Mari Chandler, Brian Mayer and Justin Bakken of Team Toyota Tundra won their second consecutive U.S. Adventure Racing Association (USARA) National Championship in convincing fashion.
This year’s 30-hour championship race covered 115 miles between Mammoth Lakes and Bishop, California, with 38 teams completing multiple stages of biking, paddling, and trekking, including nearly 9,000 feet of climbing and 13,000 feet of descending.
Toyota Tundra, the winners of the 2021 championship in Wisconsin, proved their versatility in besting a competitive field despite the thin air and higher temperatures in California.
The team cleared the course, obtaining all possible checkpoints, in a total time of 25:28:35. Second-place Bend Racing – including ultrarunning star Max King, Jason Magness, and Amanda Bohley – cleared the course in 27:09:10, and the third-place team, comprised of the triathletes Alyssa Godesky, Matt Cymanski and Will Luppino of VERT, cleared the course in 27:22:48.
"The race course was fantastic. It was a very technical and well-thought-out course and the higher altitude added to the difficulty,” Chandler said. “Our race plan was to ease into it at the start, put the hammer down when we could, take care of each other, and push all the way to the finish no matter what."
Only one other team, the all-male GearJunkie squad, finished the entire course, achieving the feat in 28:12:39. With their performance, GearJunkie’s Stephen Regenold, Kyle Nossaman, and Ryan Braski won the male division championship, ahead of second-place Ibex and third-place Los Padres Locos.
Nicki Driscoll, Karyn Dulaney and Abby Perkiss of Rootstock Racing finished sixth overall and first in the female division, followed by Lost Arrow Sports in second place and BRF Barf Racing in third.
The race started with a hike up the backside of Mammoth Mountain to the ski area’s summit, where teams’ bikes were pre-staged and awaiting their arrival. They then descended Mammoth’s technical downhill trails before arriving at and then kayaking across Crowley Lake. Teams then completed a grinding 3,000-foot climb to nab a series of checkpoints each located between 10,000 and 11,000 feet of altitude. The 6,000-foot descent wound around mostly singletrack before taking teams to an entrance to the Owens River Gorge, where teams dropped their bikes and descended on foot through the deep canyon, where the seven-mile section took teams five hours or more to complete. After that, all teams had to do was complete a short bike leg, a six-mile paddle on the Owens River, and a run from the take-out to downtown Bishop to cross the finish line in Bishop City Park and be considered official finishers of the race.
USARA Executive Director Michael Garrison said the race – the first national championship to take place in the U.S. West for more than a decade – achieved the organization’s primary goal of showcasing the nationwide appeal of the sport. It also revealed USARA’s ambition of making sure every USARA-sanctioned race covers epic terrain in a challenging but safe style.
“We brought the championship back to the U.S. West Coast racing community, and we brought East Coast racers out West,” he said. “The course was big, physical, and gorgeous, showcasing all that this amazing area has to offer. We also had a race director who executed a very challenging point-to-point race format flawlessly.”
The national championship was the culmination of a season that featured nearly 100 USARA-sanctioned or -affiliated races across the United States, ranging from two hours to six days in length, with thousands of racers competing on courses that required mountain biking, paddling, trail running, using only map and compass to navigate unmarked routes.
Garrison also credited the support of USARA’s 2022 headline sponsor, Toyota Tundra, and its official media partner, GearJunkie, for making the season a success and helping to grow the sport nationally. He said the 2022 USARA National Championship was the culmination of a year of relentless work to make the sport more exciting for racers and the viewing public.
“One of our most critical goals for this race was to continue to evolve and improve how we bring the sport of adventure racing to the masses,” Garrison said. “We had a dedicated media team that did a fantastic job covering the race in a way that allowed less knowledgeable race fans to follow along. We could not have executed that plan without the support of Toyota and GearJunkie.”
The last Regional Championship of the season is the Bend AR from Bend Racing. Race Director Darren Steinbach answered a few preview questions from USARA.
What are you looking forward to at the 2022 Bend AR?
