Savage Race Dallas

Getting Savage Again

Every Savage is a unique experience.  On a hot day in October at the Beaumont Guest Ranch in Grandview, Savage Race Dallas began in great weather. Everyone was having a great time with a smile on their face.  Savage brings a unique feeling to the OCR community which allows serious athletes to compete and test one another, but to joke and share a hug at the same time.

Savage Race Venue

The Beaumont Ranch is a quintessential Texas venue.  I enjoyed the “Texas” feeling this venue offered more than anything.  Savage did a great job utilizing what little elevation and technical terrain they had access to on the ranch to provide some challenge.  Occasional hills, dried creek beds, and patches of brambly grass provided a technical challenge in a state not known for running elevation.

The scenery in the creek beds and the occasional tight spot through some trees was a sight to behold.  These routes gave me the feeling of fleeing outlaws in the old west. The winding path of the race course was well thought out and utilized every natural obstacle around.  Despite its lack of extreme elevation, the scenic Texas venue made up the difficulty with a good bit of heat.   The lack of any foliage to block the sun can take its toll on runners and hydration was a must.  Savage did a great job providing a total of three water stations spaced out quite well and before key obstacles.

Beaumont Ranch Savage Race Dallas 2017 venue

Beaumont Ranch Facebook

Volunteer Performance

Well-informed volunteers did a great job of being sure the pros were aware of all the rules.  They were also quick to call out any pro who did not follow them.  The volunteers also did a superb job of being sure to repeat safety concerns to competitors at each obstacle such as Davy Jones Locker and Sawtooth.

Obstacles

Designers placed “warm-up” obstacles over the first mile of the course quite well.  A good mix of crawls, under overs, and climbing walls lead you into the second mile which also upped the ante in the terrain.

In the extreme heat Shriveled Richard (Savage’s always super cold ice bath) was almost a welcome sight.  Shriveled Richard immediately led into Squeeze Play which wasn’t under water this time around.  After a bit more running and a water break, we moved through Back Scratcher, Big Cheese, and Big Ass Cargo before hitting the third mile-marker.

Savage did a superb job at keeping rhythm with the obstacles. There were about three obstacles per mile.  All of the difficult obstacles were not placed at the end of the course.  Savages “spectators are allowed anywhere on the course” stance can benefit in the course design in this way.

Savage

Savage Dallas Anthem

Summon your Inner Savage

Next came the upper-body grinder with three obstacles in succession: Tree Hugger, Wheel World, and Kiss My Walls.  These well thought out designs can annoy, challenge, and push competitors to the brink.  We train even harder to be ready for the challenge the next time around.

Each bit of terrain traversal leading to well-placed obstacles felt like a pleasant progression in difficulty to the finish line rather than a slog.  Nearing the end of the 6.5 miles, competitors encountered the new obstacle: Hang-a-rang.  This balance obstacle consisting of two logs suspended from chains is a welcome break up to the usual OCR fare.  Competitors were not allowed to touch the chains but only the tiny rope midway through each log.

Savage Hang-a-rang Savage Facebook

Savage Hang-a-rang

The adventure ended with Davy Jone’s Locker, the time consuming Mad Ladders, the infamous Twirly Bird, and Blazed.  Many competitors speed through until the end: shoulders worn out, forearms burning only to see Twirly Bird standing between them and the finish.  Nothing compares to seeing the smile on racers’ faces as they conquer a well-designed, just difficult enough obstacle like Twirly Bird.  They then jump over the flames with gusto to the cheers of a crowd able to comfortably witness it all from the festival area.

Final Thoughts

Other than one skimmed-over piece of stray barbed wire in a creek bed that could have caused an injury, Savage Race Dallas had no other detriments.  Designers utilized the venue to their utmost and created a hella good experience for racers and spectators alike.  Savage Race Dallas succeeded in cementing my love for the race series and showing me that they continue to improve as a company in providing both challenge and experience for the money.  I would also like to note that upgrading to Pro from Open on-site was quick and simple.  I have never had such an easy time with a company in modifying a registration.

Bling

I will say the new syndicate medals and state pins are a welcome adage to my collection.  These medals are high quality.  You don’t have to buy something extra to put them on OR pay extra money to get one.  Savage seems to have continued to grow and excel while still maintaining that care for their customers and appreciating what they do. Just like the words from amazingly talented Emcee Matty T, “Savages are a family.”  We are all there for one another, and that sense of family is something that is truly felt from the festival area to the course, to the finish.

 

Savage Race Syndicate Medal

My second Savage Race Syndicate Medal

Give Us Our BattleFrog Back!

