Frigid Infliction 2016 – Important News!

This message was mailed to all racers on Feb 25th – if you didn’t get it, please let us know!

One week left until the OGE Frigid Infliction 2016! Here in Vermont it’s around 50 degrees, last night it poured for hours, and Bolton Valley actually closed the mountain today.

This uncooperative weather forces some decisions, and rather than keep you waiting until the last minute, we’re going to make a tough call now: Skis are off the mandatory gear list.

Now we know, nothing says adventure like a mountain too dangerous to allow skiing. We also know that a lot of you are renting gear, and if you spend money on rentals and then show up to a race that doesn’t use them, that’s disappointing and wasteful. Even if there’s skiable terrain at higher elevation, Bolton has let us know that they won’t rent gear if the groomed trails aren’t safe. We can understand, they don’t want their rental gear damaged and they don’t want anyone getting hurt.

We’ve thought long and hard about how to allow a ski leg for anyone that owns skis, if the weather somehow cooperates, but we haven’t found a compromise that’s fair to all racers. We’re going to keep trying, and if you own skis you might as well toss them in the car, but it doesn’t look good. I’ve attached a few photos from Bolton today – familiar locations for anyone who’s raced the Frigid before. It’s icy and treacherous, even crossing the parking lot required skillful navigation.

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Now, there is snow in the forecast, anywhere from 3 to 12 inches depending who you believe. If we get a ton of snow, you have skis available, and you’re more interested in the adventure than the race, we might offer an alternate course which lets you ski for fun – but the official USARA qualifier course will be snowshoes, postholing, and ropes only. It’s still going to be a good time in the woods – it’s actually really awesome out there – but maybe more of an infliction than some years.

We’ll still require all the rest of your cold-weather gear – snow or not, it’s frigid when the wind picks up – and you’ll need poles even if you don’t have skis.

In other news:

– We’ve worked out details with the caterer – if you’re bringing guests, it will be $25 apiece. If you need to adjust your count, search your email for that note from or ask us for another link. Make your decisions by this weekend, please!

– The caterer isn’t providing a separate vegetarian buffet item, they’ll be doing plated entrees for vegetarians. If you want a vegetarian entree (and you didn’t say so on the form), you’ll have to let us know now – again, using the link you were given before.

– We have to cancel the Wintry Wander… it’s just not wintry enough. If you’re traveling with family members and they want to get in the woods, let us know now, we can make something fun happen.

– A few of you still need to fill out your birthday, address, and waivers – please look for an email from and fill out the forms as indicated!

Sharpen up those microspikes,

Shawn, Chris & the GMARA crew


OGE Bitter Pill 2015 – Results

The Outdoor Gear Exchange Bitter Pill returned to Bolton Valley this year for the first time since 2009. We love spending time at Bolton in the summer – great views, great trails, and great amounts of elevation gain!

Bitter Pill 2015 started with a paddle on the Waterbury reservoir, and one of the most gorgeous sunrises of the summer. Volunteers shared breakfast pastries and relaxed on the beach, some even caught an early morning rainbow…

Wait, something’s missing here… the pleasant sunrise didn’t happen until later in the morning.

Much earlier in the day, racers climbed on busses and rode to the reservoir. At 5:00 the race started with a quick swim to retrieve their passports. Nothing like getting properly soaked before climbing into your boat!
Vermont had been warm in the weeks leading up to the race though, so it was a (relatively) pleasant dip in the reservoir to start the adventure. Once passports had been collected, teams grabbed boats and paddled off to find CP1, a buoy at the northern end of the reservoir.

This was one of our tighter paddling segments – lots of competition on the water as teams jockeyed for position.

At the first Transition Area, racers carried boats a short distance – just enough to be thankful it wasn’t a portage – and then headed into the woods on foot for a trek up the back side of Bolton.

CPs 2-7 were running directly up a ridge line – one of our tougher treks when you consider the elevation gain, but at least the day’s perfect weather made the nettles more bearable.

Observant racers followed a segment of the Woodward Mountain backcountry ski trail – not well-marked, but it did open up a bit in places. Some of these glades could use another visit in a few months…

Near the top of the trek, one of the points was hung on the far side of Goose Pond. Most teams went around the mud, some did not.

Mmmm that’s adventurous.

