How the Iowan Hard Enduro Took Shape

As many people know it takes a LOT of time and a good chunk of money to host a race. It also requires an enormous amount of coordination and planning on multiple fronts. So how did we get to the point of ‘finding’ Hansen’s and determining that we could make a suitable hard enduro trail out of what was available?

A friend asked me to go ride there about 1.5yrs ago. I had never heard of Hansen’s before and after looking into the area I was a little more than skeptical! All of the videos that I was able to find were nothing but UTV and ATV trails. But, Hansen’s is only 1.5hrs away from Cedar Rapids so I figured why not go check it and out and see what they had to offer.

Until you drive down into Hansen’s the land prior looks flat and pretty much normal to the Iowa farm terrain. After you take that first right into the property, however, you are greeted with large bluffs and hills right away. Luckily, this was early spring and the weeds hadn’t sprouted just yet, which meant we could make our own trails. It was quickly realized that this place had a ton of potential to be a great place to ride and practice for hard enduros.

It wasn’t until a few times after visiting the property and learning it properly that discussion really started around the ability to host a race there. It would take a lot of work as the trails we would need to make just didn’t exist yet. After talking with the landowner we had a handshake agreement on land use. After which, the first thing was to determine the outline of the race.

In my mind, one of the biggest hurdles for any hard enduro organizer is to mitigate bottlenecks as much as possible. With a hare scramble start, regardless of how long the intro trail is, as soon as you get to the first hard enduro obstacle it’s going to be a mess. We wanted to tackle this with an enduro start with a solid minute between rows. Is it perfect? Heck no! That said, if we did start each class on a hare scramble row it would have been mayhem when you got to the tight single track. That may be fun/interesting to watch as a spectator, but really not that fun as a rider as you primarily just sit there and wait for your turn.

We also knew we wanted to set up rows based upon skill. TKO now uses a hotlap for both the amateur and pro seeding for the main races. That worked great last year when we competed and was a direct inspiration for our race to have the hot lap to determine seeding for race 2.

The final would be much the same, where seeding would be determined based upon your finish result in race 2. At the same time, we wanted to make the final a degree harder, but also mitigate bottlenecks. Naturally, we decided to have the final only for the top 50. As you may know, we altered the final slightly based upon rider feedback the day of the race. While this will never be popular with all the riders, we wanted to remain flexible during our inaugural year. Instead of a two row hare scramble start, we changed it to a row of 10. Also, instead of a 2 lap sprint we determined to have a 2hr hard cut off time and the riders would do as many laps as they could. Note that only FIVE riders made it passed two laps!

I digress a bit as I’m getting into the actual race day.

We wanted to do this race correctly and not just have a random race where a handful of people show up. We wanted, at least, the fast guys in the region to come out and race. After doing a preliminary financial overview I knew we could swing a $1,500 pro purse. Note that my goal was to lose less than $1,000 putting the race on. I figured that while this purse isn’t massive, it would at least get some interest.

We also went through all of the normal background/office work as well. This meant forming an S-corp for tax purposes to limit our liability as well as starting the search for solid event insurance at a good value. I’m not going to put down everything, in detail, that goes into planning and hosting a proper race, but for context here’s a list of items you will need to consider yourself if you ever decide to host a race!

  • Initial
    • Land use
    • Race Concept / Organization
    • Company incorporation
    • Insurance
  • Scoring
    • System (We used LiveLaps’ NFC System)
    • Transponders
    • Number plates
    • Printer
    • Tertiary equipment (Phones, cases, back up sheets, chargers, etc.)
  • Marketing – The first year will be the most costly with marketing
    • Flyers (paper form and quick hand outs)
    • T-shirts
    • Social Media ‘boosting’
    • Signage / Graphics
    • Trophies
    • Sponsors
  • Trail materials
    • Trail cutting materials (hand saw, loppers/nippers, full sized saw as necessary)
    • Ribbon – for initial course outline
    • Arrows – We used three different types for the different sections to be added. We averaged 1 arrow per 20ft
    • Tape – We used ~4.5 miles worth of trail tape
    • Stakes – We used ~200 stakes
  • Facilities
    • Porta Potties
    • Food Vendor
    • Man-made obstacle materials
    • Ambulance
  • Human Factors
    • Dedicated scoring crew
    • Sweep riders
    • Gate workers
    • Trail volunteers

I will refrain from going too in depth, but all-in-all these costs add up to quite a bit! If you are thinking of hosting your own race, accept that any money you put in may be gone forever and you may never make back your principle investment. Luckily for us, the work put in by everyone involved paid off and we broke even, which exceeded our goal!

I can’t tell you how many hours we put into getting the trail ready. As the trail was mostly virgin, it took many weekends with a lot of people to clear the trail. I can’t thank all those people that came out in the cold and wetness of winter to clear trail to ensure the riders got something really cool to ride!

I will leave it here. Note that I am writing this basically free hand and flow of consciousness so you may see some grammatical and syntax errors in my writing! In my next post I will provide you my race day overview; What things went well, what didn’t, and how we plan to address issues in next year’s event.

Thanks for reading!

-Dan

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