The Endurance Society is an organization that is dedicated to providing extraordinary physical and psychological adventures to the endurance community.
Frigus – Featured Review 2015
Infinitus – Community Reviews 2015 / Featured Review 2015
The Endurance Society is an organization that is dedicated to providing extraordinary physical and psychological adventures to the endurance community.
Frigus – Featured Review 2015
Infinitus – Community Reviews 2015 / Featured Review 2015
13 thoughts on “The Endurance Society”
I am not the most accomplished endurance athlete, but I’ve done more than my fair share of road races and OCR. I love to challenge myself and to spend time sweating in the woods. I compete in just about any race I can afford as long as it doesn’t keep me away from my family for too long. So, the fact that I was willing to drive three hours north and put in the added preparation and competition time is testament to my level of interest in this Endurance Society event. Traders was my second Endurance Society event.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Endurance Society, they were birthed from the ashes of the Death Race and always offer something truly unique. They create experiences through which you can push yourself in an intimate, personal setting. Many Endurance Society events are shrouded in secrecy, not to keep the rest of the world out, but to entice those who dare. I would describe an Endurance Society event as “satisfyingly unorthodox”.
Traders was not an OCR. It was not a race. In fact, none of us who participated really knew what it was for certain until it started at 6 am on Saturday morning. We knew it was an endurance challenge set in the 1600s at a Dutch fur trading post in the mountains of Vermont. We knew that we’d have to carry heavy loads of pelts and furs and avoid wildlife and natives. We knew that we had to assemble a small arsenal of outdoor gear, such as lensatic compasses, fire starters, and tarps, and be prepared to pack it all. We knew that it’d begin on Saturday at 6am and might not be over until Sunday at 1am.
As it turned out, Traders was an imaginative 8 year-old’s outdoor adventure on steroids, and I loved every single minute of it.
I used the term “intimate” earlier, because at an ES event, your car/tent, the starting line, the bosses Jack and Andy, and the lodge are never more than 100 meters or so apart. Jack and Andy are always accessible and truly interested in rubbing elbows with their guests. I can’t state strongly enough how easy and friendly the whole experience is at an ES event.
Traders was held at Stickney Farms Lost Nation, a working farm owned by a mountain of a man who was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks. He, like Jack and Andy, was always mingling and happy to converse and joke around. The farm itself offered 800 acres of wooded fun and abutted an additional 8,000 acres of “logging land”. It was Appalachian paradise and at peak leaf-peeping level.
Race organizer, Grant Shymske, laid out the rules and gave an orienteering lesson between 6 and 8 am. No phones, electronics, or any other items that were otherwise inconceivable in the preindustrial world. No walking on the road or railroad tracks that lay adjacent the farm. Work hard and earn money. It was then that we finally found out what Traders was. We were teams of 4 or 5 who were trying out for jobs at the Endurance Society Trading Post. They’d be seeing whether or not we could cut it and earn employment, by giving us tasks all day and paying us when they were completed. We were told that we’d be judged on work ethic, efficiency, and intelligence. Grant stressed the latter two, as the first was unavoidable. For each job a team completed they’d be paid a silver piece. The team with the most silver at the end of the competition would be the winners. Then the fun began.
Unlike an OCR, there were no obstacles. There were only laborious tasks. Some required physical strength. Some required innovative thought. Most required a combination of strength and thought, which is basically the motto of the Endurance Society. ROBVR CORPORIS FORTITVDO MENTIS or, PHYSICAL STRENGTH MENTAL FORTITUDE. Other than the first job, teams were staggered and offered different jobs to avoid pile ups.
1. Log Carry
By far, the most physically challenging and difficult part of the adventure, the Log Carry was the only full group effort. Grant instructed us to bring three items per person (food counted as an item) and then walked us outside to inform us of our first job: to carry two hickory logs up the hill. They didn’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that these logs must have been between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds each. How far? We wouldn’t know until we finally put them down for good after about 3 miles and 1,500 feet of elevation rise. It was grueling. No, it was back breaking….and for some demoralizing, as people began to drop out at this point. 3+ miles
About 1.25 miles into the Log Carry, much to our relief, we were instructed to drop the logs. Grant then told us “Working out here can be dangerous. We need to make sure that if you’re stuck out in the woods for the night that you’ll be safe.” We were given 30 minutes to use anything we could find in the woods to construct a shelter suitable to house our entire team (4-5 people) over night. We were scored on the quality of the structure. Once we were rated, we went back under the logs for another 1.5-2 miles of fun.
