CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – The Endless Mountains Adventure Race finished early Sunday morning at Clarion University’s Tippin Gymnasium.
(Photos by Dave Cyphert/ProPoint Media Photography.)
The podium finishers were First Place, Bend Racing (pictured above and below) finishing at 1:10 a.m. on Sunday, June 26; Second Place, Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge, crossing the finishing line at 1:14 a.m. on Sunday; and Third Place, Rootstock Racing, trailing behind on Rib Mountain’s heels with a finishing time of 1:16 a.m.
The inaugural Endless Mountains Adventure Race, a Demonstration Race in the 2022 Adventure Racing World Series, kicked off on Sunday, June 19, in western Pennsylvania.
Thirty-two teams boarded buses from the host town of Clarion to the Fraternal Order of Eagles in downtown Punxsutawney, where they received race maps and were treated to a buffet breakfast as they planned their route. At 10:00 a.m., the racers gathered for a ceremonial send-off, with Punxsutawney Phil, the state’s most famous weather forecaster, leading them to the town green.
After the prologue, racers enjoyed a twenty-mile ride through bucolic farmlands and forest tracts en route to the small village of McGees Mills, where they transitioned to the water and launch their packrafts onto the West Branch Susquehanna River.
The racers floated 25 miles of the corridor, ending at Curwensville Lake. There, they encountered their first strategic decisions of the race: whether to secure the seven remaining CPs of the section by boat or by foot. Racers used packrafts here because unpredictable summer water levels create potential hazards for canoe travel.
At this point, racers left Curwensville Lake for the first of two long bike stages on the course. The leg offered something for everyone: small towns, remote forest roads, grinding climbs, steep descents, and a bit of winding single track. The highlight of this section was a stop at Bilger’s Rocks in Clearfield County, a sandstone playground of scrambling, climbing, and even a touch of caving.
Using a bouldering map, racers dropped their bikes and embarked on a unique navigational and technical challenge to claim twelve checkpoints before continuing on their journey into Moshannon State Forest.
From Moshannon State Forest, teams embarked on a fifty-mile rogaine through the Quehanna Wild Area, which includes more than 48,000 acres of protected land, spanning three counties and two state forests. Then, they retrieved their bikes and pedaled into Elk Country. Once racers exited the state forests, they traveled through St. Marys and onto Ridgway where they transitioned to the Clarion River for the final stage of the race.
Their first stop was in Clear Creek State Park and State Forest, a pocket of woods along the river known for the sweeping Clear Creek valley and the steep, rocky hills cradling it. From there, racers continued on to one of the highlights of the course: the old-growth forest of Cook Forest State Park. Here, racers traveled among the towering pines of the Forest Cathedral, a registered National Natural Landmark.
Participants ended their Endless Mountains journey at the boat ramp in Clarion where they trekked the last two miles through town to the finish line at Clarion University’s Tippin Gymnasium.
Second Place: Rib Mountain Adventure Challenge
Third Place: Rootstock Racing