Catching Up With Savage Race

I have a dirty little secret…. Come to think of it, most of my friends that I have met in person have been letting me know about it for quite some time: I am an OCR Addict. I’m a member of far too many OCR Facebook groups. Hell, I even admin too many OCR Facebook groups. We talk about shoes, gear, course directors, and the future of the industry. A popular topic is what races are emerging to challenge the “Big 3” of Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and Warrior Dash. More often than not the races being mentioned are Battlefrog and Atlas Race. Battlefrog is new(ish) on the scene and while they garner amazing race reviews and positive feedback on their challenging and innovative obstacles and courses, their attendance so far this year has yet to mirror their social media machine. Atlas hasn’t fared any better, but you wouldn’t know it from the amount of “coverage” they get on Facebook. I do, however, have an idea of what current event might eventually have a puncher’s chance to enter the ring with the “Big 3,” and that event is Savage Race.

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Savage has come a long way from their first event in 2011. They have added large scale innovative obstacles, an upgraded website with top notch customer service, and most importantly more participants. I recently went back through the timing company results from 2014 and compared last year’s fall Florida race to this year’s fall Florida race and their weekend attendance (Saturday and Sunday) increased from 4,608 to 7,480, an increase of 2,872 finishers in a year’s time. Florida is Savage’s home race, so I doubt the growth will follow in every market, but clearly they are doing something right. Considering all of this, I often find myself fielding questions about Savage Race from veteran OCR friends on the internet who somehow haven’t heard about or done the event. Don’t get me wrong, Savage Race has an online presence, but they have always managed to stay out of the fray of OCR drama and at the moment are thriving in spite of it. So, instead of posting a status asking the OCR community to explain all of this, I reached out to CEO and Co-Founder Sam Abbitt and Race Director Garfield Griffiths of Savage Race to find out for myself.

ORM: What is your approach to growing Savage? How would you say it differs from your competition?

Sam: We approach the growth of Savage Race with a combination of enthusiasm and patience. We’re excited to see the company grow, but also careful to grow at a pace that we can handle. We want to provide the very best experience for our participants, and that means delivering the world’s best obstacles and an awesome race experience every time. We may be growing a little slower than some of our competitors, but we’re know that our approach will ensure that Savage Race is around for a very long time to come.

ORM: I’ve had very positive customer service experiences with Savage in the past. Is this an area of focus for you?

Sam: Absolutely. We’re always working to provide great customer service to our participants. With so many people attending our events, it means that many people have customer service needs. Everyone on our team is experienced with customer service and helps out with it, which means that we can all take great care of people on race day, too. And we’re constantly working to improve our processes and come up with solutions that meet the most needs for the most people. It’s always going to be a focus for us.

ORM: Garfield, You’ve worked at other events, how has working for Savage differed from your other experiences?

Garfield: Savage reminds me a lot of my first OCR company, Fearless Events. They keep it small, and have a very family vibe going on. Everyone pitches in! At any one time, you will see SR team members running the volunteer tent, then sorting Payroll, then helping build obstacles….it’s great. For example; for my first Savage event a few weeks ago, I was build crew, an obstacle designer, a volunteer shuttle driver, I was in charge of the new SavagePRO program and helped get the elites ready to go. Oh yes, I even filled in as the MC on stage for 3 hours doing contests and such (yes, I did a “butt selfie” contest). Those people that know me, know I am happiest wearing many hats. I honestly love this approach. It keeps everyone busy and challenged – you would be hard pressed to get bored with your job here as it keeps changing.

The team at Savage is very hard working and MOST importantly, experienced. You have to remember they’ve been doing this since around 2011; not many races can say that. I was a little concerned about “fitting in” (you know how families can be), but not the case, I was welcomed with open arms and couldn’t be happier at this point.

ORM: You’ve revamped your elite heats to SavagePro and the payments are scaled based on location. Is this something you are looking to push further in addition to your successful open heats?

Sam: Yes, it sure is. We’re excited for the growth of SavagePRO and look forward to attracting more elite competitors to our events. This wasn’t always a strong area of focus for us, because we wanted to concentrate our efforts on developing a race that appeals to a wide range of people with all ability levels. But now that we’ve grown, we’re putting a little more focus on developing SavagePRO. It’s our goal to offer a well-organized, clearly defined SavagePRO elite heat with prizes and awards that do a good job recognizing the competitors. It’s going to be fun to develop this throughout the year and into the future.

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ORM: Savage Race has stayed east of Texas and does well at most of their events, yet there is very little talk about them on social media. Why do you think that is?