I’m excited to show racers a little bit of what the Gorge has to offer. This is one of the few places where you can mountain bike in the shadow of volcanoes, run along high plane trails, paddle world class whitewater, climb, windsurf, paraglide, surfski, etc. all in one day. We’re not going to make racers windsurf this year, but you never know what we’ll do next year. This is an amazing area for an adventure race, but I don’t believe anyone has hosted one here since the Gorge Games back in the late 90s early 00s and I’m excited to be the one bringing it back.
How will it stack up as a USARA Regional Championship?
Our race will fit right in with the other two USARA Regional Championships in the western US. I’ve worked with the directors of the Never Summer and Teton Ogre races for several years and am always inspired by the events they put on. Our paddling section will be on whitewater that is a little more technical than you usually find in a similar length race but unfortunately because of late season snows and high water levels the paddle will be shorter than I had hoped.
How many years have you been directing the race?
This is my first time taking the lead directing the BendAR, but thankfully I have the whole Bend Racing crew backing me up and helping me out a ton. They have been putting on the BendAR for over 10 years; the 2013 BendAR was the first race I participated in. I have also been assistant race director for several of the Bend Racing events of the last couple years including the 2022 America’s Toughest Race: Expedition Oregon which was an amazing and transformative experience.
What is your approach to course design and how do you keep the race "fresh"?
Because this is the first time, we are hosting the BendAR in the Columbia Gorge it is easy to keep the race “fresh.” We are taking racers to a few unique landmarks that the area is known for, and we have designed the course so all of the incredibly taxing sections are rewarded with amazing views and a some big descents. We are also starting out the race with a fun adventure triathlon to get racers warmed up, within the first two hours they will bike, run, and paddle in the front country which will hopefully have racers smiling from ear to ear before we send them on a big 30-mile bike with 7000+ feet of gain in triple digit heat. Once on the course proper, I’ve tried to give navigators as many route choices as possible by eliminating as many points as possible that only serve to guide teams down a specific path, and I’ve tried to set orienteering points that are fun but get progressively more challenging as the race goes on.
How will fans be able to follow this year's race? Tracking link? Social Channels? Etc.
Unfortunately we are not providing official tracking for the race this year (look for tracking in future BendARs) but we will be posting updates to the Bend Racing Facebook and Instagram https://www.facebook.com/BendRacing/ https://www.instagram.com/bendracing
Race Preview: Can you give something about the course or the race to whet people’s appetite and get them excited? What will be challenging? What will be the most fun?
As a race director, the most fun on the course is the climb site; we have some distinctive low angle slab to climbs out in the middle of nowhere. I’m not a slab climber, so to me leading the climbs feels like death, there are no hand holds, the foot are all little dishes, and if you fall above your bolt you’re going to slide down a cheese grater until your belayer catches you. But, on top-rope with lots of safety, it feels like you can almost jog up the climbs. You feel like a hero.
Racers will probably say that some of the big descents on gravel and single track are their favorite parts. There are lots of route options on this course, but some of the best options are single track routes that take you along big ridge lines then down to rivers.
The biggest challenge will unfortunately be the heat. There is a lot of water on the course but there is a lot of vert between water sources and teams will need to race smart to stay healthy. It will be better to slow down rather than race at your normal pace and overheat. Other than the weather the biggest challenge will be the navigation on the second orienteering course. We’ve given racers the best maps possible but many of the roads in the area haven’t been used in decades and even the roads recently used for logging are all overgrown from the late winter and wet spring we’ve had. Most racers will also see this section at night which will add to the difficulty. Navigators will need to be on their game and pay close attention to topography for the entire trek.
Anything else to add?
I think I’ve probably already written too much. If you’ve made it this far and you’re not already doing this race you should give us a follow and come out for one of our events or come train with us. We put on private training camps and adventure vacations along with our 6hr, 12hr, 24hr, and multi-day races.
The competition should be fierce in the Maine Summer Adventure Race starting July 16 in New Gloucester, ME, by Strong Machine AR. The event is the penultimate USARA Regional Championship for the 2021-2022 season.
