2019 Bitter Pill – Date Set!

You’ll see the website being updated with full details soon, but we wanted to share ASAP that we’ve set the date for this summer’s Bitter Pill on August 10th. Happy training!

Test Your Nettle Update

Plans for the Nettle have come together nicely. There is a great assortment of points and challenges; there will be a wide variety of on-trail and off-trail points for you to chose from. We’re really looking forward to hearing the feedback on an event like this, particularly from our first-timers!

There is an option to camp at Catamount for $10/night for those coming in from out of town; let us know if that’s something you want to partake of. Your trail pass for Catamount is included in your registration fee so please don’t pay for one when you arrive.

We’ll have some snacks at the finish for everyone and some pretty sweet raffle prizes. The traditional cookie prize will, of course, be present!

2018 Test Your Nettle! 2019 Bitter Pill!

Relief is a wonderful thing. I can’t tell you how excited we are to post this announcement, as many of you (dozens) have been reaching out about this year’s Bitter Pill and we’ve been holding off on replying until now. We’ve been delaying the news a bit because we were hoping everything would come together to announce an exciting new location & venue for 2018. Looking realistically at everything, we can’t pull that magic together and instead will be putting all that hard work toward the 2019 Bitter Pill (yes! actually ahead of the game on our planning!)

As a result, we’ll be doing something new and different for 2018. We’ll be hosting a beginner-friendly event out of the Catamount Outdoor Center in Williston, Vermont, on Saturday, August 4th. Please check out the 2018 version of our Test Your Nettle event, the first one we’ll be hosting in the summer!

Also – we may add on a bonus NIGHT section for those looking for more of a challenge and to experiment with navigating via headlamp. If this is interesting to you, let us know. We may not add it to registration but do it as a special side-event for those interested.

Rest assured, the full Bitter Pill will be back in 2019; we’re already locking in details for that now and can announce the date very soon.

2017 Bitter Pill Information

We’re excited to announce we’ll be basing this year’s Bitter Pill out of the Sugarbush Resort on Saturday, August 12th. Lots more to come as we shake out the course and disciplines, but this should let you block off your calendars. Happy training; enjoy Spring!

2017 Frigid Infliction – Important Update

We’ll be trying something a bit new for the 2017 Frigid Infliction. Never fear – it will still be spectacular! For those that have been racing with us for years, here’s a snapshot of the key items that will be different:

Why the changes? This provides us with some additional ‘free’ time to focus on things like our families, and planning for the 2017 Bitter Pill (which may be moving to a new venue). Also, for years we’ve wanted to craft an event that was just a little more welcoming to people who wanted to try out this amazing sport. This is the year to encourage your friends and families to participate! Less gear, a bit shorter, and more control than normal over the discipline breakdown.

Some things will stay the same, or close to what you remember from the past:

We’re still reviewing the gear lists, some things need an update. The basic goal of the mandatory gear will be the same though, no surprises: Stay warm, drink clean water, make fire, treat minor wounds and so on. We’ll notify you when those are cleaned up.

We’re also still debating a shorter, cheaper event on the same day, with the same navigational challenges but a more limited format. Bigger than the Wintry Wander, smaller than the Frigid. Rather than just bring guests to dinner, we want you to talk them into a day in the snow with a map and compass. Think about likely candidates (for either race) while you’re out at holiday parties, and let’s get a bunch of new people in the woods.

Given all the changes, we expect a bunch of questions – please post here rather than emailing us, then everyone can see the answers.

– Chris, Shawn & the crew

Course Updates!

We have a full race ahead of us! We’re excited to have filled up so early, even with finding some extra boats. That being said, we thought you might like some insight into the course…

The bike: it’s certainly more ride-able than last year, but that’s not saying much! There’s quite the mix of terrain this year. Some classic VT country roads, a little hike-a-bike, and some fun trail riding, including a monster downhill. Expect to do a good amount of climbing!

The paddle: longer than the past few years. Those who consider bringing your own paddle may find it worth it, but remember you’ll carry that paddle through the whole race. And by the way – what’s a paddle without a portage? Be prepared to move that boat without any liquid assistance.

The trek: we’re pretty excited about this year’s trek. All off-trail (well, except for the ones that exist just to confuse you), in great Vermont woods, with interesting navigation choices. If you have access to an altimeter, you won’t be sad you brought it.

Hopefully that’s just enough information to help you prepare a bit. We wish you all the best, and look forward to seeing you soon.

OGE Bitter Pill – Registration Update

As many of you are already aware, we weren’t originally able to source as many boats from our primary provider as in the past. As a result, we had a healthy backlog of teams on the wait list, which isn’t fun for anyone. (In hind sight, we should have offered a spot to the team with the most creative bribe; we definitely received a few interesting offers.)

All that being said, we now have some good news! We were able to find a few more boats, and can fit everyone in. To do so, we’ll be assigning boats a bit differently than in the past. Two-person male teams, of which there are close to twenty, will be using tandem kayaks. All other divisions will be using canoes.

We’re excited that we can get this many teams on the course. We may be able to squeeze in a couple more, so if you’re interested, put in your registration and we’ll see what we can do.

