deep backwoods forests and will be on miles of fantastic singletrack! You can expect to paddle some of the clearest streams in the country. Racers should come prepared to complete 20 - 35 miles of mountain biking (on gravel roads, jeep roads and single track), 7 - 15 miles of running, trekking and bushwhacking and 5 - 15 miles of paddling. Only about 1% of this race will take place on pavement. The entire course will be navigation based, and teams should be very proficient with using a map and compass in order to find their way through the course. Expected winning time will be around 7 hours."
Expected time for us will be significantly more.  We won't be doing much if any running due to the fact that Jim is dealing with two ruptured discs.  Chances are, though, that if we were running, it would be in the wrong direction.  This race is a Learning Experience.  And once I get finished with my normal pre-race freak out (What the HELL am I getting myself into??), I know it'll also be a blast.  Between nerves and sheer excitement, if I make it to the start line without peeing my pants, it'll be a miracle.

I was hoping to share a link with you so that you could log on during my race, cheer me on virtually, and possibly drink some of the adventure racing kool-aid yourselves, but the interactive site will apparently only be tracking the 36-hour racers.  I'd still encourage you to check it out, and if you feel like cheering for a team, my friend Luke and his brother Casey are competing as Team Virtus, my friend Chuck and his friend Megan are competing as ROCK Racing, and my friend Patrick (who gave me the ticket for this crazy train) will be competing with Team POW/MIA.  And who knows, maybe I'll be in their ranks next year.

Photo credit: Luke Lamb

That is, if we make it out of the woods.


  1. I still can't believe you didn't even have a mountain bike until Christmas!

    You're ready. I promise. At times the race might suck, but in the end you're going to have the time of your life.

    And next year (hopefully before that) you will be racing with us!

  2. So totally awesomely cool. the coolest thing EVER!

    I want to do it.

  3. I accept all of the credit and none of the blame. Have fun out there once you are done peeing your pants.

  4. Absolutely totally exciting!! Go SuperKate and Jim...have a blast! You amaze me :)

  5. Beings I can't read a map (at least not while cycling :)) despite the cartography degree I have (hey, it's only a minor!!), I would be definitely lost. But you are Super Kate, woman of all mass adventure endurance thingies, nothing could possibly go wrong!!!! I think it sounds like a blast, and knowing you, it WILL be! Very excited for you....cannot wait to hear all about it. Hey, I should just get on FB where I KNOW you'll post frequently :)....then I'll feel like I'm there with you, only not lost :). Have a great time, SK!

  6. This sounds like So. Much. Fun!

    What an adventure - can't wait to hear all about it!

  7. Oh, this looks like SO MUCH FUN!! Unfortunately, I have a lousy sense of direction. If I couldn't mapquest all my race sites on my phone I would end up staying home and watching TV every weekend. :)

  8. Wow! You are amazingly adventurous. I truly think you can do it all! I can't wait to hear more about this. Have fun. How awesome that you are doing it with your brother. It will be a learning experience and you will be out there to do more!

  9. You are going to have a blast! After that race, the HIM will seem like a cool down :-).

  10. You will be GREAT Kate, just have fun, that's what really counts. And you are way better at navigating than I am.

  11. I am so excited for you!! I am also nervous about you peeing your pants at the start line. It's something I worry about my ownself...
    You are my hero!

  12. Really awesome! You must enjoy every moment. This is a fantastic event.

  13. You are going to have a blast. The Berryman is always a great race. Just remember to keep track of where you are on the map, if you can't find a checkpoint don't search forever, either go back and start over or find something on the map to orient to. Bob and I will be there and we will come looking for you if you don't show up at the finish line. Heck you might even beat us there. =)

  14. I wish I had it in me to do things like that...with no fear.
    but I am not Super anything that is a problem...

    I hope you will have a great time!
    Go SK!!!
    do you tell your students abuot your adventures? you should!!!

  15. OMG this is fabulous! Cannot wait to hear all about it! You are the coolest of cool!

  16. Fantastic event, enjoy it.
    The pictures are amazing. Go SuperKate!


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