Race Details



Race day for the Gut Check Sprint Triathlon and Duathlon — October 13 — is this Saturday!

This Athlete’s Guide contains all of the information you will need to be prepared to compete in the event. Please take the time to carefully read both the athlete guide as well as any possible updated race information on the race website and the New England Endurance Events Facebook Page. Additions will be made to this webpage during race week: such as water temperature readings (first one to be taken on Wednesday).

Good luck at the race and we’ll see you at the finish line!


Kathleen Walker & Andy Scherding

Latest News:

SWIM COURSE MARKED  –  Orange buoys mark the entrance and exit; yellow buoys mark the turns. 

WATER TEMPERATURE  –  70 degrees close to shore, 69 at deepest point! Probably will drop a degree or two with Thursday’s rains. You won’t be cold swimming, but put something warm on for the bike as race morning temps expected to be in high 50s. Seriously: avoid hypothermia!

I don’t want to read this entire webpage. What’s the essential stuff?

Okay, non-owner’s-manual users, here’s the Quick Start…

GATES OPEN  –  Saturday morning at 7 am 

RACE LOCATION AND START  –  Area 6 of Nickerson State Park, which is a 3-mile drive along Deer Park/Nook Road from the entrance to the park. No turns; just drive straight until you see the sign for Area 6.

SCOUTING THE COURSE  –   You can swim the waters of Cliff Pond any day — always open to the public — and marker buoys are expected to be set on Wednesday of race week. The buoys are small and yellow but you should be able to see them from shore. Start near the kayak rental shed and swim counter-clockwise. Finish at the base of the cliff. See the course maps (below) for guidance. We expect the bike course to be signed on Thursday. You can bike the course anytime (follow the course map below) but beware, security gates are closed at two points and one gate (Area 7) will remain closed until minutes before the race start. (However, you can walk your bike around the gates.)  As to the run, we expect the course to be marked on Friday. Look for bright laminated signs affixed to trees.

THE “I’VE CHANGED MY MIND” POLICY  –   Yes, you can change your mind up to the moment you pick up your race packet: to switch from triathlon to duathlon, or from duathlon to triathlon. But, you must make this decision before you pick up your race packet. See the friendly people in the registration shelter for assistance.

PARKING  –   VIPs (the first 50 registrants) and our volunteers enjoy a limited number of parking spots near transition. Those folks will receive your parking pass by email a few days before the race. (You must park in your numbered spot only!)  All other competitors and visitors are to park in the overflow lot on Nook Road located just 10 yards past the entrance to Area 6. No parking alongside any roads or drives!

EXTRA PAIR OF OLD RUNNING SHOES  –   Triathletes: bring them for the 300-vertical-foot cliff climb after the swim. Unless you have tough-as-leather feet!

WATER TEMPERATURE  –   The temp in Cliff Pond has ranged between 69 and 72 degrees for the past few GutChecks.  We consider that to have been due to good luck: be prepared for the possibility of a water temperature in the mid to upper 60s.  The pond’s overall water temperature declines gradually during the Fall season but fluctuations do occur, mostly due to wind direction and intensity (shifting the thermocline layers within the pond). We encourage the use of a wetsuit.

SWIM WAVES  –   Here they are:
Wave 1:   Men 39 years old (in “USAT years”) and under
Wave 2:  Men 40 and over
Wave 3:  All women and triathlon relay teams

Swim wave starts will be three minutes apart. Our duathletes will start their Run #1 at the same time as Wave 1

OVERDRESS ON THE BIKE  –   We have had instances of athletes quitting the race during the bike due to being too cold. Even if the water temp is fine, once you hit cool air at 30 mph tearing down the hills your body temp can plummet. Consider even wearing bike gloves.

TRI BIKE OR ROAD BIKE?  –   A subject of continual debate. If you’re lucky enough to own/have access to two bikes, the consensus appears to be that if the quality of the bikes (especially the drivetrain) are comparable then go with the road bike. The maneuverability, acceleration and climbing capability gives you an edge. There aren’t many spots on this course where you can tuck into an aero position for very long. But: no matter which bike you choose, be prepared to slow significantly for 22 (yes, 22) tight turns. Every year a few folks go in too hot and…..plunk. So, maybe take it easy on the first loop?




