These intriguing events include three single sport tests, a classic swim-bike-run on a pristine national park venue, and a short but quite tough SwimRun. Two are rough off pavement cycling stage races, and one is not an organized event at all but a solo challenge in a famed national park. Another is run by three men who take no fee at all but donate all race proceeds to local charities. While each is tough in its own way, none are impossible and all are rewarding experiences.
Please note that some of these events are sold out, so while they are great events, Slowtwitchers may need to wait until 2020 to try them out.
If none of these are exactly your cup of tea, we hope you will be inspired to invent your own unique event in a little known but beautiful corner of your world.
Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder
This five day stage race is the biggest gravel event in North America. Five days of the most remote and beautiful country Oregon has to offer, including two historic wagon roads. Eighty percent of the race is on gravel. Stage 3 is a monster with almost 10,000 feet of climbing and some challenging descents. Race director Chad Sperry worked with race advisor Matt Lieto, a former pro triathlete who is one of many triathletes embracing gravel. The organizers are quite enthusiastic and, we promise, not exaggerating the challenge. “Luckily we've timed it so it occurs on summer solstice, so we will have lots of time to get through it," said Sperry. "It would be safe to say it is new for North America, but in a lot of ways we are coming full circle in replicating what the Tour, Giro and Vuelta were doing back in the early 1900s with a multi-day stage race over gravel roads. Big mountains, amazing scenery, incredible roads. One major difference though - gravel bikes today are way more comfortable than the machines of the past!”
The race is divided into four categories. Explorer has prize money and takes the toughest routes each day. Adventurer takes a little easier route each day. Settler takes the least difficult route. Packer takes the Settler route but those in the Packer category must carry all of their equipment, loading everything they will need for 5 days of riding.
Type: Gravel Bike 5-day stage race
Locations: Sisters-McKenzie-Oakridge-Gilchrist-Bend Oregon
Stage 1: Follow the Rough Wagon Road - Sisters to McKenzie 77 miles with 6700 feet of climbing
Stage 2: A Day of Ups and Downs - Blue River to Oakridge 66 miles with 6300 feet of climbing
Stage 3: Gut Check - Hills Creek Reservoir to Gilchrist 75 miles with 9300 feet of climbing
Stage 4: Road to Recovery - Gilchrist to Fort LaPine 58 miles with 2300 feet of climbing
Stage 5: Test For Last - Fort LaPine to Sisters 70 miles with 4400 feet of climbing
Entry Fee: $900
Registration is capped at 500 riders.
Race Director Chad Sperry: firstname.lastname@example.org
Adviser: Matt Lieto
Sperry has produced Cascade Classic, Mt. Hood Classic, Tour of Utah and Leadman.
Course details: http://www.oregontrailgravelgrinder.com/course-info/
11th Breck Epic World Domination MTB stage race
This is a 6-day stage mountain bike race held in and around the backcountry surrounding Breckenridge, Colorado. Each stage begins and ends in town, allowing racers to stay in one place for the entire event. In general, the race is 220-240 miles long and features roughly 40,000 feet of vertical gain.
The Epic is composed of 6 big backcountry loops (3 loops for the 3-day Epic-curious events), each between 35 and 50 miles long. The event is unique in that it employs a cloverleaf format; each loop starts and finishes within a mile of downtown Breckenridge and utilizes the sprawling network of trails in both Summit and Park Counties. When mapping out the courses, organizers asked themselves: “‘What big rides would we want to tackle if we had most of the day to slaughter and 6 of our best friends?’ The answer lies before you.”
Three rules: 1. Don’t be a dick and, if you have ever served a USADA or WASA suspension, you’re out. 2. Wear your helmet. 3. Don’t litter in our beautiful backcountry.
Stage 1 . Pennsylvania Creek. 35 miles. 6,000 feet elevation.
Stage 2. Colorado Trail. 43 miles. 7200 feet.
Stage 3. Guyot. 41 miles. 8100 feet.
Stage 4. Aqueduct. 44 miles. 6300 feet.
Stage 5. Wheeler. 32 miles. 4900 feet.
