Unfamiliarity with the terrain was no obstacle to Rib Mountain Racing, a team based in Wausau, Wisconsin. Rib Mountain Racing, which has previously finished on the podium at the U.S. Adventure Racing National Championship, beat several top regional teams to win this year’s race, the seventh edition of the event.
For the second consecutive year, the Maine Summer Adventure Race was a USARA Regional Championship, meaning Rib Mountain Racing, as the top mixed premier division team in the 24-hour race scored a free entry to this year’s USARA National Championship, taking place in Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont, September 15-16, 2023.
The race also joined the new Adventure Racing World Series North America Series this year, qualifying all mixed premier division finishers a chance to win prizes, including a free entry to the 2024 Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador.
Rib Mountain Racing, composed of Tim Buchholz, Andrea Larson, and Derek MacKenzie, nabbed all 68 checkpoints along the 120-mile course in 22 hours, 46 minutes. Adventure Enablers, based in New Hampshire, finished with all checkpoints in 23:03, and local team Strong Machine Adventure Racing took third place, finishing one minute late and suffering a one checkpoint penalty.
Team Disasterisk took the overall win in the 8-hour race and Sonic Speed won the 3-hour race, with both teams clearing their respective courses. The 3-hour race featured what could have been the largest age range of any adventure race in history, with finishers including a 5-week-old baby and an 80-year-old veteran.
All three races began at P-3 Park in Brunswick, Maine, and all three courses made use of the local Neptune Woods mountain bike trails as well as the Kate Furbish Nature Preserve. The 3-hour race returned to the finish, while the 8-hour and 24-hour races traveled through the Brunswick Commons trails to Bay Bridge Landing Wetland Park. Racers jumped in sea kayaks there and set out into the estuarine area where the Androscoggin River runs into Merrymeeting Bay to obtain eight island checkpoints.
The 8-hour racers returned to the finish from there, but the 24-hour racers still had a rolling bike ride with ocean views all the way down the Phippsburg Peninsula to the highlight of this year’s course. Arriving at the spectacular Popham Beach State Park at sundown – and low tide – allowed teams to cross a tombolo, or sand bridge, to Fox Island for a unique checkpoint with expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean.
A three-mile beach run followed, and then an exploration of the historical Fort Popham and the ruins of the Popham Colony, a contemporary of the Jamestown Colony as one of the oldest English settlements in the New World. Two checkpoints were placed inside bunkers used to spot German U-Boats during World War II.
As the sun set, teams remounted their bikes to a cruise toward the Maine Oyster Company basecamp for a special oyster-shucking challenge, giving them a literal taste of the Atlantic. Then it was off toward a huge overnight hike through the beautiful highland pitch pine wilderness running along the peninsula’s central ridge, featuring exposed granite outcroppings with untarnished views of the clear night sky.
As dawn broke, the 24-hour teams made their way back to their bikes for the final push to the finish, with a stop for nine checkpoints through the Lilly Pond and Kate Furbish trail systems providing one last challenge. The emergence of the summer sun welcomed the first teams to the finish line at P-3 Park, where they were greeted with a breakfast feast provided by Wild Oats Bakery.
“We’re so happy this year’s race was a success,” race-co director Cliff White said. “Every participant truly got to experience the best of Maine in the summertime.”
Untamed New England took first place in the two-person mixed division, clearing the course in 23:03. The New Hampshire Trail Vets won the open male category with 58 CPs, Snack Attack emerged victorious in open female category with 24 CPs, and Tom Martin won the solo division with 59 CPs. Full results can be found at MaineSummerAR.com and the live-tracking from the race can be reviewed at http://live.enabledtracking.com/msa2023/.
All racers were eligible for a huge prize raffle that included backpacks supplied by OutThere Packs, gift cards from L.L. Bean, tubes of Zanfel, and packs of Pasokin snacks, made by top-ranked adventure racer Marco Anselem.
Adventure racing photographers Randy Ericksen, Perry Flowers, and Mike Stewart were on scene for the race and their photos can be viewed at the Strong Machine AR Facebook page. Randy Ericksen also put together an overview of the highlights of the course, also viewable on Facebook. And Jeff O’Connor of Adventure Racing Insider provided commentary before, during, and after the race.
Strong Machine Adventure Racing will be hosting the eighth annual Maine Summer Adventure Racein July 2024, location to be revealed at a later date.