Afternoon:  Pilot buoys (small, yellow) for the swim course will be placed in the water. You’re welcome to swim the course throughout the week. Closest parking is not at the start/finish site at Area 6, but rather at the end of Flax Pond Road. You may park at either location.
5 pm:  Online registration closes. However, on-site registration will be available on race eve and race morning.


Afternoon:  Bike course will be marked with signs.


Morning:  Both of the run courses will be marked well enough for scouting of the course by participants that afternoon. Look for colorful signs attached to trees.
4-6 pm:  On-site registration and race materials pick-up. If you are pre-registered, don’t forget to bring a legal ID and — if you’re a member — your USAT ID card! If you’re registering, please bring cash (there is no internet or cell reception for credit card processing at the race site).


7 – 8:30 am:  On-site registration and race materials pick-up. If you are picking up pre-registered materials, don’t forget to bring a legal ID and — if you’re a member — your USAT ID card
7:15 am:  Transition area opens
8:30 am:  Transition area closes, all athletes on beach
8:45 am:  Pre-race announcements on beach
9 am:  First wave start. Following waves will start at 3-minute intervals
10 am:  Food service — thanks, D’Angelo’s Sandwiches! — begins, and continues until the very last finisher has a chance to eat!
10:30 am:  Optional post-race recovery yoga near the refreshment area with Terry Walsh
11 am (approximate):  Awards ceremony

What’s where?

Transition Area:  This is a very rectangular and narrow transition area, due to the unique layout of the Area 6 campground.  Some athletes have preferences as to whether they’d like their bike and gear located toward one end of a T area or another. But don’t worry: we have laid out the T area so that everyone has to run or walk the same distance by the time their race is finished

  • Athletes only: no spectators or coaches.
  • Your bike MUST be placed on a rack. The racks are positioned so that only one side of the rack is to be used for bikes. You may use the other side of the rack for transition bags, etc. Five bicycles fit on each rack. If the bike cannot fit, see a Transition Captain wearing a bright “New England Endurance” T-shirt.
  • Please keep your gear to a small area next to/underneath your bike so that other athletes can also have room.

Swim:  Behind the registration shelter, there is a path leading down to the water. As you journey down, keep in mind you will be heading the other way up early in the race. (In fact the fastest male and female triathletes up this cliff will win the Billy Goat Award). Once you hit the bottom of the cliff walk along the beach until you see a gray shed where kayaks are rented in summer. Swimmers and duathletes will start at this location. Spend 10 minutes in the water prior to the race start to get your body used to the cooler (thankfully, not cold this year) temperature. Do not spend so much time in the water that your core begins to chill. After the starting horn, the swimmers will follow the buoys counter-clockwise to the swim finish at the bottom of the cliff. They will then run up the cliff to transition. Many athletes wear swim booties, or place in advance a pair of easy-to-get-into running shoes on the beach near the swim exit. And some will even take off their wetsuits before charging up the hill.

Duathlon Run #1:  Behind the registration shelter, there is a path leading down to the water. As you journey down, keep in mind you will be heading the other way at the end of your first two-mile run. Once you hit the bottom of the cliff walk along the beach until you see a gray shed where kayaks are rented in summer. Swimmers and duathletes will start at this location. You will head back in the same direction as you came from, but signs will direct you to turn left and follow a rugged course around Little Cliff Pond. There will be staked signs as well as bright green signs on trees. Open areas will have green cones to follow. There is one water station at about 1.4 miles.

Bike:  The course measures 10 miles. While the park rangers will make their best effort to keep it closed to traffic, there is always the possibility of a stray car, hiker or animal (most likely: animal) appearing out of nowhere — so beware! After swimming, your body will be colder than you may have thought for a bike ride in October, so consider gloves and an extra layer. You do not mount your bike until you reach the designated area OUTSIDE of the transition area. Your helmet chin strap must be securely fastened BEFORE you remove your bike from the rack, until AFTER you return your bike to the rack. Stay to the right except when passing. Be careful of the many tight turns! Many athletes have misjudged their speed around corners; better to be safe and hammer the straights instead. In addition to the obviously tight corners, there is a left curve in Area 7 that is negatively banked and two very steep but short downhill sections, also within Area 7. Be aware! We enforce the USAT Triathlon “no drafting” rule. Marshals are positioned at spots throughout the course.