3. Get Back to Camp
At the location of Lost Nation, near the top of Lost Mountain, the log saga ended. We were then instructed to return to the trading post. The only catch was that we couldn’t go back down the trail by which we arrived. We had to use our maps and compasses to navigate 3-4 miles back down to camp. Many teams used the creek beds and some used the hills and unmarked/unmapped trails. Upon arrival at the lodge, Captain Jack Cary paid us for our work with the logs, gave us a bundle of pelts to protect throughout the rest of our time, and another job. 3-4 miles
4. Stolen Calf Hide
Someone had been stealing calf hides. There was a stolen hide in the woods along a tributary of the main river in camp. We were given basic directions about where we could look for it and asked to examine it to find out which lot it came from. This was probably the most dangerous job, as the creek beds were steep, rocky, and slick. Traveling up and down the creek was very challenging and finding the calf hide was pretty tricky. 2 miles
5. Dead Body
We were instructed to head back up the red cabin, which we’d passed on the log carry, to locate the body of an employee who had been killed. Once the body was located, we had to figure out how he lost his life and then bring the information back to the lodge. 4.5 miles
6. River Survey
A bag of supplies had been lost in the river. Captain Jack had information about where it could be found. Our job was to locate it from inside of the riverbed and then inventory what it contained. Navigation skills were useful in this challenge, and like the calf hide job, it was difficult travelling throughout the rocky riverbed. 2 miles
We were sent back up into the mountains to find two specific feathers in a creek just beyond the location of the shelters we’d built in the morning. After finding the cache of feathers, we had to figure out which of the feathers matched the two at the lodge and return with one each. 3.5 miles
8. Fire Walk
Captain Jack needed to see if we could create and transport fire. We were sent across the highway and to the other side of a field to build a fire. Then we had to carry it back to the lodge. It couldn’t be hot coals. It had to be a significant blaze and needed to be handed off upon arrival. 1 mile
There was a twisted stack of logs between the barn and the creek. We were instructed to select two of them, pull them out of the pile, carry them over to the fire, and then chop them into four pieces per group member. We needed to barter with Captain Jack to acquire an axe, all of which were dull and eventually damaged. This ended up being a lot more difficult than it should have been, simply due to the axe situation.
This was a full-blown strength test, with five challenges: 1) transporting the largest river rocks we could; 2) bench reach, in which you locked your heels on the bottom side of a picnic table and tried to extend your body away from the table to place a bottle on the ground; 3) holding a logging chain out with extended arms as long as you could; 4) stump carry for distance; and 5) maximum number of circus dumbbell curl reps in 90 seconds.
11. Animal ID
This was the only job that took place in the lodge. We were given drawings of 37 native animal species and asked to identify at least half of them. There was everything from moose to a spotted salamander to a yellow-bellied sapsucker.
We were sent back into the mountains to find stolen jars that could be found near the shelters we’d built during the log carry. This required us to trudge back up the mountain for the fourth time that day. By then, the old legs were pretty tired, but it was fun to take a look at our shelters late at night. 3 miles
There were two other jobs that were planned, but no groups completed them. One was to retrieve a page from a book in a lost satchel, and the other was to distract members of a rival gang to steal one of their pelts.
In the end, about three of the fourteen groups and a number of individual participants had dropped out of the competition. Those who lasted until the end received a saucer sized medal and a coon skin hat. The winning team also received powder horns, which were very cool.
