Frigid & Wintry!

November 21st, 2014 by GMARA Staff

Registration is now open for both GMARA winter races – the 10th anniversary Frigid Infliction and the 2nd annual Wintry Wander, both coming to Bolton on February 28th. Read on for news, details and early registration perks, including OGE gift cards for teams that sign up soon:

- The Outdoor Gear Exchange will be our title sponsor for the Frigid – we're loving this local relationship. Fabulous prizes, great support, and maybe more on-course bacon if we're lucky.  If you want to thank them for their support, they're still raising funds to purchase their building – here's your opportunity to invest a bit and get spending money in the future.  Your gear needs an upgrade, right?

- With some clever bookkeeping and OGE's help, early registration costs will be the same as Frigid #1, ten years ago.   Sign up before January 10th and you'll be paying 2006 rates!

- As an additional perk, sign up before December 10th and you'll get a $30 OGE gift certificate for your team along with the low rates. No restrictions, just a little cash to spend on gear or gifts.  If you're quick, we'll do our best to get you the certificate before Black Friday sales – which should be epic this year.

- We're changing up the ropes segment this year – you still won't need any experience or training ahead of time, but we're looking forward to surprising all of our regulars with something new.  Let the guessing begin!

Now remember, last year the Frigid sold out, and we'll have a team cap again this year.  We want to make this a true adventure, so we can't have 300 people doing a conga line through the woods.  If you know you're racing on February 28th, don't wait to get signed up!

We're also excited that The Wintry Wander is coming back to Bolton for a second time, and thrilled to officially announce MVP Health Care as the new title sponsor.  Last year's race had 75 participants from grandparents to newborns in baby carriers, and MVP loves to see families getting outdoors and doing healthy activities.  

Whether this is your first adventure or your 50th, the Wintry Wander will be a great day in the woods with great people.  We hope everyone who raced last year will join us again and bring friends.  Cost will stay the same, $5 per participant unless they're small enough to be pulled or carried.  Sign up soon!

Chris Yager will be directing the Wintry Wander again, Jen Guimaraes and Tim Curtin are co-directing the Frigid Infliction.  They've got some fabulous plans coming together, I can't wait to get out in the woods and watch it all happen.

Enjoy the flurries,

   Shawn & the GMARA crew

OGE Bitter Pill 2014 Results

August 3rd, 2014 by GMARA Staff

From the new title sponsor to the host location, “community” was the theme of this summer’s GMARA race. Lots of Vermont-style cooperation and local support made this race happen, including major assistance from the Outdoor Gear Exchange and a great site for the race provided by Cochran’s ski area.

The Mobbs Farm committee let us get in some awesome biking, and helpful homeowners even shared their front yard for the transition from bikes to canoes. It’s not a stretch to say we couldn’t have done it without their support and yours – our own community of people who rise to the challenge year after year!

Mixing things up a bit from previous years, racers didn’t get a map at the start. Instead, they were pointed to a 4-foot high glowing orienteering flag at the top of Cochran’s ski slope and told that maps would be waiting there. No time to plan, just race!

Of course, from half a kilometer away, that flag looks pretty tiny. At 5:00 in the morning the crowd began to sprint uphill… then jog… then hike… then walk, but with a lot of determination.

The train of headlamps was a great sight from the base of the hill.

Two quick points on foot (including the elusive CP2) and racers were into their boats for a paddle down the Winooski river.

It was pointed out that CP2 was not a “leaning tree” but in fact a “broken tree” and we apologize to everyone who ran in circles due to that oversight.

No apologies for all the misleading bike trails, old logging roads, and deer tracks that weren’t on your maps… that was intentional.

The paddle was peaceful and serene, and gave teams the time they needed to forget CP2.

We heard that the Richmond bald eagle even made an appearance!

There was a bit of crowding near CP5, on the shore of Mill Brook. Seems like the brook has moved over the years, but nobody updated the map!

Teams that found the flag were careful not to give anything away as they portaged up the brook towards TA2.

The instructions said to follow the brook to the road, but some teams found themselves bushwhacking through the jungle.

The second transition area was one of the more memorable ones in GMARA history. Racers had to switch from canoes to bikes, but in-between: BACON.