Run:  The course measures 3.15 miles — but it will feel like 4-plus. Last-minute changes to the course may be made to adjust for erosion and washouts. There will be staked signs as well as bright yellow signs on trees. Open areas will have green cones to follow. There are two aid stations at about 1 mile and 2.2 miles. In addition to water they will also be supplying Isagenix fluid replacement drink. Be prepared for difficult footing along both run courses. We would strongly suggest a practice trail run (at Nickerson or elsewhere) to remind yourself of the different rhythm that is good trail running. If you are choosing from your collection of sunglasses, go with the pair with lighter shading (easier to see tree roots in the shadows). If you haven’t scouted out the run, just pace yourself, look carefully at every step and save a little for about 2.8 miles in. Remember: use of headphones for any reason — iPods, cell phones — is not allowed.

Before you get in your car to head to the venue!

  • Each Participant MUST have both a photo ID and an annual USAT License (or purchase a one day license at packet pickup (See USAT section below for details)
  • If you do not have an ID you WILL NOT be given your race materials
  • Each participant must be present to pick up their race number/materials. You will not be allowed to pick up another participant’s race materials. This includes relay teams — all members of the team must be present


 Important Details for Registration & Race Materials Pickup
1.  You must pick up your materials on either Friday, the evening before the event, between 4-6pm, or on the morning of the race between 7am-8:30am. We suggest you pick up your packet the day prior to the race so you’re not rushed on race morning.
2. You must have a photo ID and a valid USAT Triathlon Card (or one day license) We cannot release your materials to you without a valid Photo ID, no exceptions!
3. USAT License: If you are an annual USAT Member you must bring your valid USAT card with you at packet pickup. If this is expired you will be required to purchase a one day license for $15 (Cash & Check only accepted)
4. One-Day USAT License: If you are not an annual USA Triathlon member you must purchase the one day license at the time of race materials pickup (cash or check only: there is no cell or internet service at the park for us to process credit cards).

Parking & directions:

GPS:  You’ll be happy to know the park entrance has a GPS-friendly address: 3488 Main St, Brewster, MA.

Want to see a map? Map of Nickerson State Park

Now what to do?  Enter the park and keep driving on the same road for exactly three miles. Be careful as athletes may be warming up on foot or on their bicycles!  Don’t make any turns for until you see the sign for Area 6. There will be volunteers directing you to available parking.

If you have a VIP Pass (first 50 registrants): you will be allowed by the parking guard to enter into the area close to transition. You must park only in the numbered spot in which you were assigned. This is important!  No “oh this spot looks good, I’ll take that” thinking!

All others:  you will park in the lot designated by signs as “Area 6 Overflow Parking Lot.” Don’t be glum: it’s not much of a walk/bike ride to registration/transition.

Do not park along any road inside the park, as this is part of the race course and the rangers will insist the vehicle be towed!

I have friends/family coming to watch:  If they are arriving before the race starts they may park in Area 6 overflow lot. If they are arriving after the race starts, they will not be able to park on that side of the park close to Area 6. Ask them to park in the parking lot at the end of Flax Pond Road (see map) and start walking along the beach. A few hundred yards and they’ll be at the race start!

Where are the bathrooms?

There are two: men’s on one side of each building; women’s on the other.

Obtaining your race materials:

  1. Ensure you have a Photo ID & Valid USAT Card (if applicable) with you prior to your arrival. If you’re not an annual USAT Member bring an extra $15 just to be safe.
  2. Upon arrival there will be a wooden storm shelter under which is our registration tables. Separate lines for pre-registered and new registrations.
  3. Present your Photo ID and valid USAT Card (If applicable) to the registration volunteer. If you need to sign a waiver or still owe $15 for the annual one-day license, you will handle it right there.
  4. Once you have your race number materials, which contains numbers, timing chip and a swim cap (with your corresponding swim wave assignment), then proceed to the T-shirt/Goodie Bag pickup.
  5. Present your race materials to the T-shirt volunteer as it will show what size T- shirt you ordered. Collect your T-shirt & Goodie Bag and you’re all done.  Note: you will not be able to switch T-shirt sizes until AFTER the race. What you ordered is what you will get. Swaps can be made after the race on race day only, as this is to ensure everyone receives the T-shirt that was ordered, and that any extras will then be used to swap out sizes.

Nervous about the swim? Ask at the swim cap table for a RED swim cap. This will signal to our lifeguards that you are not a strong swimmer, and they will keep a closer eye on you!