“Several of the top teams in the nation will be competing this year and there's always great competition up front,” says Cliff White, co-race director. “In the mixed premier division, we're excited to have Team Toyota Tundra making the trip east from Minnesota for our race, but they'll have an uphill battle against two-time defending champions Rootstock Racing, previous two-time champions Untamed New England, and our own up-and-coming crew from Strong Machine AR. But there are a lot of other fast teams out there to keep them company!”
Strong Machine AR has been working on the course for over a year.
“To show off how perfect this state is for adventure racing, each year, we completely redesign our course, and we're pretty sure even our most experienced racers don’t have any idea where we're going to take them until they spread out their maps the morning of the race,” says White. “And we like to treat paddling as an equal part of the equation when it comes to AR, but expect to move fast, as we use sea kayaks for our paddling stages.”
This is the sixth year for the AR duo of Kate and Cliff White as directors of the Maine Summer Adventure Race. They have also directed the Wildlands Adventure Challenge, which takes place in October at the peak of fall foliage, in Orland, ME, for the past five years.
“Our course design style is centered around a "fun first" philosophy,” says White. “We are not out to try to destroy our racers - we try to keep our stage-length manageable and our navigation fair. We want our racers to have a great time exploring parts of Maine they've never visited before.”
“As race directors, it's always fun (and nerve-wracking) to finally have teams out there taking it on,” adds White. “We love creating a course that's approachable for anyone with a can-do spirit, and yet has enough challenging optional points to keep everyone busy for the full 3, 8, or 24 hours. And we love route choice and strategy and try hard to force every team to have to make some tough decisions out there.”
“In terms of overall event experience, we've tried to once again up our game this year and we've added a bunch of elements to enhance the race, from a cool new trophy for the overall winners, to an expanded gear raffle with all racers eligible to win prizes ranging from Hyperlite and OutThere backpacks to Zanfel products to L.L. Bean gift cards to Sap Hound organic maple syrup,” says White. “As usual, we'll have some great food and beverages for racers to enjoy after they've finished. And of course, special for this year, we'll have an actual brand-new Toyota Tundra on site that racers can check out before and after the race.”
Thanks to USARA's partnership with Adventure Enablers tracking for the 2022 Maine Summer Adventure Race is available at: http://live.enabledtracking.com/msa2022/
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 22, 2022
USARA issues statement regarding missing US adventure racer Peter Jolles
The U.S. Adventure Racing Association has learned via the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and media reports that longtime U.S. adventure racer Peter Jolles has gone missing while packrafting in British Columbia, Canada.
Peter, 46, formerly of Georgia and more recently a resident of Virginia, recently competed with his Checkpoint Zero team in Expedition Canada, which ended Saturday, June 11, in Penticton, British Columbia, and was spending time exploring the nearby wilderness following the race. Peter was packrafting the Bugaboo Creek by himself near Spillimacheen, British Columbia, on Sunday, June 19, but never appeared at his designated take-out spot, where his girlfriend was waiting for him. She reported him missing and the Columbia Valley RCMP and local search and rescue team commenced an effort to try to locate Peter. They were not able to find him, but they did encounter Jolles’ packraft.
The search resumed on Monday, June 20, but without luck, and continued on Tuesday, June 21. On Tuesday afternoon, the search was suspended due to high water conditions. Once conditions are deemed safe again, crews will resume the search.
USARA is holding out hope that Peter is alive and OK and that he is located soon. As an avid adventure racer for more than two decades, Peter touched so many lives in the AR community in the United States and around the world. We remain hopeful he returns to us and his family. We are deeply thankful for the efforts by law enforcement and search and rescue authorities in British Columbia to find Peter.
USARA has been in touch with the RCMP, as well as several of Peter’s friends and teammates, and will continue to try to gather and share as much information as possible with the adventure racing community regarding this terrible situation. USARA will also be helping to organize any aid or assistance efforts as needed, though at this time, the RCMP and local search and rescue teams are asking that the public not assist with the search.