Vermont Smoke & Cure donated bacon ends, and Will from the Outdoor Gear Exchange spent all morning over a hot frying pan.

The owner of the farm even stopped by with some muffins!

Are these guys sure they’re at the right event?

After that little pause, teams started the biking leg with a smile.

A short stretch on pavement, crossing mill brook again on a dirt road, and then (for most teams) bike-whacking down a ravine and crossing it a third time.

Some teams decided to ride around on dirt roads, adding about two miles to their day – but avoiding the treacherous currents in the babbling brook.

Mobbs Farm was a treat for some mountain bikers, while others thought of this segment as a gorgeous hike with their bike.

The bike leg had 14 checkpoints to pick up in any order – some orders were better than others.

Trust me, there’s a trail under those ferns…

CP12, the checkpoint under the bridge. It was great fun watching teams bike at high speed over this bridge, wondering where the next checkpoint was.

Trust me, there’s a trail here too.

After biking the valley and then the hill, racers headed for CP19 and then a well-deserved 1000-foot descent back into the Winooski river valley.

TA3 was back at Cochran’s ski area where racers had a quick gear check – it was about 85 degrees, but we wanted to see that they all had a warm hat in case they got chilly.

It’s important to be prepared, you see.

TA3 also had lemonade and beef sticks from Vermont Smoke & Cure, all served up by a crew of little helpers: Ember, Monique, Charlotte, Adele, Eleanor, Sam and Jack.

Ok maybe the helpers were more of an ongoing circus show, doing cartwheels down the hillside, but there was lemonade nearby.

One incredulous youth: “Hey, did you see that lady dump water right on her head?”

After a bit of refreshment, it was time to head back up the hill for the final trekking points. CP20-25, and three bonus points for anyone who wished they owned a stairmaster.

At 1:22 p.m. the first team came down the ski slope to the finish – Rev3/Mountain Khakis, showing why they’re holding the top spot on the USARA leaderboards. Hitting every point on the course – including the bonuses – in just over eight hours.

About 90 minutes after the top team, others started streaming in, including GMARA regulars like NH Trail Vets, Mercators, Goose Adventure Racing, and these guys: Out of Control

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

Chris’s voice could be heard for miles encouraging racers to finish strong, so they did.

Phenomenal appetizers and dinner from Bevo kicked off the relaxing portion of the day.

Cochran’s lodge was a great spot for a post-race party – picnic tables added to the comraderie and being surrounded by olympic memorabilia certainly added to the party atmosphere.

This year’s prize pool was spectacular, thanks in large part to help from The Outdoor Gear Exchange. Prizes from Salomon, Leki, Smartwool, Osprey, Julbo, Suunto, and Sea to Summit should set teams up for their next adventure.

Ski VT shared some lift tickets and other snowy prizes, in case you needed another excuse to get back this winter.

The Cochran cousins donated a pint of Slopeside Syrup to each of the division winners, which will be a great reminder of all the tubing they had to navigate around.

If you’re interested in using syrup to fuel your adventures, check out UnTapped – as they say, the simplicity of endurance sports deserves a simple ingredient — 100% pure, unadulterated, organic Vermont maple syrup.

A special thanks to the volunteers: Colin, Chris, Shawn, John, Scot, David, Charlotte, Bill, Diane, Shana, Bert, Drew, Michelle, Abbie, Will, Meg, Laurie, Kate, Liz, Amber, Patrick, Bryan, Marc, Graham, and anyone else who took a few minutes in the past six months to help make this happen. You might see Chris, Colin or Shawn directing on race day, but you don’t always see the people testing the course, hanging the flags, moving the bikes, or designing the shirts.

A special shout-out to Mammut for dressing our core staff in some fabulous new jackets!

Lastly, one more huge thanks to Will and the rest of the crew at the Outdoor Gear Exchange

You ate the bacon and earned the prizes, but that alone doesn’t tell you how much they want GMARA to succeed. We’re looking forward to a partnership that’ll last for years – together we’ll keep putting on the events that you love and getting you lost in the green mountains!

The NH Trail Vets sent along a great writeup of their day, and it’s fun to look at their track on Strava to see what I meant about CP2 causing trouble… and then despair at the beautiful straight lines as they hit the bonus points… even race directors with a GPS sometimes don’t move in lines like that.