This event was truly amazing. It was different than anything I’ve ever done before, was supremely challenging, and I really hope they do it again next year. The venue was simple, easy, and intimate. There was no charge for parking or camping, the race organizers were always accessible and personable, and physical and mental tasks were simultaneously entertaining and challenging. There were no free beers or anything, but Andy did offer each team a “handful of pasta” at about 11pm. It was hilarious and the best food I had all day. My only complaint is that I really enjoy a good afterparty, and this event ended at 3:30 am. That’s right…3:30 am. More than 21 hours after it began. Some people may have stayed up and relived the day, but I could hardly get back to my tent in time to fall asleep.
Would I recommend this event to others? Absolutely
Would I do this event again? In a heartbeat. I wish they did it again this weekend. I’m already packed.
So being the best procrastinator that I can be, I signed up for Infinitus Marathon a week before the race. The communication was awesome both via e-mail and on social media, with constant updates from the various length races going on for over a week. The venue had plenty of parking and room to move around. They had showers for the racers and plenty of bathrooms. The course was amazing, Challenging, and at some points silly. (Only because of all of the random things placed at various points on course) The heat and humidity were a real game changer. All and all the race was a fun 27 miles in the woods with friends. The medals are awesome, nothing else needs to be said here. The only reason I give swag a 9.9 is they ran out of XL shirts (I checked in at 6:15am on Saturday) and I have to wait for mine to come in the mail. Overall, if you are looking to challenge yourself from a 8k distance to a 888K distance there is something for everyone. Challenge yourself, you will be glad you did it at Infinitus.
Endurance Society stands alone as the pinnacle event. If you want a race guaranteed to kick your tail and find all the flaws in your training, gear or nutrition, this is the race. Bear in mind, this race is based on “Andy miles” so that means you more than get your money’s worth of race.
I definitely enjoyed the fun trail decorations, but would love to see even more. 🙂
Swag was great as always. The medals are HUGE and heavy. The cotton blend were a real treat from the usual 100% cotton.
Communication was good as usual.
There is no festival per se, but they really did well with a stocked aid tent of tons of water, ice, food and they were making burgers for runners. It was fantastic to see even if I personally couldn’t partake. It made a huge difference to the racers.
If you really want a challenge, this is the one race to try.
For the second time this year I headed up to Blueberry Hill to attempt a second go at an Endurance Society race, this time for the marathon trail race in their Infintus race. This race actually has many race lengths; 8k, marathon, 888k, 48 hour, 72 hour, and the 888k (with 10 days to complete), so there was something here for everyone. Regardless of the high heat and humidity, the Spahtens still showed up with a good crowd ranging in many of the race lengths. I think many of us are starting to take to this crazy race series that Andy has thought up.
Easy 10. From the thank you for signing up e-mail to the e-mail a week out and another during the week updating you on the 888k runners. They update their website frequently too. Everything was right there for us.
Venue & Festival:
Same place as Frigus and just awesome. Plenty of space inside and out. Free parking steps from the check-in and party. Plenty of room inside and out. Plenty of outdoor bathrooms, indoor bathrooms for the 888k’ers. Outdoor showers this time too, which was so greatly appreciated. Plenty of free food for the runners as well!
Course & Obstacles:
This is one of the meanest trail races you’ll ever do. I could say there are no obstacles, but just because they are not obstacles you’re used to doesn’t mean there are not obstacles. A lot of nature-made stuff in your path, but also just the course in and of itself. It was physically and mentally challenging. Add in the heat this year and it was harder to complete these 27 miles than it was to complete 50, wet feet and all, at Shale Hill a few weeks ago. The 8k did a 7 mile loop (Andy miles can never be equated to the claimed mileage), up and around Mt. Romance, and this was a loop that started very familiar with Frigus, but then we beared off just after the first decent and somehow kept continuously climbing. There was a whole lot of climbing on this loop, but generally, the trails were pretty easy to be on. Riddled throughout this loop was also things that would look like it belonged on a horror movie set. A random creepy clown doll sitting in the middle of your path. White masks nailed to trees. A ceramic cat doll sitting in front of a mirror. I found all of these incredibly amusing. Everyone but the 88Kers took this loop first, they started with a 33 mile loop out to Bloodroot and back and THEN took on this loop.
