Warrior Dash Maryland 2017

The Location

I recently participated in Warrior Dash Maryland, which was a very fun and challenging experience. The event took place at the legendary Budds Creek Motocross Park, which is a world class venue known for its many popular motocross events. This location has also become well known for a variety of the top OCR events over the past few racing seasons also.

The Obstacles

The race length was around 3.2 miles and involved over 12 obstacles that were placed throughout the muddy terrain.

The challenging obstacles included:

  1. Trenches
  2. Under the Wire
  3. Goliath
  4. Muddy Mayhem
  5. Pipeline
  6. Warrior Roast
  7. Fisherman’s Catch
  8. Bridge The Gap
  9. Upslide Down
  10. Magic Carpet Ride
  11. Pallet Jacked
  12. Mud Mounds

Some personal favorites from the obstacles included:

Goliath involved climbing two stories and then going down a 30-foot slide feet first. This was a fun obstacle because it was not only a great view of the course, but it was also an adrenaline rush sliding down into the cool water.

Warrior Summit was a great upper body workout that involved climbing up a 30-foot incline with the help of a rope and then climbing down the other side. Strength, quick feet, and balanced coordination helped to get up and over this obstacle efficiently.

Muddy Mayhem was the final obstacle in the event, and it included an army crawl under barbed wire across a 100-foot mudpit. I have a background in competitive swimming, and this experience was unique because it felt like a combination of both swimming and floating in slow motion through the thick mud. Definitely a great obstacle to finish out the event.

The Experience

As soon as the event began, there was a nice amount of distance to get the heart rate up and the blood circulating throughout the arms and legs. With the distance of the race being 3.2 miles, the rugged and hilly terrain added that extra degree of difficulty, especially on the steep hills and drops that are used in the motocross circuit. Some hills had such an incline, that it was a team effort with the other athletes to get to the top.

Slow and careful steps back down the hills were also critical. For this reason, I’m very glad that I put some extra time over the past few months into my trail running abilities because it helped in the ascending and descending throughout the course. A pair of shoes with an adequate amount of grip is also recommended for added stability, not just in the obstacles, but also on the trail sections.

For this reason, I’m very glad that I put some extra time over the past few months into my trail running abilities because it helped in the ascending and descending throughout the course. A pair of shoes with an adequate amount of grip is also recommended for added stability, not just in the obstacles, but also on the trail sections.

There was a fair share of obstacles that involved crawling through mud and under barbed wire throughout the course, so core workouts and preparation for crawling in tight spaces are helpful.

Warrior Dash Culture

The atmosphere at the athlete area, as well as throughout the course, was friendly, fun, and motivational. Everyone was cheering for each other throughout the various obstacles, and even though I ran the event by myself, there was definitely a strong support system among all the participants.

One of the other things that I liked about the Warrior Dash was that there were no additional costs for parking or spectators. Race medals were awesome too!

Overall, an event I highly recommend for any experience level.

Photo Credit: Author and Warrior Dash

Rugged Maniac Vancouver 2017

Rugged-Maniac-Vancouver-2017-Start&Finish

Rugged Maniac Vancouver 2017 was Love At First Run!

I’ve run a few OCRs over the past few years, but I’ve not been as impressed by the way any of them were run as much as I was by this Rugged Maniac event. I visited the site last year but did not participate in it. My wife typically runs the Lululemon Seawheeze half marathon on the same date as this event.

Last year we decided to head straight to the site after her race to see if we would be able to even attempt both of them. We arrived with an hour to spare last year for registration. I look back and say we should have just paid to run it even though we didn’t have our OCR gear or change of clothes. We did decide to go ahead and register for this year’s run and lo and behold, it didn’t end up falling on the same day as my wife’s half marathon. Sweet!

I arrived on-site a little early, 7 am, in fact. I was there to help Vancity OCR setup their Platinum Rig for their spot in the Festival area. Upon arriving we came across a group of Volunteers in the Parking lot whom were receiving their training. We apparently arrived at the perfect time as they had just setup the VIP parking area & were going over the procedures for it. My wife & I had purchased the VIP packages when they were originally on sale.

