The Bitter Pill 2017

The Bitter Pill is a 12-hour adventure race for teams of two or three. The 2017 race will take place Saturday, August 12th, near Sugarbush, VT. This will be our 14th Bitter Pill!

This race features several disciplines as well as requiring you to continually navigate. We are known for being able to really challenge experienced teams while providing a great race for the first timers. If you have never done an adventure race before, this is a great way to get started. This was the first adventure race for about a third of the participants the past five years, so don’t be intimidated.

Teams do not need support crews for this event. Outside of what is provided by the race organizers, teams must be self-sufficient. This is an adventure, after all!

Check out some of our past racers’ comments. If you’re looking for teammates, check our contact page for suggestions.

Disciplines

This year’s race will feature the following disciplines:

  • Navigation with topographical map and compass
  • Mountain Biking
  • Hiking

Keep in mind that these disciplines can occur in any order, and you could have multiple sections in the course for each activity. We’ll sometimes surprise you with other disciplines too – a short swim, a quick climb – but nothing you wouldn’t be prepared for.

Directions

Our host venue will be Sugarbush Resort. Registration will be on-site at the Mt. Ellen base lodge.

Sugarbush is offering free on-site camping, meaning space to pitch a tent. No campfires, showers, or bathrooms, but there will be a port-a-potty. You’ll be within shouting distance of the pre-race briefing though, so if you’re worried about waking up on time, this is a good option.

If you’re looking for something more comfortable, the internet is your best bet – anything close to Mt. Ellen will get you there on time.

Cost

The Bitter Pill aims to be one of the most affordable 12 hour adventure races in the northeast. We’re a non-profit, so all the fees go toward making the event awesome.


Important: Our cost setup has changed slightly this year, please review:
  • There's an up-front non-refundable $48 registration fee.
  • There's a separate per-racer fee that we'll collect later.
Plan to pay the registration fee immediately to reserve your team's spot at current rates. Each racer will be contacted separately to select shirts, fill out waivers, and collect individual fees as follows:
  • May 14 - May 21: +$81 per racer.
  • May 22 - Jun 18: +$102 per racer.
  • Jun 19 - Jul 16: +$123 per racer.
  • Jul 17 - Aug 11: +$135 per racer. No guaranteed shirt due to ordering timelines.
To be clear, that means a team of 3 signing up late will pay $48 + $135x3 = $453 total.
Only the $48 is due on signup though, the rest will be collected later.

Please take a minute to review notes on costs and refunds including important details about what happens if you withdraw closer to race day.

Registration fees cover the following:

  • Race entry for your team – an opportunity to explore the outdoors in a new way, creating memories and friendships that last for years.
  • Waterproof topo map for your team from MyTopo
  • Transport of bikes or racers (as needed)
  • All insurance, permits, and safety staff
  • Wicking GMARA t-shirt for every racer
  • Great swag like Garuka Bars for every racer
  • Pre-race navigation clinic from GMARA experts
  • One of the best post-race parties in the industry!
  • Thousands of full-size race photos, 100% free to racers.
  • Prizes for top teams in each division as well as a gear raffle for all racers at dinner
  • $400 sponsorship towards USARA nationals for the top 3-person coed team
  • USARA Regional Qualifier (top teams qualify for nationals)

Register

It looks like you’re on a mobile device, and unfortunately our registration form is a bit of a mess on mobile. Volunteer web developers and so forth.

You’re welcome to try it anyway: Registration Form

If it’s unusable, please come back when you’ve got a larger screen available! If you want a reminder, please contact us and we’ll be in touch shortly.

Important: The Bitter Pill is essentially full at this point, but we may have one more boat available. You can still register, but you’ll be put on a wait list with no guarantee that you’ll be able to race. We’ll put you through the rest of the process – gathering shirt sizes and waivers – but please don’t spend money booking hotel rooms until you hear a definite “yes” from the organizers. We usually have 3-5 teams drop before the race due to scheduling issues, injury, or illness, so being on the waitlist doesn’t mean you won’t get to race – just that nothing is guaranteed yet.

Please head to the Registration Form to get started.

Note that registration confirmation may take a day or two, since it’s handled by our volunteers – and you’re not actually registered until you’ve paid!

We’ve made some code updates recently, so if you see any issues by all means please contact us for assistance.

Documents

For your reference – please take a moment to review these documents, specifically the required gear list. Note that you have to actually bring all your gear to registration for a safety check. We need to be sure that we’re not sending you out unprepared, and that means looking at everything from bikes and helmets to water bottles and whistles!

Race Rules
Mandatory Team Gear List
Mandatory Individual Gear List

We try to do most of our waivers online, but you may still have to sign a few paper documents at registration. Any racers under age 18 on race day will need a parent or guardian to sign waivers for them – in that case, we’ll reach out with specifics.

