Rise of the Sufferfests – What I Loved & What I Didn’t

Let me start off by saying if you love OCR then you need to see this movie.

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It’s a ‘must see’ for those of us who would describe ourselves as being part of a ‘community’ rather than ‘oh yeah, I did a Warrior Dash once’…

If you google ‘running documentaries’ you will have a myriad of selections to choose from. There are several documentaries that are purely about specific races, there are even trail running film festivals, but there are no documentaries on OCR…until now.sufferfests-viewing-party

If for nothing else, you need to see this movie because it’s the first. And I don’t mean download it or wait for it on Netflix. You need to attend one of the showings, pay the $7 and shake Scott Keneally’s hand for being a pioneer in this community or have a viewing party with your local OCR group. Just like everyone reminisces about the first Spartan or Tough Mudder and how different things were, going to a Rise of the Sufferfests party/showing will be something you will realize later on (if not immediately) that it’s a significant milestone for OCR. And I’m confident this will be the beginning of many more things to come from Scott Keneally.

What I Loved

If you’ve done OCR to any extent then you know what it means to suffer brutal calf pain, wasted grip strength and throbbing forearms as well as hypothermia and electric shock. Scott does an A+ job at catching some of these moments. In fact, I’ve never seen better examples of hypothermic shock than what you see in Rise of the Sufferfests. You feel it. You remember it, because it happened to you before too.sufferfests-cold-guy-at-tough-guy

Another great thing Rise of the Sufferfests explores is the psychology of why we choose to do such crazy things. The movie features interviews with a variety of sociologists and other authors that give insight into the rising popularity of our cult of insanity…except as Rise of the Sufferfests points out: OCR isn’t a cult…because cults are small…and OCR is not small.

The coverage of the history of the Tough Guy challenge founded by Mr. Mouse is not only interesting, but downright necessary if you’re going to understand the origins of OCR and Mr. Mouse himself, along with his marketing techniques is every bit as noteworthy and interesting as his event. It’s truly where it all began and the Tough Guy challenge is the Torah of OCR.

The profile of Hunter Mcintyre is absolute gold. Not because of his accomplishments, but because the film shows in a brief segment how he has evolved as a person through OCR. Starting out as only a competitor and then taking on the role of a personal trainer has had a great impact on him, and that’s what we love about OCR: how it changes you.

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It made me angry. The film also explores outsiders opinions on why we choose to endure such crazy suffering in our spare time. Some of the theories are silly and some of them such as the ‘white privilege’ argument just made me angry. I have this on the list of things I love about the movie because Scott, being a good journalist, didn’t only choose to include data and experts that would flatter his personal opinions but also included insights that offer a counterpoint. That’s what a good documentary does, it challenges your personal beliefs.

What I wished was different

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, stop reading.

Seriously.

Just stop reading now. I want you see Scott’s vision unfold without any prejudice and it’s worth your time and money to go see it.

Okay..

Only us who’ve seen it are reading still right?

As a videographer and editor I always watch movies and documentaries and have opinions about how I would’ve did it differently. If I was doing a documentary on OCR I certainly would’ve told a different story, but that’s not the type of thing I’m interested in critiquing here. Rather, there’s a few different things that I would’ve done as an editor/videographer to help Scott capture the story HE was trying to tell a little bit better.

Perhaps the biggest thing was the flow of the film felt a bit ‘off’. At first it seemed like it was a documentary about Tough Guy and it’s influence and impact on what we now know as OCR, but then it shifted gears and it felt like it was more about the sociological reasons that drive OCR, then it felt like it was a documentary about Scott and how he evolved as a person through OCR, then it seemed to become a documentary about making a documentary, then it was about a man wanting to be a better role model for his newborn son. As one friend told me “I wasn’t sure what the goal of the movie was”. All of these things certainly had a place in the film, but none of them were held together very well by a single idea and I kept having to adjust my expectations on what the main point was exactly.