Garfield: Funny thing, I have been asked this a couple of times. My thoughts on the social media chatter not being as “loud” as other race series is (in my opinion) to do with the Savage Race secret recipe for success… grass roots marketing!!! Plain and simple. I feel “other” races concentrate so much time, money and effort on the elite/media side of things that Joe Public gets overlooked (and the race numbers suffer). These races don’t seem to realize that Joe Public pays the bills. So, Savage has quietly and incredibly successfully given the public what they want for many years. This might not have all the pizazz and wow factor that the media likes to see, but *9,000 people at an event? That’s pretty “WOW” in my eyes. That being said, part of my job now is to help with the PR side of things and raise the profile of Savage Race even higher, like on that bloody ORM site..LOL…

ORM: What are your goals now that you are a race director at Savage race?

Garfield: Going back to my first answer, based on the way Savage operates, there’s really no such thing as a “Race Director” mainly because everyone does everything here. So, we really are all “Race Directors” and part of the “Operations” dept. As far as my goals? Currently, my goals are to fit in, and hopefully bring additional perspective to an already great company. Also, I plan to help with the continued, but steady, improvement and expansion of the Savage Brand.

I read a great quote the other day, that to me totally sums up the Savage “way.”

A small team of A-Plus players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.” – Steve Jobs

I will just leave that there.

ORM: When you first started Savage I imagine you had a vision of what you wanted it to become. How does Savage compare to your original vision now? What is your vision of the future?

Sam: We’re really proud of what Savage Race has become. We started with a small team and a big idea, and the goal of developing an incredibly high-quality obstacle race company. I think over the past 4 ½ years we’ve done a great job at moving toward fulfilling that vision, and we’re only going to keep going from here. We’re continuing to develop the markets we’re already in, and expanding to new markets as we’re ready. Our team has grown considerably, our attendance is quite significant in the industry, and our obstacles are world-class. We’re just going to keep going on the path that we’re on. The Savage Race future looks bright and we’re excited to be a part of the obstacle racing industry.

*Editor’s note- The event Garfield is referring to actually had 7,480 finishers.  Typical no-show rates are in the 10-15% range for any obstacle race. Our experience is that almost all race directors tend to “round up” when giving  attendance numbers. They also tend to include actual or speculated spectator attendance when listing these numbers.

Savage Race Georgia – “Mud, Mud, and More Mud!”

Savage Race Georgia Prologue:

Friday, April 17th – I am trapped in the office. It has been raining for 5 days straight. I fear I shall not see the sun again.

Saturday April 18, 7:45 AM – It’s a grey, Pacific Northwest kind of grey, foggy day. The beautiful horses are resplendent in their grass munching indifference to the stream of cars pouring into the verdant grounds of the Moonlight Stables. As I am directed to my parking spot in the middle of the wet, hilly, and rutted grass field in my small low clearance car, I start to think Colossus may not be my biggest problem today. The registration is long at the Savage Race Georgia’s Pro™ bib numbers line. This is not surprising given our heat goes off in about an hour. This affords me the opportunity to have a nice chat with an OCR luminary; The Humble Hero, holder of eight axes. A nicer, faster guy you will not meet. The prerace Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (2 creams, 2 sugars. How do you Dunkin’) kicks in and I realize my Savage Race bib number sequence is the next line over. Boom! No line, and I am quickly in. And……….it’s a fucking mess. The mud is thick and squelchy, clearly showing the paths of all the heavy vehicles and equipment used during set up. I fail to grasp the significance of this obvious foreshadowing.

Saturday April 18, 8:10 AM – Once again, wonderful early rising magical GORMR elves have set up a fantastic tent area within the festival zone. The tent is electric with the buzz of the new SavagePro ™ concept and the blue rubber bracelet that will either be a boon or a bane once the finish line is crossed. Somehow I manage to get my gear on, have some pleasant conversation, body number myself and others, see a guy named John, get in a warm up run, and do some stretching all under an hour.

Saturday April 18, 9:00 AM – It’s Pro Go time! Giddy up!

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Savage Race Georgia Observations on the run;