If you want to review waivers ahead of time, the USARA Waiver is here, the basics of the GMARA photo release are included on the Race Rules Page, and you’ll have to fill out a copy of this medical form at registration as well: Emergency Contact and Medical Form.

Schedule

Due to the nature of the sport, you must be punctual. All race activities will start on time whether your team is there or not. Set multiple clocks, hire a wakeup service, buy a rooster, do whatever you have to do to get up and be on time.

Please note: Registration includes a mandatory gear check for all members of your team. Bring all your required gear with you!

Registration:
Friday, August 11: 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Free Navigation Clinic:
Friday, August 11: 8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Pre-Race Briefing:
Saturday, August 12: 4:00 a.m.
Race Start:
Saturday, August 12: 5:00 a.m.
Race Finish:
All racers should be off the course by 5:00 p.m.
Dinner:
Food should be served around 5:30 p.m.

Updates

Here's the latest news about this race:

Teams

If your division ends in -WL, that means you are on the waitlist - our race is full, but if a spot opens up we'll contact you. You should still get all racer-related email, but don't pay us until you hear that we can actually accomodate you.

DivTeam NameCaptainTeammateTeammate
3C Chaffing The DreamTom Martin Amanda Auger James Montague
3C Dixie's ChicksBrendan Dix Chris Neumann Tom O'Donovan
3C Rugged Roadthorin markison Michael Chartrand Meredith Naughton
3C Strong MachineCliff White Claire Poulin Chris Sussman
3C The Donner PartyMatthew Tullo Steve Maher Mary Tullo
3M 25th PercentileJay Doubman David Doubman Brent McHenry
3M Age Before BeautyBert Rothenbach Curt Carlisle Henry Ferrari
3M Dirty weekendersDerek Howard David Gawlik Ethan Waldo
3M Mountainous MoronsWyatt Vargas Josh Fisher Owen Teetor
3M Sandwich SquadBaxter Miatke Jordan Duffy Matthew Gardner
3M Stupid AnimalsRalph Horak Brett Anderson Craig Thomas
3M Trail Dogs AScott Ellison Jeff Kenney Josh Whipple
3M Trail Dogs BKevin Baum David Burkoff Pete Ingraham
3M Trumpin, What a long strange tripJack Himmelsbach Cris Cote unknown unknown
3M Vet-EngErik Petersen Luc Frechette Joey Slobodian
3M Wet YetisJason Gibbs David Coriell Neale Lunderville
2C A ParadoxTimothy Grogean Claudia Grogean
2C Kidder's KittensBenjamin Kidder Marian Wolz
2C Misty Mountain HoppersKy Koitzsch Lisa Koitzsch
2C Nettle Tea'sersBrenda Rose John McKinnon
2C Strangers of the ValleyMegan Moir Mark Walsh
2C The Rugged RatsClare Tattersall Radu Teodorescu
2C Timberwolves TooMelissa Kubicki Mikael Taveniku
2C What Were We Thinking?Mark Salas Jennifer Brown
2F Shake'inatorsKit Vreeland Ashley Eaton
2M Mud, Sweat and BeersJay Finn Jim Bailey
2M North is EverywhereRoss Lieb-Lappen John McGuinness
2M Team RuggedMatt Caldwell Phil Hodgkins
2M Team USAJeff Thurlow Andrew Neff
2M The Placebo EffectWilliam Hafferty Jay Oppenheim
2M TimberwolvesGreg Kolvoord David Boudreau
2M YB NormalRon Barron Doug Sevon

Division breakdown: 2 Person Coed: 8, 2 Person Female: 1, 2 Person Male: 7, 3 Person Coed: 5, 3 Person Male: 11 (32 teams)

Where racers are from: VT: 40%, MA: 15%, NH: 12%, ME: 8%, CT: 6%, NY: 5%, ON: 4%, VA: 2%, GA: 2%, MD: 2%, NJ: 1%, PA: 1% (80 racers)

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this a good race for a team new to adventure racing?
Absolutely. A twelve hour race is the standard length for a beginner adventure race. One thing we do really well is providing a enjoyable experience for the new teams.

Will we be plotting UTM coordinates?
No. We use pre-plotted maps. We made the decision as an organization that in a race of this length it made more sense considering the number of new teams we see. Never fear – the navigation will be challenging enough without this extra step.

Can we leave gear we don’t need behind, such as our PFD when not on the paddle section or bike helmet when not on the bike section?
Assume the answer is no. Some races will have a section where you can leave some gear and grab it later but this is generally not the case. Your best bet is to practice carrying everything and adjust based on the specifics of the course. You can leave water bottles attached to your bike, but you can’t leave your helmet and shoes behind unless specifically told otherwise.