For years the Gut Check Triathlon has been a favorite of athletes looking for a late-season challenge that was different from the traditional triathlons they’ve been racing all summer. While technically a “sprint” triathlon, Gut Check took full advantage of the rugged topography of Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod — where receding glaciers thousands of years ago had left steep hills, deep waters, and a variety of forests, meadows and lowlands. Over time Gut Check earned its nickname as “The Toughest Sprint Triathlon in the East.”
At New England Endurance Events, the Gut Check has been a favorite race for our staff, and we may come back to it someday as a sprint, but for the next few years we’re trying something different. We’re re-configuring the race as a true “adventure triathlon” targeted toward those endurance athletes who want to really mix things up and present themselves with a challenge which they can tackle alone — or with their friends. Race day is October 19.
Here’s how the race has changed:
#1 No specific course: only checkpoints.
Plan on running, biking or paddling (no swim this year, due to the late fall date) for about two hours: a bit less if you’re fast, a bit more if you’re human. You may face choices as you run as to which trail might be best to take. And you may have to navigate a bit as you paddle (use a paddleboard [kneel, prone or SUP] or surfboard: no kayaks). The only no-option route will be for the bike course (which will be marked with signs and staffed at key spots). In effect, we’ve added a fourth element to this bike, paddle and run race: using your mind.
#2 You won’t know the details until race morning.
You’ll receive a laminated map/instruction sheet and a compass. You are allowed to use electronic devices such as GPS watches (in this day and age how could we not allow them?). Then it’s up to your sense of direction and wits to find the best path to each checkpoint. And that’s all we’re saying.
#3 Paddling will be part of the race this year — and in some future years.
Due to the mid October date of the race this year, we’re skipping any swimming for 2019 and going with two paddleboarding segments. Bring your own or rent a board that will be delivered to the beach for you! In future years there will be swimming with/without any paddling segments. Plan on about a mile of paddling total this year.
#4 Cycle the infamous “Fire Tower Hill.”
Nickerson Park’s Long Nook road is a “go-to” place for locals who need to do some serious bike climb training. The toughest climb of all (and, we’ll suggest, the toughest climb in all of Southeastern Massachusetts) is Nickerson Park’s Fire Tower climb. State officials would not allow us to use it for Gutcheck in years past but it will be part of the course this year!
#5 The checkpoints (and the ordering of segments) will change each year.
No two Gut Check races will be the same. We have 2000 acres to play with! And each year the emphasis may be different. This year, the majority of your time on-course will be while running.
#6 Register as a solo competitor — or as part of a team that races together.
There will be prizes for individual participants as well as for teams of 2, 3 or 4. How does the team competition work? First of all, you race together. These are not relay teams! You must stay together as a group as you progress through each leg of the race. And the entire team crosses the finish line together.
#7 As with all NEEE races, amenities galore.
Post-race sandwiches from Subway. Great swag from our sponsors. Free race photos. Prizes for age groups as well as teams and even some neat give-aways. This will be a race to talk about during your off-season!
#8 Life is short. Try something different.
Triathlon is a wonderful sport, and there will always be a range of swim-bike-run events from which to choose. But as you know, the world is full of ex-triathletes, and we suspect one reason is that many people slowly get tired of doing the same thing year after year. We believe your path to a lifetime-lasting endurance career is to try new things that test your body and mind. Here’s a season-extending race where not only will you be aerobic, but you’ll be thinking throughout — while enjoying the outstanding beauty of the quiet landscape of Cape Cod!