Bonk Hard Racing: Berryman Adventure Race 2013

Over the weekend of September 28th, 2013 I had the opportunity to do the Berryman Adventure race with my Brother-in-law Shawn which is a multi-sport race for Run, Bike, and Canoe… BUT you have to take everything with you. Food, water, clothes, paddles, etc. The Berryman Adventure races is an orienteering race where the night before we get a list of lat/long locations that we have to find using traditional methods of locating things; a map and a compass. Between each checkpoints you do not have the luxury of nice foot paths that are carved to take you from point “A” to point “B”. You have to “Bushwhack” your way through trees, streams, animals, twigs, brush, poison ivy, etc, and make your own path.

The Berryman Adventure is a TRUE backwoods, old school adventure race - offering a single course taking teams 12 to 16 hours to complete”.

While we were bushwhacking, biking, and canoeing through the Mark Twain National Forest, I was trying to keep a mental list of all the interesting items we experienced or witnessed throughout the day. However, once I started reviewing the list… I soon realized that I was creating a list of misery, horror, and epic proportions of PAIN which would most likely scare anyone from trying to do these types of races in the future. So while you are reading a list, just remember I’m glad these things happened and that I was able to overcome the obstacles and finish the race.

List of in order of time to the best of my memory:

  • To the guys who cranked the Licensed to Ill Beasty Boys album at 6am, THANKS! The loud music blasting from your truck set the fun atmosphere and attitude for the rest of the day.
  • Upon “GO”, it was interesting to watch 57 teams composed of almost 150 people split into two different directions. Over the past year doing Triathlons where there is only one way to go… this was different.
  • And in about 15 seconds our mass group split again with one taking the gravel car path while we, team Roadkill, decided to jump off that path and bushwhack straight up the hilltop.
  • While bushwhacking I was educated in what poison ivy looks like. No not the bad way, but just that it was everywhere. Also, when you are attacked by a swarm of bees (and not SyncServer mac nerds) you don’t care how you dance, or sound when you scream (not us, but witnessed).
  • We finished the first five checkpoints (of 39 checkpoints total) in about an hour, and that is when I realized that waterproof socks are required. Running in wet socks (and shoes) is a perfect mix to generate blisters on your feet, and I felt it starting after the first hour. Luckily we came to the section of the multi-sport where I felt confident I could excel, the bike.
  • I thought Missouri was flat. I was wrong.
  • Once we were finished with the 18 mile ride, we got to the canoes. We had to arrange our bikes on the canoe and TAKE THEM WITH US to the next several checkpoints.
  • From this point we had done all three sports, the rest of the trip went
    • Bike
    • Canoe
    • Bushwhack
    • Canoe
    • Bike

It was great to finish. However the downpour at 4pm really put a damper on the spirits and at that time the goal shifted to “just finish the race” vs. catching more checkpoints. Maybe I should looking into doing a Half Ironman now that I know I can take an entire day of physical (and mental) punishment.

UPDATE 2013-10-02

I just remembered a couple of items that I did learn from my first race that I wanted to write down so I can review for next year:

  • In-addition to some waterproof socks, if you want to do ANY night work get a decent front headlight on your bike to see the roads. Are there ones with Fog options? Bring a hand flashlight along with the headlamp.
  • Need better pants to protect my legs. The compression socks did OK (better than nothing), but I’m still in ITCHING HELL from my knees to my ankles.
  • To the guy that passed us peddling uphill, JEALOUS! FYI; he has a “42” on his rear cog. That would be nice.
  • If you want to see a map of our adventure, it’s available via this Google Map link. You’ll notice at the beginning the GPS tracker had a little trouble finding us while we were standing still… but once we started moving on the bikes it locked on.

Also, if you want to read about the race from other racers, I found:

  • Rock Racing Xtreme Adventure that has some pictures and a video clip of the downpour in the canoes
  • Emily Korsch’s Outdoor Adventure who was also on the 2nd place team Alpine Shop, PLUS she is competing at USARA National Championships starting TOMORROW in Nashville, IN.



WOW, that sounds worse than I thought’ You must be crazy to have let Shawn talk you into it. Did he actually tell you the whole truth about the race? AND SHAWN YOU MUST BE REALLY CRAZZZZY SINCE YOU KEEP DOING IT YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER………………………………………..


Bikes in canoes…can honestly say, I have never seen that before !! ha ha Sounds like it could be a lot a fun, but a lot of work too ! Good job. I enjoyed reading about it and now I am sure I will never even be tempted to try it !!!! ha ha


Nice race report! I was there (Team Oxygen Thieves). I’ve done these races, this one in particular, for the last 4 years. I enjoy them more and more every time! Oh, yea, I was also there for the bee attack at CP3; definitely part of the race to remember!

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