If you’ve got your own writeup (or a GPS track) let me know and I’ll add it or share it with the team.

If you missed them, the photos are all up at

If you have any of your own, please get in touch and we’ll get them added.

Enjoy the summer while it lasts – we’ll see you February 28th for the 10th running of the Frigid Infliction!

— Shawn & the GMARA crew

2014 Frigid Infliction Results

March 14th, 2014 by GMARA Staff

Racers at the 2014 edition of the MVP Health Care Frigid Infliction started their day with a pleasant surprise: A short downhill ski on a trail that Bolton calls “Broadway”.

Wide, groomed, no climbing… so easy that we could even use portions of it for a kids’ race later in the day.

Of course, at 5:00 in the morning it was dark, and the trails were icy, and there were 96 racers all jostling for position. Maybe it wasn’t as easy as it sounded at first.

This would look just like the nordic races at the Olympics if it weren’t for Crumpets the Magical Elf.

Checkpoints 1 and 2 were “Off Broadway” which meant anyone enjoying the downhill too much had to turn around and do a bit of climbing.

After those points, racers were given the option to limbo underneath the gate at the end of Bolton’s trail network before reaching the first transition area. Some tried!

At TA1, racers left their skis behind and headed off on the Posthole leg.

Postholing is always everyone’s favorite.

Teams hit TA2 between 6:15 and 9:45, strapped on snowshoes, and headed east.

The snowshoe leg had checkpoints 6-12 scattered across the side of Bone Mountain, and no specific order required. Some teams headed immediately south following the catamount ski trail; others opted to go for a point on a small stream while the navigation was a bit easier. One team went in reverse order to maximize their time in fresh snow.

No matter which route they chose, the course was going uphill. It took teams anywhere from 3-5 hours to complete this leg.

Luckily, it had some of the best views in years – mostly clear skies meant seeing Camel’s Hump from four of the seven checkpoints.

CP10 was particularly pleasant, once you were up there.

For many teams, CP10 was a good navigation clinic refresher: when the topo lines are close together, it’s steep.

Two steps up, one step back… next time, bring ropes?

For those with flawless navigation, it was still almost 2300 feet of elevation gain…we’re guessing some teams probably climbed more than that.

After the snowshoe teams made it to the third transition area, where Vermont Smoke & Cure sponsored one of the tastiest gear checks in GMARA history – pull out your required knife and slice up a beef stick!

Thanks to our friends at the Outdoor Gear Exchange for putting us in touch, only good things can come from a relationship between adventure racers and a local company that smokes their own bacon.

Now, not everyone was in the mood for a beef stick at that point in the race – and of course, we have a number of vegetarian racers – so the volunteers helped them out by eating anything that might otherwise have been leftover.

Another tough job for the GMARA volunteer crew.

The Tyrolean! A challenge like no other, especially after 4-8 hours of racing.

Steve and the staff from Petra Cliffs did an amazing job this year – even with the largest number of racers at any Frigid, everyone moved through like clockwork.

Every year we’re amazed by the displays of inner strength and perseverance at the tyrolean.

Racers get 75% of the way across, their arms just stop working, for a half-second they look totally defeated.

But no: they grind out the last ten feet, make it to the other side and start smiling.

Most common quote at TA4:

“That was harder than I expected!”

From the tyrolean, it was a short snowshoe to TA5 where racers grabbed skis for checkpoints 13-17 on the Bolton Valley nordic trails.

This section had some unusual navigational challenges, more climbing, and plenty of sliding downhill in the slick backcountry.

Three more bonus points were available to teams that just couldn’t get enough of the hills.

Perennial favorites Untamed New England sent two teams this year, and they won as expected, reaching all CPs and BPs in just under 9 hours.

However, when we offered an extra bonus segment (cleaning up after the Wintry Wander) they turned us down – they were actually tired!

Race directors consider that a success.

Other teams also loved the course:

“I’m exhausted!”
“Why did you do that to us?”
“When’s the Bitter Pill?”

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

“This feels so good right now.” — Viva La Corner, off their feet for a moment.