After all that climbing, it’s only right that you get treated to a view like this one.
TA2 was at the Bolton base lodge, where our fabulous GMARA volunteers cheered on racers with Garuka Bars and VT Smoke & Cure Bacon (expertly prepared by Shana from Goose Adventure Racing!)
From TA2 it was time to hit the bikes and head back uphill on the alpine trails (and downhill on the nordic ones) for more checkpoints. We put a bonus point at the top of the Vista Quad for those who hadn’t climbed enough yet.

Racers were treated to post-race watermelon donated by longtime racers “The Donner Party” as well as pints of Conehead IPA from Zero Gravity Brewing.

Two of our youngest racers ever (10 and 15) competed this summer (both with a parent) and they showed amazing endurance and competitive spirit!

For finishing times, check the full results table or the simple results.
Post-race festivities and food from Bevo in the James Moore Tavern capped off the day nicely. Top teams and raffle-winning racers went home with some of the best gear we’ve ever handed out thanks to OGE, Mammut, Garuka Bars, VT Smoke & Cure, and Ski VT.

We hear from racers that they don’t often stick around at other races, but with GMARA the post-race story-swapping is one of the best parts of the day. We can’t imagine it any other way!

Thanks again to all the volunteers – planning, scouting, marketing, flagging, testing, setting, photographing, cleaning, and bacon-frying, it’s a huge effort that can’t happen without help. Anytime that you can’t race but still want some adventure, let us know.

The next generation of GMARA members!

All the photos we’ve collected are are at as usual. Enjoy and give a shout out to GMARA if you’re sharing!

Thanks again to The Outdoor Gear Exchange for making the Bitter Pill possible!

See you in March, when these hillsides will be slightly more frosty.

– The GMARA Crew

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Bitter Pill 2015 Live Updates

This year we’re trying something new during the Bitter Pill – if things go as planned this post will automatically publish when the race starts, and you’ll see:

Here’s our twitter feed. Hopefully, it’s full of race photos! Tweet @gmara_org if you have something good to share. Maps and more race-day details below…

Basic details on the course:

Teams drop their bikes at Bolton Valley lodge and we bus them to the race start, at Waterbury Reservoir. There will be a short swim, then they’ll paddle to one checkpoint then on to the first transition area (TA 1).

At that transition, they’ll leave their boats behind and trek up the ridge to six more checkpoints. From the last CP near goose pond, racers will find their way back to the Bolton Valley lodge and the second transition.

From the lodge, they’ll grab bikes and head out to collect 7 more checkpoints and 3 optional bonus points on nordic and alpine ski trails. After they get all the points (or run out of time) they’ll head back to the lodge for the finish.

If you want to catch some of the action, your best bet is to come to Bolton sometime after 10 am. Be prepared to wait a bit – it could take a few hours for the first teams to arrive. If you’re up early, you could head towards the Little River State Park – TA 2 is near the boat access ramp. We think most teams will arrive there between 6 & 8 that morning.

Bitter Pill 2015 Pre-race Notes

This email went to racers earlier this morning:

Less than a week until you’re lost in the Green Mountains! Quick critical reminders first, then some fun stuff at the end.

Registration + gear check is Friday night from 5:30-9 in the Bolton main lodge. You need to bring all your gear (including bikes) to Bolton for review. Couldn’t hurt to re-check the mandatory gear list today:

Saturday morning you’ll need to be at Bolton by 4:00. Bikes unloaded, bathroom visited, 100% ready to go by 4:05. Yes, it’s very early. Plan ahead!

Test your water purification ahead of time. Think of it as a likely mid-race measure, and if you can’t stand the taste of iodine, find an alternative now. We’ll provide clean water somewhere, but it’s entirely possible that you’ll need a refill sooner. It has been warm, lately.

Cell phones are totally legal to carry with you. Seal them up in a dry bag and don’t take them out unless you need to communicate for safety/emergency reasons.

GPS track recorders are also allowed – encouraged, even, because we love to see your tracks too – but they definitely need to be tucked away in a pack, not worn on a wrist. Read the policy:

Stinging nettles! If you don’t know what they are, look them up – GMARA races are famous for these, and course testers said that there’s a big unavoidable patch during the trek. This is one of the reasons that we have long pants or tights on the gear list…

On to the fun stuff:

OGE is providing a discount to GMARA racers – If you didn’t see it in your email, get in touch with to get 15% off any full-price gear in-store or at – perfect opportunity to fill out that mandatory gear list.

