Bermuda Triple Challenge

Bermuda Triple Challenge Beach 1

Arriving to Bermuda was like falling into a dream. It’s a picturesque paradise lined with whispering palms, white sand beaches, and water like glass. Its so fucking beautiful there.  Not to mention that Matt and I traveled ALONE,  without kids hanging on our legs, or punching each other in the face. No noise. No chaos. No fighting. No crying. I think it was the first time in years I had any consecutive days without someone crying.

Honestly, I was in no mood to race. I saw the beach and wanted to lay there for four days straight. Maybe not even eat, just lay there.

I had to keep mentally preparing myself. There were 3 races, so it was the perfect “race-cation”. Friday night was the Argus Urban Footrace, staged all around the town of St. George’s. The race distance was between 2 and 3 miles. The roads were so narrow and windy, and hilly. Just picture running in a european beach town. The streets were filled with pops of color, wild flowers, salty air, and quaint cottages. In between were 33 obstacles , yes I  said 33, on the streets of Bermuda. I’m pretty sure they don’t regulate obstacles there. The guys thought, “That would be cool”, and they just made it.

Bermuda Triple Challenge - Val

At one point I climbed over rope net that was draped over a fucking BUS. Just a bus sitting in the middle of this course with people climbing over it. Not to mention that the net was slipping most of the way down but no big deal.  Then we jumped over cars. Literally jumped on the hoods of two cars and then into the back seat of a van and through the windows of a random four door car. It was like Dukes of Hazard turned into an obstacle. Meanwhile, there was no mud, just friendly volunteers in army fatigues saying “this way” and giving commands in Bermudian accents. Lots and lots of walls and container climbs. The spider web was a mass of tangled ropes and Im pretty sure it could’ve caused some serious rope injuries but no one seemed phased. As the sun set, it started to get chilly. we approached a hill and had to tie our ankles and jump up the hill, it was harder than you think. Following looking like a complete idiot with tied ankles, we had to then bear crawl down a huge hill.

Bermuda Triple Challenge

This was not an easy race. Finally we got to the rope climb, then there was run along the wall of the ocean. I guess you could say it was like running on a glorified curb with a 15 foot drop to the sea in the dark. “Holy Shit! I can’t see!” I said to Matt. Mostly pretending I wasn’t thinking about how easily I could miss a step and just fall into the ocean. Laughing to Matt I said,” I hope I don’t fall in and DIE.”  Did anyone think of that? Maybe, maybe not, but possibly another exciting pro to doing a true grass roots race. No frills, no bullshit, nothing fancy at all, but a whole lot of great.

Race #2, The Sun Life Island Challenge, was absolutely stunning. We raced on the South Shore Beaches, which are some of most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. Running on the beach was fantastic, the grains of sand in my shoes were so much better than mud. I LOVED the sand. One obstacle was crossing the ocean for about 500 feet. The water was so clear and crisp, it was amazing.

Bermuda Triple Challenge Beach 2

The sand hills were not easy, trudging up a hill sticking in the sand AND carrying weight was tough. Although looking at the vast blue ocean and swaying trees in the breeze was so relaxing.  At one point, we filled the sand bags ourselves, a truly sustainable moment. The elements were so kind and breath taking. It was like the best of both worlds. The obstacles were challenges, with moments of “Holy Shit this is Amazing.” throughout the course. There were some barb wire crawls that nearly killed me because the sand made it a true crawl. I did say “FUCK THAT!” when I came up to the 25 foot “Assault” wall. That was the highest wall I’ve seen. Probably not, but I just couldn’t get the nerve. I did some burpees and moved on. Being on that beach kinda felt like being on survivor, except there was an end in sight with food and Gatorade.

Bermuda Triple Challenge Assault Wall

Race #3, The Chubb Royal Challenge, was seriously insane. It took place in the Royal Navy Dockyards, and was so insanely fun. I’m pretty sure Joe Desena himself would be pleased with his competition. Imagine Spartan Race meets an island with an adventure water park. It all started with a swim, and not just any swim. It was on the colder side that morning. There was a chilly breeze and the sun was barely peaking out, so the ocean was freezing. It was at a dock yard with an old abandoned prison on the grounds. We ran out to a wall off the ocean that was about 15 feet high and it was a jump and swim. A rescue boat floated beside the swimmers as they moved as fast as fucking possible swimming about 500 feet. They made an announcement at the beginning of the race to let people know that if you could not swim, DO NOT do the jump and swim. Maybe that’s why they had no life jackets, or maybe the boat was just one big life jacket for all. Many of us skipped the swim and did burpees. Yes I skipped the swim, but I had to do Instagram for ORM.