  1. I’m strangely subdued as the MC whips the Pro corral into a good Savage lather. I wonder if I should be concerned. “What’s that twinge in my knee”? “There’s some OCR heavyweights here!”, “Isn’t J.D’s kilt pretty?” “Hey look a Drone!” Jesus! My mind is all over the fucking place!
  2. Blue smoke is cool. Blue smoke does not taste like blueberries. Blue smoke tastes like a nasty fucking combination of burning crack house and exploding transformers.
  3. And SQUISH! The open field is immediately a foot sucking, ankle inhaling mess. Sloppier than the stables of King Augeas, and I’m no Hercules. But no worries, a majority of the running will be on easy wooded trails…….right?
  4. savage-race-georgiaA quick barbed wire crawl after a ¼ mile slog (oh legs, don’t start crying now!) starts things off Back to back to back to back……..fuck! Would it ever end…..5 foot walls separated by a quick roll (ouch! That knee went a bit too high! Zing!) under barbed wire got the blood good and pumped for the upcoming Shriveled Richard.
  5. My Richard and his two sons survived, having taken refuge to a pre-puberty safety zone.
  6. A sloppy crawl at Prairie Dog and then it was into the woods where surely this fucking mud would end.
  7. The creek to my left was moving at a good clip, swollen with a week’s worth of rain. I on the other hand was moving in the opposite direction at a more modest pace; slowed by the mud from a week’s worth of rain.
  8. That creek would make a good obstacle.
  9. Shit! Huge branch! I stumble as the branch kicks up and completely takes out the guy close behind me and to my right! Great…..I have gone from solving my face planting problems to now causing them. “Sorry man!” At least the mud is soft.
  10. First steep hill. This is Savage so it certainly won’t be the first. I take the advice from my friend Richie, during a discussion at a race a week prior, and power walk up that fucker. This will be my modus operandi for the day; conserve energy on the ups; King of the Crips of Cruisertown on the downs.
  11. Damn! These trails are fucking muddy! Cross slope running is pushing the limits of my ability to avoid clumsiness.
  12. So the twig and berries were just about to remerge when Thor’s Grundle appears like a blue painted mirage from hell in the middle of the forest. “Fuck this!” they say as I drop in. “We’ll see you at the beer tent!”
  13. savage-race-georgiaWith nary a dry anything to wipe my hands off with, I approached Pipe Dreams with a healthy dose of trepidation. The large diameter pipes, slick with wetness from the early morning dew and rain made for a sketchy, always on the razor’s edge trip across the water. Using the sideways shuffle technique allowed me to cover more distance in less moves (having a big wingspan helps) while also using the movement of the pipe to my advantage.
  14. The Universe likes balance: Ying & Yang, Action-Reaction, Peanut butter and Jelly. And so it was on a downhill cross slope going full tilt, my legs slipped out from underneath me. The mud and wet leaves cushioned my fall as a girl right behind me stepped directly on my ankle. Luck was on my side. A fine combination of being in the right position for the wrong reasons and a girl who was smaller than one of Cranky’s rucks. No damage done.
  15. Time to settle in for a long trail run until the next obs.
  16. Fuck these hills! Fuck it’s muddy! Writer’s note: I am pouring myself 3 fingers of bourbon just thinking about it.
  17. It’s thinned out pretty good by now. The leaders surely ½ way complete by now as I pace a couple of guys behind me and chase a couple ahead of me.
  18. A wall. Small rock climbing holds. Manna from heaven for a boulderer.
  19. If there be photographic evidence of me at the Sawhorses, I will scour the earth to make sure it is eradicated. Imagine a fish. Imagine a fish with legs. Imagine a fish with legs out of water. Imagine a floppy, gasping fish with legs. That was me humping over those damn poles. I have the grace of a hippo in ballet slippers.
  20. Back in the woods……the fucking wet, muddy, hilly woods.
  21. Mile 3 vibrates my watch. The elapsed time showing of 35 minutes is a wondrous surging kick of confidence. My legs are all like “so fucking what!” There is no storybook surge of power and speed that follows.
  22. Did I mention it was hilly……..and muddy?
  23. Me So Thorny was a bit of a downer, even as it gave me a sweet “kiss” just before I exited. Last year it was an eye tricking zig-zag. Now that was cool! But, it was still in the middle of the woods which is always good.
  24. I’ve been pretty much on my toes all morning and looking down to make sure said toes weren’t going into a bottomless hole, a soul sucking mud pit, an ankle snapping creek/gulley, etc., etc., …..So, in one of the rare moments of looking up I find myself at a “T” intersection. I look to my left and there are racers coming at me, and then go by me! I am baffled, befuddled, and bewildered. A feeling of dread comes sweeping in like the Santa Ana winds. Their gale force winds stoking a wild fire of confusion and anger. FUCK ME! I am lost!
  25. For a fraction of a second; the kind of minute time measurement that can only be quantified at a place like the Large Hadron Collider, I thought about just blending in and continuing on. I shook off that awful thought and backtracked the 100 yards from whence I brain farted. At least six people have passed me! Writer’s note: This happened where the trail after Sawhorses (obs. No.8) comes very close to where the trail exits the woods on the way to the Great Wall (obs. No.10). If I had followed through on that fleeting thought, I would have repeated a long part of the course I had already run and the OCR gods would have had one hell of a laugh.
  26. I break free of the woods at last and run straight into a field of wet, tall, heavy grass! Oh and muddy too. And rutty. And riddled with equine landmines.