Too much narration. Yes, it needed narration, but there was simply too much of Scott explaining how he felt and what he was experiencing rather than showing it, to the point it felt more like an audio book than a film at moments. Scott is a brilliant writer and one of my favorite OCR articles of all time was written by him about his experience of DNFing a Spartan Sprint, but somehow it didn’t translate as well in the movie. In the future I would like to see Scott get better at verbalizing what’s going on in his mind at the moment he’s experiencing it and capturing it on film. I think that as a writer he probably was thinking “I can put all of this into words so much better if I can just have a moment to reflect”, but doing so is much less powerful in film. Just the visual of a few painful burpees, a disjointed sentence filled with expletives and a hangdog expression with the caption “DNF” would’ve said so much more than a clean voiceover after the fact would. And it wasn’t just this one scene, almost the entire film misses these opportunities.sufferfests-matt-and-scott-qa

Missing key figures/events/places. Yes, we all have our favorite OCR athletes, and having Hunter and Amelia were certainly excellent, if not necessary choices, but it seemed like a few people were missing. What about Hobie Call? He was synonymous with Spartan Race in the early years, Hunter has even referred to him in the past as “the Master”, yet I can’t remember whether he was even mentioned in the entire film. What about Norm Koch? Chris Accord? Certain race directors have become almost like celebrities in this community, but no mention. No mention of Shale Hill or the myriad of other obstacle focused gyms on the rise. Sure, Hunter’s gym is mentioned, but his is kinda small potatoes compared to Shale Hill. No Pak? No Atkins? Noah Galloway? No Albon? And while all of the sociological authors and experts were important to the movie, it seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time on them, especially when you consider the list of people important to defining the OCR community who were left out. Don’t get me wrong, I love A.J. Jacobs and have read a couple of his books, but there was a lot of A.J. Jacobs in this movie.sufferfests-norm-chris-garfield

In the end I want Scott be as powerful as a filmmaker as he is a writer. I think the story Scott was trying to tell was about his experience with OCR and how it evolved him as a person, the intellectual data he gathered along the way and how he used it as a tool to be a better man for his son, I just don’t think he glued all of those elements together as good as he could have to his personal story. I wish he would’ve kept a video journal of his progression. I wish somebody was aggressively pointing a camera in his face throughout some of the more notable races (not just at the end of the race)and he was forcing himself to talk about what he’s thinking and feeling, or at least capturing some of the nervousness in his face as he faced newer challenges and the laughter and joy in his expressions as he reached his goals towards the end. A couple people have anonymously told me they felt the movie was too much about Scott, but I strongly disagree; it just didn’t give us enough reason to root for him and care about how well he did at the end of the movie because we didn’t clearly understand from the beginning what his goals were and didn’t see enough of the ‘visual evidence’ to feel connected to his joys, struggles, hard work and disappointments along the way.sufferfests-scott-and-laura-messner

While it fell short of a few of my expectations, it was still a good movie and I was glad I invested my time to watch it. It was an amazing feat for someone who just did his first film and I hope to see more from him in the future.

Order this movie on Amazon here.

Order on iTunes here.

Savage Race Spring 2016: Georgia

Savage Race has a tradition of bringing the rain when it comes to Georgia (not a military metaphor. Literally, it’s always raining) which adds an extra layer of difficulty to grip based obstacles such as the Sawtooth monkey bars and makes Colossus become quite the slippery slope (again, not a metaphor, but it works either way).

This year Savage come out with several new obstacles and apparently also wanted to try out a new weather system as well. Normally a 45 degree clear and sunny day with a cool breeze would be a great day for a trail run, but Savage has a lot of water on the course including the dreaded “Shriveled Richard”; a waist high ice bath that requires you to completely submerge yourself at the halfway point ensuring your whole body experiences an evenly distributed miserable temperature. As the day carried on, the wind picked up and every degree the temperature went up, the wind seemed to bring it back down 2 more degrees.

This was my first race since an injury last June and I decided to run in the “Pro-Wave” which required Mandatory Obstacle Completion (MOC): You have unlimited attempts, but you must complete the obstacle or give up your fancy wristband and cross the finish line in shame admitting you weren’t Savage enough to complete everything even with multiple chances.

Lets talk terrain. The Georgia Savage Race is always held at Moonlight Stables Equestrian Center. At first glance you’d assume it’s mostly flat with a couple small inclines, but for those of us who have been here before we knew exactly what to expect. As soon as you disappear behind the trees there’s a ton of hidden rolling hills and false horizons, with parts of the trails turning you completely sideways, others straight down forcing you to fly down kamikaze style hoping you don’t trip on a rock or root as you make your way down to the bottom. With the traditional rain these trails become so slick and muddy that people are falling down, getting stuck or grabbing every branch and blade of grass the stabilize themselves. At first, I was like “heck yeah! This is great! I have traction and speed!” but I sorta missed having the option to slide down the hills on my butt.