VIP Parking

The organizer asked me for my VIP Parking pass to keep as an example of what they looked like. We were the second car in the lot just behind one of the other Vancity OCR members. The site was still a little sparse but they had their tents all setup & a few areas fenced off, presumably for Registration, Bag Check, & the Beer Garden.

Over the next 2 hours while helping out, I was able to see the hustle & bustle of Rugged Staff members & Volunteers start to build out & setup the course & festival areas. It all came together quite quickly. I guess that’s the beauty of having inflatable Start and Finish lines, and a few as obstacles as well.

I saw a roughly 10-12′ warped wall with a cargo net strung up to a double stacked cargo bin that had what looked to be a soon-to-be inflated slide. It was pretty high and looked like it would be fun though I am mildly afraid of heights. Two of the members of the group that I would be running with had more than their fare share of fear of heights. I was certain this would be a challenging obstacle for them.

Whether it was due to the outdoor amphitheater, or the quality of the speakers, the music they played and the announcer sounded phenomenal. It was nice, loud, and had a good sounding quality even though we were more than 200+ feet away from the closest speakers.

Registration

It was now quarter to 9 and the crowds were starting to gather as registration opened at 9am. I wandered over to the Registration area, there were about 7 or so lines with at least 40 or so people in each line already. I made my way past those lines to the VIP registration. Those lines were much shorter, about 20 people or so in total.

The registration process went pretty quickly. I got my additional Rugged Bucks that were included in the early VIP sales, my two beer wristbands, and off I went. I found the rest of my group & awaited our 10 am start time eagerly. Ten o’clock came pretty quickly & after a short preamble from the Starting announcer we were off. The course was slightly altered from what was supplied on the map as a smaller area of wooded area that we were supposed to run through had recently been clear cut. Other than that, the Map & Obstacles therein were pretty bang on.

Rugged-Maniac-Vancouver-2017-Map

The Obstacles

First was ‘Shoe Catcher’ an ankle-knee deep pond crossing, nothing too major, but you could hear people complaining that they were already going to get wet. Come on people, wait till they bring on the mud, what are you gunna do then?

Next was a 5′ wall with a sideways freely rolling pipe on it, this one wasn’t all that tough, but having the rolling pipe on top limited your spots for grabbing onto to get over it. Next was a crawl under another obstacle, it had some barbed wire above the crawling area but it was above some beams so it didn’t really pose a threat.

Following that was ‘Tipping Point’, a seesaw-esque type obstacle, the planks are offset a bit so they rest in a downward position for ease of getting onto them. Just walk across the board and keep your balance while the other side lowers down as you cross it, now do it again and you’re onto ‘Jump Start’, a vertical planked wall climb.

Rugged-Maniac-Vancouver-2017-Frog-Hop

Move along to ‘Frog Hop’, four square platforms floating in knee high water attached to each other sideways. As people ran across these, due to the way they were attached to the next lane, they bounced quite a bit. Quick feet & balance failed me & I fell in dismounting the third one. It would be nice if they padded these on top as they really hurt your knees when you went down.

‘Claustrophobia’ was next, this was basically a ditch covered with a black tarp. It got hot in there. Then came ‘Pipe Dream’, this was a typical pipe crawl with a barbed wire covered mud pit, I didn’t notice the barbed wire when I came out, ouch! Out through another pipe & onto ‘The Trenches’, they were just that, 4 equally distanced knee deep trenches. I hopped the first two & then jumped into the next two & box jumped out of them for something different.

The ‘Guillotine’ was next. This one was different, it was basically a 2″ thick, two foot wide wall on rails that you had to lift up, crawl under while holding it up & then let it down behind you. There were two of them & each time a nice person in front of me offered to hold the wall up for me. I turned them both down in order to try lifting it myself to complete the obstacle.

