Maine Summer Adventure Race

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Rootstock Racing Pulls Away in the Night to Win the 2021 Maine Summer Adventure Race

Clifford White / 21.07.2021See All Event Posts Follow Event
Packrafting in the Maine woods
Packrafting in the Maine woods / © Legendary Randy Ericksen

Even in some of Maine’s tamest areas, a wild adventure can still be found.

The 2021 Maine Summer Adventure Race took place Saturday and Sunday, July 17 and 18, starting and finishing at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Maine, an outdoor recreation center just 30 minutes away from the state’s largest city of Portland and minutes from Lewiston-Auburn, the state’s third-largest metro area.

More than 350 racers took part in the fifth annual edition of this race between the 3-hour, 8-hour, and 24-hour races, and while each race traveled through areas that most Mainers are acquainted with to some degree, even the locals were impressed with how much terrain the participants covered – especially the 24-hour racers, who faced a 120-mile course that had 14 separate legs, including a sea kayak stage, a lake swim, and a packrafting expedition down the Androscoggin River.

In the 24-hour race, previous two-time national champions and Maine Summer Adventure Race victors Rootstock Racing once again emerged with the overall and mixed premier division win.

“A big course with lots of small sections during the day, and a hefty packraft/trek overnight with substantial strategy and route and discipline choice,” Rootstock Racing’s Abby Perkiss said. “We were jostling with Untamed New England, Strong Machine AR, and No Complaints for the first 9-10 hours and then pulled ahead on the overnight trek/packraft and looked over our shoulders for the entire ride to the finish.  We made good strategic decisions, moved well, had awesome team dynamics, and [navigator] Brent Freedland worked his magic on the maps.”

For both the 24-hour and 8-hour races, participants arrived at the first transition area at Range Pond State Park and faced a surprise mini-AR with kayaking, mountain biking, and trekking, which they could do in any order.  Each section contained four checkpoints, though the trek had a bonus CP that required racers to swim to the middle of Range Pond. With the weather overcast, but temperatures rising into the 70s, most racers were happy to take the plunge.

The two races diverged at this point, with 8-hour racers heading back to Pineland Farms to complete as much as possible of a Rogaine-style orienteering course (which comprised the entirety of the 3-hour race, though 3-hour racers got the advantage of being able to use bikes). Meanwhile, the 24-hour racers completed a 7-mile mountain bike on the Mt. Apatite trails in Auburn, Maine, and then headed to the Lost Valley Ski Area, where they faced a five-checkpoint orienteering course on the slopes of a small ski area.

A surprising number of racers got tripped up searching for CP 29 at the ruins of the Lake Auburn Mineral Spring House, a posh resort overlooking the picturesque Lake Auburn, which had burned down at the turn of the 20th century.  All continued on to Riverlands State Park, where race directors Cliff and Kate White had designed a huge, 25-mile trek that segued into a 7-mile packraft leg. Good navigation would be critical for success on this leg, along with a smart decision as to where to put onto the river to grab the numerous checkpoints that could be reached by either foot or boat.

But good decisions are rarely made on empty stomachs, so before they set out on this make-or-break leg, racers were treated to complementary Good To-Go dinners provided by the Kittery, Maine-based provider of dehydrated meals, offering choices such as Chicken Pho, Cuban Rice Bowl, Mexican Quinoa Bowl, Mushroom Risotto, and Thai Curry.

Rootstock Strategy Pays Off

Only eight teams managed to clear this section, but it was Rootstock Racing who pulled away, using an aggressive strategy of short swims and coasteering to avoid some of the dense Maine foliage located along the riverbank. Having entered the section essentially tied with four other teams, Rootstock gained at least 90 minutes on its rivals during this leg.

The subsequent paddle on the Androscoggin had teams hopscotching through wooded islands and around two dams, finishing up with a glide into downtown Auburn, where teams transitioned onto bikes for the hilly 20-mile ride back to the finish. But if teams thought they were home-free, they were wrong, as a biblical-level rainstorm walloped them with torrential amounts of precipitation. In fact, nearly two inches of rain was recorded at Pineland Farms on Sunday, setting daily records across the region.

“The final hour seemed to be competing with Untamed New England 2018 for ‘cartoonish amounts of rain whilst riding a bike,’” Dan Foster of Team ‘Without a Paddle’ said. “MSAR 2021: We knew we'd be racing in the rain. We had no idea we'd be racing into history.”

Racers arrived at Pineland Farms completely soaked through, but most still managed to smile for their post-finish photos. Warmed by frittatas and coffee provided by the Pineland Farms market, as well as beer from Oxbow Brewing, they were enlivened enough to gather and celebrate at the dampened yet still lively post-race festivities, which were switched at the last moment to a utility shed to accommodate all the attendees in a dry fashion.

Rootstock solo racer Nicki Driscoll scored a second overall finish, and solo Paul Miller finished third overall. Highpoint Racing, consisting of former Olympic triathlete Jarrod Shoemaker and GodZone top 10 finisher Gavin Woody, scored a fourth-place finish, Untamed New England finished fifth and second in the mixed premier category. got sixth and second place in the two-person male category. Three-person male team No Complaints finished seventh and solo racer Tom Martin finished eighth, rounding out the teams that cleared the course, and Strong Machine AR finished third in the co-ed premier category, missing one CP.

A post-race prize raffle featured giveaways from Maine Summer Adventure Race sponsors L.L. Bean, OutThere Packs, EMS, R.E.D.D., and Sap Hound Maple Company.

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