The Bitter Pill

Teams of 2-3
Hike, Bike, Paddle!
August 10th, 2019, 5am-5pm
Waterbury, VT

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

This race features summer disciplines like hiking, biking, and time on the water – 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.

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!


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.


Our host location will be Blush Hill Country Club at 141 Lonesome Trail in Waterbury, VT.

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.


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.

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.


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!

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

Friday, August 9th: 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 9th: 8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Pre-Race Briefing:
Saturday, August 10th: 4:30 a.m.
Race Start:
Saturday, August 10th: 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:


3CThe Donner PartyMatthew Tullo, Steve Maher, Mary Tullo
3CLost KozKennedy Nau, Olivier Kozlowski, Keith Moser
3MMan FriendsBaxter Miatke, Jordan Duffy, Cam Houghton
3MOut of Control...with cookiesMike Gannon, Josh Brown, Greg Hester
2CBavisJay Avis, Amanda Burns
2CHoney BadgersBeth Scott, Jeremiah Goyette
2FTeam KashKit Vreeland, Ashley Eaton
2FDainty FlowersShelley Koenig, Charlie Koenig
2MNH Trail Vets Development SquadReed Holland, Mason Holland
2MSominexBert Rothenbach, TBD
2MMud, Sweat & BeersJim Bailey, Jay Finn
2MGoose A.R.Tim Ratowski, Ian Webber
2MWoodbury Athletic ClubTim Grogean, Jimmy Crocker
2MScrambled Legs and AchingDavid Koenig Koenig, Noah Koenig


Registration is open! Choose a team name, let us know how many people are coming, and we'll get names and email addresses on the next page.

We'll expect you to pay for the whole team up front. (Team members added later will have to pay the going rate at that time.)

Teams of 3 will get a canoe, teams of 2 will be in a tandem kayak. We may be limited on the number of boats we can get, so if you’re interested in that $400 USARA sponsorship for the top 3-person coed team, don’t wait to sign up!

If you’re not sure who your teammates are, you can still lock in the current rates and reserve a spot by registering today.

Rates for this year:
  • May 02 - May 11: $123 per racer.
  • May 12 - Jun 15: $138 per racer.
  • Jun 16 - Jul 20: $153 per racer.
  • Jul 21 - Aug 09: $159 per racer. (Shirts not included)
Curious about our refund policy or where your money goes?
Along with the usual items, this year's fees include t-shirts, canoe/kayak rental, USARA membership and qualifier fees.
Please choose a team name...
Please enter a first name.
Please enter a last name.
Please enter an email address.