New and Different Obstacles

So far, most of the obstacles have all been slightly different than most of the others I have encountered at other runs. I brought my Garmin Virb XE with me & documented all of the obstacles, I haven’t used it much lately as everything seems to be the same. That wasn’t so with this race.

Next was ‘Commando Crawl’ a barbed wire crawl in the dirt, no mud at this one. ‘Pull Your Weight’ came next, this was like a herc hoist but they had large chunks of chains attached to the other side. I don’t recall if there were different weights as I didn’t really pay attention & this obstacle was the first to be unmanned, or so I thought. I reviewed the footage & did find the volunteer, I guess I just missed him.

Next was ‘Pack Mule’, grab a couple sand bags, walk up a flight of stadium bleacher stairs, across, down & back over again, drop the bag, then up and over ‘Let’s Cargo,’ a cargo net climb, run a maze of cattle stalls then up & over ‘Jacob’s Ladder’.

Rugged-Maniac-Vancouver-2017-Anti-Gravity

We then came across ‘Anti-Gravity’, this was fun! It’s basically two rectangular trampolines with a 45-degree angled wall after them with a cargo net to climb to get to the top. There were 4 lanes to this one & it wasn’t that busy so I ended up bouncing between the trampolines a bit then took a good bounce & landed almost at the top of the wall grabbing onto the cargo net for my life.

Onto ‘The Ringer’, a multi ring swing apparatus. Now, I know I have NO grip strength, it’s one of the things I plan on working on this year. My wife and I rarely get through the Monkey Bars or rings. Yet this year, with almost daily training, my wife made it all the way across ‘The Ringer’! I was so proud of her, I ran over to her and gave her a huge hug and kiss, I was just so darn proud of her. I plan on crushing this one next year!

Rugged-Maniac-Vancouver-2017-The-Gauntlet

Onto ‘The Gauntlet’, this was a new take on the lily pads, knee deep water with foam pads floating on the water to make a crossing, but this one had four large inflated tubes hanging down blocking your way. They weren’t light either, someone next to me bounced theirs into mine & tossed me right off the pads into the water.

‘Swing Shot’ came next, these are a bit tough to explain, basically a horizontal ditch is in front of you, you get up on a raised stand & grab onto rigged bars that attached to the top & swing you to the other side. They are weighted to make sure they return back to the other side but be careful as they keep going, swinging back and forth a few times.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Graceful

I knew failing this obstacle and landing in the ditch was a very huge possibility due to my grip. Well, I reviewed my video footage and I stood at this obstacle wiping my hands and the hand holds for a good minute. When I did take the leap, I was able to hold on long enough to get over the pit, but only barely. I ended up landing in such a way that I was right on the edge, heels hanging off, body leaning slightly back, and arms flailing on offset windmill patterns to do all that I could to not fall backwards. Well, it wasn’t a 5 point landing, but it worked!

Next was ‘Bang the Gong’, a waist deep water pit jump that had small gongs hanging over it that you needed to jump up nice & high to slap with your hand. Onto ‘Fenced In’, this one was a fencing covered mud crawl & it had more than its fare share of mud awaiting! We’re onto the home stretch now! Up next was ‘The Crag’, a large inflatable waist height double layered staircase with upward protruding pylons. This one was just way to much fun to bounce & play on.

Rugged-Maniac-Vancouver-2017-Mt.-Maniac

Almost lastly was a triple threat, The Warped Wall, Mount Maniac, & Accelerator 3.0. The Warped Wall was not too too high, I ran up it, & got my arm up and over the top, someone ended up grabbing my leg & helped me the rest of the way. People helping people, I love our community! I then climbed the cargo net to the top of the slide.

That slide! It was pretty high up & had quite a vertical drop to it. If my Garmin is to be believed, coming down that slide I reached speeds of around 24km/h (14.1mph) & lost about 25 ft of vertical height all in 2 seconds time. Whee!!!

