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Countdown to North Idaho adventure race; volunteers needed

A course official checks out an off trail portion of the Expedition Idaho route through North Idaho in July 2011. (Expedition Idaho)
A course official checks out an off trail portion of the Expedition Idaho route through North Idaho in July 2011. (Expedition Idaho)

ADVENTURE RACING -- Only 10 days remain before the start of Expedition Idaho, the 400-mile uncharted adventure race teams from all over the world will be trying to cover in six days.

The photo above shows a course official sampling portion of "the trail."

North Idaho organizer David Adlard said more volunteers are needed to help in remote locations on the course that will be covered by food, raft, kayak, mountain bike and through roped rappels.  Call 208-664-0135 or email

Meantime, read on for interesting details from Adlard and experts who've been helping him set up waypoints for the cross-country route.  You'll be amazed.

Expedition Idaho Update for race teams

Aug. 4: 10 days until the shotgun goes off!

“Tales from the Trails,” V 2.0, by David Adlard

Over the last two days, we have now completed over 94% of the course, with just a couple of semi-out-of-the-way CP’s to put in on “SQ,”and Mike is going to be “forced” to ride one of the most world class, beautiful stretches of single track on the planet. Poor guy. By this Sunday, the course will have been 100% scouted/marked/manicured for the racer’s arrival, which is no mean feat on a 420 mile “one loop” (more or less) course.

Yesterday, Mike and I, and Rick McCharles – editor of http://besthike.comcompleted the entire “Heart of Darkness” trek from start to finish, and today we spent several hours on the lake paddling and in the hills finalizing our magnificent ropes elements with our expert riggers. These are some of the coolest ropes stuff you will ever see.

Here’re Mike’s thoughts and impressions from the last two days of adventure…

Mike here again...

Trekking: This is the real deal. From the terrain, views, trails (or lack thereof!) cliffs and sheer vertical gain and loss, the ExpId treks have it all. There are many route options, and the accompanying risk/reward, which, in all honesty, can go both ways pretty easily. Some of these risk options require substantial ‘whacking, which is not to be taken lightly here. Don’t leave home without your long pants (and possibly shin guards!). There are nettles, poison oak and other assorted joys, such as the seemingly endless alder that you will be walking on in spots, if you choose to take the “road less travelled!”

Your shoes will take a real beating – my new Solomans are trashed – holes punched through, busted Kevlar laces etc. Bring shoes that are built for battle, not solely light and fast.

 Other things to remember – Shoe gaiters are highly recommended. Thin gloves for ‘whacking. LOTS of insect repellant with TNT or Cyanide or something in it. Also, your sunblock and sunblock lip balm.

Fluids and electrolyte replacement could determine survival for teams, as the weather is hot, and at the high altitudes, water is scare at best. Don’t shirk from taking extra water when you leave the TAs, and fill up when you have a chance at streams, springs, etc, as it may be hours between refills. Make sure to bring your (mandatory!) purifying method. I use Klearwater, and have had nothing but success.

I HIGHLY recommend trekking poles. I found mine extremely useful, especially on the big climbs and descents. Even Rick McCharles, a non-pole user was a convert by mid-day, and is ordering his new BD ultralight “Z”pole – I know Dave had a link posted.

As in most expedition races, sleep strategy is going to play a crucial part in a team’s success – maybe the most crucial. There are for sure places you don’t want to be in the dark, and if that means a few more hours rest and tackling them at daylight, so be it – you may very well end up further ahead – and safe – by being rested and being in daylight. Don’t just always push ahead – sometimes racing smarter ultimately is faster.

The ropes – I am truly a fan. I think Dave has set out some exciting and fun ropes elements. There will be some heart flutter more than once. I had a blast rapping off the rope today. The elements range from fast and fun to majestically huge – upwards of 400 feet.

Plan on (count on) getting wet. The water was very refreshing, and with the expected warm temps, it will be a welcome respite. The water is very warm compared to when I have been here before, so no wetsuits needed.

Paddling – The paddling is all flat water, but it’s pretty darn spectacular flat water. Some of the most scenic I have ever seen. The paddles, while long, are nicely broken up with other surprises, so you won’t just be in the boat for 10 hours at a stretch.

While the paddling can be downright pleasant, speaking from experience here two years ago, if Mother Nature get’s uppity, this can be some of the roughest lake water anywhere, and the storms come up quick – we went from calm and 82 to a lightning storm, 3 foot waves, whipping winds and 68 in less than 30 minutes. Be prepared for the best and worst of both.

I started as a technical consultant, but I am fully caught up in the excitement now. I have really fallen in love with this course and the race concept. This will be a true test of your expedition racing skills, and is among the toughest and most exciting I have ever seen or raced on. No one is going to leave here feeling slighted by the course or the total race experience– this will be one of the most memorable races ever, in my humble opinion. Addenda: I went out and rode a trail we had raced on here a couple of years ago at Adventure Sports Week, and back then, I had commented on how I thought it was perhaps the best single track ride in all of AR – well, I wasn’t wrong! It was almost perfect – right up until I almost ended up in the hospital after hitting a root and “endoing” 15 feet down the trail… that said, the trail was still awesome, me, not so much.