What to do with your race numbers and timing chip:

Your race packet will contain two race numbers and one swim cap.

  1. Bike frame number: This looks like a decal. It’s a bike frame number. Remove the backing and place this decal on the top bar or seat post of your bike frame.
  2. Running bib number: This looks like those numbers you see at any running race.  Using safety pins (available at registration table), affix this to the front of your shirt or shorts. (Tip: many triathletes use “race belts” to which they affix their bib number and place it with their belongings in the transition area until they start their run. These belts are available online from triathlon merchants). While you can display your number for the swim and bike if you wish, it must be worn on the run and displayed on the front of your person as you cross the finish line.
  3. Timing Chip: The timing chip will be located in the same packet which you picked up at registration containing your numbers and swim cap. You must leave it on for the entirety of the event. It needs to be returned to the timer when you cross the finish line and before you leave the post-race chute.  If you’re wearing a wetsuit, affix the velcro ankle strap so it is underneath your wetsuit so it will not tear off — or tear your wetsuit — when you prepare for the bike ride.  Relay teams only:  At each stage of the race, the teammate who has just finished a leg hands off the chip to the teammate who will compete in the next leg, who must affix it to his or her ankle. A volunteer will collect the chip at the finish line. These chips are expensive: unreturned timing chips will require a charge to your team of $75
  4. Swim cap: This cap MUST BE WORN during the swim portion of the event.

Where it all goes:

Relay teams procedure:

Packet Pickup

  • All Team Members MUST be present to pick up their Race # Packets, T- shirts, and Goodie Bags. (Sorry it’s not our rule & an inconvenience but it’s one that we will not make exceptions due to this event being USAT Sanctioned)
  • Your Team will receive one Race # Packet, as it contains your Swimmers Cap, Bikers Frame #, and Runners Bib number
  • Everyone in your team will get their own T-shirt & Goodie Bag

Race Day

  • You will only receive one Timing Chip, which each of you will exchange to each other as you complete the race.
  • Body Marking: Everyone in your team must be body marked
  • TIMING CHIP: The timing chip will be worn by all the relay team athletes. Timing Chip Location: Swimmer = Ankle, Biker = Ankle, Runner = Ankle.
  • The timing chip will be passed between your Relay Teammates inside the transition area, at your designated spot. The biker will be waiting at the bike (Keep on the rack until the chip is transferred) for the swimmer to enter transition and switch the timing chip. The runner will also be waiting inside transition (again at your teams bike rack location), for the biker to enter and make the switch (Please rack your bike prior to transferring the timing chip to the runner).

On-site bike service:

Thanks to Wheelhouse Bike Co. for lending bicycle mechanical services for our event.  Wheelhouse is located on Crowell Road in Chatham, and is open every day but Tuesday with an emphasis on high-quality road bicycles.


The awards ceremony is tentatively scheduled for 11am. For the triathlon, medals are presented to the top competitors in each age group (both male and female) as well as top overall winner and top relay team. Top overall duathletes will be honored as well as age group winners.

The fastest male and female triathletes to make it from the finish of the swim to the top of the cliff will receive a special “Billy Goat” award: a package of great Isagenix nutrition products.

And while few of us are fast enough to win those prestigious first-place prizes, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll go home empty-handed. Stick around after the race for a drawing for great prizes: open to all competitors.

Those who cannot remain for the ceremony may receive their award by mailing a self-addressed, stamped, oversized/padded envelope to the race director within 30 days of the event. 

Yoga? Yes!

After the race, grab a towel and join certified yoga instructor Terry Walsh near the transition area / food service for some post-race recovery yoga and light stretching. It’s the perfect way to warm down those hard-worked muscles, clear away lactic acid — and clear away your mind as well! Terry is an instructor at both the Boston Athletic Club in downtown Boston and Glow Yoga in Eastham here on Cape Cod — and a top triathlete as well. 

Ticks, volunteers, and our cause (not necessarily in that order).

Ticks:  It’s a park in the Northeast United States. We have ’em. Check yourself after the race!

Volunteers:  Over 50 people will be giving up their Saturday morning to assist you at the race. Except for times when you’re out of breath, please remember to thank them! And if you have a friend or family member who would like to help out, please encourage them to contact us!

Our cause:  Please remember what this race is for: to raise funds for Dream Day, a summer camp for seriously ill and disabled children and their families. Located on the edge of Nickerson State Park, this organization does fantastic work and really fills a need. Donations in addition to your race fee are always appreciated.