Rugged-Maniac-Vancouver-2017-Fire-Jump

Lastly was ‘Pyromaniac’ a fire jump to be reckoned with! Most fires that I’ve come across near the finish line at other races looked like an afterthought when being planned out. Yet, this one was nice, wide, and quite high at times! This fire put most of those other races to shame, maybe all of those other races could learn something from this fire. The fire roared so much my sister said she thought she got singed from it.

Maniac Multi-Laps

My only disappointment from the day was that we were told that if we wanted to multi-lap that it would cost us another $25 per lap. Just last year Rugged Maniac allowed us to multi-lap for free. A few of our group went to register for a second lap and they were told they weren’t able.

At least as of today, Rugged Maniac has announced they will be coming back again next year and they have unleashed Rugged Maniac X which allows for unlimited multiple laps for $20 and gives you an exclusive Rugged Maniac X Headband. I’ve already pre-registered for next years X event as a VIP.

All-in-all I would still give Rugged Maniac and its festival area 5 stars!

Photo Credit: Charity Fick, Ryan Fick, Game Face

Spartan Race Minnesota Sprint 2017 – The Hills Are Alive!

Spartan-Race-MN-Start-Line

When someone says “Minnesota”, what’s the first thought that comes to mind?  Snow?  Ice?  Mall of America?  Well, we have all those things, but we also have one more thing: Spartan Race.

Spartan Race came back to Welch Village for the 3rd year in a row, about 45 minutes south of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.  Welch Village holds some of the steepest ski hills you can find in MN, and Spartan uses those their advantage (and to other’s dismay).  Registration was a standard setup, with the bar-code scanning making the process easy and quick to deal with.  The festival area was stocked with the normal Spartan merch stands and the venue’s concessions filling up everyone with good food and beverages.    The festival area was spread out across the entire field, with the main stage being on the opposite end of where the start line / biggest team tent area was located.  This proved to be a drawback later on, with the messages being relayed by the DJ at the main stage not being heard at the other end of the festival area.  Minor issue, but I digress…

In past years, the course has hovered right around the 5-mile mark in length.  Between the longer distance, hills totaling over 1200 ft in elevation gain, temperatures hitting 90+ degrees, and high humidity… to say that this was a challenging Sprint course would be an understatement.  That was not the case this year.  Temps hitting the sweet spot and Spartan shaving over a mile off past year’s setups (clocking in around 3.5 miles), it was a noticeable difference for those that had been there before.  Opinions were mixed on this, as having a shorter course was deemed either welcomed fully or seen as a slight disappointment.  Different strokes, different folks.  In my view, if the race seems shorter (reading between the lines: easier) then push harder.

Obstacles were standard for Spartan.  One difficult stretch was the spear throw and rings. These were located right after the dunk wall, making for a difficult time of completion and many burpees were enjoyed.

Spartan-Race-MN-spear-Dan-Stowe

Spartan-Race-MN-rings-Dan-Stowe

Otherwise, enduring the hills was a main focus of everyone.  The start line started uphill, after the rings — hill, after doing some other stuff – hill.  The bucket carry at the Minnesota Sprint carries a certain ill-tasting flavor in my mouth, as it’s straight uphill.

Spartan-Race-MN-bucket

Please note: She moved the bucket off her shoulder right after this picture was taken.

This part of the course had many people questioning their life choices up to that point, but all was forgiven it seemed when they got to the top and saw the camera guy (funny how that works, huh?).

Spartan-Race-MN-bucket-smile

Overall, it was a fantastic event at a venue that can really bring the pain for a Sprint distance.  Hills, green everywhere (both with the trees and the local North Star Spartans team that was 150+ strong!) and a bunch of Minnesota nice made for an excellent time at one of the premier events on the Minnesota OCR calendar.  Next time you think Minnesota, don’t think cold.  Think AROOO!

Photo Credit: Spartan Race

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Spartan Race Chicago Super – 2017

Once again, Spartan Race descended upon the Chicago area and pulled up shop at the Richmond Hunt Club for a weekend of Super and Sprint racing.  I had opted for racing on Saturday, which meant I have only seen the course through the eyes of a Super racer.