Marathon runners and up came back to start where there was an awesome aid station spread (and I do mean awesome), before we started out to the backside of the camp for our 20 mile loop. This brought us out to Silver Lake then up and out a bit farther before we trekked back to meet up with the last 3 miles of the 7 mile loop. This was a truly gorgeous 20 miles. We had 2 aid stations, the first manned by Shale Hill’s Bill Root and the second by Brian both who were just super incredibly awesome to see! Bill was 8 miles out and Brian about 7.5 before the finish line. Again, both of them were stocked up to give us whatever we needed. Bill made me the BEST PB&J EVER. There was plenty of water, ice, chips, soda, whatever you needed. The trails themselves were mostly single track and very technical, but the last few miles opened up quite a bit. The mosquitoes were mostly kind, but the black flies could make you crazy. The hardest part of the day was easily the heat and humidity (getting around 87* and 70% humidity with almost constant full sun), and that was just as much a beating to your feet as the trails were. The beginning of this loop sported more of Andy’s personality, which included an angry pig head in a rain coat holding a wig and a oddly stuffed horse head in a dress wielding a scythe. I was highly amused! In an odd way, I got to thank the heat for not having much water on the ground and never having to submerge my feet (although it did cause me to sweat so much that it was almost a moot point), and all the water crossings were fairly easy to do.
So to breakdown each type of the race:
8k: Once around the 7mi loop
Marathon: Once around the 7mi loop then the 20 mile loop
88k: 33 mile loop out and back to Bloodroot, then the 7 mile loop, and finally the 20 mile loop.
48 & 72 hour: Alternating the 7mi + the 20mi over and over until 8:08am Sunday or you quit (special prizes for the 48hr’s who hit 100 and the 72hr’s who hit 150).
888k: 10 days of alternating the 7mi + 20mi over and over until you hit 550 or you quit.
Oh, and never expect a distance you signed up for to ACTUALLY be the distance you signed up for. Andy miles are not easily measured.
Swag & Awards:
AHHH! THE T-SHIRTS INCLUDE WOMEN’S CUT AND ALL ARE A COTTON BLEND!!!!! I actually jumped for joy when I got my shirt. Ask Beth. She witnessed!! They are green with yellow writing. Normally not my favorite colors, but it’s comfortable and I will wear it for sure! In fact, I’m wearing it now … again! The medals this time were a bit too similar to the Frigus one. Still, one giant medal! Just as big as frigus for the marathoners, and those who completed between 27-99 miles. That is my only reason for deducting a half point in this category. Those who went over the 100 miles got a belt buckle. And the more you did the more you earned. Definitely some of the most solid swag. There were also awesome stickers with the Endurance Society emblem on it, but I, unfortunately, forgot to grab mine! 🙁
If you’re up for trying something different, this is the race to try. Andy is one crazy demented human, but he’s also one of the most positive uplifting people I’ve ever met. He’ll do anything to make the race work for you. The aid stations are just the friggin best. And there is a race length here for just about everyone. Get up there and see what we’re raving about. This is likely the highest rated non-obstacle race on this site, and it is that way for a reason. I can’t wait to get back up there next year and take on the 88k instead!
Communication up to race day was awesome, I loved also seeing the updates for those on the 888k all week. It felt like we were already on race day and was awesome to be able to encourage those racers once we got there for the shorter lengths. Instructions for parking and race day info was also clear and simple.
The venue, as it was with Frigus, was awesome. There was sufficient place indoors and out for all the racers, a place to leave gear for multi lapers, plenty of portable restrooms, lots of water available and loved that they had some snacks at the water stations and the start line between each of the 3 courses. That watermelon was completely unexpected and greatly appreciated in the heat!
The course was hard. Not that we expected any less from Andy. Personally, I found the little surprise characters on the course super creepy, but… that was the point I suppose. The two water stations on the 20m loop were amazing. The ice was an immense blessing and loved the volunteers/staff at both making sure we had enough water, electrolytes, and a snack before we left. The PPJ sandwiches were a nice touch!
