Test Your Nettle

Slightly Frigid Edition


1. a herbaceous plant that has jagged leaves covered with stinging hairs.
2. irritate or annoy (someone).


1. a person’s ability to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way.

You, and at least one adventurous friend!
A winter navigation adventure!
Bolton Valley Resort in Bolton, VT!
March 2nd, 2019 — 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
You need a reason to be outdoors with friends!
With map & compass, on snowshoes!

At GMARA, we try to design our races so new teams can participate, have fun, and make it to dinner. To be honest though, “The Bitter Pill” and “The Frigid Infliction” aren’t exactly a walk in the park. It can be hard to attempt 8+ hours in the woods and harder to convince friends to join you!

That’s why we launched “Test Your Nettle” in 2017 – a shorter, non-competitive event that’ll work your navigation skills & get your feet wet. We’re doing it again this winter!

This summer, we’ll be hosting a beginner friendly event out of the Catamount Outdoor Center in Williston, Vermont, on Saturday, August 4th. Teams can navigate on bike and foot for five hours, or start later and just do the trekking portion. This is a great event for new racers, friends and family, younger kids, and anyone who wants to experiment and see what this sport is all about. We’re also challenging regular racers to bring someone new to the sport.We’ll be doing some interesting things to keep the cost really affordable and make it possible for everyone to come. That being said – we’ll still get you off-trail, you will still have plenty of opportunities to get lost, and you’ll have the chance to do some of the most approachable mountain biking we’ve provided in a few years!

Also – we may add on a bonus NIGHT section for those looking for more of a challenge or to experiment with navigating via headlamp. If this is interesting to you, let us know. We may not add it to registration but do it as a special side-event for those interested.

The Challenge

For every “Test Your Nettle” we want your experience to be similar to a typical GMARA adventure, with one major difference:

  • This isn’t a race against other teams; It’s your team vs. the backcountry.

We will publish results after the fact, but the goal of this event is to let you build skills, try out gear, see how your team gets along, and learn whether you like the taste of adventure. (If you really need that competition, consider another GMARA race.)

Some things stay the same as other GMARA events:

  • Navigation with map & compass
  • Great terrain
  • Team-based adventure — groups of at least 2 people, staying together for the whole event
  • Fabulous post-race gathering!
  • Awesome raffle prizes

Other things will be adjusted:

  • Shorter race length (3-5 hours)
  • Significantly lower price (~$45)
  • More flexible team size (2-6 people)
  • Later start time (no waking up for a 4:30 a.m. start!)
  • Reduced gear list (hopefully no rental gear needed)
  • No awards or prizes for top teams, just pleasant exhaustion

You’ll have to decide how much training and physical preparation is required for 3-5 hours of adventure, but if you’re comfortable with a hike of the same duration you should feel ready to join in the fun.


You’ll still need to be prepared, even if you’re not deep in the backcountry for a full day. This is mostly gear that you’d want on any outdoor adventure, so even if you have to shop for a space blanket it’s still a wise $2 investment.

You’ll need at least these items:

Per team, carried through the entire race:

  • Waterproof map bag (a 2-gallon ziplock works ok if you don’t go swimming)
  • Pencil/pen
  • Watch
  • First aid supplies. We suggest:
    • 1” bandages
    • 3″x4” gauze pads
    • 2″x5yd gauze roll
    • 1/2” adhesive tape roll
    • Tweezers
    • Anti-bacterial creme/towelettes
    • Ibuprofen

Per racer, carried or worn during the entire event:

  • Backpack
  • Container for at least two litres of fluid
  • Compass (declinating compass recommended)
  • Space Blanket/Bag
  • Whistle
  • A full set of cold-weather gear: Hat, gloves, insulating shirt & pants.
  • Chemical hand warmers
  • Lighter / waterproof matches
  • Snowshoes
Lastly, you’ll need gear for specific types of adventure – since there’s (optional) mountain biking this summer, you’ll need your own bike and of course a bike helmet. Catamount is small enough that you could walk out of the woods if you get a flat tire, but we recommend someone on the team carry a basic bike toolkit – spare tire, pump, etc.

