Spartan Race – Red Deer Weekend 2017

TitleFollowing the departure last year of the Canadian Spartan franchise holders, the western Canadian Spartan Race series is now back in the hands of Spartan, Inc. Expectations were high that fresh ideas and fresh obstacles might make their way into the first Spartan Race event in Alberta this year. A new race director. The new build team. A new lease of life for Spartan in Canada it seems.

The Venue: Red Deer

Almost equidistant between Calgary and Edmonton, Red Deer is in a perfect place for an event to draw obstacle racers from both major cities in Alberta, Canada.

Map of Red Deer

Heritage Ranch itself is a venue with many different environments and surfaces. Mile after mile of forest singletrack means there is both the opportunity for fast paced trail running or an enjoyable adventure through the woods (whatever your style of participation is).

The winding forest climbs offer a moderately tough challenge – this is no ski hill by any stretch, but despite being touted as a race without much elevation gain, we tracked about 450 meters of elevation gain and loss on the course of the Super course, which is substantial given the topography.

Sprint Map Red Deer

Bushwhacking and off trail running was featured heavily on both days, so caution was required to protect yourself from low hanging branches and less than obvious tripping hazards. Caution was also required to stay on course in the more forested areas (more on this later). The trail included some incredibly steep, rooty descents into the forest which sent some racers tumbling into each other – or possibly even holding hands for support. It was not for the faint of heart at times but offered plenty of technical challenge for racers who attacked it at speed. It was crazy in the best possible way.

While both races followed a similar set of obstacles, the Super on the Sunday took in a more expansive area of the park, including some extra trails to the north, which followed the river and crossing some wide open pasture (which seemed to be mainly populated by thistles – so bring long socks if that happens again). A small amount of the course was on paved surfaces and well-maintained unpaved trails.Pull

There was a water crossing, which involved a swim or racers could pull themselves along a rope barrier, and a few boggy areas along the northernmost edge of the park where the Super course crossed small ponds and gullies created by the river.

Water Crossing

The sandbag carry also took place near water, with participants carrying a sandbag down a steep riverbank and across a short section of the riverbed and under a bridge, before climbing a dodgy but fun stack of boulders at the base of the bridge and back up to the start of the sandbag loop. 

Walk-o (1)

There was little in the way of mud on either course, but as ever, specialist OCR or trail running shoes are essential for this race and all other obstacle course races. Drainage is essential. Take your pick.

Pro-tip. Save some gas in the tank for the steep wooden staircase near the final obstacle run.

Austin Azar-o

I’ve asked a few members of Team Rampage Racing for their thoughts on the course.

On the spectator experience…

Kody O’BrienKody

“It was epic coming to the cargo net and hear people going nuts in the spectator area, I even heard a couple of people screaming my name. I was pretty sad with Spartan before this weekend, but Ven Hodges helped make this an epic course!”

The wide festival area and expansive viewing area was a huge win for Spartan Canada. It made it much easier than ever before to actually see the thrilling battles taking place on the elite and competitive heats as racers sped across a vertical climb, rolling mud, and the Hercules Hoist before disappearing into the forest again. Minutes later they would re-emerge back into the arena area so spectators could easily see and cheer on racers tackling the Z-Wall, the Platinum Rig, and the Spear Throw. 

There were extended sections of pure running in this race. Some people found that they might have preferred the obstacles to be more equally spaced.

Patrick Wilson 

“Overall it was something new to western Canada. But I would have preferred to have less of a runner’s course.”

Patrick

Others felt a similar way about the balance between running and obstacles, particularly on the Super course. It seemed that obstacles only seemed to happen in clusters.

Jason Gelleny

Jay-o

“I really enjoyed it. I’m glad they used the terrain better. It felt like they really took advantage of the trails out here, although it was a little frustrating how long it took to get to the next cluster of obstacles. Granted that’s a selfish frustration because it’s just not as good for my own strengths. I loved the use of the river again, the sandbag through the river and up the rocks felt gritty like a battle-frog race, and the Tyrolean Traverse was cool. However, the strength based obstacles like the Herc Hoist, bucket carry, sandbag and baby tires were either way too light or too short. The obstacle clusters were fun having a few gooders in a row, and this was a much better spectator experience this time with high profile obstacles near the festival area and a clean, dry festival area! Overall I really enjoyed it!”