Bermuda Triple Challenge Money Shot

This was the hardest race of the three because it had so many water obstacles. There were 23 obstacles. Some were log carry, spear throw and Tarzan swing. At one point on the course there were sheep meandering around amongst the racers. Damn, I wish I got a picture of that. The zip line was pretty epic, and I was too big of a chicken shit to do it. Also I was doing Instagram for ORM, what would i have done with my phone? There stood the red dumpster with the cargo net to climb up and grab the zip line. People were flying over the ocean, it was awesome.

OH MY GOD, I almost forgot. There was a rope traverse that stretched across the ocean from wall to wall of the dock. It was a long way across and people were falling in left and right. Then there were a few guys and chicks that absolutely killed it, watching them perfect the balancing act with the ocean backdrop was amazing. The prison was eerie and beautiful and the view from the top was of the vast ocean and blue sky. Racers ran through disheveled stone doorways and skipped down terrifyingly narrow stairs. The stairs and doorways were obstacles in themselves. When you got to the roof there were volunteers holding flash cards with math problems on them and you had to get the correct answer or do burpees. This race had a great finale. There was a huge free spread of delicious food at the finish, and a beautiful, grassy place to gather with tables and seating everywhere.

Bermuda Triple Challenge - Traverse

 

Bermuda Triple Challenge wasn’t a race. It was an adventure filled with heart and true beauty. It was a vacation with unexpected challenges and a great community of kind people. I will definitely be back, with my husband, and without my kids.

Register for the next event at bdatriplechallenge.com

Tons more photos over on their Facebook page.

Sand here instead of mud . Sand Glorious sand #thinkoutsidethebox #bermuda #ocr #bdatriplechallenge @bdatriplechallenge

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BoneFrog Talladega


HESCO BoneFrog launched its second race of the year on March 25th in a location very well known for speed. Talladega Speedway in Alabama was the host site for the Navy SEAL owned and operated event, and while there was no Ricky Bobby, there was a Coach Pain! The weather was perfect for racing, partly sunny skies and temps in the 70’s made this brutal suckfest a little bit more tolerable. 10 dollars for parking got you under the tunnel and onto the racetrack infield where the festival area and start was located along with a few of the actual obstacles making picture taking ideal. The volunteers were all friendly and fast which made the check in a breeze.  Also, located in the infield area were bathroom and shower buildings which is a major upgrade over the usual port a potty thing. Bonefrog offers three different race distances for an athlete to choose from. The sprint, challenge, and a combination of both called Tier 1. After running BoneFrog’s first race earlier in the year at Orlando I was thrilled to be asked to cover their second race of the year for one big reason, new obstacles had been added and I wanted a crack at them!

BoneFrog started us off with a jog through the racetrack infield which really was a massive amount of land to cover and served the purpose of thinning out the crowd before we hit the first obstacle called the siege wall and could best be described as a slip wall with a rope minus the slip. A short distance away was one of my favorite obstacles called rolling thunder. This unique obstacle is series of tires strung together about 5 feet off the ground. Now this might look easy till you jump up on the tires and they spin you back to the ground! This was a killer obstacle for the shorter athlete. Now winding our way towards the open end of the infield we came upon the mouse holes, which is kind of like BoneFrog’s version of over, under, and through. One last infield obstacle, a rope swing over a water pool was in a racers path before finding a water station on our way outside the track. Once outside the track area racers were led up to a 60-degree inverted wall and the new first phase wall {think Battlefrog Delta ladder}. BoneFrog now led us along a grassy trail along the back side of the track where the low crawl was located along with a ring handled traverse suspended off the ground called the swingers club. Grip strength body control really came into play here! BoneFrog is big on its suspended traverse rigs, so work that grip hard before you race your next event with them! Athletes were then led back into the stadium where BoneFrog really used the track stairs to their advantage. The sand bag pulley pull obstacle called dead weight was located here and who could think of running stairs without taking anything with them on the trip? Wreck bags were lined up to be carried up and down the stadium stairs for what seemed like forever.  After dropping off our bags we were led again back outside of the stadium area and on to another BoneFrog suspended traverse called get a grip. This was another series of ring type holds suspended quite a way above the ground and proved to be an area where many elite division athletes were “held” up.