Zero Gravity Brewing is sponsoring the race again – beer drinkers can look forward to a complimentary pint of their Conehead IPA at the post-race party:

We’re bad at social media because we’re always in the woods, but there is a facebook event that you should join to show your support & make connections with other awesome people – now with a great shot of volunteer legs after hiking through nettles, and a glance at some of the prizes we’ve lined up:

We had one team drop this morning which means there’s a boat on the truck with nobody to paddle it. If you’ve got spontaneous friends, kick them into gear and put them in touch with me – there’s a race waiting!

That’s it for today – rest up, check your gear, and see you soon!

Shawn & the GMARA crew

Bitter Pill 2015 Shirts & More

Our deadline to order shirts & maps is coming up next Monday. Here’s a few optional items for you to consider this week:

For the standard shirt, we’re going with the Hanes “Adult Cool-Dri Performance T” that we’ve used in the recent past. Racers and volunteers seem happy with the fit, it seems to be what everyone expects (size, cut, etc) from a unisex wicking T.

For a women’s cut, we’re sticking with the Badger “Ladies’ Solid Cap Sleeve Jersey with V-neck”. It’s a longer shirt than the Hanes, and we’ve had positive feedback over the years about the fit. It’s fairly snug, though, so if you don’t want a form-fitting shirt, order up a size or get the Hanes.

We’re not sure about colors, yet.

Currently selected shirt sizes will be indicated in the table below, with S M L XL indicating men’s shirts, and WS WM WL WXL indicating women’s shirts.

We’re happy to order any shirt for anybody – some women want shirts cut to fit, and some have told us they prefer the style of the men’s shirt. Some people have plenty of race shirts already, and want to pick something up for a spouse or a child. If you want an extra shirt, let us know that too – extras of either shirt will be $15.

On the other topics: If you want an extra “clean” map (delivered after the race) that’ll be $15 each. If you’re bringing a dinner guest, we’ll ask for $20 to help offset costs. If you just have spectators who want to see some of the course but won’t join us for dinner, we can work with that too. For all of the above (shirts, maps, dinners, viewers) please contact directly to get things updated. If you have spectators, make sure to send contact info – email & cell is best – and we’ll send them some info on race day about where to hang out to catch some of the action.

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Bitter Pill 2015 early entry raffle

We love it when teams sign up early – it’s much easier to make a race happen when we hit critical mass. To make that early commitment more appealing, any team who registers for the OGE Bitter Pill through Sunday, May 17th will be entered into a raffle. The winner will get their full sign-up fee back as a gift certificate to OGE /

That’s right: sign up a team of three, maybe win $339 to spend on shiny new gear at your favorite Burlington gear exchange. Sounds like a good deal to us, we hope you feel the same!

Fine print is what you’d expect:

We could add more detail, but we hope the general idea is clear. Let us know if you have questions, but Sign Up Today.

OGE Frigid Infliction 2015 Results

Ten years! You keep coming back, even when it’s so cold you can’t remember your fingers. This year’s Outdoor Gear Exchange Frigid Infliction was a challenge, to be sure – but teams new and old jumped into the ice bath headfirst.

For round ten, it seemed only right that we mix things up a bit – so we completely changed the ropes element, inflicted temperatures lower than ever before, and handed out Nordic maps with no checkpoints at the start.

With the mercury hovering 5-10 below zero, racers were given instructions:

“Start to TA1 — Scramble down the road to The Ponds. Captains, pick up a map at TA1. Be safe, use snowshoes if needed. Keep to the right. Wear your headlamps and glow sticks.”

Piles of gear on their backs, looking like a Vermont-style cross-country rave, the scramble began!

At The Ponds, racers found the (huge, glowing) o-flag (of doom) and a crew of properly chilled volunteers. They also got their first look at 2015 topo maps and had a chance to see where the course would take them.

It’s hard to operate a compass when you can’t take off your mittens, though.

The next race segment was on snowshoes while carrying skis.

Five checkpoints in any order: up hills, across streams, and even in a “cave” that long-time racers might recall from 2008.

After the snowshoe (at the second transition area) racers developed a growing sense of dread before the longest posthole leg we’ve ever done.