I am torn on the swag, I LOVE the shirt, especially since it came in a women’s cut and was a different color than all my other race shirts. I was a teeny bit disappointed that the medal was almost exactly the same as Frigus except that the “endurance society” was written in english this time. It would have been nice if it said Infinitus 2016 and the distance (8k, Marathon, 88k, 888k). It just would have been nice for my first marathon, but I am still thrilled with the overall experience.
Overall, I still plan to come back next year! I’ll probably end up going for the Endurance Society membership also and participate in some other events in addition to Frigus and Infinitus. Andy is an amazing race director with an awesome crew who put on a fantastic event. It felt like family the whole day. Can’t wait for next year!
This year I’ve made the decision to change my racing experience from mostly how fast I can do all the races to how far can I run while doing all the races. With Frigus being added to RaceLocal series, this was a new “must” for my 2016 race year and I wasn’t alone. I absolutely love the race local series as it truly pushes people out of their comfort zone, and this race did that for many, with distances up to 60k (37.2mi) to attained. Had Andy had any doubts about joining RL, they were certainly lost when 30ish new faces arrived for this race, and before the day was out, he announced Infinitus will be a part of the RL series as well! Anyways, this isn’t about RL, this is about Frigus, so lets get down to the scoring.
Excellent. The moment you sign up you get a thank you e-mail from Andy. The Monday before the race we received an e-mail with all the nitty gritties of the race. Expected weather, expected experience, what to and not to bring. The only question I had after reading the e-mail was what footwear was appropriate.
Venue & Festival:
Quaint and secluded may be the best ways to describe Blueberry Hill Inn. I found it a wonderful place to meet and hang out afterwards. A warm place to change, a large wooden stove, plenty of room to hang out and mingle, plenty of snacks, food, and water, all of which were included in your registration. Jill was there with Icebugs for sale. This wasn’t your “get the party hopping” sort of festival, but more of enjoy the camaraderie of having just completed a difficult course, regardless of your distance, in enjoyment. I found this absolutely wonderful.
Course & Obstacles:
This was intended to be either a run/sled, snowshoe, or cross country ski race with no man made obstacles, just whatever nature has provided. The options were 5k run/sled, 10k, 30k, or 60k snowshoe or XC ski, or the “triathlon” with the 5K and 30K of both snowshoe and ski. This year, nature dealt an unusual hand and left hardly any snow, making skiing impossible, snowshoeing a personal choice (but unnecessary), and sledding unrealistic. Instead, we had a trail run of the same distances, but if you took on the 5K, you still had to carry your sled for the race. I had been signed up for the 30K snowshoe, so I took on the 30K trail run instead.
The course was excellently marked. There was not a single question while I was on the course when I was supposed to turn. The signs were color coded by course length. The course itself was a mixture of farm roads down to single tracks. There was only one major climb up Mt Romance at the beginning of the race, and from there it was mostly rolling hills. Since the weather was all over the place in the days leading up to the race, we had numerous water crossings, some frozen, some not, with some frozen mud, and some not. Snow ranged from barely a dusting to a few inches deep. The course challenged everyone.
Arguably the coolest part of this race was the food/aid station located halfway through the 30K course (60K did 2 laps of the 30K course). The offerings here were absolutely the best. This is the biggest difference that you’ll see between OCR world (regardless of distance) and the Endurance world. They layout was meant to give you salt and fuel. They had potato chips, coke, candy bars, hot broth, water, a variety of pop-tarts etc. It was heaven. This is a race that is meant to challenge you, but you will be taken care of! They want you to succeed.
Sway & Awards:
Best medal ever? Arguably. It was HUGE (yes, that what’s she said)! It is likely the biggest medal I’ve earned thus far. We also were provided with a race beanie, tech material with fleece lining around the ears, definitely top notch (I happily ran the entire race with this on). My only gripe, which is a frequent gripe of mine, but nevertheless still is a sore spot for me, was the t-shirt. I can’t take away from the overall score of the race for this, as it does happen so frequently, but I couldn’t give a perfect score. The shirt is too big. I get it, I’m not your average racer, but there are other people racing my size. A unisex small is just too big. I’m never going to wear it, so you’re wasting your money. PLEASE buy XS! The whole point of giving a race shirt is so I’ll indirectly promote your race. Do me and the other littles a favor, buy a handful of the XS. Also, the 100% cotton was meh, but I’d wear it if it was XS.