Arriving at the race venue was a breeze, as I paid a bit extra for the VIP parking.  The VIP part lived up to its name, as I was only a couple of rows away & a very short walk to the registration tents.  The bar code scanning at the tents was painless, and I was in the festival area without issue.  I did notice an abnormally long line of people waiting at the spectator gate, so I’m not sure what was going on there.  Festival area had the normal collection of third-party vendors and merchandise areas, nothing that stuck out to me.

partan-Race-Chicago-Registation-Dan-StoweThis was the first time I’ve been to this venue, so I was excited and curious to see what it had to offer.  The last time I ran a Chicago Spartan Race was back when it was held at the superb Dirt Runner venue in Marseilles, IL.  It’s a tall order to live up to that venue, as it’s one of the best places I’ve ever ran at in the Midwest region.

The course itself was a little bit below the normal distance I’ve experienced at other Spartan Supers, clocking in around the 7.5 mile mark.  Chatting with some of the elite guys that finished before I took off, I was told there was little to no elevation at all.  Boy, were they right!  It was a very flat, fast course, with little in the way of elevation.  Part of the terrain consisted of mud that was knee-deep in some areas (although I was told last year it was incredibly more difficult, so the potential is there with the right amount of rain beforehand to make a muddy course next to impossible to navigate), but overall it was running through open dirt fields and a little bit of single-track.

Spartan-Race-Chicago-Dunk-Wall-FacebookObstacles were the standard fare I’ve come to expect from Spartan Race.  I will give kudos though to the finishing gauntlet of obstacles in the final ¼ mile or so of the course.  The Twister, spear throw, rope climb and rings along with the A-frame cargo net and slip wall were all in plain view of the festival area.  This made for some excellent spectating, and some great cheering sections to finish off the race!  My favorites would have to be Olympus and the Twister.  Both were popular spots for burpees and created a difficult finish if those obstacles were missed.

Spartan-Race-Chicago-Sandbag

Spartan-Race-Chicago-Twister-FacebookOverall, the race and event went off without a hitch for where the race was located.  Going back to what I said earlier, the Dirt Runner venue was by far a much better location in my view than the Richmond Hunt Club.  Spartan did well with what the venue had to offer, but they’d do much better with a re-visit to Marseilles.

Photo Credit: Spartan Race and the author

Savage Race PA 2017: Push it real good

I’m a competitive racer, and an unashamed elitist. I don’t care about medal shape or weight, t-shirt material or how much mud there is, and I don’t drink beer. That doesn’t, however, prevent me from understanding what the majority of recreational OCR runners are looking for. They are the bread and butter backbone (wait, that doesn’t work) of the industry and need to be taken care of.

Savage Race is one of the very few organizations that keeps challenging competitive racers by constantly but ever-so-slightly increasing the difficulty level, while also catering extremely well to the huge majority of people simply looking for a good time.

I ran a Savage in Chicago in 2016, and really liked it. Flat, fast running and fun, spectacular obstacles made for a good combination, but I found the obstacles to be on the easy side, compared to European races and that now-defunct frog-themed series. They kept showing new and more exciting ones on their very well-run social media, however, so I was eager to try another one to see how things had evolved. I wasn’t disappointed.Savage-Race-Pennsylvania-RegistrationAs always, check-in only opens at 8am, creating a queue of eager SavagePRO racers (almost none of them being actual pros, but that’s a can of worms for another time) for the 9am wave. Registration was a piece of cake (I think I may be hungry) though, so the always electric Coach Pain sent us on our way right on time, as the fog lifted on a cloudy but dry morning.

Savage-Race-Pennsylvania-FogWhen Savage described the terrain as “wooded”, they weren’t kidding! Most of the running we did was in the forest, dodging trees on soft, technical, unstable terrain with moss, rocks, branches and even the occasional plastic pallet. This slows down the track speedsters and is much more entertaining than just running on flat trails. A good thing too, since the first mile and a half was completely devoid of obstacles, with only a few thrown in until mile 3. Then things got properly relentless, packing around 20 obstacles in the last two and a half miles.