Someone asked how would I compare it to PQ or Eco, and I have to say it could be as demanding as any. Kind of scary, in a way, but the “sport course” options and the finish format will make it a wonderful experience for every team. For a total race experience, this could be the best I have seen. Honestly, you can all complete the requirements to be official finishers – you have more than enough time, if you take care of each other and just keep moving forward. If I was able to race, I would be super-excited about this course, though, to be honest, it’s tough enough for Mike… after 6+ days of racing on this course, no matter your pace, I think everyone will be pushed to your limits, physically and mentally, and will come through the better for it.

Four more checkpoints tomorrow, and we will be ready for you to come and challenge our baby. I will be out on the course with you throughout the week, so we’ll have plenty of time to chat and compare notes, and I can’t wait to hear your impressions of Expedition Idaho.

FYI, I’ll be making the drawing for the winners of my new “OutThere USA” AS1 packs at the pre-race briefing for all the teams who were paid up in full in advance! See you next week!

Dave Adlard's notes…

“Be prepared to suffer. Be prepared to succeed. Be prepared to LIVE!”

 ~A soon-to-be famous quote from DA

I feel like I’ve just done a 400 mile adventure race… oh, wait… I did! Let me tell you that vetting a course with Mike is really RACING a course with Mike. We did about 22 hours of trekking with TWO 5 minute breaks and a stream dunking. Halfway up one of the wee little climbs we have for you, we were pushing so hard and were so focused I actually looked back down the trail to see if another team was catching us! (There’s no way they could have caught us!)

Anywho, we are almost done. We have just a handful of CPs to put out for “Survival Quest” (You’re going to LOVE this!) and we’ll be ready for you. Here’s some of the news you’ll need to know:

No snow gear (crampons etc) are needed! You’ll be on snow a bit, but nothing you can’t handle in your trekking shoes, IF you have at least one, and better yet, two trekking poles. We couldn’t have completed some of the trek without them anywhere near as fast or as safely yesterday.

I am so excited about our “extra” activities, besides just the usual three disciplines. Our ropes are awesome fun, “SQ” is going to be a blast, the “O” portions are challenging… hopefully you will leave this race as wiped out and as excited as you have ever been about AR.

I think the trek will be, um, fulfilling… sometimes the downs aren’t easier than the ups – no one ever falls UP the mountain!

Thirst is going to be a factor. We started “light”yesterday, but by ½ way through the trek were low on water, soaking hats and shirts and dunking heads in one of the very rare water sources out there. We actually flagged a natural spring along the trail so you can fill up there. Take every chance to drink and fill your bottles, as you could literally be hours without. Mike and Rick were laughing when I took an extra liter of Gatorade and a 2 liter bladder, but they were both drinking it a few hours later!

As with any project like this, we are fully expecting – and are preparing like mad – for the surprises, challenges, disasters etc that can happen, and I think our race crew will do a magnificent job in helping everyone through– similar to when you’re racing, when you’re running an AR expedition of this magnitude, it’s not “if” you’re going to get lost, it’s just when and how bad, and most importantly, how quickly can you get back on track. Our main goal, besides the course itself, is to make sure some of the things that matter most to racers – getting your gear on time, communication, support etc – are done as well as we can physically manage. You are all our top priority.

My team is racing without me next week, and though I am immensely jealous, and a bit sad, I am excited for them, as I am for all of you. Reading Mike’s comments, and having now completed the entire course at near race pace, I look at scope of the challenge and I’m daunted by the sheer scale, but when I started to break it down into the smaller segments, and from there the even smaller challenges right in front of us, I was able to focus on what I needed to do next, and, as long as I kept moving forward, was able to get through.

Please trust me when I tell you that we fully expect to see ALL of you cross the finish line on Saturday. We WANT you to finish! You have more than enough time to get there, as long as you are safe, smart and above all, take care of each other! Rest when you need to (of course “need” and “want”are different!), eat when you need to (need/want very similar – just eat while walking!), but just keep moving steadily forward. Don’t be daunted by the course– even “Big” and H.O.D (Heart of Darkness) are manageable by all if you take them one step at a time. Don’t get wrapped up in how far there is left to go –it will be over when it’s over, and you will get there when you get there. Focus instead on the next climb, the next CP, and the secret treats you have stashed at the TA! Left, right, left…

Not everyone will travel quite as far over the 6+ days, but the effort and commitment will be the same from every one of you, and to us, you are all winners just for taking on such an immense challenge. We know that, and we want to make sure you are rewarded for the huge sacrifices you are making, financially, time-wise, emotionally, physically, spiritually… we race too, and we understand. We want you to feel fulfilled. We want you to leave here saying this was the most beautiful, friendliest, toughest suffering you have ever loved!

Get some sleep… you’re going to need it!

Dum du dum dum…

Outdoors blog

Rich Landers writes and photographs stories and columns for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including Outdoors feature sections on Sunday and Thursday.

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