There are enough triathlons and duathlons out there. How about a true test of your season-end conditioning? After five successful years as one of the most difficult sprint triathlons in the world, The Gut Check was reconfigured in 2019 as a point-to-point adventure race within Cape Cod’s 2000-acre DCR Nickerson State Park. Each year, the course is different — and no one knows exactly what it will be until shortly before the race. Know that the 2023 race morning will be one that you won’t soon forget!
Until shortly before the race, all you’ll know about this year’s Gut Check is that it will combine running, cycling, orienteering and water crossing (two race categories: swim or surfboard/paddleboard). You will present yourself at designated checkpoints along the way. Expect a finishing time of 1.5 to 2 hours. There will be no more than two swim segments, and each swim segment will be approximately 1/4 mile. Paddle segments may be longer. Whether you compete solo or with a group of your friends (2, 3 or 4 persons—everyone races the entire course together), the objective is to use your wits and fitness to scramble your way (and, on the last cliff climb, it will be a scramble!) to the finish.
Prepare yourself for this event by training to be capable of running (4-7 miles of trail running) and biking (3-6 miles with hills) for about two hours: Competitors can choose from swimming or paddling — any kind of board will do: SUP, kneeling paddleboard, surfboard. Bring your own, or a limited supply will be available to rent. Be prepared for over a 3/4-mile total of swimming (multiple ponds) or for paddlers, up to 2.5 miles total of paddling (multiple ponds). There will be four race categories: solo, two-person, three-person and four-person. All members of a team must remain in close contact and finish at the same time.
Race configuration: The 2024 event will involve trail running, road cycling and swimming OR board paddling (paddleboard, SUP or surfboard — no kayaks or canoes). A limited number of rental boards will be available; registered athletes will be provided a link to reserve.
Should I race solo or form a team?: You could do either. Teams range from 2 athletes to 4. Teammates race the entire course together, and need to present themselves to each checkpoint as a group. A great way to spend a morning with friends!
Training: Fast athletes will likely be on the course for 90-120 minutes. Other athletes should plan on two-plus hours. Time cut-offs are very generous.
What to bring: Running gear, road bike with helmet (mountain bikes welcomed but not needed). Swimmers should consider a drybag or swim buoy for shoes (some will wear their shoes while swimming). Paddlers need a board with leash — or you can rent one (see registration page for link). Wetsuits are allowed but keep in mind water temperature in mid-September is usually surprisingly warm: in the low 70s.
Where to go race morning to drop off gear: Instructions will be emailed in advance; volunteers will direct you at park entrance.
Water/Nutrition: Provided at checkpoints (6-10 per race)
Awards: Categories are male solo and female solo, overall as well as specified age groups. Also: 2-athlete team, 3-athlete team, 4-athlete team.
Questions: All athletes will receive email communications with further details as race date nears.