Now racers were led through a section of wooded trail where a series of walls awaited us. Hells gate, a series of five walls increasing in height, then decreasing again was the first wall obstacle followed up by the Irish tables which was a saw horse type structure about 7 feet high! Another aid station was located here at the tables then we set off on again through a thickly wooded section of trail where Bonefrog took advantage of the creek to place their balance beam. Yes, the balance beam was set right over the water and caused an awful lot of wet feet. Now with our shoes soaked we ran along the creek to a burpee fest called 31 heroes. Here each racer called out the name of a fallen soldier before doing a burpee and this totaled 31 burpees. Now winding our way back to the racetrack, we encountered a 9-foot wall to climb then were led back onto some pavement for a tire drag. Bonefrog now led racers up a set of stairs and down to another inverted wall before having us climb up the steep embankment to the top of the track, only to have us slide back down a short distance later.

A low crawl under netting was the last obstacle racers encountered outside the stadium as we were now led through another tunnel and back to the track infield for the last section of the race. A vertical cargo net climb was our first infield obstacle followed up a short distance away by a new rig developed by Bonefrog which used the normal ropes and rings along with a jungle gym type sway bar in the middle. Right after this obstacle was another new Bonefrog traverse called the choppa. Think of it like Savage Races wheel world but with only the spokes. It was a new and difficult obstacle I personally found to be extremely fun! Now getting close to the finish racers were thrown another traverse called the drunken monkey. This was a series of pegs staggered on both sides of a wooden 2 x 12 and was perhaps 30 feet long. Two Bonefrog staples were next up with the rope climb and the ever-popular dirty name. If you’ve never slammed your body into a log suspended in the air you simply must try it once! Now out of breath, either from the running or the slam into the log, an athlete had one last rope climb/monkey bar setup called black ops before one last low crawl to the finish!

I found this BoneFrog race to be a great mixture of distance running, 11.5 miles for Tier 1, 8.5 miles for challenge, and 3.5 miles for the sprint, and bad ass obstacles. The new choppa was a blast to play on along with the new BoneFrog rig. With some other race series becoming easier to better fit the weekend warrior athlete it’s great to see BoneFrog getting tougher. What else would you expect from a series run by Navy SEALs right? Photos were free and of great quality and the race bling was top notch. The kids course could use a little work but kiddies could run it as many times as they wanted. There could have been a few more food and drink vendors on hand but the warm showers made up for that in my book. So, check out their next event in Austin Texas on April 29 for a real test of your fitness level!

Spartan Sprint Las Vegas NV/Littlefield AZ Race Recap

They say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!  Well, I guess it’s lucky for you then that the Las Vegas Spartan Race was actually just a stone’s throw across the Arizona border in Littlefield!

Spartan-Sprint-Las-Vegas-2017-Start

Our adventure starts on Sunday, March the 19th at 3am when I woke up to my alarm telling me to get out of bed & to get ready to head to Bellingham Airport for our flight.

To backtrack a bit..  My Wife Charity & I were planning on heading into Las Vegas where we were married 10 years prior & a few of our friends were planning on coming with us.  After we booked our flight tickets we found out there was a Spartan Sprint Race in Littlefield Arizona on the day that we were landing & that it was only about an hour drive out from Las Vegas.  I created a Facebook event to let all of our crazy running & non-running friends know of our Anniversary weekend & our intent to start the path to our very first Trifecta but running the Sprint in Las Vegas.  Well, we ended up getting a few more friends come along to run the Sprint with us & join in on the festivities.  Back to Sunday..  We got picked up by our friend Shelley & then we picked up our friend Troy & headed from our hometown of Vancouver, B.C.  Shelley was just coming to enjoy Las Vegas but Troy was also coming to run the Spartan Sprint with us.  We crossed the border & got onto our flight with no issues & we landed in Las Vegas at 10:30am where our friends David & Taylor picked us up & drive us to Littlefield Az. Our gate time for the Sprint was 1:15pm which gave us about an hour & a half to get there.  Luckily David had run the Super the day before & knew the route & where to park.  The drive was luckily rather dull & after showing our parking pass, finding a place to park & getting changed seems to have about 20mins until our start time.  Charity, Troy & I all wore most everything we were going to race in on the place as we knew we had a limited time if we wanted to get out on the course as the last heat was at 1:30.  It was hot!  The Thermometer in the car said it was approx. 36c/97f (Apparently it was a few degree’s hotter the day before for the super) but I could still hear everyone having fun & I could feel the energy in the air.  People driving by were honking & hooting & I could hear the call of the Spartan off in the distance “Aroo!”

