Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chicagoland Adventure Racing Camp...and the 6 Lb. Burrito Brothers!

So I spent last weekend near Chicago, Illinois at Gerry Voelliger's Team High Profile Adventure Racing Camp with 180 adventure racers from 10 states and support staff. It's very real that adventure racing on a grassroots level continues to flourish in the Midwest and Gerry Voelliger is a big part of that success. I tell you this event director and his staff put on an outstanding camp. Gerry's enthusiasm for all things adventure is contagious and this camps stands alone for providing high quality instruction and will jump start any budding adventure racer's knowledge base 100fold in 3 days at a great price. World champion adventure racer Robyn Bennicasa was on staff last year. None of us are sure how Gerry gets his instructors but I'd say it's because if you knew Gerry you just can't turn down a request. He's the fire chief in Bettendorf, Iowa and just has a big brother vibe about him.

I was on staff to provide paddling instruction and all support all other programs related to adventure racing ie navigation, fixed ropes, foot care, in race tactics, etc. KEEN, Clif Bar, and Immersion Research came through for camp participants with the most schwag I've ever seen at an event and the campers loved it all. After 5-6 capsizes in the Mississippi during the field paddling session I'm certain campers found a new appreciation for proper clothing layers. My favorite camp memory was looking on shore and seeing 3 shall I say Rugby'esque campers recently removed from the frigid water (see below) huddled around each other buck naked still pointing fingers at who really tipped the canoe. They came to enjoy the namesake "The 6 LB Burrito Brothers" given to them by Gerry V. These guys traveled all the way from Nebraska and just reminded me of all the human experiences one amasses in the sport of adventure racing. Every second is a screenplay in the making. I enjoyed the racing spirit of these 3 guys, Casey especially, and I look forward to hearing stories of their future success .

Here is a photo of some paddling technique demonstrating how to get maximum power transfer from your body to the kayak/canoe using releasable foot and thigh straps. Note...never do this with straps that don't release instantaneously or you'll have a longer upside down experience than necessary!

Here's a photo of the Wakarusa River that racers honed their paddling skills on. Who knew a class 2 whitewater river runs through these fields surrounding Camp Benson? The river pulses through an otherwise agricultural backdrop and simply carves out some magnificent scenery with surrounding bat caves and high bluffs.

Special thanks to Active Endeavors owner Matt Ostrum who continues to foster the sport of adventure racing in the Chicago market and was an early supporter in my development when I was just a spunky 22 year old who was just learning to paddle on this very stretch of river. Repaying my debt to him working this camp was the least I could do and Gerry V and staff are just simply outstanding. Special thanks also to professional photographer Greg Boll who took all of these action photos. All photos can be viewed online at

Photos by Greg Boll. Mississippi Pallisades State Park.

Next Up...
1. June 5-13th Wildwater World Championships in Sort, Spain
2. June 23-27th Paddling Solo Support/Navigation for Prolific American paddler Andy Corra's Attempt to Break Ian Adamson's Guiness 24 Hour World Kayak Distance Record on the Yukon River in Yukon Territory (yep, this will be one the story of all stories race fans!)

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