A quick add on the awards, they were really cool looking. Wooden crates filled with local VT awesomeness. Icebugs were also an award. They don’t disappoint!
With this being my first Endurance Society experience, I completely understand why people run these races over and over and over. It is an amazing experience. From getting hugs and congrats from Andy when you finish, to the challenge of the race itself. While I can’t say these races are for the faint hearted, distance is no joke, it is for anyone looking for a challenge they haven’t found in running all the laps. It’s a community ready to welcome you with open arms. I can’t wait for Infinitus Memorial Day weekend later this year!
This is my second year doing the event. I admit, I might be a bit biased as this race is all but in my backyard but they hit it out of the park.
I wasn’t able to do the event as I originally signed up for but was able to downgrade to the shortest distance and still get in a bit of time outside.
Food was awesome thanks to Melissa and Greg. So sorry you couldn’t be there Greg.
My one ding? 100% cotton t-shirt. Otherwise you would have gotten a perfect score!
This was my first race with The Endurance Society. I have heard a lot of positive things about the events so it was definitely something I wanted to do in 2016
Communication – Very good leading up to the event. Received an email prior to the event informing us about the conditions of the course, what to bring and what not to bring etc.
Venue and Festival – The venue is located in a very picturesque part of VT surrounded by rolling hills and mountains. The festival area consisted of a lodge style building equipped with a large wood burning stove. It served as an ideal spot to prep for the race, get registered and meet some of the other racers. The heated building was also very welcomed at the conclusion of the race.
Course and Obstacles – This race was a trail run so no obstacles to deal with other than the terrain and weather. The day started out dark and cold but by the time the race got started it started to warm up. The race began at the lodge and quickly headed into the hills. The course was very well marked and it was very difficult to get yourself lost on the course. The course was a nice mix of tight trails, access roads, river crossings and open areas. There was varying amounts of snow throughout the course ranging from a few inches at the race start to several inches deep in the woods. There was one aid station roughly ½ way through the course. There were plenty of goodies and snacks ranging from cookies, drinks and heated broth.
Swag and Awards – Upon registering all runners were given a T-shirt, beanie and an extra large runners bib. At the end of the race all runners received a very large medal. The top runners in each division received a gift basket of local snacks.
Overall -Again this was my first Endurance Society race and I knew before the start of the race I would be coming back in 2016 for another event. I was very impressed on how the race was organized and run. I was very impressed seeing Andy helping out all racers throughout the event, from directing cars and meeting everyone in the lodge prior to the race, to meeting us out on the course to finally greeting us all at the finish line with words of encouragement. I certain recommend to all to come out and try one of the upcoming races. The Endurance Society offers several different races with several different distances.
I joined The Endurance society in 2015 & rejoined this year I did explorer membership Lots of goodies , that come in a crate, with that membership.
Fringes 2026 was my first event with them. I was very pleased , with everything. The location , to me was perfect, due to I enjoy being remote at times. It may be bad for some due to places to stay & if you are in love with your cell phone, it may not work for some.
I stayed at the Blueberry Inn right there at the race. Loved the place . The owners were great.
The course was challenging & it is expected to be , when you have Andy & Jack , running the show . The both of them & their staff did a fantastic job , running the race & helping out people the racers .
They did have some food , snacks, water in the main staging shack.
The swag was nice & the finisher medals were even more nice.
Overall I give it a 10 & would recommend their events to those who want a challenge that will push you past your limits, in order to complete their event.
They also do a down hill ski & run back up the hill event, A trail run event that will really push your limits & they do a death race type event , thats top secret, no family , friends or crews allowed . The location is top secret & the competitors are sworn to secrecy.