We had already filled in all of our waivers & printed out our scan/barcodes to make check-in go the fastest it could & fast it was!  One quick scan, review of our ID & another scan of the kit bag & we were told we could join the 1pm heat.  It was 12:50pm, so we had to get moving!  I quickly brought the bag that we all placed our change of clothes into with the Drop Bag crew & joined my friends in the corral.  We were at the back of our group as we were pretty much the last one’s in.  After they closed up the gates, I realized that I hadn’t had the chance to run to the restroom or get any water, this “decision” would be one I regretted for most of the course.  After a quick pep talk with a shortened version of the Spartan Credo we were released into the fray of the course.  The course was well laid out I thought & used the lay of the land & the MX Course quite well.  Up & over a few humps, then some short walls, then O.U.T. (Over, Under, Through) meanwhile we had to trudge through sand that was dry and loose as heck.

Spartan-Sprint-Las-Vegas-2017-Sand

I swear you lost more than half of your forward momentum due to the sand just moving out of the way when you placed pressure on it & tried to move forward.  We then got to the first classified obstacle, it was just a trudge through a stream that went through the property.  The stream was moving at a good pace & only about passed knee height for me & was rather warm.  I am a wimp when it comes to cold.  I rarely ever participate in the cold water obstacles.  I’m getting over that slowly now with the addition of proper OCR gear & time.  Just doing them more often & slowly working them in seems to be helping me get through more and more of these obstacles.  The cooler water was nice, as trudging through that sand & not having water before the water really dried me out.  Next was Atlas Carry, this was the first time I had ever come across this obstacle & I wasn’t sure how I would do as I have no grip strength, but I got passed it with little to no issues at all.  After a few other various obstacles we came across our 1st water station, it was a welcome sight!  A few more obstacles came & went & we were then greeted with another water station at the bottom of a rather large hill that we were going to have to hike up.  The water station honestly should have been at the top of the hill, or better yet after the next obstacle which was the sandbag carry.  After hiking up that darn hill & then carrying the sand bag all over hell’s half acre I was incredibly thirsty already, unfortunately water wouldn’t be had for at least nearly another mile & 8 or 9 more obstacles.  This is where the course changed a lot, for the first 3 miles/5 kilometres we had conquered about 10 obstacles that were quite spread apart, now we had about 12 or so obstacles left but only 1.5 miles/2.5 kilometres to do it in & doing it in the hot mid day sun was taking it’s toll in on me.

Spartan-Sprint-Las-Vegas-2017-Barb-Wire

We got to go back down the hill a bit & crawl under some barbed wire, I was able to use some new side walking techniques I had seen someone try in a Facebook video, with that, and crawling & cinching through it, I got through it unscathed for once!  Technique on a lot of these obstacles are key, especially when you’re a guy like me & you’re not very fit or athletic.  The Rolling Mud Obstacle was a nice relief & I wallowed in it like a little piggy would & covered myself & had a good ol’ time.  If you can’t have a good ol’ time at these races & unleash your inner kid, why do it!?!  Well, that’s my opinion.   I’m not here to finish in the top half, I’m here to have fun, help others & enjoy my time with those around me.  Next, onto a first for me, the Dunk Wall!

Spartan-Sprint-Las-Vegas-2017-Dunk-Wall

Again, I was kinda worried about this one, every time I have tried to go into water past my stomach as soon as it hits my check my body just locks up.  Well, hello warm water!  Other than pausing because I thought the water was just too muddy to submerge myself into I realized just how ludicrous that sounded & under I went!  I was rather surprised, for the first time ever I tackled the Inverted Wall on my own & got over it, although cramping up my calf by bashing it into the top of the wall when I heel kicked myself up & over.  Oops, forgot the Mustard, oh well!  A few stretches and some lunge type steps while walking I was good enough to go again.  Climbing the hill after that took quite a lot out of me, they were rather mean & tossed a bunch of larger tractor tires on the hill & they were “fun” to climb over.  They were also rather hot so that kind of helped add to the pace.

Spartan-Sprint-Las-Vegas-2017-Tire-Hill

We could see the finish was coming upon us rather quickly.  We got through the Herc Hoist, an A-Frame Cargo net, a Plate Drag & then onto Twistah.  It’s a rotating bar with hand holds on it.

