Since my first OCR four years ago, I have completed over 75 obstacle races, faced about 1500 obstacles, and covered around 560 miles (900km) of terrain. I’ve done everything from the Spartan Ultra Beast, to small 5km mud runs in my hometown of Perth, Western Australia, and everything else in between. But there was one race that was still top of my list of races to try – Savage Race.
I’d heard only positive stories about Savage and the promise of the best obstacles and the perfect distance certainly had me interested. A quick look at the Savage website cemented my decision to try the race as I laughed at the list of what was included:
- 25 OBSTACLES
- A BEER
- SHINY MEDAL
- CHIP TIMING
- FREE DECAL
- ACTION PHOTOS
- MUD IN YOUR UNDERWEAR
Any race that promises mud in your undies is a race that I can support! So I checked my calendar, penciled in the Dallas race, booked a plane ticket from LA and before long, I was on my way.
The festival area was ready for the 2000 participants, and the music was pumping as OCR fanatics got ready to race, and their friends looked around nervously as they wondered what they were getting themselves into. There were no fancy speeches at the start line, just Emcee Matty T encouraging everyone to jump, yell and crowd surf. He yelled ‘SAVAGE’, we yelled ‘RACE’ and as the blue smoke was let off, we started to run.
The first section included tried and tested OCR obstacles – barbed wire crawl, ladder wall, 7’ wall, slant wall and a muddy swamp walk. The first proper water-based obstacle was Thor’s Grundle which resulted in some hilarious faces as people realised what they smelt like after immersing themselves in the brown water.
After meandering through the sunflower fields, we were met with Slippery Incline (incline wall) which is another OCR staple, except this one was damp from the previous night’s rainfall, which actually made it a challenge.
Next up was one of Savage Race’s featured obstacles – Sawtooth. Take your normal monkey bars, put them on an upwards and downwards incline, then chuck in a few different height bars in the middle and you’ve got Sawtooth. It proved to be challenging with many falling at the peak of the obstacle, but it seemed to be one of people’s favourites.
Pole Cat is a new obstacle for 2016 and involves walking your hands and feet across parallel bars whilst holding a downward dog yoga position. Normally in OCR being tall can be disadvantageous, but in this instance, height was a major advantage.
There were more walls (5’ and 8’) and a traverse wall with rock climbing grips, before grip was put to the test at Wheel World. It’s good to see OCRs like Savage Race are taking a leaf out of American Ninja Warrior’s book and creating some awesome new obstacles. Here they’ve taken monkey bars, but put them into 5 spinning pentagons, and called it Wheel World. It’s designed to test grip strength and body control as you try and make your way across the bars without spinning uncontrollably in the wrong direction. The failure rate was high but everyone had a smile on their faces whilst attempting it.
There were more OCR staples including a log carry, muddy crawl, and the coldest ice bath ever – Shrivelled Richard. To anyone who has been in an ice bath and thought it was cold, I dare you to try Shrivelled Richard! I don’t know what would have been warmer – jumping into that ice bath or going swimming in Antarctica. There was also a short but sweet mudslide that helped us get mud in our undies!
Davey Jones’ Locker made even the bravest go weak at the knees as they were faced with a 15’ drop into the water below. Some people did flips, whilst others simply shook their heads and walked past it. It may not be a physically challenging obstacle, but for some it was a mentally challenging one.
Everyone turned into inch worms at the Teeter Tuber, which required you to enter a diagonal tube and climb upwards until you hit the tipping point and then slide out the other side. It was much more fun than just crawling through a horizontal tube, but anyone with claustrophobia may disagree.
After another wall called the Big Cheese (it’s a wall that looks like a huge block of holey cheese) came Savage Race’s most famous obstacle – Colossus. This thing was like a quarter pipe on steroids! The people at the top were cheering and waiting to hoist others up and over the edge. All you needed to do was to get a good run up and then trust a stranger to help pull you over the ledge. The reward? A huge waterslide! It’s obstacles like this where you see the true spirit of OCR come to life.
Two new obstacles were then put to the test towards the end. On The Fence saw people attempt to scale a fence sideways and really tested grip strength, whilst Tree Hugger allowed people to accidentally practice their pole dancing skills. I saw some people spinning uncontrollably around the poles while others tried to move forward without realising that there was a pole in their way. The key is to get your body on one side of all the poles in order to avoid crashing straight into a pole! Both were awesome and innovative obstacles and ones that I’d be keen to do again.
Last but not least was the Savage Race Multi-Rig. Those who still had grip strength left got through, whilst everyone else tried their best.
The festival area was still pumping as they handed out awards to the top three male and female finishers in each age category and to the biggest three teams.
I have to take my hat off to Savage Race. Their signature obstacles are innovative and challenging, and they squeezed in 25 obstacles over a 6-mile course. They certainly lived up to their tagline of ‘The Best Obstacles. The Perfect Distance’! I will definitely return to do a Savage Race in the future, and would encourage anyone looking for a great challenge to sign up and experience it for themselves!