Occasionally racers ask if they’re allowed to bring things not on our gear list – absolutely! Nothing that gives an unfair advantage, but the items above are just a starting point. Here’s a short list of other gear to consider:

    • Food
    • Mirror (compass mirror is acceptable – for signaling)
    • Sunglasses & sunscreen
    • Waterproof / windproof shell
    • Cell phone & a waterproof case (but see the electronics policy)
    • Knife with folding, locking blade
  • Sunscreen & bugspray
  • Chemical hand warmers and/or gloves (cold hands make everything difficult)
  • Antihistamine (benadryl) tablets or topical gel
  • Hat (for sun & bugs)


Rates are as follows:
  • Dec 02 - Dec 17: $39 per racer.
  • Dec 18 - Jan 14: $42 per racer.
  • Jan 15 - Feb 10: $45 per racer.
  • Feb 11 - Feb 28: $45 per racer. No shirt orders possible
To be clear, that means a team of 3 signing up late will pay $45x3 = $135 total.

That covers a day of fun at Bolton including maps, passports, site access fees, insurance, and a dinner invite for every racer. Shirts are optional and will have to be ordered separately.

As always, we’re 100% nonprofit with no paid employees.

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


Test Your Nettle check-in should be quick – we’ll have a few things to sign.

However, if you want to brush up on your navigation skills, get there early and bring a picnic lunch! We’ll have a quick orienteering clinic at 10:15, after which you’ll have an hour to ask questions and learn technique from GMARA regulars while you eat.Everyone should be checked in by 11:45, at which point we’ll hand out official maps and cover the instructions before the start.

For teams that decide to skip the mountain biking, we’ll do another mass start at 2 p.m. – but you’re welcome to start with the rest of the group at noon and spend five hours on foot if you choose.

Everyone should finish by 5 p.m. — teams who are on time will be entered into the post-race raffle!

Everyone should be checked in by 9:45, at which point we’ll hand out official maps and cover the instructions before the start.

Everyone should finish by 3 p.m. — teams who are on time will be entered into the post-race raffle!


8:45 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Pre-race Instructions
9:45 a.m.
10:00 a.m.
Latest Time to Finish:
3:00 p.m.
Post-Race Gathering:
4:00 p.m.


Sorry, registration is closed - please contact us if it's still before race day and you want to join in.

We try to do most of our waivers online, but you may still have to sign a few paper documents at on-site registration.

  • Bolton Valley has us fill out paper copies of their waiver 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.


Our host venue will be the Catamount Outdoor Family Center in Williston, VT. There are lots of hotels nearby, campgrounds, GMARA members who might want overnight guests, etc. You can also let us know if you want to camp at Catamount at $10/night.
Our host venue will be the Bolton Valley Resort. Registration will be on-site at the Nordic Center. Here are directions to the resort.


Some teams may be larger, but only the first three racer names are shown.

#Team NameCaptainTeammateTeammate
31 Track Suit SaturdayTom Desrosiers Rebecca Desrosiers Jordana Levine Justin Thompson
32 Not Lost, Just Wandering!Prashant Bhattarai Samson Gadekar Karthik Nagarajan
33 Snow Play!Brian Barclay ian barclay Janet Barclay
34 Baby It's Cold OutsideKaren Phillips Patrick Noyes
35 Chaos Machine/LifestrawCliff White Emily Moreshead
36 Doubmans with AltimeterEmma Doubman Lyn Doubman
37 Doubmans without AltimeterJay Doubman Tara Doubman
38 Jersey BoysDavid Arentsen Andrew Pohl
39 Just Winging ItRaina White Michele Maxson Will McFarland
40 MuttButtsBenny Chen Caitlin Folchman-Wagner
41 One Sip At A TimeMarshall Farley Jennifer Farley
42 Team RocketAlex Bandin Hayley Israel
43 The Donner PartySteven Deyo Blair Deyo
44 The reason why our dad's hair is grey...Brittani Barone Carly Barone
46 Check Point ChicksElizabeth Keane Steffanie Keilty


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