time, date & place
May 28-30, 2005
Monongahela National Forest
Seneca Rocks, WV
race description, disciplines & distances
The PHEAR is a 60 hour race across some of the wildest terrain in the eastern US and includes mountain biking on everything from paved roads to singletrack, paddling one-person duckies down a class II-III whitewater river, trekking across the unique Dolly Sods wilderness area, traveling underground through the mysterious Sinks of Gandy and traversing the exciting Nelson Rocks Via Ferrata. Although we have eliminated the "hike-a-bike from hell" that was the demise of so many teams last year, there may still be a few sections that, depending on your riding skill you may have to walk.
Because of the remoteness of the course and the difficulty of managing such a large area, the race will be open to teams of two, three or four only (any gender composition). Sorry - no solos.
Each team will require a support vehicle and crew capable of transporting their bikes from place to place. Some of the gravel forest service roads are kind of rough, but are passable with a conventional vehicle, so 4WD is not necessary. We have paid particular attention to the needs and comfort of the support crews and will provide detailed maps and written instructions to the assisted checkpoints.
The water levels at this time of year are highly variable and duckies were chosen because they offer the most flexibility with differing river conditions. these are not the little yellow Sevylors you see at some races - they are commercial boats, and if you haven't ever paddled one, you are in for a treat. Duckies will be supplied by Appalachian Wildwaters, our partner for both this and the Wildwater Adventure Challenge later in the summer on the Gauley. Commercial (and by that I mean cheap) paddles and PFDs will also be supplied, or you may bring your own.
A unique feature of this year's race will be the inclusion of several "optional" orienteering segments. While teams will be required to navigate throughout the race, they will be two or more discrete orienteering segments which will enable most teams to complete the race in 60 hours without the need for arbitrary cutoffs or alternative courses. These optional segments will be run "rogaine-style" which means that teams will have an opportunity to visit checkpoints, in any order they choose, for time credits. These time credits will be quite generous and deducted from each team's time at the end of the race. they will be generous enough that it won't be worth it to skip them if you are ahead. Those teams that are behind however, may not have enough time to collect many time credits and will have to skip those sections so as to finish with 60 hours. More details about this potentially confusing element will be provided once you register.
This race will be worth a massive 400 points in the North American Adventure Race Championship Series (naARcs)and is expected to fill early, so be sure and get your team together and register ASAP or you may be missing the race that everyone talks about for the rest of the year.
The START/FINISH location will once again be at Yokum's Vacationland and camping is free for racers and crews. There are a limited number of cabins available, but they go fast, so don't wait too long.
Open only to teams of 2, 3 or 4, any gender composition, masters welcome. You will need a support crew.
The awards categories are subdivided according to how many people we get in each of the classifications, and usually go three deep. If the category is less than 5 teams, that category will be rolled up into the next applicable category. In other words, it's not really meaningful to award a 1st, 2nd and 3rd if there are only three teams in that classification (ie. 4 pp female master).
Unlike most other races of this caliber, we have tried to keep the list of required gear down to a minimum. It is expected that if you are contemplating entering the PHEAR that you are an experienced adventure racer and know what to carry. With that in mind, we require only what the insurance company tells us you must carry. this does not mean that it is all you should carry, and you should keep in mind that you may be away from your support for over 12 hours at a time, under varying and highly changeable weather conditions. Carry what you think you need to remain safe and comfortable, but BE PREPARED!
Again, it cannot be emphasized enough that you will need to carry more, such as extra clothes, water purification, emergency space blanket, lighter, etc. ...it is simply that we are not responsible for your safety - you are, and therefore you should be the one making those decisions.
- Mountain bike & helmet
- Headlamp (2 person teams must carry an extra team headlamp in the cave)
- Climbing harness, descent control device (ATC) and locking carabiner
Not to be a buzzkill, but here comes the serious stuff...
Your safety is of our utmost concern, but ultimately is your responsibility, not ours. You are in a better position to know your own skills, abilities and limitations given the variable conditions you may encounter during an adventure race, and you are in a better position to evaluate those conditions and take necessary steps to protect yourself - even if it comes down to skipping an element that you feel you cannot safely complete. We trust you to be a rational adult with good judgment and by participating in the event you are implicitly stating that you are in good physical condition and with no physical (or mental, for that matter) limitations that would keep you from safely competing in this event.
There are no skills certifications required for the paddling element, but you should be experienced and confident of your own abilities to handle paddling on moving water of up to class III. Although we will have safety personnel to monitor the event, a quick rescue may not always be possible and you should be prepared to self-rescue. PFDs and helmets (bike helmets OK) must be worn at all times while on the water. Be aware that the water will be very cold, and a PFD offers no protection against hypothermia.
There will be no skills certification required for the via ferrata...this element requires some very specialized lanyards and climbing techniques and Nelson Rocks Preserve personnel will provide instructions on their use and a safety briefing at the pre-race meeting. There is a substantial rappel off the top of the rock, and you should be competent enough to rig in and lower yourself without assistance from the safety monitors - they are there to assist, not to teach you how to rappel on the site. If they notice you fumbling around too much, they will send you on a rather long and circuitous "bail-out" route where you can walk to the bottom, or you may choose that option yourself if you opt not to rappel.
You may use your bike helmet on the via ferrata if you wish, but are strongly advised to wear a climbing helmet - there may be people above you and even a little tiny rock falling 200' through a vent in your helmet - OUCH! We will be using a "fireman's" or bottom belay, but you are welcome to use prussiks to back yourself up if you are more comfortable with that.
Maps will be of a variety of types and scales suitable for the task at hand.
Because of certain restrictions placed on us by the USFS, there may be mandatory routes through certain areas. For example, Dolly Sods is known to contain unexploded ordnance from military target practice during WWII and for that reason teams will be required to stay on marked trails through that area. There are other restricted areas as well, but for most of the course teams will have their choice of routes and may navigate from point to point as they see fit.
Maps for areas where teams must stay on the trail may simply be trail maps, while maps of areas with more navigational latitude, will of course, be more detailed. In some areas checkpoint locations may need to be plotted from UTM coordinates, and this may not necessarily be where you have access to a complete set of cartographic tools. In cases such as these, teams will be provided with "UTM roamers" of the appropriate scale and plot their course in the field.
The cost for the PHEAR is $650/975/1300 for 2/3/4 person teams. Cost of duckies, insurance, camping, post-race picnic and wicking event T-shirt is included.
naARcs teams receive a $50 discount. For more info on how your team can become a part of naARcs, please visit the naARcs website
The Adventure Sports Magazine
RV tour will be onsite this year, and they are always very generous with the AR gifts...
your registration must be postmarked by april 1 to be eligible for the "schwag raffle"
The registration deadline is postmarked on or before May 2.
Once you are registered you will receive access to a special racers-only page that will be updated with the latest details available
For answers to specific questions you can contact the race director
||May 28-30, 2005
||Monongahela National Forest
Seneca Rocks, WV
||2, 3 or 4 person teams only
||bike & helmet,
climbing harness & gear
||May 13, 2005
An online gallery of images from the 2004 PHEAR taken by photographer Chris Ware can be viewed at Chris Ware Photography
May 19-20, 2007
Hope Furnace Adventure Weekend
Sat - 8 hr AR
Sun - Buff Betty Women's AR
Lake Hope State Park