  27. E.T. and his Reece’s Pieces decided to reappear just as I was approaching the Big Wall. Bad timing. Somehow I managed to pinch…..ummmm….the tip of the spear, and this wasn’t Battlefrog. Is there no end to the ways I can inconvenience my body?!
  28. The grass was endless. The muddy ruts endless. And then there was the game of horseshit hopscotch. If I was on my toes after 3.5 miles, I was positively En Pointe at this point. Fuck! Who doesn’t love some ballet humour!
  29. Fucking hills.
  30. I didn’t learn my lesson last week at Macon Mud Run regarding balance obs. I did not take a moment to find my inner Nadia Comaneci at Nuttsmasher. Two steps in and I had to make a quick jump back to the platform to avoid going in the drink. Back on and halfway across, shuffling like Tim Conway, I lose my balance. My instinct commands my right foot to go to the adjacent beam. So, there I was, one foot on my beam and one foot on my neighbor’s beam, and I was about to really find my inner Jean Claude Van Damme. The gigantic lens of a GameFace Media camera (great choice SR! great choice!) was pointed at me. There was no choice but to stick out my tongue and throw some metal horns; then I fell in. Shit! More people are now passing me! 3rd time’s a charm and it’s back on!
  31. savage-race-georgiaFucking tall, wet grass. Where’s a herd of hungry goats when you need them?!
  32. A cleansing 14 foot jump at Davey Jones was the pause that refreshed. With the course map in mind, I was ready for the onslaught of obs to come.
  33. A quick ladder climb. Great view. Well executed flip move.
  34. Will this grass/mud combo never fucking end!!?
  35. “Why are these culvert pipes set up like seesaws?” “In and up you say?” Wheeeeeee! A sudden and unannounced tip downwards has me squealing like Matt B. Davis finding the next new running section on the Beltline.
  36. Sometimes you need to keep this sport in perspective. An obs that makes you giggle is just the thing to do that.
  37. Missionary Impossible comes into view. I love it for two reasons: It’s not running, and it gets the shoulders loosened up for Sawtooth.
  38. That magnificent beast, Sawtooth, menacing in its assemblage of wood and steel, was there…….at the top of a fucking hill. Aggressive angularity ready to chew up and spit out even the most seasoned OCR racer. I hop up – ok, shuffle- to the launch deck. Take a deep breath (where was that at Nuttsmasher!?), grab the first bar, and “what the fuck?!” “textured paint on the bar?!” Oh, it’s on now! Giddy up.
  39. savage-race-georgia“Oh for fuck’s sake! More log hurdles!” They are in mud/water pits this time. Well if I take a digger at least there’s mud and water to break my fall, and spectators to enjoy the show. My form that has no form is floppingly flawless and I make it through.
  40. Back in the woods! I didn’t think I’d be happy about that after those first three miles, but let’s just say I won’t be doing a Julie Andrews number in an open meadow anytime soon.
  41. My wood for the woods doesn’t last long (getting old sucks……hehehe) as Big Ass Cargo Net comes into view…..sitting in a grassy field. I finally execute a flip move at the top without binding, pinching, or nipping any body parts. I crab walk down for the first time. This is a wondrous technique.
  42. Inverted walls (Venus Guy Trap? really SR?)! Cool! Ohhhhhh, no boards on the invert side. Smooth as melted chocolate with nowhere for the feet like in other races. Standing in the squelchy mud, the lip of the wall looked a mile up. A big jump, and BIG ol’ honkin’ heel hook, some ungentlemanly noises and I was up and over.
  43. The next inverted wall is reversed. Finally the mud becomes an asset as I jump straight down from the 8’ lip.
  44. There’s Slippery Incline. Fuck! Will these hills never end?!
  45. I get wood back at Lumberjack Lane.
  46. savage-race-georgiaFuck! Why must every major obs be majestically placed upon the peak of a hill, as if set up by Ingmar Bergman for a gloriously silhouetted scene straight out of The Seventh Seal?!
  47. Colussus, that fucking beast, gave me fits last Fall. This was the first obs I ever needed help on. Today there would be no help in the SavagePro ™ heat. As I had caught up to a guy, who I had chased down since being passed at Nuttsmasher, I had no time for reflection. He hits the pipe first, so I gotta giddy up! Good approach, shitty attack! Good grip on the rope! Lean back! Fucking climb! Commit to the lip! SHIT! not much of a lip! No turning back! I AM keeping this blue rubber bracelet today! Heave! HO! I’m up! A high jump onto the slide for maximum thrills and it is enema time!
  48. savage-race-georgiaGetting out of the Colossus pool was one of the hardest most awkward tasks all day! That plastic was slicker than two slugs fucking on a marble floor. I’m out and passing who I need to pass.
  49. Finally! Finally! Finally! I get flames to jump over and not just smoldering smoky ashes! Not roaring righteous flames of OCR badassery mind you, but flames nonetheless. I don’t have enough gas in the tank for the epic photo worthy jump.
  50. I can see the finish line and it’s DOWNHILL from here!
  51. I try two pulling methods at Block Party: hand over hand, and one big pull combined with leaning back. Neither have obvious advantages. Both clearly expose how tired I am.
  52. Cruising down the hill, I see a young guy about to take the last turn and he’s not paying attention. I feel a surge of competiveness (who knows what place I’m in, where I might land in the standings?!) and I kick it into full on sprint mode. I pass that dude just before the finish line. Stick a fork in me, I am fucking done. And, I have my blue rubber bracelet still on!
  53. This race was fucking awesome! It was muddy. It was hilly. It was grand. Savage put together a fantastic race. Do this race in the Fall. Tretsch says DO IT!