The first half mile I was feeling good. I had done a pre-race warm up jog, was wearing a long sleeve cold gear compression shirt and had a good pace going. First up, was a series of over-under walls that I blasted right through and also served as a nice way to get the blood flowing. Next, we had a new obstacle called “Squeeze Play” which was a low crawl beneath several empty swiveling barrels. Piece of advice: be careful that you don’t get whacked in the face as the person in front of you aggressively crawls under causing the barrel to swing up and around and swivel square into your face.

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After a barbed wire crawl and quick dip in “Thor’s Grundle” (a water based obstacle where you submerge yourself in muddy water beneath 2 separate walls) we came to another new addition: “On the Fence” which consisted of dangling chain link fences hanging above water in which you traverse across  sideways. This wasn’t particularly hard, but was much more taxing on my grip than I had expected and seeing how everyone else was shaking off their hands as they jolted away I don’t think I was alone in that sentiment. My strategy on this was to stay high, reach hand over hand and move fast. Immediately after On the Fence we reached another new obstacle: “Big Cheese”, a half dome shaped shaped structure full of giant holes to grab and step into and climb a ladder down the backside.

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So far, so good. I was keeping quite warm and all the cold mud and water actually felt like a nice cool down. When we hit “Lumberjack Lane” (carry a chunk of lumber up and around a hill) at mile 2 I started to feel the wind pick up a bit and got a slight chill, but knew the sooner I could finish marching with this wood the sooner I could pick back up the pace and warm right back up.

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Pole Cat” was the next new challenge which took the place of the long standing balance beam (Nutt Smasher). I welcomed the change since I feared shivering on a balance beam might not have produced the best results. Pole Cat: 2 uneven poles parallel to each other secured on balance beams above water. The rule is that you must have your feet on one pole and hands on the other as you shimmy sideways over the water. It wasn’t really hard, but it was fun and it had a slight twist: halfway through, the pole in front of you for your hands got lower and the pole for your feet got higher. The transition was easy, but it was a bit of a mental challenge as it caught me by surprise.

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After that, more hills, more of the classic obstacles you find at any race with Savage’s special twist on them such as inverted walls, an 8ft wall, more barbed wire crawls, variations of over-unders, an outward leaning traverse wall with rock climbing grips and oddly enough, a reverse slip wall; you climbed up a ladder and then descended down an angled wall using a rope. Most races have this obstacle, but in the opposite direction: use a rope to climb up a slanted wall and climb a ladder down the other side. There was discussion among some participants whether this was actually done in error or maybe Savage was just trying to put a new spin on it. Either way, it was much easier this way.

Somewhere around the 4th mile the wind was picking up and I was feeling it. I could see some runners starting to slow down and goose bumps building up on their arms: Run Dammit, RUN! Even if you are running at a turtles pace you’re going to freeze if you just start walking! I was mostly dry, but still a little chilled when I hit Davy Jones Locker: a 15 ft. drop off a plank into deep waters. I had just passed up 2 guys at a barbed wire crawl who I couldn’t seem to catch while running and then at the top of Davy Jones I passed up 2 more guys who were just standing frozen afraid to jump. I didn’t want to jump either because I wasn’t looking forward to getting wet again after desperately fighting against the wind chill. But screw it, just do it. Surprisingly the water on this one was warm (I thought I was going delirious until several other runners had said the same thing).

I was entering the last mile of the race and was actually feeling pretty confident. I was passing people, I hadn’t struggled with any obstacles yet, my pace was slow but consistent, but those Savage bastards saved the worst for last.

The dreaded ice bath (Shriveled Richard) was up just ahead. Not so bad usually, because even with cold wind I could recover pretty well if I could just keep running afterwards. But the sadistic demoniac who designed the course thought it’d be pretty funny to put the Sawtooth monkey bars 200 feet from the Shriveled Richard.

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Sawtooth is 35 feet of ascending and descending monkey bars. The rungs in the middle are further apart as you have to pull yourself back up and once again, descend. So yeah, let’s conquer this grip based obstacle immediately after being submerged in ice with zero feeling in your hands.

As I approached Sawtooth it looked like a bomb had just exploded; there were bodies everywhere lying on the ground shielding themselves from the wind on the side of a small hill while trying to soak in a bit of warmth from the sun determined to get the feeling back in their hands and not lose their bands.

Screw it, I don’t want to lose my momentum, I’m going for it.

About 75% of the way through Sawtooth I just couldn’t reach high enough and I failed my first obstacle. I was actually surprised I’d made it that far, my hands were so numb I couldn’t feel how tight they were squeezing the rungs, or if they were grasping at all. I felt like I was throwing raw chicken breasts at each rung and just hoping they’d stick. I emerged from the water and joined the piles of sunbathing Savages.