If anyone from the adventure racing community has information regarding Peter’s whereabouts, contact the Columbia Valley RCMP at 1-250-342-9292 and cite file 2022-1463.
U.S. Adventure Racing Association contact: Cliff White, Communications Director, 207-650-8698, info@USARA.com
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About the USARA
Now a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the United States Adventure Racing Association has been the primary national governing body for the sport of adventure racing since its inception in 1998. USARA supports race organizers and promoters in developing safe, challenging, and fun events for adventurers at all levels of the sport. Since its founding, USARA has helped to organize more than 2,500 national events across the U.S.A. It annually organizes the USARA National Championship, a 30-hour race run annually since 1999, and USARA National Points Series, which provide a venue for determining the top teams in the United States. www.USARA.com
Clarion, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.—The U.S. Adventure Racing Association and the Adventure Racing World Series have announced a collaborative partnership that will see the two organizations join forces to create the ARWS North America Regional Series.
Announced on Sunday, June 19, at the start of the Endless Mountains Adventure Race in Pennsylvania, an Adventure Racing World Series Demonstration Race, the partnership will see USARA serve as the organizer of an annual race series, with the winner receiving a free entry to the Adventure Racing World Championship.
“The Adventure Racing World Series is a long-established series known for putting on amazing races in amazing places. For that reason, we’re really excited to announce that starting next year, USARA is going to be partnering with the ARWS to organize a regional series of races leading up to the 2023 Adventure Racing World Championship in South Africa,” USARA Executive Director Michael Garrison said.
“The main purpose of USARA is to take care of and strengthen the sport of adventure racing in the United States. That involves a lot of pieces – everything from increasing awareness of the sport, making it easier to get into the sport, and ultimately to make sure that as the years go on, the sport continues to flourish. We think this partnership helps us achieve all those goals.”
ARWS already operates regional series in Europe, Oceania, Asia, Africa, and South America, each representing a collection of the best mid-distance adventure races in each global region.
Event organizers set a unique course to test athletes over 125 to 250-kilometer courses of non-stop, day and night, adventure racing in the disciplines of trekking, mountain biking, kayaking, and navigation. Participating teams earn points towards their ARWS regional ranking and their ARWS global ranking, and regional winners each year receive a free entry to the next ARWS World Championship, which takes place annually in September or October.
Expedición Guaraní will serve as the 2022 ARWS World Championship, taking place September 15 to 25, 2022, in Paraguay. The 2023 ARWS World Championship will take place October 18-30, 2023, in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa.
Garrison said the top 10 overall premier-division teams at the 2022 USARA National Championship, taking place in Bishop, California, U.S.A., September 16-17, 2022, will qualify for a lottery for entry into the 2023 AR World Championship, and that the 2023 ARWS North America regional winners will win a free entry to the 2024 AR World Championship, which will be staged by the Huairasinchi race in Ecuador.
“ARWS is thrilled to join forces with the USARA to create the ARWS North America Regional Series,” ARWS CEO Heidi Muller said. “ARWS has been working hard to develop and grow our presence in North America, and the official launch of the ARWS North America region is a huge step forward in advancing the sport in the U.S., across North America, and globally. ARWS North America completes our regional race series, providing racers all around the world an opportunity to enjoy World Series Adventure Racing.”
The ARWS already has three qualifying expedition races in North America – Endless Mountains AR, Expedition Oregon, and Expedition Canada – with a fourth, Expedition Ozark, commencing in 2023.
Other ARWS Qualifiers include; Patagonia Raid in Argentina, PC12 Adventure Race in Colombia, Adventure Race Malaysia, Expedition Africa,, Huairasinchi in Ecuador, Nordic Islands Adventure Race in Scandinavia, Malacara Expedition Race in Brazil, ITERA Expedition Race in Scotland, Adventure Race Croatia, Raid in France, Raid Gallaecia in Spain, and XPD Expedition Race in Australia.
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