Spartan-Sprint-Las-Vegas-2017-Twistah

Well, due to my lack of grip I only got about 2 rungs in & dropped.  The Monkey Bars were about the same distance, by this time I was just wiped, but, the last obstacle was upon us, the Fire Jump!

Spartan-Sprint-Las-Vegas-2017-Fire-Jump

We all gathered together in our group and took our last few strides together & jumped that fire!  Victory!  We finished off with our very well deserved beer, talked to a few fellow Spartans & then we headed out.  It had been a very long day for some of us & we just wanted to get back to our room & rest.  After all, the next day was our 10 year wedding anniversary & we still had 3 more days in Vegas that we were going to have to use our legs for.  In the end, we traversed about 4.5 miles/7.5 kilometres & had about 24 obstacles to pass & we did it in about 2:20.  We may not have been the fastest out there, but we didn’t want to be.  It was hot & we took it at our own pace & had a great time!  I hope to bump into ya sometime in the mud, if you see me, be sure to say hi!

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Savage Race Florida Has Serious Beef With Their Racers!

Savage-Race-Mens-Pro-Start

Thanks to the Florida Women’s Cattle Association, Savage Race served up protein packed, amazing post race bites of some of the most well seasoned, succulent rib eye and NY strip steaks. That sure beats the traditional bananas and protein bars for this racer!

I’m getting ahead of myself however, so let me run down the basics before getting to the true meat of Savage Race, the obstacles. The heart-pounding, well-designed, and amazingly fun obstacles that had thousands of Savages from 37 states descend upon Florida to run the very first Savage Race of 2017.

The parking situation: Savage Race Florida did not have VIP parking. It was $10 to park at the venue with a first come, first serve situation in order to get the best spot. The parking area was close enough to the venue with a short walk to the entrance, where a friendly volunteer handed you a course map.

Savage-Race-Course-Map-Volunteer

What about the Port-o-potties? There were portable crappers in the parking area and the festival area as far as the eye can see. So, if you had to do race rule #1 (Take a dump before the race), there was no wait before or after the race. They also had 2 portable crapper stations on the course right around miles 3 and 6. As for the cleanliness? You’ve seen worse. Much much worse, trust me on that. Post race is where you start asking, “Mud or poo?”

Savage-Rage-Venue-Porta-Potties

Registration and packet pickup: Simple and hassle free. Just make sure that you have a valid I.D., your bib number and a signed waiver.

Savage-Race-Registration-Volunteer-Packet-Pickup-Tent

Bag check: $5 (each bag) to check your belongings, and if you needed to get something from your bag after checking it, like a second packet for your Savage Syndicate lap, or if you simply forgot something they will not charge you again. Your belongings were kept behind long tables where very friendly but watchful volunteers and security made sure your things were safe.

Savage-Race-Bag-Check-Tent

Savage Syndicate Program: There seems to be some confusion on how this works. It’s very simple folks: run 2 paid laps in 1 calendar year and you get a big, spinning medal to go with your 2 regular medals. You can run 2 paid laps on the same day like I did and BOOM, you too can walk around like King or Queen shit though the festival area with your neck laden with bling. You also get a state pin, and the best part? All Savage Races that you run after becoming a Savage Syndicate: you get the regular medal and another Syndicate spinner medal with that state’s pin, without having to run double laps at the same venue.

Savage-Race-Syndicate_Kevin-LaPlatney

Savage Race Pro Kevin “MudMan” LaPlatney, Owner of Obstacle Athletics with his Savage Race Syndicate Bling (Gold Medal not included)

Water stations: There were 3 water stations on the course spaced every 2 miles, and Savage Race is still keeping the water on ice. So when you are handed your own personal water bottle, it’s nice and refreshingly cold. They spoil their racers, unlike another race brand (which shall not be named) that tends to run out of the water and is warm enough to make tea with.

The obstacles: Oh my, where do I even begin? Savage Race surprised many of their Florida regulars with the course set up this year. The first mile was a nice long run without any obstacles. You heard that correctly my fellow Savages, a Savage Race where they didn’t bombard you within the first ¼ mile with obstacles. How is this a good thing some may be wondering? It builds up anticipation, and you get a nice warm up mile to get the blood flowing before they start slamming you with obstacle after obstacle.

