The Two Rivers Adventure Race

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Two Rivers Adventure Race Offers 'Endless' Value

Clifford White / 04.06.2021Live TrackingSee All Event Posts Follow Event
Up the creek at the Two Rivers Adventure Race
Up the creek at the Two Rivers Adventure Race / © Rick Kelly

A 36-hour adventure race is a rarity in the sport – short enough to tempt anyone to try it, but long enough to punish those who don’t give it the proper respect.

The Two Rivers Adventure Race, run by top U.S. AR organization Rootstock Racing, began as a 12-hour urban race in Philadelphia six years ago, culminating in a team selfie with the Rocky statue. It then moved to Wilmington, Delaware, and Atlantic City, New Jersey. Three years ago, the race got longer and more rural, as it started as a 24-hour race based out of Morris, Pennsylvania, but the week before the race, it was extended to a 27-hour race, which gave participants either three more hours of fun or misery, depending on their mental state.

This year, after a one-year hiatus due to COVID, the Two Rivers race was once again back in Morris, home to the Endless Mountains, but this time, racers faced 36 hours of adventure. With registration set at $36 per person as a thank-you from race directors Abby Perkiss and Brent Freedland to the AR community, the race probably had the lowest price-per-hours-raced ratio in the history of the sport. Unsurprisingly, the race sold out in days, and to accommodate the many racers who weren’t quick to click, Rootstock subsequently offered a 15-hour race as a shorter alternative.

The U.S. National Championship, put on annually by the U.S. Adventure Racing Association (USARA), is 30 hours long and is considered the benchmark both for quality and for length in terms of judging the best overall team in the United States. The final 30 hours of this year’s Two Rivers course felt like it could have been one of the best national championship races of all time. What about the first six hours, you ask? The first six hours were more about the adventure than the race – a meandering, slippery slog through the incomparably beautiful Rock Run. Seven miles, 16 checkpoints and about 150 pairs of very wet shoes and shorts later, the real race began at TA 1, where teams received the maps for the rest of the course.

From this point on, the course was masterfully crafted to reward artful navigation, with several lung-busting hill climbs thrown in on the three bike legs to even things up. A large overnight trek, chockfull of waterfalls and grottos, was tactfully bifurcated to create a cluster of easier points for less-experienced racers, while a few more far flung points served to separate the contenders from the pretenders.

Smart teams maxed out their points on this section before moving on to the packrafting leg, which offered fewer checkpoints, accessed via a thousand-foot ascent, followed by a few more CPs leading up to the packraft put-in on Pine Creek, and the race’s only paddle leg.  This brought them down nine miles of river rafting described as “rip-roaring” for the 15-hour racers, but it was more ripping than roaring by the time the 36-hour racers came through, as water levels had dropped.

With colder, wetter temperatures besetting the entire race, several teams (including ours, due to some tired minds and bodies two weeks after Expedition Oregon) made quiet, early exits to the finish. But for teams looking to place well, the temptation of nabbing one or two additional CPs on the packraft had to be balanced with the expectation of a two-hour uphill bike ride to the finish.

Several teams finished with just minutes to spare, making the most of their $36 entry fees.  In the end, just one team cleared the entire course – Rootstock Racing’s own team, comprised of Nicki Driscoll, Karyn DuLaney, and last-minute fill-in Michael Garrison, the Executive Director of USARA.

The Two Rivers seems to get longer and tougher every year. Maybe Abby and Brent had a bigger agenda from the start – they’re hoping to launch a true expedition race in 2022, the Endless Mountains Adventure Race – which, if it happens, is guaranteed to be every bit as tough and rewarding as this year’s Two Rivers race, since word is on good authority it will go through some of the very same territory.

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