Savage-Race-Pennsylvania-Tree-HuggerI’d say about half a dozen of these were challenging for most people, many were easy on their own but took enough effort to really make a difference when running fast, and a couple were psychological trials, especially for those with a fear of heights. Around half of the 29 obstacles on course were large, impressive structures, contributing to firmly establish Savage Race as a major-league race series despite “only” holding 13 events in 2017. The accumulation of obstacles also caught out many racers lacking adequate grip strength and smooth technique.

Savage-Race-Pennsylvania-Mad-Ladders-ActionIt seems to me that Savage is using the same steady, progressive approach when developing obstacle difficulty as when expanding their event calendar. This is great because athletes don’t get discouraged, and get constantly challenged to increase their obstacle proficiency rather than giving up and going back to penalty-based races (SavagePRO uses mandatory obstacle completion). This is pushing the sport forward, making us better obstacle racers, not just better runners, and Savage should be commended for that.

Savage-Race-Pennsylvania-Half-n-Half-Action

Savage added this new bonus hybrid obstacle

At the same time, the large number of easier obstacles leaves recreational participants with a sense of accomplishment as well as the desire to improve, come back, and conquer those that defeated them this time. I saw a lot of teamwork and assistance between racers, Tough Mudder-style, when observing later waves making their way through. Spectators could also enjoy lots of action as the course repeatedly looped through the festival area.

Savage-Race-Pennsylvania-Colossus-Help

Something for everyone, then, as the generous cash prizes, challenging obstacles, age-group awards and well-run, fair racing brought in a slew of fast racers despite a Spartan Sprint being held in Boston simultaneously. Savage seem to be establishing themselves as a no-brainer option for obstacle lovers that value technique over brute force, fun & fast courses over sufferfests, clean racing over burpee controversies, and the solid race experience that comes with a professional outfit.

Oh, and the medal looks great, there’s a cool spinny Syndicate medal for repeat Savages, the shirt feels nice, there were plenty of port-a-potties, a free beer at the end, various food vendors (so hungry), a solid kid’s race complete with foam machine and a great atmosphere, especially with Coach Pain as the start line motivator. It think it’s fair to say that the 3000 racers on site got their money’s worth.

Savage-Race-Pennsylvania-Foam-Machine

Kids were playing there all day!

Highly recommended.

YAY: Awesome obstacles, fun course, well run operation

NAY: They may not have a race near you (yet)

Photo credits: Sebastien David

Spartan Vancouver, B.C. (Mt. Seymour) 2017 Sprint/Super Weekend

Spartan-Vancouver,-B.C.-2017-SprintSuper-Weekend-01-Matthew-Romero

June 10/11 2017 was the date of this year’s Sprint/Super weekend that was held up on a snow covered Mt. Seymour in beautiful Vancouver B.C.
Many racers knew ahead of time what they might be getting themselves into as pictures of snowboarders wearing shorts & sunglasses were still being posted 2 weeks before the event. Luckily things heated up the week before the race & some of the snow toward the base started to melt.

I got to see things from a bit of a different perspective & point of view at this event as I was both working it & volunteering. I initially arrived at the site on Friday June 9th at 7:30am. Due to all of the posts leading up to this day on Facebook I really didn’t know what to expect up on the mountain. I ended up packing a duffel bag full of cloths, everything from shorts & sandals to long sleeved shirts & rubber boots. I’m glad I did as I ended up using almost every bit that I brought throughout the weekend. The temperature throughout the day was pretty good & I got away with wearing a T-Shirt & a hoodie when it did lower a bit. We had sun, hail, rain, wind, fog & the rest of the whole gambit of Vancouver weather none of any of it sticking around long enough to get completely comfortable with. I ended up spending the vast majority of my time on Friday helping flag off the kids race course & setting up Registration. On Saturday I ended up helping a Registration again then I volunteered over at the kids race. I’m so glad I did! The weather during the kids race was sunny with a little fog rolling through here & there.

