The Bitter Pill 2019

The Bitter Pill is a 12-hour adventure race for teams of two or three. We will be holding the 15th Bitter Pill on August 10th, 2019.

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.

What’s the short description of this event? Let’s put it this way: we’ll get your team out into the woods and on the water, doing different activities, navigating with a map, and going to places you never would have otherwise. You’ll have an incredible, unique, experience with other teams there to do the same. The competition is truly with the course – you’ll go as fast and far as you want to, all with a goal of making it to the finish and seeing as much of the course as possible.

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


The 2019 race will feature the following disciplines:

  • Navigation with topographical map and compass
  • Mountain Biking
  • Hiking / Trekking
  • Paddling

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.


We’re not quite ready to announce the 2019 logistics yet but look forward to doing so soon.


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.

Race rates for 2019 are TBD, but here are the 2017 rates for reference.

Rates are 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 $135x3 = $405 total.

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)


Important: We will open registration in May, with first-come, first-served based on availability of boats for your team’s division.
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 waitlist 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 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.


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 wake-up 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!

The 2019 schedule is still being finalized, but this should be fairly accurate:

Friday, August 9: 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
(Not a 3.5 hour meeting, just a ~20 minute drop in)

Free Navigation Clinic:
Friday, August 9: 8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Pre-Race Briefing:
Saturday, August 10: 4:00 a.m.
Race Start:
Saturday, August 10: 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:


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
1 3C Chaffing The DreamTom Martin Amanda Auger James Montague
2 3M Dixie's ChicksBrendan Dix Chris Neumann Tom O'Donovan
3 3C Rugged Roadthorin markison Michael Chartrand Meredith Naughton
4 3C Strong MachineCliff White Claire Poulin Chris Sussman
5 3C The Donner PartyMatthew Tullo Steve Maher Mary Tullo
6 3M 25th PercentileJay Doubman David Doubman Brent McHenry
7 3M Age Before BeautyBert Rothenbach Curt Carlisle Henry Ferrari
8 3M Dirty weekendersDerek Howard David Gawlik Ethan Waldo
9 3M Mountainous MoronsWyatt Vargas Josh Fisher Owen Teetor
10 3M Sandwich SquadBaxter Miatke Jordan Duffy Matthew Gardner
11 3M Stupid AnimalsRalph Horak Brett Anderson Craig Thomas
13 3M Trail Dogs AScott Ellison Jeff Kenney Josh Whipple
14 3M Trail Dogs BKevin Baum Dave Burkoff Pete Ingraham
15 3M Trumpin, What a long strange tripJack Himmelsbach Cris Cote Jason Storer
16 3M Untamed New EnglandDave Lamb Joe Brautigam Jeff Woods
17 3M Vet-EngErik Petersen Luc Frechette Joey Slobodian
18 3M Wet YetisJason Gibbs David Coriell Neale Lunderville
19 2C A ParadoxTimothy Grogean Claudia Grogean
20 2C Kidder's KittensBenjamin Kidder Marian Wolz
23 2C Nettle Tea'sersBrenda Rose John McKinnon
24 2C Sleeping BearsBenjamin Levitt Faye Zheng
25 2C Strangers of the ValleyMegan Moir Mark Walsh
26 2C The Rugged RatsClare Tattersall Radu Teodorescu
27 2C Stage 1/Airline Cycles #1Melissa Kubicki Mikael Taveniku
28 2C What Were We Thinking?Mark Salas Jennifer Brown
29 2F Shake'inatorsKit Vreeland Ashley Eaton
30 2M Mighty Morphin Park RangersGerben Scherpbier Cedar Farwell
31 2M Mud, Sweat and BeersJay Finn Jim Bailey
32 2M North is EverywhereRoss Lieb-Lappen John McGuinness
33 2M Team RuggedMatt Caldwell Phil Hodgkins
34 2M Team USAJeff Thurlow Andrew Neff
35 2M The Placebo EffectWilliam Hafferty Jay Oppenheim
36 2M Stage 1/Airline Cycles #BGreg Kolvoord David Boudreau
37 2M YB NormalRon Barron Doug Sevon

Division breakdown: 2 Person Coed: 8, 2 Person Female: 1, 2 Person Male: 8, 3 Person Coed: 4, 3 Person Male: 13 (34 teams)

Where racers are from: VT: 36%, MA: 18%, NH: 13%, CT: 8%, ME: 7%, NY: 5%, ON: 4%, VA: 2%, GA: 2%, MD: 2%, NJ: 1%, PA: 1% (85 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.