Congratulations to Rick and Steffanie, the second couple to get engaged on a GMARA course! A very different sort of transition area, indeed. The first couple, Ashley and Jeremy (now happily married!) were also on hand. GMARA definitely considers it an honor to be involved in such important events.

Thanks again to MVP for making all of this possible, to Bolton for a great race location, to The Ponds for a great post-race party.

We can’t wait to see you all again at this summer’s Bitter Pill or next year’s Frigid!

A huge thanks to our own support crew:

  • Meg, Laurie, and Blythe for letting their husbands spend all their free time in the woods
  • Karin for organizing another fabulous dinner
  • Abbie for the post-race massage work
  • Scot, for breaking trail to CP9 so Shawn could set it the next day
  • Colin, John, Patrick, Bert, Drew, Tim, Diane, Shana, Courtney, Liz, Eric, and all the other volunteers without whom this couldn’t happen
  • Everyone who hung a poster, shared a post, wore our shirts to other events, convinced friends, relatives, lab partners, students and employees to take part

As always, our photos are up at SmugMug. See a photo you love? Click the thumbs up symbol at the bottom – the most popular go to the Best-Of Gallery.

New this year – from the race results page if you click on your TA times, it’ll jump into the photo collection around that time – easily find more pics of your team!

Here’s a few post-race details shared by teams:

If you have stories to share, blog posts about the race, or photos of your own please get in touch and we’ll add them to the galleries or share them here!

A huge thanks to our sponsors – let them know you appreciate their support!

MVP Health Care for the financial support that makes it possible for these races to happen.
The Outdoor Gear Exchange for continuing to support us in many ways including those awesome packs from Salomon, piles of other prizes, and putting us in touch with VT Smoke & Cure! Congrats to their team for taking third place in the premier division, too!
EMS of South Burlington for their support through all 11 years that we’ve been doing this, ongoing discounts for GMARA members, and the great prizes they give us!
The Ponds and the crew from The Essex for helping make the post-race party spectacular!
Ski VT for prize bags, backpacks, socks, and helping keep VT mountains open for adventure!
Vermont Smoke and Cure for some appetizing snacks!
Salomon, for awesome packs in the prize pool!
The Right Stuff
Lastly, you can always “like” GMARA – because who else keeps losing you in the Green Mountains?

Thanks for racing and see you next year!

— Jen, Chris, Shawn, Graham, and the GMARA crew

Thanks from GMARA / Frigid registration cap

January 31st, 2014 by GMARA Staff

(This went out to the mailing list, but if you’re not on there… sign up!)

First, an important note: We have to cap registration for the Frigid! We’re at 33 teams already, another three in the works, so we’re setting the cap at 40. Too many teams on the course would make it less an adventure and more a snowshoe conga line, which is why we’re limiting registration. We might adjust that cap in the future, but if you’ve been planning to sign up late, this isn’t the year to do it – register now to avoid missing out.

Second, a welcome to everyone who showed interest in GMARA at the BANFF film festival this past weekend!

On to the real purpose of this note: Thanks for keeping GMARA awesome!

This year we tried something new – a poster contest designed to spread the word about the Frigid. Whether it was the posters or just word of mouth, it worked – we had more early registrations than any Frigid in GMARA history, and we have you to thank for that!

Many of you know that GMARA is a true non-profit, nobody gets paid to run these races, we only show up because we know you’ll be there. Whether you’re a great crowd to begin with or racing at GMARA events makes you great, we’ll never know – we’re just glad you keep coming back year after year – racing, volunteering, getting lost in the green mountains, and bringing friends along to experience the fun. Thanks for making this organization something we all enjoy.

We did draw a winner for the contest – one of our local volunteers, Brittany Garland. She’s probably climbing a wall of ice somewhere, but we’ll get her that OGE gift certificate shortly. Even though the contest is over, we still encourage you to decorate with posters – we’ve got one for the Wintry Wander too:

While we’re thanking people for keeping the organization going, we’ll send a special shout-out to Brian Staveley from team UltraBambi. He’s been racing the Frigid since it began, and every year he shows up with a group of new racers, sharing the joy of a little light suffering. Tor books just published his first novel, an epic fantasy – not exactly adventure racing news, except that his characters are heavily influenced by his time on the course. If you’re curious, check out this post and look for The Emperor’s Blades on amazon and in local bookstores.