Spartan-Vancouver,-B.C.-2017-SprintSuper-Weekend-02-Peter-Collins

Volunteering at the kids race has to have been the best thing that I did all weekend, even outside of participating in the Super. I was stationed on the bottom of the grassy but very wet toboggan hill at the spear throw which was furnished with plain long wooden dowels & hay bales, there’s no need to be worried, there were no points on the dowels. The course was kind of split into two sides & the kids got to run through some wooded areas a couple times when going from one side to the other & coming back again. Hearing those little tykes yell out “Aroo” before the race and seeing them run down the hill with reckless abandon really warmed my heart. I believe the kids races started around 9:30am & went until 2pm. The weekend is a bit of a blur but I believe it started with the elite category & then ranged throughout all of the ages. We had a regular length course & a bit longer course for the elites & older age ranges. As per the norm, the course got a bit slipperier throughout the day. Watching the kids race really helped get me pumped up. Just seeing the energy in these kids was infectious & really helped me get over any of my fears and tribulations that had grown over the weeks about the weather & the race. The best moment of the entire weekend happened when I was manning the spear throw, there was this one little girl who failed to get her spear close to the hay bales. Her dad grabbed her hand to move her to the next obstacle but I could tell she was disappointed so I told her she could try again & she ran right back over again. I gave a lot of kids this option to try again. Try, try again right? I moved her a bit closer but again she missed. I picked up another spear & handed it to her, this time tapping it from behind when she launched it & she hit a hay bale. She jumped up & down & hooted then started to run off to her dad to go to the next obstacle. I turned my attention to the next child & heard a little voice behind me saying “excuse me” when I turned around it was that little girl, she came back & gave my legs the biggest hug & said “Thank You!”. My heart melted & I had happy tears in my eyes for the next bit. Yeah, I’m a big softie! That right there is why I volunteer. =) Thank you little girl. On to Sunday!

Sunday morning came WAY too early with the long hours I had been putting in on site since Friday & all, but I felt great. Maybe it was due to the absolutely wonderful time I had during the kids race the day before, the new friends I had while on site, or the fact that I now knew just exactly what I was getting into after talking to those whom had been out on course for the Sprint the day before. A friend of ours, Karolina, had come from Victoria to stay with my wife & I. She was going to run both races on Saturday & Sunday but unfortunately rolled her ankle and received a 1st degree sprain a few days prior so she decided to still come and volunteer at the race. We both headed up again early to the site to help run Registration for a few hours. I was getting rather excited about running my second super by this time. My wife Charity & our friend Troy whom I was going to participate in the event with arrived on-site around 9:30. We said our goodbyes to everyone in Registration and headed over to the Starting corral.

I had been listening to Chris the DJ since Friday, it really seems he was rather ecstatic to be at this event. Even Friday while we were all setting up he was blasting some tunes and encouraging everyone with his enthusiasm. This rolled into both Saturday & Sunday, he was on point this weekend I must say. We barely got into the corral on time for the 10:30 wave. We heard the last bit of the speech, shouted out a few “Aroo’s” & we were off.

The first few obstacles came pretty quickly. Das Boat (think x-large propane tank laying on its side), Hurdles (It felt like they grabbed some of the rails that snow boarders would ride on & turned them sideways) & then OUT.

Snow-Climb-03-John-Tai

It was a bit of an uphill climb to our next obstacle, the Sandbag carry. The snow made for either good grip if you found a good packed footprint to step into or a lousy grip if you got the soft stuff as it kinda just moves out of the way. A bit more hill & then back down. Now, at first when I was going downhill I walked slowly & surefootedly (is that even a word?) but soon I learnt you could go pretty quickly as long as you slide your feet out on an angle & kept your toes pointed up a bit, it was kind of like roller skating up a steep hill but in reverse! I ended up getting better & better throughout the race & at one point I was flying down the hills without care in the world. I actually remember one point about 3/4’s of the way through the race where I had sucked back a gel & after it kicked in a few minutes later I was skipping & hopping down the hill singing the “We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz” Ahh, the fun of being hopped up on gels! After my quite literal decent into madness came along the Atlas Carry. I had been able to take this one on in Vegas so I had hoped I could do it again. It took me two tries but I got one of the rocks up, carried it to the other side, did my burpees & then carried it right back. Yay me! I know it doesn’t sound like a huge feat, but I REALLY need to work on my grip strength!

