My thanks to one of our start PT aides here at Alpine Physical Therapy, Jen Schuberg, for submitting this awesome and informative article. Go Jen!
As a Montana native, I have always enjoyed what the great outdoors has to offer here: mountain biking, kayaking, tromping about in the Rocky Mountains. Combining my favorite outdoor sports in a public competition never crossed my mind until I heard about the Grizzly Man Adventure Race
Taking place annually in the Lubrecht Experimental Forest and the Paws Up Resort on the Blackfoot River, the GMAR is the perfect triathlon for well-rounded outdoor enthusiasts. Racers are tested on their skills in trail running, orienteering (map reading and navigation), mountain biking, and paddling. Moreover, because many racers compete on teams of 2-3 people, where every team member does the entire race together, teamwork plays a big role.
The course begins and ends at the Paws Up Resort, and takes racers anywhere from 10 to 100 miles into the dense woods of the Lubrecht Experimental Forest, depending on their knack for reading maps and using compasses. All team members are required to bring a pack containing the necessities for survival, should they find themselves taking longer to complete the race. Our packs contained the following: a compass, one headlamp, two glow sticks, 64 oz of water, a whistle, waterproof matches, a flint/magnesium block for starting a fire, an emergency space blanket, food for a potential 12+ hour race day, and any extra clothes we saw fit to bring. With so much gear, the beer had to be left at the finish line for post race festivities. Luckily, there couldn’t have been better weather on race day, Saturday, April 21. The sun was out by noon, with a high that day in the mid-70s.
The race began at 6:00 am sharp. Many racers stayed overnight camping in the outlying areas, or for a more luxurious stay, in a room at the Paws Up. The first leg of the race involved trail running and orienteering. In order to gain points for their team, racers would have to navigate their way to various stations sprawled out on their maps provided by GMAR the inght before. Teams therefore had only one night to prepare their course and plot on maps, which covered around 50,000 acres between the Paws Up land and Lubrecht Experimental forest. Team members are not allowed to sprawl out on the course to improve their chances. In fact, members were required to stay within 10 meters of each other while on foot. After the run, mountain biking was the next challenge. Racers made their way to a predetermined station where their biking equipment awaited them so they could begin shredding more trails to yet more check points on the map.
The final leg of the GMAR was comprised of white water navigation. Most racers donned dry or wet suits and jumped into their kayaks to begin their final stretch, which for most began around mid-to-late afternoon.
The Blackfoot was running on average at just over 9,000 cubic feet per second. The flow was welcomed by paddlers, making the numerous rapids that much more exhilarating (and cold). The paddling portion of the race came to an end as boaters met the finish line at the take out. Weary from an entire day’s worth of outdoor adventuring, the finish line was proudly saluted. Post-race celebrations commenced as soon as racers crawled out of the water. Despite placement in the race, everyone was a winner at this year’s annual GMAR. The sheer physical ability combined with intellect of mountaineering and navigation proved that anyone who completes this race has true grit. For those of you ready to test your adventure skills, keep a look out for the GMAR 2013!
For more information on GMAR, visit their website by clicking here.