It was at AMC’s Gorman Chairback Lodge, somewhere around 1:30 in the morning, when I overheard a visitor ask a friend with whom he was traveling, “Do we have butt cream?”
It wasn’t all that unusual a query, really. You see, this duo was part of a European team competing in the 200-mile Untamed New England Adventure Race this past June, and they had just pedaled mountain bikes 45 miles over woods roads and other rough terrain to a checkpoint at the lodge.
It had been more than 15 hours since the race’s start, in which 39 two-, three-, and four-person teams ran through the woods before climbing into canoes and paddling across Moosehead Lake, ascending and rapelling down Mount Kineo, then hopping on their bikes and cranking through the woods to Gorman Chairback.
All that activity could lead to some chafing and soreness, after all. And they still had about 3-1/2 days to go.
Approximately 80 miles of the racecourse traveled over AMC’s 66,500-acre Maine Woods Initiative conservation and recreation land, from the southern end of the Katahdin Iron Works parcel to the northern reaches of the Roach Ponds tract.
More than 100 racers hailing from around the United States, South America, and Europe tested their mettle in the grueling competition, while also being introduced to the grandeur of the Maine Woods, the natural beauty of Moosehead Lake, and the friendliness of surrounding communities.
“The breadth of activities racers are involved in—from hiking and trail running to paddling, rafting, orienteering, mountain biking, and more—helps to highlight the 100-Mile Wilderness region and Moosehead Lake region as premier locations for outdoor recreation. That’s one of the goals of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Woods Initiative, and we are pleased and honored to welcome athletes from around the world to Maine and to AMC’s nearly 70,000 acres of conservation and recreation land,” AMC Senior Vice President Walter Graff said in an e-mail message from race organizers.
Gorman Chairback lodge crew was in high gear as racers came in throughout the night, preparing an hours-long pancake feed for hungry racers. They arrived in surges, with some teams several hours ahead or behind others. Teams raced to stack firewood (sustainably harvested from AMC’s land) and negotiated orienteering courses near the lodge on the shore of Long Pond. They also had the opportunity to catch some sleep—which is in short supply on a 4-day, 200-mile wilderness race.
Thirty-three teams completed the race, with Team Columbia Vidaraid of Spain taking the top spot. The winning team received a $10,000 purse and entry into the Adventure Racing World Championships, to be held in Ecuador later this year.
“We thought the race would be a great way to introduce AMC to outdoors enthusiasts from around the region and around the world, and help to demonstrate what a spectacular region this is for outdoor adventure,” said AMC Maine Woods Initiative Operations Manager Dan Rinard, who got the ball rolling on AMC’s participation. “It was a great experience that built awareness and generated a lot of goodwill,” he said.