One last thing – if you’re planning ahead for this summer, I hear there’s a bunch of old friends spending time in the woods on August 2nd.

See you out there,

Shawn & the GMARA crew

Announcing the Wintry Wander!

December 20th, 2013 by GMARA Staff

GMARA is pleased to announce the Bolton Valley Wintry Wander, a kids’ event presented by MVP Health Care!

We’re able to offer this navigation challenge at only $5 per participant thanks to generous support from Bolton Valley and long-time sponsors MVP Health Care.

We’re excited that this is finally coming together. Many of the GMARA directors have small family members, and while they often get to scout course, set points, or serve lemonade, there’s never been an opportunity for them to join a team and hunt for flags in the woods.

We know a lot of racers have kids too, here’s your excuse to bring them along and let them share in the excitement of the not-quite-backcountry. Teams can be any size, but you’ll need an adult as the team captain to lead the group and make sure that nobody spends too long in the snow.

Many more details on the race page, but if you have questions, please drop us a line at and we’ll clear things up!

One final note – while we expect this to co-exist nicely with the Frigid from a spectator’s point of view, we do need to point out that post-Frigid dinner at the Ponds isn’t included for Wintry Wanderers. If you’d like to join the racers for dinner, though, just let us know and we’ll work out the cost details.

Frigid Infliction Poster Contest

December 3rd, 2013 by GMARA Staff

Enter a $100 raffle for the cost of a color printout! Help spread the word about the 2014 MVP Health Care Frigid Infliction and give yourself a chance to win a $100 OGE/ gift card. Here’s the deal:

  1. Download and print this 8×11 poster, in color: frigid 2014 8×11.pdf
  2. Hang it somewhere potential racers might see it:
    • The gym where you’re training for your next ultra
    • Your favorite outdoor gear emporium
    • That coffee shop where the orienteering club meets every week
    • Your office… if you work with a lot of outdoorsy people
    • The warming hut near your local nordic ski trails
    • College student centers
    • Anywhere you actually believe potential racers might see it
  3. Take a picture of the poster in its new home (maybe with your smiling face) and share with us using one or more of these:
  4. When you share it, let us know where it’s hanging, and use the hashtags #advrace #FI14 #VT so we can keep track.

  5. Get your posters up (and shared) by the time early registration ends – Jan 5th 2014. Each decent location counts as a raffle entry.

  6. Mid-January, we’ll draw a winner and send them a $100 gift card to Burlington’s Outdoor Gear Exchange /

Of course, we need some fine print:

  • You don’t have to race to win the raffle (but you will, right?)
  • Only the first poster shared from a certain location will count – get out there early!
  • It’s great if you want to share the same photo on multiple internet sites – in fact, we encourage it – but it’s still just one entry.
  • GMARA will be the final decider of what constitutes a valid location. If it’s borderline and you know it, feel free to convince us how great it is via email.
  • Like all GMARA events, please enter this raffle with a cheerful heart.
  • GMARA board members, race directors and the like aren’t eligible. You know who you are.

Let us know if you have questions!

Bitter Pill – Last Chance!

July 30th, 2013 by GMARA Staff

This is the last week to sign up for the MVP Health Care Bitter Pill – our boat supplier needs two weeks notice, which means even if you bring us baked goods, we probably can’t add a team at the last minute – unless you’re up for packrafting…

A quick news roundup for anyone who’s not on the mailing list yet:

  • If you can’t race on the 17th but you’re free this week for course testing, please let us know. We could use a few more data points, and you could use an excuse to get in the woods, right? As a bonus, if you’re in town on the 3rd/4th you can check out the USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike XCT finals. This should be an amazing event, olympic caliber racers and national competition in our backyard. We’re thrilled that it’s coming to Catamount and I know a lot of GMARA regulars will be enjoying the festival.
  • Big news on the sponsor front: our friends at the Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington have hooked us up with Salomon – our prize pool now includes vouchers for high-end adventure-ready shoes. Salomon was one of the first to design shoes specifically for adventure racers, and more than one GMARA race director can vouch for their quality.
  • In other sponsorship news, the Tick Twister is now GMARA’s official tick removal device! If you’ve ever tried to remove a tick, you know how much fun it can be – these make it easier, help avoid infection and disease transmission, and every Bitter Pill racer will get a set.

