The Outdoor Gear Exchange

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 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 the perfect one to start with. 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.


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 Sugarbush Resort. Registration will most likely be on-site.

More to come as logistics are finalized.


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 14th Bitter Pill! We’re trying something new with our pricing so that you can talk your friends into racing with you!
Not finalized for 2017

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.

Registration is not yet open for 2017. More to come soon!


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 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.
Food should be served around 5:30 p.m.


Here's the latest news about this race:


No teams since we haven’t opened registration yet.

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.