Stage 6. Gold Dust. 30 miles. 4800 feet.
Stage 7. Party.
6-day mountain bike stage race
Minimum cash purse of $30,000 for elites.
UCI points to participants in the elite men’s and women’s fields.
Entry fee: N/A
Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim Trail Run
Your date of choosing
When we were yearning to consider feats that break out of the box, one question stood out: must we always limit ourselves to organized events with insured organizers, limit to entries, course markings, time limits, permits, complex rules, winners and losers etc.? What about a primal challenge whose venue is a world class geological rift of unsurpassed beauty, and which demands no more equipment than a pair of shorts and a tee shirt, shoes optional, and a canteen and a butt pack for energy bars?
This is not a mass entry organized race. It is an individual trek only. No entry fee.
As described by men and women who have done it, this is “one of the world’s top tasks in the Fastest Known Time universe. Running across the Grand Canyon and back is grueling for anyone who attempts it, both because it badly beats your legs up on the long steep downhills and crushes everything else on the monstrous uphills. At 42-miles long and just around 22,600 feet of elevation change, the grandiose route is a scenic masterpiece showcasing the vast and diverse geology that comprises the Kaibab Plateau. From the South Rim to the North Rim and back, the iconic line is brutally beautiful and sits revered by all runners who have ever dropped inside the Canyon’s walls.”
Distance: 42 miles
Vertical change: 22,000 feet plus.
Final 7 miles is a 5,000 foot ascent.
South Rim to North Rim to South Rim
First fastest known time: 2013 Rob Krar 6:21:47 at 8:27 per mile.
Latest record established October 4, 2016 by Jim Walmsley 5:55:20 at 7:54 per mile pace including 17 mile splits under 7:00 per mile.
Survival of the Shawangunks – Cape Cod Triathlon
June 22, 2019
In partnership with the acclaimed SOS Triathlon®, held annually for 35 years along New York’s Shawangunks Mountain Range, New England Endurance Events presents SOS Cape Cod.
For the first time ever, an athletic competition has been allowed to enter the fragile and scenic lands of the Cape Cod National Seashore. A slightly shorter course than the SOS New York event, triathletes will bike, then run and swim on a 38-mile point-to-point course leading to a finish in the coastal village of Wellfleet. Ten of the top overall/age group winners will be eligible to compete at the SOS Championships in New Paltz, New York on September 8.
Place: Mayo Beach, Wellfleet, Massachusetts
Entry Fee: $425
Course distances: Bike 27 miles, Run-swim 10.25 miles
October 27, 2019
The SwimRun NC race was dreamed up by Jan Kriska and Jeff Beckelhimer, and early on they added Slowtwitch correspondent Herbert Krabel to the team. The three race directors decided that they would run this race as volunteers and that all proceeds would go to charities. Proceeds from the 2017 race were used to buy a mobile fire-fighting unit for the Hanging Rock State Park, and money from the 2018 race will help to get mountain bikes for that park.
While shorter than many SwimRun events in Europe, this event subjects entrants to rigorous previous performance standards. The course is technically difficult and has surprised even strong experienced athletes. With 16 miles of running and 2 miles of swimming broken into 10 runs and 9 swims, this race suits faster trail runners more than great open water swimmers, but teams who want to do well best run and swim fast, and be smooth in transition. The course is very scenic and the teams climb through two magnificent waterfall sections along the way. With the late October date this race can have relatively brisk air and water temperatures. “In a triathlon colder temperatures can be a real bummer, but in SwimRun it is actually better to have cooler temps,” said Krabel. “In our race you are running in a wetsuit 4.5 miles uphill before the first swim and I can promise that you would not want 75 degree air temps. Plus the colder water can be quite refreshing after running hard in your wetsuit.”
Most of the race takes place inside the Hanging Rock State Park, but the start and finish is outside the park at an Alehouse on the Dan River. Great beer and food is offered to racers after the finish.
This is an Ötillö SwimRun Merit Race
Danbury, North Carolina
Hanging Rock State Park
Registration: via Runsignup
Swim 3,000 meters / R 15.8 miles
2-person Team Event