Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge

RIB MOUNTAIN – Smiles shown as brightly as the sun at the inaugural Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge – Winter Edition.  Despite single digit temperatures at the start, racers ranging from age 1 to 71 biked, trekked, and sledded their way to the finish line. 

Racers enjoyed off-trail accommodations such as newly constructed Trillium Trail. Photo credit: Lee Ilagan of Ann Ilagan Photography.

Race organizers kept details of the race course secret until the day before the race.  Then, racers received maps in which they had to plan their own route to find hidden checkpoints throughout Rib Mountain.  Organizers planned the course for months, which started and ended at Doepke Park.

Racers used a map and compass to navigate to features such as this reentrant. Photo credit: Lee Ilagan of Ann Ilagan Photography.

“We were excited to be able to work with the Town of Rib Mountain and private landowners to showcase the incredible parks, trails, and natural beauty of this area, and the racers loved it,” said co-race director Anna Nummelin.
Race organizers were surprised by the turnout, with nearly 200 registrants willing to brave the cold weather amid the pandemic.  Several COVID-19 precautions were implemented such as staggered starts, contactless check-in, and a virtual pre-race meeting to create a fun, yet safe event.
“With the race being held in the dead of winter, we were thrilled by the turnout for this first-time event,” said co-race director Tim Buchholz.
The sentiment expressed at the finish line was that the adventure was worth braving the cold weather. 
“This was such a great first time course. It combined skills we had (running and biking) with the new skill of orienteering,” said Sheryl Leonard-Schneck, first time adventure racer and Ironman finisher.  Despite Sheryl and her teammate both being first time adventure racers, her teammate was glad Sheryl ‘talked’ her into doing the race.

Twelve teams raced as a family in the event. Photo credit: Lee Ilagan of Ann Ilagan Photography

More first-time racers included 5 year old Elise and 8 year old Erin Bohlin, racing with their parents.  After spending nearly three hours out on the course the sisters bolted to the finish line with Erin exclaiming, “I did it!”  If that wasn’t enough, they were on the playground minutes later. 
“It’s the perfect family event with the flexibility to choose our way through the course and ultimately decide how long to be outside. Thoughtful planning, proper clothing, and a little bit of practice made this a huge success for our young family,” said their father, Keith.
The race attracted registrants from five states, and half of the racers were brand new to the sport.  A mix of experienced adventure racers were also attracted to the race, including previous national champions, WEDALI, who traveled from Minnesota. 
“I was excited to have a winter race, especially this year.  I was so impressed with the organization of the race and making it a safe one as well,” said Jeff Everson, a veteran race director and racer.

Teams partook in a special sledding challenge. Photo credit: Lee Ilagan of Ann Ilagan Photography.

Racers could do the course in any order which included sledding down Doepke Park’s sledding hill as part of a special challenge.  Due to lack of substantial snow, no snowshoes were required, making the course a bit faster for racers.
Next year’s event is already in the works, but racers will still have to wait 364 days to find out where next year’s race will take them.
Results and pictures available at: https://www.ironbull.org/rmac-winter-results-and-pictures-2021
IRONBULL’s next race, the Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge, is based on the same premise of teams using a map and compass on an unmarked course.  This Memorial Day weekend event will be comprised of biking, trekking, and paddling.  For more information go to https://www.ironbull.org/rmac