Hey, you think your boyfriend would mind if we snuggled?”

Hell no, get over here, gimme your body heat!” (or something to that effect).

20-30 seconds later I stood up and the wind hit me and I could really feel it now. I dropped back to the ground and laid there like a sniper keeping an eye on his target trying to figure which lane of bars looked the most ‘grippy’ and waiting for it to clear.

Finally, an opening. I’m going in.

I hit the lane and tried to move as fast as I could but it was a slow labored pace and each rung was a workout. Even coming down to the end I was still questioning my grip, I finally made the jump to the platform on the other side skipping the last couple rungs and dropped to my knees laughing. The worst was over. My time wouldn’t be what I’d wanted, but I was keeping that coveted band and now I could pick myself up and run and warm up and shake off my arms.

Next up was “Wheel World”: a series of 4 giant hexagon shaped ‘wheels’ hanging above a 6-7ft pool of water. Just rotate yourself around from one wheel to the next.

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Okay, let’s do this. Got turned around on the 2nd wheel and just dangled there with my arms still too tired from Sawtooth to grab the 3rd wheel. Drop. Splash. Try again 2 more times. Drop. Splash. The 3rd drop had a special surprise as the guy swimming out in front kicked me in the head with his feet and caused me to swallow a bit of the murky piss water down my wind pipe. Choke, cough. No worries. Not his fault. Plus he helped me out of the water. No worries bro.

Eventually I made quick friends with 2 more pro-wavers determined to keep the band. We huddled together for warmth and studied which people were making it through. Finally figuring out the technique of hooking over and through the wheel with your arm I went for it and made it to the third wheel and I just couldn’t get it to spin. Drop. Splash. Huddle.

The girl with us was turning blue around her mouth and we were seeing more and more open waves come through. She finally got up ran and attacked it and made it through. Next, my other partner in misery (ironically also named Jeff) made it through too. I tried two more times with the hook technique but between the shivering and the 4 previous attempts my arms just weren’t cooperating. When you have someone suffering along side you and you’re encouraging one another it’s a lot easier to endure. But now I was shivering alone.

I gave up my band.

At that point for me my race was over. My heart just wasn’t in it. I was nearing 3 hours and nothing to show for it. I was tempted to just walk off the course and just be done. But I just decided to go ahead and finish and at least get my shirt.

I hit “Colossus”, a mammoth 20 foot quarter pipe with ropes hanging halfway down. I’ve made it up this one before.  I hit it with everything I had left, but it just wasn’t enough. I had wasted too much energy.

Next was a small fire jump (“Blazed”), then “Teeter Tuber”, a giant tube that you had to crawl upwards into and use your body weight to shift the tube downward like a teeter totter to come out the other side.  Teeter Tuber was on the side of a hill this year causing you to rocket launch out the other side, which if I wasn’t freezing I probably would’ve enjoyed a lot more.

Finally the last obstacle before the finish line was the infamous Platinum Rig, or, “SavageRig”. Swing, climb and traverse your way through a combination of hoops, ropes, grips and poles and ring the bell.

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I hung from the hoops for a second before dropping off…Nope, still just as beat down as I was 90 seconds ago at Colossus. And so my first post-injury race ended with a whimper and not a victory screech. Luckily I had kept an eye on the weather and had massive layers of clothes to change into and warm up.

“Jeff, you look like you’re about to climb mount Everest with all of those clothes on”

“I think he looks warm and comfy..” says the chattering/shivering girl beside him in a sad envious voice.

Savage has always been and still is my favorite race. I don’t whether I want to slap the course designer for putting together such a demonic course by saving almost all of the arm-strength obstacles for the last mile back to back immediately following an ice tank or to shake his hand and calling him an evil genius for the same reason. This was certainly the best Savage course yet and just maybe if the weather was a bit different the race would’ve had a different ending, but without the possibility of failure there’s no sense of accomplishment.

Other Stuff…Savage race always puts on a Spring and Fall race on the east coast, both the Spring and Fall events boast different shirts and medals and they’re always top-notch. Their stickers are always good too, they actually stick well to your car window and don’t fade and peel after a couple months in the sun. There’s always a nice variety of food trucks as well—both the Steak Nachos and gourmet grilled cheese with bacon were superb.

