Since the post-Covid introduction of the revised Gut Check Adventure Triathlon, we’ve been overjoyed to see nothing but smiles (and an occasional grimace) on the faces of athletes as they compete. 2024’s race date has yet to be set but it will soon. And you’l want to hop aboard for this year, whether you do it as a solo competitor, or make up a team of 2, 3 or 4 — all of you racing together at the same time.

So, yes, it’s a triathlon, however some things are different. For one: there’s an option to enter either as a triathlete who wishes to swim the water crossing(s), or as a non-triathlete who would rather paddleboard.

For another: you don’t know until minutes before the start how many legs there will be, whether they will be heavy on swim/paddle, bike or run, or exactly where the course goes. You’ll be given a map, and you should bring a compass with you. If you love triathlon because the mind is always working during the race, you’re going to love this particular morning!

Keep in mind:
As mentioned earlier, the location and number of checkpoints are a secret until race day (so no one can “wire” this course in advance). This is a point-to-point race, criss-crossing the 2000-acre Nickerson State Park. You do not return over and over to the same transition area. So while you can leave some gear pre-race on/alongside your bike (such as helmet, shoes, hydration nutrition) as well as atop your paddleboard, you’re probably going to want a water-resistant backpack to hold items such as — for example — your running shoes while you’re paddling or road cycling. (Unless you’re okay with your shoes getting wet.) All running will be on trails; all cycling will be on paved roads.

Previous years’ races worked out to about 1.5 to 2.5 hours of aerobic work for athletes, on average. There were 4 run legs, 2 water crossings, and 1 bike leg.

Ahead of time:
You’ll want to prepare your bike. (We don’t think a tri bike is going to have any advantage over a road bike, by the way. A road bike might have a slight advantage over a mountain bike). Remember your shoes and helmet. We will have racking at both bike out and bike in (different locations).

Tape your name on your paddleboard (either standup or kneeling/prone board is acceptable), paddle and PFD. If you do not own a paddleboard (either standup or kneeling/prone) you’ll want to arrange for a rental. The board will be dropped off for you at the site in advance, and your name will be taped onto it. Go here to rent one.

For safety reasons we require all competitors to wear a PFD (life jacket) or be clipped to a Safer Swimmer device during the water crossings. We realize many of you are great swimmers but some people are not — and we won’t always know the difference out there on the water. If you are renting a paddleboard you will receive a PFD as well. If you are bringing your own board and do not own a PFD, let us know as we have about a dozen spares. There will be support watercraft out on the water.

Thinking of bringing a phone or other delicate electronic device? Keep in mind you’ll be on the water…better make sure it’s in a waterproof case or bag!

You’ll want to remember to bring a compass. We’ll supply a laminated race map. You may wish to look over a map of the park in advance, just so you can get a sense of where the roads are and where the trails are. The state’s trail map is somewhat lacking but it does give a decent overview and points out where the paved roads are. We will display a map at the bottom of this webpage which shows better detail of the narrow trails.

Evening before/morning of race:
The park entrance has a GPS-friendly address: 3488 Main St, Brewster, MA.

There is a FRIDAY pre-race procedure and a SATURDAY pre-race procedure. They are different!

FRIDAY EVENING. From 4:30 until 6pm: enter the park and drive straight for three miles to Area 6. Here you can pick up your race packet (or register if you haven’t already). You will be instructed as to where to drop off your bike and your paddleboard. Staff will be camping overnight on both the paddleboard beach and at the bike racks, as a security measure.


Those who dropped off gear Friday evening: proceed to Area 6.

Those who did not:  you’ll want to arrive at least 90 minutes prior to the 8am start. (Staff will be on location starting at 6:30am.)  As soon as you enter the park, make a right turn into the main parking lot. You should see our tent. Pick up your packet (or register) and you will be instructed as to where to go next: two stops. You will then park in the two lots at the entrance to Area 6 (same location as Gut Checks in the past), near both the start and finish lines.

We will have additional maps available for family and friends so they can locate the best spots to cheer you on. They must not drive their vehicles on any park roads between 8:30am and 10am!

During the race:
Athletes will all leave together in a mass start for a short run which should open up the field. There will be multiple checkpoints, plus a finish line, to navigate to as you race. For some legs the route will be easy to determine; for others you may have to make tough decisions as to which way to go. That’s part of the challenge! At each checkpoint you will present yourself (teams must arrive together) to staff who will stamp your bib. There will be nutrition (Gu shots, Honey Stinger products and Sports Beans) and hydration at each checkpoint.

Electronic GPS devices are permitted but keep in mind that they will get wet if not protected during the water crossings. We don’t see a likelihood of anyone becoming seriously lost, but to play it safe there will be some points in the course where a sign or two may be posted. If you come across caution tape in the woods, do not cross, try a different route.

Running: Be prepared for difficult footing. Dark sunglasses could be a bad idea — too many shadows in the woods. We would strongly suggest a practice trail run (at Nickerson or elsewhere) to remind yourself of the different rhythm that is good trail running.

Paddling: the paddling starts and finishes are marked by large yellow buoys. The water temp this time of year ranges from 69 to 71 degrees…you won’t freeze if you do fall in!

Swimming: the swimming starts and finishes are marked by large orange buoys. The water temp this time of year ranges from 67 to 70 degrees…you won’t freeze if you do fall in!

Cycling: the roads will not be closed; however traffic is expected to be light. There is a 270-degree downhill curve on the course and a warning sign will be posted. Stay to the right except for passing. Watch out for walkers and hikers along the roads and confused tourists in their cars. You will also experience this course in reverse -yes, that means a hill climb!

Please, take care not to drop gel wrappers and the like during the race. And any running in wooded areas where there are no clear trails is grounds for a time penalty. Follow the paths…the park has plenty of them.

Restrooms with running water are located at the start and finish lines, and porta-potties will be near three checkpoints.

Snacks and drinks will be plentiful at our morning’s end, including BeBold bars!

Awards will be given to first place male solo and female solo, as well as 2-person, 3-person and 4-person teams.

Showering facilities are available at Area 4, which you will spot at the right side of the road as you drive from the finish to the park exit.

Our cause:
Please remember what this race is for: to raise funds for Dream Day, a summer camp for seriously ill and disabled children and their families. Located on the edge of Nickerson State Park, this organization does fantastic work and really fills a need. Donations in addition to your race fee are always appreciated.

Want to learn more? Go here!

Park map:


Paddle board rentals are provided by SUPfari Adventures.

SUPfari Adventures on Cape Cod

Looking for something fun to do outside on the Lower Cape? SUPfari has many options for outdoor activities from kayak and SUP tours to rentals.