Can I shower before I drive home?

As you drive out of the park, look for the sign to “Areas 2, 3, 4” on the right side of the road (just after the General Store). The showers are just inside this entrance.

Course maps


Duathlon Run #1



A penalty! What, me?

We all want a safe, fair race. No one likes to receive a time penalty, and the race officials understand that…but again, we all want a safe, fair competition. So please note:

Officials will traveling along the bike course.

Officials will be placed at strategic positions on both courses including transition area, bike mount and dismount.

Please read the rules below to keep your finishing result clean!

Race rules:

1.  Helmets:  Only helmets approved by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) may be used in USAT sanctioned events. Helmets must be worn at all times while on your bike before, during, and after the event.  Penalty: Disqualification

2.  Chin Straps:  Chin straps must be buckled at all times when on a bicycle — including when the bike is off the rack and in your hands while standing, walking or running with it. DO NOT unbuckle your chin strap unless you are off your bicycle and it is placed back on the rack.  Penalty: Disqualification if on the course; Variable time penalty if in transition area.

3.  Outside Assistance:  No assistance other than that offered by race and medical officials may be used. Triathlons are individual tests of fitness. Penalty: Variable time penalty

4.  Transition Area:  All equipment must be placed in the properly designated bike rack. All participants must return their bicycles to an upright position in their designated bicycle rack. No person shall interfere with another participant’s equipment or impede the progress of another participant. All bar ends must be solidly plugged. No participant shall bring ANY glass containers into the transition area.  Penalty: Variable time penalty

5.  Cycling Regulations:

Drafting: keep at least three bike lengths of clear space between you and the cyclist in front. If you move into the zone, you must pass within 15 seconds.

Position:  keep to the right hand side of the lane of travel unless passing.

Blocking: riding on the left side of the lane without passing anyone and interfering with other cyclists attempting to pass.

Overtaken: once passed, you must immediately exit the draft zone from the rear before attempting to pass again.

Penalties: Variable time penalties

6.  Course:  All competitors are required to follow the prescribed course and to stay within all coned lanes. Cutting the course is an obvious violation and going outside the course is a safety issue. Cyclists shall not cross a solid yellow center line for ANY reason. Cyclists must obey all applicable traffic laws at all times. (It is for your safety that you do not cross the Yellow Line, especially on corners!)  Penalty: Referee’s discretion

7.  Unsportsmanlike Conduct:  Foul, harsh, argumentative or abusive language or other unsportsmanlike conduct directed at race officials, USA Triathlon officials, volunteers, spectators or fellow athletes is forbidden.  Penalty:  Disqualification (This is a family environment and any language of this nature will NOT be tolerated.)

8.  Headphones:  Headphones, headsets, walkmans, ipods, mp3 players, or personal audio devices, etc. are not to be carried or worn at any time during the race.  Penalty: Variable time penalty (Please do not break this rule as it is considered a major safety violation and is subject to police stoppage and a traffic citation on the bike course)

9.  Race numbers:  All athletes are required to wear race numbers at all times during the run. Numbers must face the front and be clearly visible at all times. Numbers may not be cut or folded or altered in any way. DO NOT transfer your number to any other athlete or take a number from an athlete that is not competing. Penalty: Variable time penalty for missing or altered number, Disqualification and one year suspension from membership in USAT for transferring a number without race director permission.

10.  Wetsuits:  Each age group participant shall be permitted to wear a wetsuit without penalty in any event sanctioned by USA Triathlon up to and including a water temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit. When the water temperature is greater than 78 degrees but less than 84 degrees Fahrenheit, age group participants may wear a wetsuit at their own discretion, provided, however that participants who wear a wetsuit within such temperature range shall not be eligible for prizes or awards. Above 84 degrees, wetsuits are prohibited.

11.  Abandonment:  All personal equipment and belongings taken out onto the course must stay on the athlete the entire time. No garbage, clothing, etc. shall be thrown on the course. Please do not litter the course with water bottles, gel packets, or wrappers. The community has supported this event for years and your responsibility in keeping the course clean will help to ensure that this event continues.  Penalty: Variable time penalties

For a complete list of rules, please refer to the most up to date USA Triathlon Competitive Rules at: http://www.usatriathlon.org/resources/about-events/rules