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Savage Race Georgia PostScript:

April 18, 10:30 AM – The beer is cold, the grilled cheese sandwich out of this world, and the post-race camaraderie just fantastic. Stories are told, experiences shared, fellow racers cheered through the finish line.

April 18, 11:30 AM – Unfortunately I have to cut it short and head home back to the family. My podium moment will just have to wait for another race. I don’t bother with a rinse off as I am pretty much dry and mud free (except for the feet of course. The festival area has only gotten worse since the first heat.). Flip flops make for a treacherous walk back to the car, as a feeling of panic starts creeping over my body. I drive a Mazda 3i hatchback. How the fuck am I going to get out of this mess?!

April 18, 11:40 AM – I start the car, more nervous than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. The girl in the 4 runner next to me starts to back out. All I hear is the distinct sound of tires spinning against slick earth. OOO! Boy! I slip it into reverse and ease out. Success. I use the Tiptronic feature and roll the car in first gear. It’s a downhill start, rutted by not too bad. I see some muddy ugliness at the bottom of this small hill. I kick the speed up a bit, go to 2nd and slide through the mud, and then I have to stop! A small pickup is spinning his tires trying to back out and is blocking the way.

April 18, 11:45 AM- I get out to help the guy. My calves have been one twitch away from full seizure since I crossed the finish line (still wearing the compression sleeves), so I am nervous to do some pushing. But hey, I may be in the same predicament at any moment. Many hands make easy work and I’m back in the car. No issues starting back up in this flat area.

April 18, 11:47 AM – I crest over another small hill and see a clusterfuck of mud on the opposite uphill. A couple of cars have stopped on the uphill, so I bide my time still pointing downhill. They manage to get through. I pick up some speed and hit the hill. “Remember Snowpocalypse! No stopping on an uphill climb! Never stop!” The traction is getting squirrely has the car shimmies to and fro.

April 18, 11:49 AM – I am clear of the grass field! Sweet! Nothing but smooth sailing on gravel from here on…….SHIT! it’s even worse! Up ahead is an absolute nightmare of mud. Flat but still deep and thick! Three cars ahead is that white pickup I helped, its rear end moving around worse than a twerking Miley Cyrus. All of them make it through and I hold my breath and go. The mud has got to be half way up the tires in some places. I can feel the bottom of the car being scraped by mud and gravel. I’m shimmying around like M.C. Hammer. Glory of glories, I am out!

April 18, 11:54 AM- My tires touch firm wondrous pavement. After two additional sketchy hills, some cursing and laughing I made it through the last obstacle of the day! The OCR gods were plentiful with their blessings on the race course, but they were downright magnanimous with their miracles in getting me the fuck out of that sloppy mess. By no rights should I have been able to get out of there with my car, and in another couple of hours I’m not sure I would have. I turn right to head home with a smile on my face and mud in my ears.

 *Photos By: Gameface Media, Jay Naval, Jeff Milsaps, and Lloyd Parker.

What You’ve Missed From Savage- Florida Recap

On October 25, 2014 many of you were at the OCR World Championships or the Carolina Spartan Beast/ Super. However, Savage Race had their Fall event in Florida and it brought out some heavy competition!

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If you aren’t sure what the Savage Race is…

“Savage Race is an intense 5-6 mile obstacle run with 25 world class obstacles, mud, fire, and barbed wire. Completion requires teamwork, courage, and the will to push your limits farther than you ever have before. Run individually or create a team!