Hopefully your training is going well! We’ll see you soon.

Bitter Pill Lodging Details

For anyone interested in staying at the Bolton Valley Resort, where registration and the post-race party will be held, they are offering discounts on two-night stays for the weekend of the race. Just mention the Bitter Pill when you call to make your reservation.

Room Type Rate (2 Nights) Standard Occupancy Max Occupancy
Standard Inn Room with 1 Bed $116.10 + tax 2 Adults 2
Standard Inn Room with 2 Beds $116.10 + tax 2 Adults 4
Studio Efficiency $152.10 + tax 2 Adults 4
1 Bedroom Suite $202.50 + tax 2 Adults 6
2 Bedroom Suite $269.10 + tax 4 Adults 8
1 Bedroom Condo $202.50 + tax 2 Adults 4
2 Bedroom Condo $269.10 + tax 4 Adults 6
3 Bedroom Condo $328.50 + tax 6 Adults 8

Navigation Clinic at VTC

On Saturday, April 25th, GMARA & the Outing Club at Vermont Tech will host a navigation clinic in Randolph, Vermont, on the VTC campus. This is a great opportunity to learn for the first time or brush up on your skills.

Meet at Vermont Tech in front of the Administrative Center (Number One on this map.) at 1:00 p.m.. We’ll start with some instruction on reading a topographic map, making safe navigation decisions, and using a compass where appropriate (hint: not as often as you’d think!) After that, we’ll head out into the woods to practice – there’s no better way to learn than actually doing.

The clinic should last about ~3.5 hours, although you can leave earlier if needed. If you have a compass, feel free to bring it. If not, we’ll have plenty of extras on hand. Be prepared for the weather and have some water as well.

If you plan on coming, please email chris@gmara.org to ensure we have enough copies of the map. Thanks!

VTC President Dan Smith (on right) & team discussing the map at the 2013 Bitter Pill adventure race in Vermont:

2015 Wintry Wander Results

The MVP Health Care Wintry Wander was a chilly challenge in its second year, but it was gorgeously sunny on the Bolton Valley nordic trails, and the families and friends who joined us on the course had a great time!

The event began with teams showing up between 8:45 and 9:30 a.m. to register, get a trail pass, and receive their team passport. It was wonderful to see all the children so excited to go hunt for points.

With temperatures barely reaching the teens, it was important to be prepared!

At 9:30 teams received an overview and their official map. They had time to review and make plans before heading outside for a 10:00 race start. Most teams headed to the north but a couple decided to tackle the southern points first.

A few teams joined slightly later, after the sun had a chance to warm things more. When the wind was still and the sun was out, it was a surprisingly lovely day.

The course had a total of seventeen points. Ten were on trails and seven required some off-trail snowshoeing. There was no required order; teams could get as many or as few as they wanted to.

A couple of the off-trail points (11 and 16) were particularly challenging, requiring teams to explore a bit or struggle to get up a steep snowy hill. Take a moment to look at the great trail map designed by Shawn Freebern.

Some teams crossed paths with family members participating in the Frigid Infliction! Our ten hour event was taking place at the same time and many Wintry Wander participants got to see the other racers up on the high ropes course or on the trail.

Even on the way back teams had smiles and laughter for the camera crew!

Teams finished with smiles and laughs and great stories. There were a couple sad tots who woke up when their backcountry sled tour was over. Keep going, mom!

After finishing, teams headed inside to warm up and share in some hot cocoa, cookies, and Garuka Bars!

Then there was a brief wrap-up where awards were given to winning teams:

Most Off-Trail Points: Ocho Locos
Most On-Trail Points: Wee Goslings
Snowiest Team: A breath of fresh Anair
Most Cheerful Hearts: Duck Duck Goose
Best Team Name: The De-trek-tives
Every team should feel a sense of accomplishment based on their snowy adventure (particularly the adults that carried or pulled children through the whole event!) For those interested in the details, full results can be found at the bottom of this post. We encourage you to also check out all the event photos.

Thanks to everyone involved in making this event happen, particularly our great volunteer crew:

Thanks to our sponsors for making the event possible. Thanks to MVP Health Care for supporting the event and providing first aid kits to teams (thankfully none were needed!) Also, Garuka Bars provided a yummy bar to every participant and Bolton Valley was, as always, a great resort to work with. The Lake Champlain Sailing Center, Petra Cliffs, and Regal Gymnastics provided prizes to the winning teams.


Team Name (size) Finish Time On-Trail Points Off-Trail Points
Ocho Locos (8) 12:42 10 7
Frozen Four (4) 12:40 10 6
Duck Duck Goose (3) 12:36 10 2
Wee Goslings (2) 12:17 10 1
North or Be Eaten (3) 12:58 6 6
A breath of fresh Anair (6) 12:59 6 6
The De-trek-tives (6) 12:29 6 0
DeVico (2) 11:53 5 1
Team Beaumier (4) 12:24 3 2
Liam’s Super Troopers (7) 12:45 3 2
The Snow Cobras (2) 12:03 3 0

[init_sidephotos album=”47863582″ key=”LMTwDZ”]