The Outdoor Gear Exchange

Bitter Pill 2016

The Bitter Pill is a 12-hour adventure race for teams of two or three. This year’s race will take place August 6th, 2016 near Bolton Valley, VT.

This race features several disciplines as well as requiring you to continually navigate. We use an accelerated cutoff system which allows us 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 the perfect one to start with. This was the first adventure race for about a third of the participants the past four 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.


This year’s race may feature any of the following disciplines:

  • Navigation with topographical map and compass
  • Mountain Biking
  • Hiking
  • Paddling (Canoe or Kayak)
  • A short portage

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.


Our host venue will be Bolton Valley Resort. Registration will most likely be on-site.

Bolton Valley is offering a discount on hotel rooms, just use the code “Bitter” online or on the phone for 15% off, and Little River State Park isn’t far for those that want to camp.


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 towards making the event awesome. One third of your entry fee is a non-refundable deposit and must be paid when you register to lock in your rate. Full payment is due three weeks before the race.

This will be our 13th Bitter Pill! We’re trying something new with our pricing so that you can talk your friends into racing with you!

Early registration:
$105 per racer
June 6th or later:
$120 per racer
June 27th or later:
$135 per racer
July 18th or later:
$150 per racer

For comparison, full price last year was $330 for a team of two or $462 for a team of three. We really want you to sign up early and bring a crew.

Please take a minute to review notes about refunds, USARA membership, and group discounts.

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.
  • Maps, boats, and paddles
  • Transport of bikes, boats, or racers (if needed)
  • All insurance, permits, and safety staff
  • Wicking GMARA t-shirt for every racer
  • Great swag like Trail Runner magazines and 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)


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.


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 PFDs to water bottles and whistles!

Race Rules
Mandatory Team Gear List
Mandatory Individual Gear List

Please print a copy of this medical form, seal it in an envelope, and bring it to registration – if you are injured, we hand this to the EMTs: Emergency Contact and Medical Form

You’ll be required to sign USARA waivers online, but if you’re 18 or under, please print paper copies and have a parent or guardian sign them:

USARA Waiver


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!

To save time, print and sign the Documents before registration too.

Friday, August 5: 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Free Navigation Clinic:
Friday, August 5: 8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Pre-Race Briefing:
Saturday, August 6: 4:00 a.m.
Race Start:
Saturday, August 6: 5:00 a.m.
Race Finish:
All racers should be off the course by 5:00 p.m.
Food should be served around 5:30 p.m.


Here's the latest news about this race:


In the list below, if you have a red or yellow N in the Paid column, you can click on it to view payment details. If you have a red N in the USARA column, at least one racer needs to click on the N and sign the USARA waiver. If you have a yellow U in the USARA column, at least one racer needs to bring a printed waiver with them to registration - click on the U for more information.

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.

#DivPaidUSARATeam NameCaptainTeammateTeammate
1 3C YYDixie's ChicksDavid Dix Maryanne Connolly Molly Dix
2 3C YYGoose Adventure RacingTim Ratowski Rob Feissner Laura Webber
3 3C YYJill, make me a sandwichChris Norton Jill Grant Dan Yotive
4 3C YYMaple MayhemJesse Kyhill AnnMarie Mahar Ryan Mahar
5 3C YYRugged RoadThorin Markison Kerry Gross Lance Parker
6 3C YYStrong MachineCliff White Greyson Brooks Kate White
7 3C YYTBDDaniel Chamberlain Michael Chamberlain Eleanor Stoltzfus
8 3C YYWill Brake For BerriesTim Curtin Chris Howell Brenda Rose
9 3M YYBitter? We Hardly Know'er!Garrett Schwartz Tom O'Donovan Brent Schwartz
10 3M YYBushwhackersEthan LaPlante Sam Adams Henry Stayduhar
11 3M YYDirty weekendersDerek Howard David Gawlik Ethan Waldo
12 3M YYJDDDonald Hess Justin de Benedictis-Kessner Dave Young
13 3M YYOut of ControlMike Gannon Joshua Brown Greg Hester
14 3M YYPizza be upon youEric Wyler Evan Moreshead Anthony Walsh
15 3M YYStevie WanderpantsChristopher Van Cannon ben almada Nick Cannon
16 3M YYTeam SpagnoliPeter Spagnoli Matthew Spagnoli Robert Spagnoli
17 3M YYTrail DogsScott Ellison Kevin Baum Josh Whipple
18 2C YYA ParadoxTimothy Grogean Claudia Grogean
19 2C YYChafing the DreamTom Martin Amanda Auger
20 2C YYFear The Owls!Mark Salas Megan Granger
21 2C YYHoglegSam Werbel Nicole Duquette
22 2C YYScrambled Legs and AchingShelley Koenig David Koenig
23 2C YYTeam Honey BadgerJeremiah Goyette Beth Scott
24 2C YYTeam QTCheryl Eaton Peter O'Connell
25 2F YYBOSSy LadiesCaitlin Dean Bree Carlson
26 2F YYThere's a Cat in my BackpackKit Vreeland Ashley Eaton
27 2F YYTwisted SistersPaula Nenninger Kim Niquette
28 2M YYAbsolute ZerosBruce Kapteyn Sam Borchard
29 2M YYAge Before BeautyBert Rothenbach Curt Carlisle
30 2M YYBlack UnderpantsMatt Cannon Thayer Osborne
31 2M YYDon't Cross the StreamsScot Rose Darren Rauer
32 2M YYDonner PartyStephen Maher Matthew Tullo
33 2M YYDrymouthJeffrey Howlett Brian Wilkinson
34 2M YYLes Hors PistesJF Godin Felix Doucet
35 2M YYMud, Sweat and BeersJay Finn Jim Bailey
36 2M YYNorth is EverywhereRoss Lieb-Lappen Gunnar Pope
37 2M YYRaid International GaspésieArnaud Côté-Boisvert Jason Argouin
38 2M YYRockland BoyzLuc Frechette Erik Petersen
39 2M YYSmokey and The BanditPhilip Cody Harry Netzer
40 2M YYWe're better than BruceColin McCullough Sebastian Kowalik
41 2M YYYB NormalDoug Sevon Ron Barron

Division breakdown: 2 Person Coed: 7, 2 Person Female: 3, 2 Person Male: 14, 3 Person Coed: 8, 3 Person Male: 9 (41 teams)

Where racers are from: VT: 30%, MA: 23%, NY: 10%, NH: 8%, CT: 7%, ME: 6%, QC: 4%, ON: 2%, NJ: 2%, VA: 1%, PA: 1%, FL: 1%, MD: 1%, CA: 1%, IN: 1%, IL: 1% (99 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.