Savage-Race-Shriveled-Richard-Obstacle

Once you hit their first obstacle named Barn Doors, which is a wooden fence that you climb over the obstacles start coming at you quickly in true Savage Race fashion. Barbed wire crawls, mud pits, cargo nets, high walls, their signature obstacles like Sawtooth, Shriveled Richard, Wheel World, Colossus, Davy Jones and much more are spaced so that once you are done with one obstacle you are just a stone’s throw away from the next one.

On my first lap I did notice that the Squeeze Play obstacle which was placed over a mud pit was closed. Of course, the first thought that came to mind was, “GATOR IN THE MUD PIT!” but that thought quickly went away as I ran towards the always intimidating Sawtooth. On my second lap Squeeze play was placed over dry ground a few feet away from the mud pit which had red lettered caution tape, so it kind of confirmed to me that there was a “GATOR IN THE MUD PIT!” There is no official confirmation on that however, and it could just be all in my head.

Savage-Race-Mad-Ladders-Obstacle

Savage Race threw many racers for a loop when they placed Colossus a few obstacles before the finish line. I heard quite a few Savages wondering, “Colossus isn’t last?” Oh no my friends, they placed it right before Teeter Tuber making crawling up the rubber pipes extra challenging and fun because the insides were SAF (Slippery As F*ck).

Savage-Race-Colossus-Obstacle

Speaking of challenging, the hardest traverse wall in OCR, “Kiss My Walls” just got even more challenging. Savage Race upped it up a notch by adding fencing in between the tiny rock climbing pegs. Still no step stool for us shorties, sorry my fellow vertically challenged pals.

I’ll touch briefly on their 2 new obstacles that many were wondering about, Mad Ladders and Twirly Bird, since nobody had even seen a picture of these two before the race. Mad Ladders consists of rope ladders and loose cargo nets which you traverse across. Sounds easy? Far from it as you’ll be spun around and tangled up.

Twirly Bird? No propellers involved, but it’s the rig to end all rigs. Oh you thought trying to hang onto tennis balls was hard? Try hanging onto shredded ropes with tiny individual knots. You better have the grip strength of a silverback gorilla to get through this one.

Savage-Race-Twirly-Bird-Obstacle

All in all it was 28 great obstacles (no heavy carries allowed) packed into a 6 mile course.

Savage-Race-Runners

Festival area: After jumping over the fire and getting your precious medal and finisher shirt, Florida Savages were treated to what seems to be every OCR racer’s favorite post race beer Shock Top. For those that do not drink, your beer ticket was treated like you just handed off a $100 bill.

The food stalls worked much like a carnival where you bought tickets at a booth and various food and drink items cost x amount of tickets. $10 for a sheet of 10 tickets was how it was sold. The fare was burgers, chicken gyros, chicken on a stick, roasted corn on the cob and other carry around friendly foods.

Savage-Race-Food-Stalls

There was a nice large main tent where people were enjoying food and drinks giving it a very cool Oktoberfest vibe. There were plenty of canopied tables scattered throughout the festival area as well giving people a nice view of the stage where they held pushup contests. Hats off to the Savages that participated because this Savage could barely hold her burger up after the race.

Changing room and showers: You mean garden hoses and changing tents. The garden hoses should have a sign next to them saying, “Obstacle #29” so cold! The changing tents were secure, clean and roomy.

Savage-Race-Changing-Tents-Venue

Exit through the gift shop: Savage race has the best prices for gear and still continues to do so. Good selection of shirts, compression sleeves, headbands and if you buy 2 shirts you get a venue specific shirt for FREE!

Savage-Race-Gift-Shop-Tent

The best next race deal around: For $75 you can buy a voucher for upcoming Savage races at any venue. That price includes processing fees and the mandatory insurance, but wait there’s MORE! You also get a Savage race wristband, a “Train Savage” t-shirt and decals.

Savage-Race-Voucher-Swag

Thank you Savage race for putting on an amazing event yet again, the first race of the year was incredible and this Savage is looking forward to even more fun at Maryland Spring on April 29th.

If you’re still on the fence about trying a Savage Race, it’s time to get off of that fence, grab some friends and jump into the mud or water pit because it’s time to get SAVAGE AF!

Savage-Race-First-Timers

Photo Credit: Kevin “MudMan” LaPlatney, Poly Poli, Savage Race 

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Spartan Race Las Vegazona 2017

Picture by Taylor Mullin (@taylor_mullin_)

Spartan Race came back to the Mesquite, Arizona Motocross Track for their “Las Vegas” race this year. The Las Vegas event has been a fast and furious race course over the last three years. The long stretches of running on sand, as well as a pretty decent amount of river running took many by surprise in 2016.