The only complaints I could possibly have is that it seems they re-routed the course a bit after the map was printed, so the course map was wrong, which of course is irritating to spectators following the people they’re supporting. Also, I wish they’d repainted the rungs on Sawtooth. Most of the grippy paint had come off making them extra slick…but then again, maybe that’s the direction they’re going. Finally whoever at Savage was responsible for the weather should be fired.

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Your First GoPro Video: Making an OCR video people will want to watch

Okay, so you want to get yourself a GoPro and make videos that showcase all of your obstacle racing adventures to show your friends and family just how awesome your life is. In this article I’ll talk about what to think about when shooting video and how to edit it in a way that people will want to watch it.

Which GoPro should I buy?

GoPro makes a variety of different versions. Here’s the main thing I always tell people to keep in mind: The more options they cram into that tiny action cam, the shorter the battery life.

For most people I just recommend getting the cheapest one—which is exactly what we use at ORM for our own videos that use GoPro footage. The one exception to this would be the fact that the latest entry level GoPro Hero doesn’t allow for expanding to a larger battery back pack, so getting the next step up may be worth it for you. Other bells & whistles of the higher end GoPros include more timelapse options and higher frame rates—stuff that most people will not use.

As far as whether to get the chestshoulder, or head strap, I always recommend the head strap. The head strap will track pretty close to where your eyes are looking and won’t get covered in mud at the first barbed wire crawl like the chest harness will.

How to Shoot

1)Have the camera pointed slightly downward.

If using the head strap, in most cases if you have it nice and flush looking straight ahead the video tends to capture tops of peoples heads and a lot of sky. Pointing it slightly downward will show more of the full bodies and the obstacles you are approaching, rather than just the upper portion. (This rule doesn’t apply to the chest harness).

2)Occasionally check for the lens being covered in mud.

I once lost the first half of a race simply because someone in front of me kicked up a tiny bit of mud that landed directly on the lens. It’s hard to clean it off without smudging it all over the lens, so if you can, wait a moment for the mud to dry and occasionally dip it into water to wash dirt off.

Muddy FrameI’m sure whatever was happening here was awesome. Too bad the lens was covered in mud.

3)Hold onto it when you are in or near deep water.

Whether you’re jumping off a 15 ft plank into deep waters, going down a slide or swimming across a creek, your knee jerk reaction to hold onto that sucker. With high jumps like Davy Jones Locker at Savage Race I like to hold it in my hand and record a selfie as I drop down.

Selfie ExampleAnytime you submerge yourself in water is a great time to hold onto your headcam and take a beautiful selfie

4)Don’t record everything.

Do yourself a favor and save yourself some battery life by turning off the camera during the long stretches of running. With the exception of the starting line and approaching the finish line or perhaps a really significant mountainous climb, most people understand that the course involved running and it’s not that interesting to watch—even if you use that fancy speed tool and speed it up 4000%.

5)Record the obstacle.

Stop and take off the GoPro once in a while and just hold it in a position to get the obstacle in frame. Don’t try to pan the camera or follow along with somebody. Just sit there, hold still and record. Record a few people completing the obstacle. Get the front, back and side of the obstacle. Again, just and hold it still while few people pass through. It will feel like FOREVER, but trust me it’s worth it.

6ft WallA  clean steady shot of the obstacle will help the viewer understand how awesome you are.

6)Make Friends.

You know that group of girls wearing fairy wings and tutus? Run up far ahead of them, stop, turn around and hold the camera in front of you to get a shot of them passing by. Take a selfie video of yourself and that one lonely runner whose friends all backed out saying “woo hoo!” in the camera. Yeah, I know it might feel silly, but you’re running around with a camera and they’re wearing tutus, so everyone looks pretty ridiculous at this point anyway.

TutuGirlsThey dressed up, they want you to notice them, don’t be shy.

How to Edit

1)Keep it short.

If your only audience is your mom, then I’m sure she won’t mind watching a 45 minute documentary of your experience, but if you want the general public to watch it and enjoy it, keep it under 5 minutes. Two and a half minutes is even better.

2)Mix up the shots.

Cut between wide and close shots. For example, start with a shot of someone approaching the monkey bars, as they’re about to grab onto that first or second bar, cut to the footage of your headcam capturing your hands somewhere in the middle, then cut back to a shot of people exiting the obstacle that you so patiently waited for. And because you were so patient, you have a nice variety of people to choose from, you don’t (and shouldn’t) need to include everyone, but choose the most interesting people.

3)Include the fails.

Including shots of yourself and others failing or struggling helps communicate how tough OCR is. Plus everyone thinks it’s funny when you fall and cry, and humor is guaranteed to ensure people watch.