Savage Race is challenging fun that will give you and your friends an adrenaline buzz that lasts for days. For the price of a bar tab, you will have a “top five days of my life” kind of experience.”

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The Fall event was held in Dade City, Florida and here’s who won:

Women’s Competitive Heat 

  1. Angela Cobb
  2. Jennette Gardner
  3. Rachel Corvington
  4. Jamie Stiles
  5. Marie Restrepo

Men’s Competitive Heat

  1. Ken Corigliano
  2. Yuri Force
  3. Kyle Oakes
  4. Benjamin Siress
  5. Wilman Santa Cruz

Where’s the Money Honey?

The top 3 winners in both the male and female category received a cash prize of $1,500 (1st), $750 (2nd) and $250 (3rd) along with an exclusive Savage Race medal. The two 1st place finishers also received the highly coveted Savage Race Axe of Fame.

Savage Back Flip

Be sure to check out a Savage Race near you and don’t forget to check out what Obstacle Racing Media is saying about this race series!

Previous Savage Race Reviews

Savage Race Georgia- Fall 2014

Savage Race Georgia- Spring 2014

Savage Race Part 1 (Racer Review)- May 2013

Savage Race Part 2 (Elite Review)- May 2013

Episode 69- Savage Race Revisited

 

*Photos By: Savage Race 

 

Savage Race Georgia- A “Colossus” Impact

I started my review of the Spring 2014 Savage Race in Georgia with “Savage Race will return to Georgia in the fall of 2014 and I can’t wait.” Well, on September 27, Savage did return to the Moonlight Stables Equestrienne Center in Dallas, GA, and I was not disappointed.

The six mile, 25 obstacle challenge continues to improve and the overall race day experience is top notch. This edition included a better parking plan, a better course, a couple of new obstacles, and (for better or worse) the elimination of Tazed, the electric shock obstacle.

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The traffic flow into the parking lot was simplified from previous events, eliminating traffic backups, long waits to park, and the need for pedestrians to walk through lines of traffic to get to and from the parking area. As in the past, the “parking lot” was an open field (pasture?) with uneven surfaces that resulted in a bumpy, jarring car ride in smaller vehicles, but it is on site, close to the festival area with no need for shuttles.

The race was once again run on the rolling hills of Moonlight Stables. As usual the terrain was among the most challenging obstacles. The course wound up and down the hills, in and out of the woods, but this year the trail followed steeper trails and was more technical and challenging. The tougher running course increased fatigue and drained the energy of racers, making obstacles seem that much more difficult.

Savage Slide

The obstacles of Savage Race feel sturdy, safe, and professionally designed and constructed.

There were the good mud crawls, ice baths, wall climbs, platform jumps, and log carries that we’ve come to love and expect in OCR, as well as some unique favorites that we’ve seen at Savage in Georgia before, including:

  • Saw-Tooth — A savage take on monkey bars over a cold water pit.
  • Missionary Impossible — An uphill, reverse crawl, with your back to the ground on a wet tarpaulin.
  • Pipe Dreams – Set up similar to monkey bars, but with a single pole extended parallel over the water pit.
  • Colossus – One of the tallest, if not THE tallest, quarter-pipe type obstacle wall in obstacle racing. Climb up one side and waterslide down the other to the finish line.

Half Pipe

This was the first race in the Savage series that did not include Tazed, a belly crawl beneath barbwire that also included dangling electrical wires. Some of the wires carried a charge and some didn’t. Touch a charged one and you got tazed, bro.

Tazed was replaced by the rather pedestrian Block Party. Here cinder blocks were tied to ropes and you first pulled the blocks up a small hill, then picked it up and carried it back down to where it started. This obstacle should have been more challenging — the single blocks (or parts of blocks) were too light.

An obstacle that seemed flawed was Kiss My Walls. This obstacle is a traverse wall where a series of small blocks are attached to a wall at random intervals. You move your hands and feet from block to block, climbing laterally across the wall. If you touch the top of the wall or the ground, you fail.

Kiss My Walls

The blocks of Kiss My Walls were placed too far apart, making the obstacle impossible for many shorter participants (especially women) to even attempt.

The atmosphere of the pre- and post-race festival area was positive. Spectators were free to roam the course or stay in the festival area where they could watch participants attempt Colossus and finish on the water slide.

Savage Race features a Junior Savage kids race and invites kids 12 and under to run a mud filled course with smaller versions of some of the climbs and jumps used in the adult race. Kids love it, it is fun to watch, and it gives kids something to look forward to and be proud of on race day.