Elites who travel for the BattleFrog series do it for a number of reasons, a challenge, training for the OCR World Championship, and opportunity to collect the once rare and coveted Elite band. After experiencing an excellent course in Charlotte just two weeks ago, I was longing to feel that BF rush all over again. With an 80% fail rate, epic PVC monkey bars and 2 rigs per lap, it was everything I expected a Regional race to be! I kept my band, and I added it to my pile of hard earned rubber treasures. This was a stark contrast to the vast nothingness that awaited competitors in DC.

Participants of the DC BattleFrog are wondering what happened to the BattleFrog race they know and loved, and what was the trail run that showed up in its place? After each race, BattleFrog poses the question “What was your favorite obstacle?” When the most common answer was “mud”, you’re doing it wrong. 12ft Rope Wall

The race venue was beautiful: gorgeous bike trails with rolling hills and more mud than you can imagine. The Elite wave took off running, we ran, and ran some more. Finally someone said what we were all thinking, “It would be cool if this obstacle course race had obstacles.” Standard to any race, athletes were instructed to keep the flags to the right, however through the main trail there were not many flags as though the path was implied, but there were a number of off-shoot trails with arrows- for bikers- that lead people off course. Everyone I spoke with post-race had a story of confusion, as did the timing tent with sorting out who actually placed among the top of their respective fields.

The biggest issue with this race was the lack of volunteers (most likely due to Savage Race taking place in MD on the same day). All water stations but one was unmanned. Many stations had large water jugs and no cups. One sip of water on a 10-mile course was brutal; the only saving grace was that the weather was cool and the course mostly shaded. An additional obstacle was trying to shower off because the water wasn’t running, leaving some athletes standing there shivering and others wandering away in search of someone who could assist.

For a “mandatory obstacle completion” race to have no volunteers at obstacles brought out the worst in dishonest racers. I personally witnessed men leaving the rig after failure and running away with bands on, diminishing the value of the band, and having zero respect for the sport. The band has to mean something, otherwise, let me throw my spear and do some burpees.  There are too many people who are training extremely hard so that they can keep their band for the FIRST time.  Don’t insult their efforts by lowering the standard or allowing the band to be given freely to anyone who shows up and “tries”. When elites register as elites, they know exactly what they signed up for. Every time they approach that starting line, they wonder, today, will my best be good enough. Often times, it’s not, and THAT’S what keeps the Elites coming back. My band from this weekend won’t get to join the “collection” because this band has no value, despite a first place finish on the women’s podium. The completion rate had to be 90+ percent. I saw only ONE elite band left at the rig, and as far as I’m concerned, that band was the only one of value in DC, the one that wasn’t earned.  That athlete understands what an Elite band means. I am willing to bet that the respectable athlete who left it behind will be back for redemption when the BattleFrog they know and love returns.

Confidence Climb
While BattleFrog is undertaking a huge task of building a brand and working to attract a larger consumer market, they are making the returning racers wonder where this series is headed. Obviously to stay in business they need to increase their attendance numbers. One way to do this is to be consistent. After talking with Elites, first timers looking to become Elites, and open wave runners looking for a good time, there was a common consensus in DC- that race wasn’t what anyone expected it to be. Having an “elite”,”intermediate”, and “novice” lane is a great way to incorporate all levels of racers, but keep the elite field difficult. One jerry can is fine for open wave but believe me when I say all elites can handle two, regardless of course conditions. Most elites would rather shed blood, sweat, and tears on the course even to leave without a band than to be coddled in an “everyone is a winner” environment.Jerry Can CarryA returning elite who participated in BattleFrog Cincinnati last year had talked up the series to his friends about how it had been the most challenging thing he had ever done. His friends all came to DC to accept the challenge and laughed at the simplicity of it. That stops people from promoting the series, when they themselves no longer know what to expect.

I love BattleFrog. I want this series to succeed.  This race series drew me in at their first race ever-a 5k course in Miami 2014. I have attended over a dozen other BF races across the country. The series was what prepared me for OCRWC.  BattleFrog built hybrid athletes; ones who could adapt, grow, evolve, and mentally be strong enough to believe that they could conquer anything put before them.  Long wait times at obstacles were never “bottlenecks” for people making multiple attempts; they were locations where camaraderie was harvested, friendships formed, and OCR competitors were united with common goals. BattleFrog has an amazing pro team of rounded athletes and some of the nicest people you will ever meet, but for how long? If the series is no longer helping to build better athletes by presenting challenging courses, what reason will they have to stay? BattleFrog could do what they tend to do, and throw more money at problems, or they can listen to people in the OCR community and give us back our BattleFrog!

Photo credit: BattleFrog Series Facebook Page