Course designer supreme, Steve Hammond, had shared some hints in the week leading up to the race that we would get treated to a repeat of last year’s course style:

Course Map

The course map supported the flat and fast statements as well.

Spartan Race - Las Vegas Course Map

Race Venue

Parking at this venue is fortunately close to the festival area. As usual, there was a lack of shade (pavilions, vendor booths, etc.) so people started to huddle in every little bit of protection from the desert sun they could find, and many did receive their first sunburn of the year.

The SGX area received some improvements and now features climbing holds added to a pull up bar, Gormax flips, as well as the usual rope climb and over wall.

Everyone who paid attention did not encounter any surprises as Steve delivered on his promise. The terrain was flat, however, the start gave a great indication of what racers are going to see a lot of: death by a dozen little bumps on the trail.

Spartan Race Las Vegas Startline

After this rough start, one mile of fine, loose sand was waiting. Fortunately, there was an opportunity to cool down during a bit of river running (~0.1 mi), which was followed by another mile of loose sand, and finally the last half of the course finished out on the motocross track. The treacherous part of those motocross venues is that the little hills and bumps don’t look intimidating at all.

However, the steep grade of these dirt mounds, along with the hard packed ground and slippery dirt on top, suck the energy out of everyone’s legs, especially since there are usually three or more of them in a row. The biggest single climb on the course can be seen behind the dunk wall, leading up to the top of the mesa.

Spartan Race Las Vegas Dunkwall

In summary, the Mesquite MX venue may be flat, but it does make up for it with its loose sand and frequent, short, steep hills.

The Twister

In recent races, as well as in Vegas, it appears as if the Twister obstacle becomes more of a menace than the rig, which was completely absent from the Sprint, but part of the previous day’s Super. For those with strong grip, it poses no problem and requires just a bit of practice to figure out which technique suits them best… and then there is Veejay, the youngest Spartan Pro Team member, doing this.

Here is another perspective on the Twister. In the front is the side-by-side grip technique while the racer in the back is going hand-over-hand, which requires more grip strength and technique, but is also much faster.

GPS Data

Everyone interested in the data can find the GPS track below, more details can be found on Strava directly.

All pictures and videos owned by the author unless otherwise noted.

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Spartans Take on the Cold at the Winter Sprint

Be careful what you wish for.

Last year I grumbled that the heat at the Tri-State Spartan Sprint slowed me down. In general,  I don’t like the heat and humidity that comes with many races each summer in the Northeast. If only there were a race where that wasn’t a factor! Spartan HQ must have been reading my mind, because this year, they organized their first US Winter Spartan Sprint after trying out the concept in Europe.

When I signed up for the race, I saw that at the Greek Peak Ski Resort, where the race took place on Saturday,  the average temperatures topped out at about 30 degrees this time of year. Chilly, but certainly not the coldest race I have done, and doable with a few layers. As the race approached, I kept checking the weather. Earlier in the week, temperatures were hitting an unseasonable 70 in the Northeast, which made me wonder how they were going to handle any winter-based snow-dependent features. Mother Nature had other ideas. A few days before the race, Spartan sent out notices warning racers that temperatures were going to start out in the 20’s and that we needed to dress accordingly. No such luck.

When I made it to the venue, the air temperature was 10 degrees. That’s minus 12 in Celsius, for those who use the metric systemI was grateful for the extra layers I had packed.

The sprint course was similar to those that take place at other mountain venues in warmer months, only with the added elements of snow and ice. A handful of obstacles were adapted for this: Rolling Snow instead of Rolling Mud, for example. Some were removed (no Dunk Wall, no water crossings). The rest were the same, but frostier.

Obstacles that are easier in the winter:

Barbed wire crawl: usually I loathe this obstacle, as I end up putting my entire body weight on every single rock as I crawl along, piling on the scrapes and bruises at every yard I advance. This time? I could pretty much drag myself along the frozen surface, and while I wouldn’t call it smooth, the bumps were cushioned by the extra layers that protected me from the cold.

Plate drag: I had hoped that this area would be like a skating rink, and while I was disappointed, it turns out that it’s still easier to drag a heavy object across a frozen surface than a dusty, rocky one.