This event was fantastic. By doing the 30k option, it was the longest race I’ve ever done. Most of my comments and thoughts mirror what has already been said, so quickly:
* Communication was fantastic – private thanks from Andy right after registering and great follow up with the questionable weather/trail conditions.
* Venue & Festival – The venue was great – excellent trails and out of the way. The festival was not significant, but who cares? There was food, friendship, and Jill selling Icebugs.
* Course – very well planned out and easy to follow. Obstacles – N/A.
* Swag & Awards – fantastic! Huge medal, large bib (discovered that doubling the bungee string kept it tight), fantastic beanie hat, and nicely designed t-shirt. That’s the only spot I can ding them on – 100% cotton shirts aren’t the best. They aren’t as soft and we all know that cotton is not recommended for winter or running wear.
Having Andy at the finish handing out the medals was really great too!
This was my first event with The Endurance Society and I did not know what to expect.
I got an email a week before the race that talked about the weather conditions and what shoes should be worn. I thought that this email was a nice touch.
Venue and Festival:
The race was in the north country of Vermont and the venue fit the style perfectly. It was a large two story building that was just big enough for all the racers and had a stove where you could keep warm. There were bathrooms inside and three port a potties outside.
Course and Obstacles:
The Endurance Society does not have obstacles- just the trail and mountain. The first part of the course was added so that we could see the amazing view of mountains all the way to NY. When we came out of the trail and saw that view- Andy was there and told us that he had to add that because who wouldn’t want to see that view- and he was right! The second part of the climb was on a road before going back into the woods again. I enjoyed being in a National Park. There was more snow on the second half of the course and some spots where you had t jump small streams.
Swag and Awards:
I love the tee-shirt! It’s not overly obnoxious with ads. I had forgotten a beanie, so I was extremely happy that we also got one when we checked in! Tight fitting and with the logo on the front, it’s a perfect addition to my winter gear. I am not a fan on the bib. It was the first time that I wore a bib like that and at first I was pretty exited that I got a bib that reminded me of the extreme races- and one that you didn’t have to safety pin on. However no matter how much “tying” I did, it always came lose and would just float up in my face and prevent me from seeing. I spent most of the race pulling it down.
My favorite moments of this race where when the race director, Andy, would come up and talk to you. He was even there at the finish line to shake your hand and ask what you thought of the race and the “extra” miles. The race was small enough that Andy could do this. I liked being in a race where the number of racers are small. I did the 10k which turned out to be closer to 8 miles. There were just a few of us doing the 10k. The other racers were very nice when they ran past us, always saying hi, offering drinks and jokes. It made the race feel so much more friendly.
We arrived at 5:30 and waited for the venue to open and got to watch the other racers arrive, and some puppies playing in the snow. I can’t think of one thing that I did not like about this event- except that there wasn’t any coffee. I definitely recommend a race from The Endurance Society to anyone who is on the fence about it. Plus, if knew there was going to be coke and pop tarts at the halfway point of the 30k then I would have kept going! Coke and pop tarts at a race!
This was my first Endurance Society event, despite having been a member last year. As an opening event, it was pretty spectacular. I didn’t sign up until Wednesday night prior to the race due to work changes, and Thursday morning, had a personal email from Andy welcoming me and giving me last minute details – talk about a great touch!
Arriving up in Goshen is a good travel and definitely off the beaten path, but that’s part of what makes this race great. The lodge was the location for check in, gear drop, food and bathrooms. Check in was pretty painless, all racers received a bib, a Frigus t shirt and a cold weather beanie with the endurance society logo. The whole vibe was of fun and friendly – it had very little competitive feel in the lodge prior to race. The fact that it was also 7 degrees did well to keep most of us in the lodge and warm prior to running. Race directors and staff were chatting with all the racers, and then encouraged everyone outside for prerace meeting. A short speech regarding trail markings and paths to follow, then we were off!
Thankfully, after a week of worrying about snow, or lack of it, some white fell Thursday night and left the trails in great shape for Saturday. There was not enough snow to require snowshoes though, so shoe choice was quite the dilemma for most of us. I chose Icebugs with thin socks and neoprene socks over them – worked out quite well, if possible a bit chillier than goretex boots.