That doesn’t look so bad, it’s only a little bit above their knees, and it’s pretty flat.

Ohhh wait, maybe it does go uphill after all. Maybe it’s 700 feet of elevation gain through snow up to your armpits.

Thanks to Goose Adventure Racing for this short gopro clip showing just how fun a posthole can be.

At TA3, racers met the architect of their agony, Mr. Graham Bates! Two weeks before race day, Graham texted while setting points: “Hey have you ordered the maps yet? Not sure I am going to make it to CP8. Snow is deep! Waist+”

He made it though, and so did the racers!

Special shout-out to Mammut for helping to outfit core volunteers with awesome insulation. We really appreciate the assist, especially this year!

After the snowshoe, racers took off on skis. CPs 9-12 were hung on trails with names like goat path, eagle’s nest, cliffhanger and coyote – trails most often used for bonus points. It’s gorgeous up there in the woods, but this was a challenging ski leg. We were surprised by the many route choices that teams made.

After CP12 it was a quick downhill (sometimes too quick!) with the faint smell of Vermont Smoke & Cure bacon drawing racers to the high ropes course.

At the ropes, racers were treated to bacon expertly prepared by Kay from the Outdoor Gear Exchange. There were also moon pies and Mardi Gras beads from the Petra Cliffs crew. It really was one long 10th anniversary party this year!

Racers took their time at this transition area. I wonder why?

Along with the party atmosphere, there was a challenging high ropes course to complete between TA4 and TA5. Each team member had to cross a different element of the course in relay fashion.

Some racers said they preferred the usual tyrolean, but some were thrilled to be moving horizontally instead of pulling uphill.

Everyone who attempted the high ropes made it up, across, and down safely. Staff from Petra Cliffs were fabulous as always!

One last piece of Bacon before hitting the trail…

After that, teams were off on the final choose-your-own-adventure. Ski or snowshoe, but lug all of your gear uphill with you!

Five more checkpoints including the elusive CP13, tucked away on a small stream between nordic trails. The choice to approach from above or below made a huge difference in whether teams found that flag or not.

Two teams even snagged a bonus point at the top of the Catamount Trail.

Exhausted and happy, teams arrived at the finish mid-afternoon.

For finishing times, check the full results table or the simple results.

Post-race festivities at The Ponds were a blast – Green State Lager from Zero Gravity as well as good food, great conversation, excellent people, and spectacular prizes including gear from OGE, Salomon, Mammut, Petzl, Kahtoola, Ski VT and Zanfel.

The biggest cheers came when we raffled off beef sticks from Vermont Smoke & Cure. New gear will be appreciated for years to come, but beef sticks really speak to the post-race brain.

We took a moment after the race to recognize Brian Staveley of team Ultrabambi – the only racer to compete in all ten Frigid Inflictions! He’s responsible for bringing more new people to GMARA events than any other racer, and once he finishes writing the third book of his current trilogy we’re going to con him into directing a GMARA race in his southern VT backyard.
A huge thanks to all the volunteers – you might only interact with a few of us, but these races come together with assistance from a huge crowd of talented and helpful people, and the most they get for free is a t-shirt and mild frostbite. There are 20+ people in this picture, and there are at least 12 more who helped make things happen pre-race or plan to clean up in the following weeks.

If you’re thinking “Ooh, I’ve never had mild frostbite, where do I sign up?” you know where to find us. We do this for fun!

Another huge thanks to the crew at the Outdoor Gear Exchange, especially Marc, Brian, and Kay. They’re a great local business and their support keeps these races exciting. From bottles to bags to bacon cookers, hit or the store on Church Street for all your high-quality gear needs.

All the photos we’ve collected are are at as usual. Click the thumbs-up below anything you like, and we’ll create a best-of collection.

If you’re viewing the race results, click any TA time to jump into the collection near that time & possibly find pics of yourself at that TA.

If you’ve got photos, videos, blog posts, GPS tracks or stories from the trail, please send a note to with details and we’ll get them up here.

Lastly, watch your email for an invite – the OGE Bitter Pill is returning to the Bolton Valley area on August 1st… and Graham already has course ideas for next year’s Frigid Infliction!

Stay Frigid!

