The Bitter Pill

Teams of 2-3
Hike, Bike, Paddle!
August 14th, 2021, 6am-6pm
Craftsbury, VT

The Bitter Pill is a summer adventure race for teams of two or three. We will be holding the 16th Bitter Pill in on Saturday, August 14th, 2021.

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!

We will be following a strict set of COVID-related protocols to keep racers and volunteers safe. These will not prevent you from having an amazing day outdoors.


The 2021 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.


The race will be based out of the Craftsbury Outdoor Center in Craftsbury, Vermont. This is quintessential Vermont, with beautiful scenery, lots of elevation changes, and boundless opportunities to bike, paddle, and hike.

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 personal 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. (Don’t worry, you do get to leave the boat and bike behind when not on those sections.)

Do I need a real mountain bike for this race?
Our courses typically feature all sorts of terrain, including technical trails, forest roads, paved roads, and even hike-a-bike sections. We always recommend a real mountain bike but if you want to try your luck with a hybrid or single speed bike, that’s your call.


For your reference – please take a moment to review these documents, specifically the required gear list.

Mandatory Team Gear List
Mandatory Individual Gear List

There are a number of other documents and policies you can review ahead of time:

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.


Saturday, August 14th: 4:00-5:30 a.m.
Staggered Race Start:
Saturday, August 14th: beginning at 6:00 a.m.
Race Finish:
All racers should be off the course by roughly 6:00 p.m., depending on their start time


Here's the latest news about this race:


Sorry, the team list isn't published yet. Check back a bit closer to race day!


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:
  • Jan 20 - Mar 31: $123 per racer.
  • Apr 01 - Jun 15: $138 per racer.
  • Jun 16 - Jul 16: $153 per racer.
  • Jul 17 - Aug 02: $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.
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