The trails were amazing – the initial climb bushwacking was a bit of a slog in the general pack, but the views from the top were well worth the effort – miles of peaks to see. Back down the hill and the 5k course split off, then up another ridge line and after awhile the 10k split as well, leaving just the 30k to enjoy some pretty empty trails. Markings were consistent along the 30k – orange signs and streamers making it difficult to lose your way unless absolutely trying to. Just about the halfway point a food/aid station was staffed and had gatorade, water, coke(!), poptarts, maple cookies (the race is worth it for this alone), and other assorted goodies. Great break for a few minutes then back onto the trails. The first half trails were pretty consistent in snow cover and very few bare spots or break throughs, the second half was much slower as the trail had more sun exposure perhaps and had much more slush and water to try and avoid if not wearing goretex shoes. It was slower, but it was also nicer as only infrequently did you see anyone else, so it was quite enjoyable to be going thru a snow covered trail run thru the woods without disturbance.
Sometime around mile 14, we rejoined the 10k look and the trail led back to the lodge where Andy and Jack met us outside with GIGANTOR medals, congratulations and feedback regarding the trails. Not too many races get to have all the racers finish with the directors handing out medals. Back into the lodge for a warm up and chat with people, it was very cool to see so many racers from the 10k and 5k still around being social and enjoying the food and atmosphere. I found the food table, enjoyed a big bowl of chili and then decided to go get more miles.
Andy and Jack were very receptive to my heading out again, wasn’t sure if I was going to do the 5 or 10k loop when I left and they only asked that I carry a headlamp and look out for any stragglers. Heading out, the initial sections of the trail were much more slush and large amount of open water/puddles that made keeping dry even more of a challenge. I realized I’d never changed my socks and how cold my feet were, so before even hitting the major climb I kicked myself to the 5k. This loop was also quite scenic, enjoying the same view from the top, then down and around the backside of this peak on a trail that was still every snow covered. Coming back around this loop to the main trail was the only place signage was lacking. it was quite difficult to tell where the 5k was supposed to go as the only signage seen was for 5k, 10k & 30k together, which led back into the original trail, not to the end of the race. Ended up being a 5 mile 5k, but it was still quite fun.
Back to the lodge and more friends and food. The festival is obviously not going to rival Spartan or Battlefrog and it hopefully never will. The small intimate area was amazing and not having to traipse a mile from your car or shuttle bus is always a great thing.
If the only minor flaw I can find is a single course marking missed, I’d say the event was pretty spectacular. I look forward to doing more Endurance Society events and hope Infitus works out for my calendar!
This was my first time doing a endurance society event and they lived up to all the positive things i have heard about them. When we first arrived we were greeted by Andy in the main lodge ( first of a few times we interacted with him this day) we saw him once while out on course and again when he was at the finish line to greet racers and congratulate them and hear what they think .
in the week leading to the event since this was a snow shoe race and the weather has not been kind for those conditions they were great at making sure a email went out early in the week to update conditions on the changes that would need to be made.
the venue was the blueberry ski center and its a perfect venue for a event like this and matches the more rustic natural feel of the event. there really is not much of a festival as we are accustom to but thats not a bad thing. the set up in the lodge brings a nice closer setting.
the course itself for the 10 k was great a nice mix of trails, off trails and access roads with great views of the region and you could not ask for a better marked course
the swag was top notch. we received a event tee shirt, a pull over bib that is a nice change from the normal bibs we receive a high quality skull beanie with the endurance society logo on it and finishers received a medal. the medal was one if the nicest i have seen in my 3 years doing events, high quality with the logo engraved on the medal and quiet larger than normal ( the medal was larger than the 2x trifecta from spartan for 2016 the entire trifecta) and post race they had snacks and some food in the lodge for racers to enjoy.
i highly recommend giving Endurance society a try with there events. even though they may not have man made obstacles there trail choice and views will make you forget that very fast. these races have a very different feel and vibe than other events everyone who was working, running or just hanging out were as nice as can be and felt more like a community gathering than a competitive event.