Worst MomentsIncluding your worst moments can communicate everything from badassness to humor.

Contour ROAM3 Camera Review

This is a great action camera…but I won’t be using it.

It’s no secret that GoPro is king of the action cameras that you can attach to your body, especially within OCR’s so I’ll be comparing the Contour ROAM3 to the GoPro HERO4.

First off, let me just highlight a few of the features that the Contour has that goes above and beyond what the GoPro offers:

1) It looks less dorky. Face it, the GoPro looks as if your carrying around a tiny phylactery box on your head. You’re known as ‘one of those guys’ when you show up at a race with it and your race pics don’t looks so cool. The Contour on the other hand is much more sleek looking and attaches to the side of your head and is a little less noticeable, and if the photographer catches ‘your good side’ it won’t even show up in the pics. It still looks dorky, but less dorky.

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2) The design is simple, but genius. On the bottom you have a standard 1/4-20 screw socket that is the standard size tripods use, this means unlike the GoPro where you have to purchase a special adapter you can immediately attach the Contour to any tripod, monopod, or grip that you would purchase at Walmart, Best Buy or Pro Camera shops. On each side you have grooves that slide and lock into Contour-specific attachments. Among the attachments are flexible adhesive mounts that are ideal for sticking to surfaces that aren’t perfectly flat, such as the side of motorcycle helmet. Many of these mounts rotate as well—meaning you have wiggle room if you can’t apply the mount perfectly level. Which brings me to my next point…

3) A rotating lens. This is another simple yet genius idea. With the GoPro, if you want to attach it to a bike for example, you may have to use (and purchase) several attachments before you can configure it in a way so that it’s not at a crooked angle. With the Contour you can attach it at almost any angle with one simple mount and then rotate the lens without repositioning the entire camera and to ensure your angle is even with the horizon a button on the back of the camera emits a laser level.

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4) The record button. To turn on the camera and start the recording there’s a sliding switch on top that you can feel click into place when it’s on. This is a nice change from wearing a GoPro on your head, mashing a spongy button and either removing it to double check it’s indeed recording or asking someone to stare at your forehead a minute to see if that little red light is blinking.

5) The camera itself is water proof. The GoPro’s have separate water proof housings (except the new baseline GoPro has a ‘fixed’ waterproof housing). It’s just one less thing to worry about and I like that. But a word of caution here; without a housing around the camera, once your lens is scratched or damaged, your video is forever compromised, whereas with the GoPro you can simply buy another housing. Fortunately, you also have the option of buying a housing for the Contour as well, but it’s noticeably heavier than the GoPro already, so you just have to decide what what’s more important to you.

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And there’s other things I could go onto rave about including the ease of switching between preset video configurations as opposed to dialing through submenus, the price is nice, the variety of adjustable settings, the amount of ‘goodies’ it comes with, including an 8gb SD Card to get you started.

So why on earth am I not going to use this camera? To much fisheye? Bad video quality? Poor construction?

No, nope and no….it’s because of the headband mount system.

As great as all the mounting options are, the end of the day I’ll be using this camera mounted to my head at OCR’s 99% of the time and that’s where it just falls short for me. I tightened that headband to the point where I felt I was going to lose circulation in my tiny head and I just couldn’t get rid of the bounce or the unbalanced feeling, and it’s evident in the footage compared the GoPro. It actually made me appreciate the balanced feeling and smooth(er) footage that GoPro headmount offers. Also, because their headband mount doesn’t offer the cool rotating feature that many of their other mounts do, the way you wear the headband mount it makes the Contour point at a slightly upward angle, which I found to be aesthetically annoying compared to the GoPro’s ability to angle it up and down (so you’re not just seeing the tops of people’s heads).

(See the test footage here)

I REALLY wanted to use this camera as an alternative to the GoPro and test it out on the field to really see it’s durability (especially since I’ve had to exchange almost every GoPro I own due to bugs and quirks), but I can’t compromise on getting shakier footage than the GoPro already produces. I really wish Contour would create a more balanced and thoughtfully designed headband mount (with the rotation option) that would appeal to the growing popularity of the use of the types of cameras in the OCR and general running community, and if they do, we’d be happy to review it. But since it couldn’t handle the short jaunt around my backyard I was sadly compelled to return both the headband mount and the camera.

Now if OCR is not your sole and primary intention with this camera, I would highly recommend checking it out as it’s far more flexible than the GoPro. If you’d like to see more reviews for gear like this, let us know in the comments below.

*Photos and Video By: Jeff Marier