Pipe Dreams

The kid’s race attracts and is appropriate for kids as young as 4 or 5 years old. However, the smallest t-shirt available is a Youth Large (Size 14 – 16), which is useless for many of the kids who have paid to enter. (This should not persuade you to not let your kids enter the Junior Savage Race. It is a great experience. Kids love it and are excited to get a race bib and a real Savage Race medal at the finish line, if not a shirt that fits.)

Saw Tooth

The biggest complaint heard regarding Savage Race is about official photos. Official photographers were on the course taking photos of participants. You have to pay money to get a full-size digital download of any photo you would like to have from the race. A single photo will cost about $20. Many OCR series have moved to offering race photos for free, including Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, BattleFrog, Rugged Maniac, and Warrior Dash. Savage Race should find a way to move in this direction as well.

Savage Race is consistently a great event and the positives of Savage Race Georgia Fall 2014 strongly overshadow any negatives.

Savage Race will return to Georgia in the spring of 2015 and I can’t wait.

*Photos By: Jennifer Barry with Obstacle Racing Media 

Savage Race Review Georgia Spring 2014

Savage Start

Allow me to lead with my conclusion: Savage Race will return to Georgia in the fall of 2014 and I can’t wait.

Once again, Savage Race put on a fun, challenging, well supported, well organized, memorable event on the grounds of the scenic Moonlight Stables in Dallas, Georgia – just about 40 minutes northwest of downtown Atlanta.

This is the third time Savage Race has ventured to Georgia. It was a well-executed product when it first came in the Spring of 2013, and with each return (fall of 2013 and now Spring of 2014) it has continued to grow, mature, and improve.

Savage Race boasts “The world’s best obstacles. Period.” This race featured 25 obstacles over a seven-mile (or so) course. Are they the “World’s Best”? What do they mean by “best”? Most unique? Most innovative? Most challenging? Best constructed? Safest? Regardless – Savage Race’s obstacles are really good. In Georgia, they offered many industry standards, riffs on greatest hits, and a sampling of originals including the headliner: Colossus.

Colossus is a quarter-pipe with an over-active pituitary. Savagerace.com reports that it is over 40-feet tall “ground to flag pole.” However, you don’t have to get over the flagpole, so you “only” have to worry about getting up and over 25 feet worth of quarter-pipe. This is more challenging than Tough Mudder’s “Everest” quarter-pipe obstacle and Colossus includes ropes to help participants climb up. Most participants can’t scale Colossus without assistance, but that’s okay. Your fellow participants will help pull you up. You take a running start, run up the face of the quarter-pipe, and try to grab one of the dangling ropes. Using the rope, you climb up as high as you can. Then fellow participants on top of the wall pull up the rope as you hold on. When they can reach you they grab on to your arms, elbow, shoulders, legs, feet, booty – whatever they can get hold of — and do whatever it takes to hoist you up to the platform.

Colossus

Elite heat obstacle racers Ashley Martin and Enrique Tomas lend a foot, er hand to other racers.

From the top of Colossus you take a fun, fast, 40-foot water slide down to the finish line — ending the race with a smile on your face.

Savage Race offers other innovative takes on familiar obstacles, including:

• Saw-Tooth — multi-level monkey bars over a cold water pit. Savage rules state that you can’t use your feet on the bars – so much for that strategy.
• Missionary Impossible — a cargo net stretched parallel over the ground on a grassy hill. Laying under the net, your back on a wet Slip’N Slide-like tarpaulin, you use your arms and legs to pull yourself up the hill, sliding along the tarpaulin on your back.
• Pipe Dreams – set up similar to a monkey bars obstacle, but with a single pole extended parallel over the water pit.

Pipe Dreams

Pipe dreams, some made it, some didn’t – All appreciate a new challenging obstacle.

The terrain may have been the most challenging obstacle. The course’s trails wound up and down hills, in and out of the woods. The preceding day of heavy rains (and sporadic light showers throughout the morning) left the trails a slippery mess of red George mud. Racers slipped, slid, and fell all over the course. Hills were that much harder to climb with unsure footing and many down hills were better descended by sledding down on your butt.

Savage gets high marks for the attentive rescue personnel at all water obstacles – especially the Davey Jones Locker platform jump.

Savage’s first wave is for competitive racers. Only those who enter this wave (and pay additional fees) are eligible for awards. Ashley Martin — the Pride of Temple, GA — brought home the massive battle-axe trophy as the overall women’s winner. Yuri Force of Newnan, GA, did the same for the men.