– The GMARA Crew

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Frigid 2015 Updates

Less than three weeks until the 2015 OGE Frigid Infliction! Some critical updates for you:

1. You no longer need to bring a climbing harness and biners! Petra has agreed to have their rental harnesses available on race day. You’re welcome to bring your own for speed or comfort, but you’ll be carrying it through the whole race.

2. You will definitely want some traction! Some of you do the entire race in hard-soled xc ski boots. During this year’s ropes section, xc boots will not be sufficient or safe – think of normal hiking boots (or maybe even something like trail runners, if your feet can handle the cold).

3. You will definitely be carrying your skis! The FAQ suggests that you prepare for the possibility, but this year it’s a confirmed requirement – you will be carrying all of your gear for a significant portion (possibly all) of this year’s race. Skis, poles, boots, and snowshoes – it’s worth practicing.

4. We’ve clarified our GPS policy for those of you who want to track yourself after the fact. In short: tell us ahead of time, and keep all GPS-enabled devices in your pack. Check out the Electronics Policy and let us know if you have questions.

If you have questions about those updates, please comment below and we’ll get answers published and communicated as soon as possible.

Frigid 2015 Shirts

For the men’s shirt, we’re sticking with the UltraClub 1/4-zip pullover that we’ve used a couple times in the past. Racers and volunteers seem happy with the fit, it seems to be what everyone expects (size, cut, etc) from a men’s wicking T.

For the women’s shirt, we’re going with the Badger Ladies’ long-sleeve v-neck that we used for Frigid 2012 and 2013. If you want a snug-fitting women’s cut, it’s a nice shirt.

Currently selected shirt sizes will be indicated in the table below, with S M L XL indicating men’s shirts, and WS WM WL WXL indicating women’s shirts.
If you want something different, contact directly to get the list updated.

We’re happy to order any shirt for anybody – some women want shirts cut to fit, and some have told us they prefer the color and style of the men’s shirt. Some people have plenty of race shirts already, and want to pick something up for a spouse or a child. If you want an extra shirt, let us know that too – extras of either shirt will be $20 (that’s the actual cost – we’re not making a profit).

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Frigid 2013 Writeup

We’re glad the 2013 MVP Health Care Frigid Infliction was held at Bolton Valley Resort.

In the valleys of Vermont, things were a little wet, and the snow had given way to rain.

Luckily, Bolton has the elevation required for a proper winter race. While we didn’t get a three foot dump like we do some years, we were treated to light snow falling during registration and throughout the race. All in all, perfect winter race weather.

Perfect weather, that is, unless you’re still driving. Combine light snow, temperatures just below freezing, and a 4:30 pre-race briefing… and you get a few teams unable to make it up the mountain.

Luckily, with Subaru-equipped volunteers passing by, most racers made it to starting line by 5:00. Some races have a planned “staggered start”, this one definitely had a few people staggering.

Skiing with headlamps, most teams searched for three checkpoints on nearby nordic trails… while others searched for their passports.

More teams than ever before chose to punch their maps and old lift tickets after dropping that key piece of race gear during the first segment.

Teams returned to TA1 at the Bolton Nordic center in great spirits, and made the transition to snowshoes. Skis were loaded into a truck and racers set out to find CPs 4 through 9 in whatever order made sense to them.

Some orders might have been better than others.

Almost every team found something challenging in this section, from the “small saddle” of CP4 to the “ridiculous maze” of trails and tracks near CP9. That’s the most polite thing we heard it called, anyway.

The Joiner Brook ran right through the middle of the snowshoe leg, so teams had the fun of crossing a semi-frozen stream at least once. Luckily, nobody went swimming, although some of these holes look like they’re worth a visit in the summer…

Once teams had collected all the snowshoe points they could find, they popped out of the woods at TA2. Many paused for a brief snack – rice crackers with goat cheese, peanut M&Ms, a half pound of cracker barrel cheese… gourmet all the way at a GMARA race.

TA2 was staged just outside The Ponds, our dinner location. We heard from a number of racers that if the bar had been open, their race would have ended right there.

From TA2 teams hit the posthole leg, looking for three more CPs. For some racers whose snowshoes had broken earlier in the day, most of the morning was a posthole… at least now they wouldn’t have to fight with zip ties and carabiners holding their shoes together.