Obstacles that are harder in the winter:

Anything where you need to take your gloves off, such as the Rope Climb or the Hercules Hoist. The layers I was wearing were good at keeping my core warm, but as soon as the wind hit my hands, there was little else I could think of.

Between the obstacles, my main concern was not losing my footing. On other courses I have worried about slipping because the surface is muddy or wet or dusty or loose. Here, the same instincts applied, and I spent a lot of time crab walking down slopes, figuring that the sacrifice in my personal dignity was worth it to avoid a broken wrist or collar bone. There were also a number of muddy patches, which was baffling – how could there be watery soil when it was 10 degrees out? But I spent most of the time making sure that my feet would not slip out from under me in the loose ice and snow.

The sandbag carry up the slope was challenging because the sandbags were frozen rather than pliable, but some of the open wave racers figured out a way to put the snowy conditions to good use by sitting on the bags and sliding down the slope to the end of the carry. A Spartan volunteer tried to put a stop to this (“No tobogganing on the sandbags!” he shouted repeatedly), which was probably the appropriate safety instruction, but racers did have some fun with this while they could.

My biggest take-away from this winter event was that I never stopped enjoying myself. At other races I have caught myself thinking “this isn’t fun anymore” as I climb up yet another steep rocky trail, but this time I was happy from start to finish. Even the burpees were less unpleasant, as the ground, while not soft, was not as sharp under my gloved hands.

Some logistical observations: when I arrived, check-in had been moved indoors, causing a long line which snaked out the door. Apparently, registration was supposed to take place outside, but the computers had frozen, both literally and figuratively, and the operation was moved indoors, causing delays. The weather had also caused Spartan to move the parking for the event off-site, but when I arrived at the satellite parking I was told that, on the one hand, the lot was already full but, on the other hand, I could park at the venue after all. Rain the week before had caused the lot to be too soft, but it would seem that the sudden freeze had fixed that problem. In both cases, Spartan staff and volunteers adapted and fixed the problems.

Bling (because there are some readers who take this very, very seriously): yes, there were special Winter Sprint medals in the shape of a snowflake. You’ve seen the pictures, but what I didn’t know was that they also have “Nothing burns like the cold” stamped on the back. I’m not exactly sure what that’s supposed to mean, but it sounds intense. Aroo.

The finisher t-shirts (white, long sleeve, miracle fiber) were unique to this race. They also caused a bit of a stir. I noticed that mine looked a little dirty, but I assumed that I must have dropped it at some point. On Facebook I read a good deal of chatter saying that, in fact, the shirts had been exposed to water at some point and had gotten a little moldy. Racers were reporting that the mold stains weren’t coming out in the wash. Yet another Spartan t-shirt controversy in the making?

[UPDATE: on March 21, Spartan HQ sent out the following e-mail: 

“Hi there,
We appreciate your patience regarding the Finisher Shirt discoloration at the Greek Peak Winter Sprint. Spartan Race is committed to providing the best possible experience from the parking area all the way to earning that coveted shirt. For that reason, we are working with our vendor to have all of the shirts remade from this event and shipped to you at our cost. We simply need you to fill out the form below to confirm your size and shipping details. The estimated arrival time is 60 days to allow for reproduction of the shirts and shipping. Please do not reply to this email, as we will touch base as soon as we have the shirts in our warehouse to let you know when we will be shipping them to you.

(link to form to input your data)

Thanks!

AROO!”

Seems that Spartan heard the complaints and is working on fixing the problem.]

What does the future hold for the Winter Sprint? There are already two more on the calendar for 2018, one in New Hampshire and one in Utah. The racers I spoke to were willing to drive over six hours to get to this event, and despite the cold, cold weather, seemed to enjoy themselves. Many already had other plans to complete a Trifecta, so it would appear that they were doing this race for the novelty, not just for the sake of doing a Sprint distance. It is unclear at this point whether Spartan will come back to Greek Peak, whose name must have resonated with Spartan founder Joe De Sena. There are references to Classical Greek themes throughout the area (I flew into Syracuse, the ski resort is not far from Ithaca, etc.), and the trails we used for the race were named “Odyssey” and “Olympic”. How could Joe not come back here? However, I have to wonder at how effective it is to host an event at a ski resort while it is open for, you know, skiers. OCR as an industry has done a great job of making use of venues that are otherwise empty, providing revenue for the owners and the local communities. Hosting a large event that could displace the regular customers doesn’t seem to be as clever a move.