There were some glitches with this event. Racers were confused about if and when they had to do penalty burpees for skipping or failing obstacles. I still don’t know – I did burpees for skipping the electric shocks of Tazed and falling off the Kiss My Walls traverse wall, but not for falling off Sawtooth. The volunteers (and any race personnel) on hand couldn’t tell me what to do. I still enjoyed the race – especially since I wasn’t planning on winning.

There was a fun junior Savage Race for kids and, because the race fell on the Saturday before Easter, a surprise egg hunt. (A glitch with kids race, they only had size 14/16 youth t-shirts. Not good for a race that invites – and charges $30 for — kids 12 and under.)

Overall the Georgia Savage Race is an excellent event, which leads me to recommend it at all six of its locations.

You can see ORM’s awesome video coverage of this race here.

 

Savage Race in Georgia, Part 2

We believe there are two very distinct types of runners in the obstacle racing and mud running world. The every day OCracer and the very competitive OCRelite, we like to give perspectives from both sides whenever possible.

Earlier today, we gave you a recap of the Georgia Savage Race from an OCRacer. Here is a recap from the same race from one of our OCRelite contributors, Alec Blenis.

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This weekend I had the opportunity to run an obstacle race that was new to me: Savage Race. While new to Savage, I’ve run plenty of obstacle courses and knew what to expect. Except this time, I wouldn’t be running in the competitive wave*; something quite unusual for me. As some might say, I ran as part of the “90%”, getting to experience Savage Race the way most racers do, in an open heat.

First Impression: getting to the race was pretty easy. Surprisingly, the venue wasn’t in the “middle of nowhere” as so many are, and its location was very convenient for those driving from nearby Atlanta. Parking cost was a standard $10 and close by to the festival entrance. I arrived near the end of the day, but the check-in process seemed to be running smoothly. Much of the course was visible from the start/finish area, so the race was more spectator friendly than many others. One problem I could see already was a huge line at one of their obstacles; I’m not sure what they call it, but Tough Mudder’s version is Everest. I was bummed that I registered too late to receive a timing chip, but there’s no point in having one when you spend half the race in a line.

Running: my GPS measured the course around 4.6 miles, while my calibrated foot-pod** measured 4.8. I thought it was a great entry-level course, but I expected more since the website implied 6 miles. “The course designed to kick your ass” is a bit dramatic. The terrain was far from easy though, with 915 feet of elevation gain according to my watch’s altimeter – an average grade of 3.6%. Compare this to 4.5% for Superhero Scramble Dalton, and 2.8% for the Conyers Spartan Sprint, Georgia’s other short distance obstacle races. Elevation gain doesn’t tell the full story though… Savage Race had more mud than the hillier Superhero Scramble, but the Spartan obstacles were by far the most challenging and time consuming. The Savage Race terrain was not technical at all, but mud did add to the challenge; Superhero Scramble was very hilly and moderately technical; Spartan Race was the least hilly but most technical.

Obstacles: the obstacles at Savage Race were all very well built and some quite theatrical. Names like “I’m so thorny” and “kiss my walls” are hard to take seriously, and most were not too difficult. Their version of a traverse wall was probably the most difficult I’ve done, but most others were simple. The monkey bars were my favorite – even with the incline, they felt easy (I think it was a narrower bar than I’m used to). Savage Race did a great job at having very wide obstacles to avoid lines, with the exception of two obstacles, the balance beam and quarter-pipe. One of my favorite sections was a series of 5’ walls with barbed wire – not an uncommon obstacle, but here there were at least eight in succession instead of the usual two or three; they actually started to get tiring! Near the end of the race, we faced a series of two electroshock obstacles, something I despise. I’m sure I’m in the minority here, but I like physical challenges that test my athleticism, not stuff like that. It’d be like having an “obstacle” where you just get slapped in the face. No thanks.

Finishing: after the electric shocks and final barbed wire crawl, it was over. Their wash station was broken, but there was a lake to rinse off in and changing tents were available if needed. The shirts and medals are pretty cool, so overall I’d say Savage Race did a great job. Had I run in the competitive wave, I’m sure I would complain about the lack of obstacle penalties, but it didn’t affect me in the open heat. If they want to have prizes and real results, they absolutely must enforce obstacle rules and assign penalties for those unable to complete them. They should also make the balance beam and quarter pipe obstacles even wider to prevent long lines.

Thoughts: Will I race it again? For sure. Overall, as an open heat runner, I give Savage Race Georgia an 8 out of 10. I didn’t run competitive so I can’t say for sure, but as a competitive runner I would probably give Savage Race a 6 out of 10. I’m a tough critic, so a combined total of a 7 is pretty good. There’s always room for improvement though.

(*earlier in the day, I had put on a weight vest, ran to a local 5k, won the race, then ran home to prepare for Savage Race)