We decided to expand our testing of the Berryman Top to other endurance sports besides running, specifically adventure racing. Adventure Racing consists of running/hiking, biking (on all terrain, single track, gravel and pavement) and paddling.
Additionally, there’s a few other components of adventure racing to know:
1. It’s a team event. You have a team of 2-4 people and you have to stay together the whole time.
2. Adventure Races are not measured in distance, they are measured in time (6 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours etc.). When you sign up for an adventure race, you know you need to be prepared to be on the course for that time period (e.g. 12 hours). You don’t know how far you’re going to be running or biking or paddling just that you will be on the course for the allotted time (6 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours etc.).
3. You have to navigate/orienteer your way to various checkpoints/locations through the entire race. Basically, the race director gives you a map and a small piece of paper with a grid on it (a.k.a. a passport). They then tell you to run/hike to these locations on the map and you have to figure out what route to take to get there. Once you get there you’ll find an orange orienteering flag with a punch (kind of like a hole punch). You use the punch to put small holes in your passport to prove you were there and move onto the next location. This process repeats for biking and paddling sections as well. Whoever finds the most checkpoints within the time limit wins.
In these races you could go severals hours without seeing an aid station. Which is why we thought the Stubborn Mule 30 Hour Adventure Race in Wisconsin would be a perfect test for the Berryman Top.
We were given the maps and course layout about 1 hour before the race started. Based on the course layout I knew we needed to be prepared to be in the woods for the first 5 hours without an aid station. That called for a backpack with water and about 5 hours worth of food (3 gels and 2 small bags of oatmeal cookies). The food easily fit within 3 of the 4 zipper pockets of the Berryman Top.
After a short pre-race meeting with the race director, we were off! While running, the shirt didn’t bounce or chafe with the food in the pockets. I barely noticed it was there. It was also great to bike in. The back of the shirt is long enough to where I could bike and not worry about the shirt riding up and showing off my lower back. After two small running sections and one mountain biking section, we came back to the Start/Finish. Here we loaded up for a long biking section. I refilled my water pack and put 8 hours worth of food into the pockets of the shirt.
After 4 hours of biking, we came to another aid station/transition area. I refilled the shirt pockets with a 5 more food items. A small bag of chips from the aid station fit well in the side back zipper pocket.
We then embarked on the longest leg of the race without any aid, a four hour paddle, then a 5 hour hiking/orienteering section, then 2 more hours of paddling. This takes us well into the night. We were admiring a beautiful sunrise as we finished the second paddle and arrived back at the aid station where our bikes were. We have 8 hours left in our 30 hour time limit to complete the remainder of the race.
After refilling the pockets of the shirt with 8 hours worth of food (4 gels, 3 bags of oatmeal cookies and some candy), we were biking our way back to the start. During this section, it rained a lot (and I mean a lot). The shirt held up well when wet, the fabric doesn’t hold excess water and it didn’t chafe like some clothing does when it get wet. It also dried quickly after the rain stopped.
We arrived back at the start/finish and embarked on one last running/orienteering section. After getting a few more checkpoints, we finished in 29 hours and 53 minutes (7 minutes before the time limit) and I still had a couple extra food items in my pockets.