After a quick posthole teams reached TA3 and the Tyrolean Traverse. It was heading downhill this year, but as anyone who hauled a full pack across the ravine will tell you, it’s still not a zipline.

Someone was saying they loved the arm workout… whoever asked for that, we’ll try to fit in a nice long portage during the Bitter Pill just for you. Or did we mishear that?

“That was harder than I expected!”
  — half the people at TA4.

TA4 gave many racers a chance to pause and let the blood flow back into their arms while waiting for the rest of their team.

Thanks again to Steve & Andrea from Petra Cliffs for making the ropes safe, efficient, and fun.

After another short posthole to TA5, teams had the chance to do a bit more skiing – uphill, of course. Some headed into the woods for CP13-17, and others just climbed straight up Broadway towards the Nordic Center.

Teams finished strong at the Nordic Center with the sounds of volunteers cheering and cowbells ringing. Thanks again to Bolton Valley for having showers, a hot tub, a pool, a bar, a wind-proof building… and thanks to Jenn O’Connor for the massages!

Untamed New England sent two coed teams to this race, a two-person (Dave Lamb, Jenny Johnson) and a three-person (Jason Urckfitz, Erik Grimm, and Meghan Smith). Surprising nobody, both teams crushed the course: all 17 regular controls and the bonus in 7 hours and 27 minutes, crossing the finish line at 12:30. With the time bonus, that gives them an official time of 5:27.

Then Dave went for a ski to see a bit more of the terrain. This is not a joke.

Second place for three-person coed went to Pain Syndicate, finishing at 13:41, and two-person to Acidotic Racing – Team Pumpkin at 14:39. Both teams hit all 17 regular course points.

In the men’s division, “Goose Adventure Racing” took the top prize for a 3-person team, getting all but CP17 and finishing at 14:44. For two-person teams, “Lost But Not Forgotten” found all 17 regular CPs by 14:34.

In the women’s division, 3-person team “Starry Knight” took first place reaching 7 controls by 14:57, and 2-person team “Absolutely Nuts” finished with 12 CPs by 15:06.

A huge thanks goes to the volunteers who made this happen:

Pictured are Laurie, Chris, John, Jen, Laura, Courtney, Diane, Karin, Justin, Sam, David, Patrick, Colin, Jack, Ryan, Graham, Shawn, Tim, Scot, Jason & Bert. We also had help from Amy, Meg, Kit, Mark & Carolyn.

Special thanks to Graham for doing the majority of the course design (and setting more than half the flags Friday morning), Jen for handling catering and lining up new sponsors, and Karin & Courtney for opening their home to piles of volunteers.

It’s always more fun to staff a race when you get to hang out with friends instead of standing in the cold by yourself… we had a lot of fun this time around.

As Chris said at the post-race party, we’re not doing this just for the race anymore, and we’re certainly not doing it for the money.

We organize these events because it’s the best excuse to hang out with an awesome crew and tell stories. It’s like a big family reunion, except we see some of you more often than our family members.

Lastly, thanks to all of our sponsors. MVP Health Care makes it possible to put on great races like this year after year. Things like the ropes and the great meal can’t happen without their contribution.

Bolton Valley Resort gave us a great base of operations and access to some of the best terrain in the northeast, and The Ponds put together a fantastic meal.

EMS is always there with discounts, prizes, and rental gear.

KIND Healthy Snacks have been in GMARA swag bags for years, and gave us some awesome flavors this time around.

Jenn at Sustainable Wellness gives us an amazing rate for post-race massage – and good rates the rest of the year, too.

Our newest sponsor, / The Outdoor Gear Exchange donated the Skyver as a prize for those supporting conservation through the Vermont Land Trust.

The ropes crew from Petra Cliffs always does a fantastic job, and if you want to spend more time in the air, they do much more than tyroleans.

If you have the opportunity to thank these sponsors for their support, “like” them on facebook, shop at their stores or promote their gear, please do. They support GMARA because they’re awesome, but they also like the publicity.

As usual, all the photos are on SmugMug. See a photo you love? Mouse over it and click the green thumbs up – the most popular go to the Best-Of Gallery.

If you have photos or a race writeup, please send them to us – – and we’ll post them here or add them to the gallery.

Thanks again for racing, and see you at the Bitter Pill August 17th!
– David, Chris, Shawn & the GMARA crew