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After that came the Block Pull & a new take on the Bucket Carry which incorporated Snow instead of rocks that I really liked, maybe it’s because the snow was lighter than rocks.  =)  A few more obstacles later & we came back into the festival area to finish up our 1st lap. The course was a slightly modified version of the first lap which I likes as you knew kinda what was coming. We unfortunately didn’t get the cargo bridge, I know they had it partly assembled on Friday afternoon but I’m not quite sure why it got disassembled & put off to the side, perhaps we ran out of time to properly build it.

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Up the snow wall which was a nice steep hill with a rope to help you get up if needed, an 8 foot wall and back to Das Boat & the hurdles again. We did an extended hill climb this time. I really wish I had my head fully on my shoulders before going as I totally forgot to charge up my Garmin watch but according to my wife’s our total elevation gain was 450meters or 1476ft. I thought this climb would never end, we would get to one crest & then climb some more to the next one, then repeat it over again. Coming back down this time as I mentioned before seemed to get much easier although my wife mostly opted to slide down the chutes that a lot of others had made which also looked like fun so I tried it once too. Luckily there were no obstacles to be found this time on the trek up or down the mountain. We came out a section that I had seen the day before near the kids race but was told wouldn’t be part of the race. I’m assuming they were mistaken as it wasn’t part of the Sprint but it was used as part of the Super. On our way through the back woods on a new trail we hadn’t seen on our first lap we ended up having to work our way through what I would put on par as most of the mud pits that were strewn throughout the Seattle Super course. There were a few people stuck in the mud here & I tried to make my way over to them but got stuck up past my knee as well & had to keep moving otherwise might meet the same demise they did. They did have friends working their way around back to them so I wasn’t too too worried. Once through there we made or way over to the Spear throw & I landed the hardest hit that I’ve made so far. That sucker went elbow deep into the hay bales & took a lot outta me just to get it back out. From there came the Rope Climb, the Slip wall & then the fire jump. Now, I’m not gunna slag the firejump too much, but it was quite a short width & seemed to look like the propane tank was low as fire was only coming out of the first quarter. I was hoping that Spartan would have had their photos up by now & that’s some of the reason why this blog post is a bit later than I had hoped.  I found some pictures online of the fire before the race & during the Sprint & it looked quite healthy then. I guess making it wait for me to finish my stroll through the hills of Mt. Seymour took its toll on it. Either way, the 3 of us decided to try and get the best finishing pics we could so we took on that fire one at a time. Finishing felt wonderful! Yeah, some would say it wasn’t long enough, and I kinda agree. I heard anywhere from 9.7k (6miles) up to 10.6k (6.5miles) It all depends on who you asked. My wife’s Garmin clocked us in at 10.2k (6.33miles) It just drive home, to me, the fact that back in September at Sun Peaks when we did the Sprint we traversed 9.2k (5.6miles) I should have gotten a Super credit for THAT race! But, hey, I’m good with it. I actually decided to make Sun Peaks this year the finishing piece of my Trifecta & do the Beast there, God help me!

In conclusion, I had a great time working with Spartan Race Canada, volunteering & spending time with friends and family. I look forward to this event again next year. My fears of being frozen were abated by my wonderful Virus Coffee Infused warming gear & the fact that Mother Nature decided to wake up & warm up the climate a bit. Next up, Tough Mudder in Whistler B.C., there is also supposed to be snow there & I hear there are some bears strewn about just to make things more interesting. Oh my!

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Cheers!

Photo Credit: Matthew Romero, Peter Collins, John Tai, www.IcebreakConsulting.com, Ryan Fick