Full Course Estimates:
Teams hoping to find ALL mandatory and optional checkpoints can expect to cover the following distances. Discipline-specific estimates represent the cumulative distances for each discipline over multiple stages of the event and for teams attempting. Most teams can expect to complete a shortened version of the course. Remember: route choice and navigation mistakes may result in different experiences and some extra miles!
Short Course Estimates:
To complete the mandatory short course, teams can expect to cover the following distances. In addition, while not reflected by numbers, portions of the short course also involve faster and easier travel. Biking miles may be on pavement instead of trails, foot travel may be on trails rather than off-trail, etc. While there is still some impressive elevation, there is significantly less vertical gain on the short course as well (roughly 2/3 of the gain on the full course).
weather and terrain
Weather: The PA Wilds are a mountainous region with unpredictable and varied weather, even in the summer. Average temperatures in the region range from the low 50s at night to the high 70s°F during the day. You can expect approximately ten days of rain in June.
Despite those averages, we have seen it snow in late May, we have experienced temperature swings from the 30s to the 90s as late as early June, and we have encountered weeks of hot, dry weather, followed by days on end of cold, raw rain.
In short, be prepared for just about anything -- though we should be clear of wintery precipitation by late June.
Terrain: For those unfamiliar with Pennsylvania, expect relatively rugged terrain. Much of the racecourse will take place in the Pennsylvanian segment of the Appalachian/Allegheny Mountain range. The range typically offers rocky terrain with steep climbs and descents. Ridges and narrow valleys are common, but rolling plateaus can also offer a break from the up and down.
Off-trail travel varies considerably: expect some dense bushwhacking in places with thickets of mountain laurel and/or rhododendron. In other spots, the woods will be quite open. Creeks, marshes, and swamps are commonplace.
All of the paddling in this year’s race will take place on flatwater or scenic waterways. Unlike last year, we are ONLY using packrafts for paddling stages (provided by participants) due to shallower waterways and conditions. When on moving water, teams can expect flat to class I whitewater with the potential of some class II if we get a fair bit of rain in the weeks and days preceding the event.
Note that we have designed a number of the stages of the 2023 course with these variable conditions in mind. If there is substantial rain leading up to and during the event, we will add some additional packrafting (trust us - it will be worth it).
We are relatively confident that 80-90% of the paddling mileage will be floatable and deep enough for tandem packrafts to float comfortably. 10-20% may be a bit bonier and better suited for single rafts.
Teams without packrafts may still participate in this year’s race, but they will be unofficially ranked.
For rentals, check out Backcountry Packraft Rentals.
Backcountry also offers useful tips on their Packrafting 101 page.
Please take note of our training recommendations under "Safety and Required Certifications".
Brent and Abby at Rootstock Racing are two of the most thoughtful, creative, clever and thorough race directors I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. As a race director myself, their level of care and professionalism is something I have always aspired to achieve. I have raced in many of their events and, without exception, they have all been first rate. I am fortunate to live within a few hours of most of their races, but I would not hesitate one second before traveling a very long way to participate in a Rootstock event.
-Eric Caravella, Team nyara