Everything’s coming together for a fabulous 10th anniversary Bitter Pill – see you out there!

Bitter Pill – early registration ending!

May 16th, 2013 by GMARA Staff

Good news, everyone! Mountain Hardwear will be sponsoring our race shirts this year – we’re still finalizing details, but it looks like racers will end up with one of our nicest shirts ever. We’ll see what we can do to make the artwork equally memorable.

As a special new sponsor bonus, we’re going to extend early registration rates through the weekend. Three more days to get your teams signed up at a discount – head over to registration now and lock in your chance to get lost in the hills, valleys, streams and fields of Vermont!

We’re also pleased to note that Catamount will offer discounted rates for bike rental – $20 instead of $30 for the day. Get in touch with them directly if you’re interested. They’re also offering camping on their property if you want to stay right where the action is and make it a full weekend of adventure. No showers, but they will have running water… details on camping rates will be posted on the race directions page as soon as we have them.

Sign up now or get in touch if you’ve got questions!

Spring 2013 deals and activities

April 25th, 2013 by GMARA Staff

We have a few deals from our sponsors that we want to share with you soon, so you don’t miss out.

We also want to invite you to some upcoming outings – not GMARA events, just things that our members are doing in their free time. As you know, event awesomeness increases in direct proportion to the number of GMARA members attending.

  EMS Club Days are May 3rd & 4th this year. Show your membership card to get 25% off EMS brand gear and 20% off all other in-store purchases.
  A couple former racers from Middlebury have formed a new company, employing veterans to make high-end bags from military surplus fabrics. The results are awesome, and the goal of making products in America is one that GMARA wholeheartedly supports. Check out their kickstarter campaign, and look for one of these bags to be a prize at the Bitter Pill!
  If you need new adventure-ready shades, Julbo has given us 20% off on purchases at using code julbobitterpill1888 – valid until July 1 2013. (If you’re racing, Julbo’s in the prize pool again this year too!)
  This Sunday morning (4/28) join us to Cycle The City of Burlington with Vermont’s Local Motion, one of our favorite non-profits. It’s the perfect way to ease into adventure – biking, reading a map, chatting with good people… just like most GMARA events, right?
  Our friends at Petra Cliffs just finished a huge expansion, adding a massive top-out boulder. They’re celebrating with a
bouldering competition on Friday May 3rd that looks like a great party!
  Our host location for the Bitter Pill doesn’t just wait around for adventure to happen, they’re busy all summer with events, camps, races, and fun reasons to get outside. Kick off the season and get your bike muscles tuned up with the Flower Power mountain bike race, May 11th.

In the future, we’ll try sharing small events like these through our Facebook group – we don’t want to mail the entire northeast if we’re just going climbing or grabbing a beer. If you’re interested, join the group:

Bitter Pill 2013: Registration Open!

April 20th, 2013 by GMARA Staff

Registration is open for the 2013 MVP Health Care Bitter Pill!

It's hard to believe, but we've been hosting the Bitter Pill Adventure Race for ten years now. Thankfully, losing you in the woods just doesn't get old. Read on for details, or go directly to the registration page to sign up.

To celebrate this tenth anniversary milestone, we're happy to announce some goodness for this year's race:

  • Lower costs! Entry fees are lower than last year, especially for early registrants.
  • Teams of two or three! Top prizes still go to three-person teams, but if you only have one awesome friend, you should still sign up.
  • Paddling is back! Tandem kayaks for two, and canoes for three.
  • Multiple new (and old) sponsors lined up! Details coming next week, including some good discounts.
  • We're moving the race north again, basing it out of the Catamount Outdoor Family Center in Williston.

Boats are limited in both divisions, and early registration rates are definitely cheaper, so sign up soon to reserve a properly-sized boat and lock in your spot. More details, as always, on the site:

From all of us at GMARA, we're looking forward to an amazing race and hearing about all your trials, successes, perseverance, and how you've grown as a result of what your team overcomes in the 2013 Bitter Pill.

Special thanks to MVP Health Care for being our title sponsor for more than half of our ten years. Some tremendous things have come together with their support, and we're thrilled to have them back.

The GMARA crew