Others were quite happy with the setup.

Aaron Singleton Aaron-o

“I found the race to be a great balance between a runners/strength course. It was rare to see any obstacle that was stand alone (they were often stacked together) so it forced the runners to step up their obstacle game, but the long stretches of flat running balanced that out. The mad dash to the single track at the start was a blast! And coming near the festival area for obstacles was a great motivator.”

Indeed, the first 400m of the race really determined the first 2 kilometers of the outcome of the race for the competitive heats. After starting on a wide field, the course quickly turned into a single track trail where it was impossible to pass slower runners ahead. This encouraged competitive and elite racers to find the right position quickly.

Nancy Loranger

Nancy-o

“Getting to the trees first (or among the first) definitely dictated how the next 1/4 of the race would go and if you got caught behind anyone that didn’t have the same objective as you… It was frustrating…but I think it was great. Made you fight for it. I loved the clusters of obstacles. as much as I hated that rig on Sprint day… That set up of Rig/Spear changed who was where in the race. Both days. That was cool.”

For the open heats, bottlenecking on these trails became a bit of an issue in this area and at obstacles like the Tyrolean Traverse. However, the strategic placement of obstacles definitely made a difference for those who are more strength based athletes to shine. While less competitive runners would find a great challenge in facing obstacles in sequence. It was really a great setup for all.

Tyrolean Traverse bottleneckin’

NOTABLE OBSTACLES

  • The first hurdle with the small gap, that everyone went under, and smart people jumped over.
  • Olympus – one of my favourites.
  • The platinum rig that had a high failure rate on the sprint due to double ropes in the middle. This was altered on the second day to just one rope among the rings.
  • The spear throw continues to claim victims.
  • Both days featured a heavy sled pull and drag.
  • The rope on the Tyrolean Traverse chewed up ankles like a rabid dog. Remember to bring those long socks guys!
  • The water crossing was gloriously cool and fun – unless you can’t swim. Never fear. There was a flotation device on hand.
  • The Stairway to Sparta was really tough for me this time for some reason. It came at the top of the long staircase, and my legs were feeling like jello.
  • Heavy Atlas carry and rope climb couplet sent heart rates through the roof towards the final section of the course.
  • The finish line was concealed by an 8ft wall, an A frame cargo net (that crossed over the entrance to the race), barbed wire crawl, slip wall, and the fire jump. 

Entry

Distances

The Sprint course turned out to be about 6.8 kilometers in distance (longer than a typical Canadian 5K Sprint). The Super clocked in at about 11.2K which is shorter than the typical 13-kilometer course we have seen at Red Deer before.

Important note: Course marking…. More than one competitor in the Elite Sprint Heat found themselves running the wrong direction, missing a critical turn down a steep hill. They ended up finishing way too early or otherwise confused and lost. this might be due to the speed at which competition is taking place, but also partly due to the winding, off-trail nature of the course. The course organizers took note of this and re-marked some areas of the course. All athletes conducted themselves in a professional and fair manner regarding the course marking debacle. 

SUPER RESULTS

FEMALE

1 Faye Stenning 27 F 1:06:49
2 Allison Tai 35 F 1:08:16
3 Nancy Loranger 41 F 1:08:40


MALE

1 Mikhail Gerylo 28 M 56:24
2 Austin Azar 25 M 58:16
3 Kristian Wieclawek 28 M 58:52


SPRINT RESULTS

MALE

1 Mikhail Gerylo 28 M 36:58
2 Austin Azar 25 M 37:43
3 Kristian Wieclawek 28 M 38:09

FEMALE

1 Faye Stenning 27 F 45:25
2 Linzee Knowles 29 F 45:53
3 Allison Tai 35 F 47:41

 

Oh, and the volunteers were awesome!

Photo credits: Google Maps, Spartan Race Canada (Facebook) and Melodie Krawchuk (Facebook).

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 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!

Spartan-Vancouver,-B.C.-2017-SprintSuper-Weekend-05-John-Tai

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.

Spartan-Vancouver,-B.C.-2017-SprintSuper-Weekend-04-www.IcebreakConsulting.com

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!

Spartan-Vancouver,-B.C.-2017-SprintSuper-Weekend-06-Ryan-Fick

Cheers!

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

Mud Hero Alberta 2016 – Just Add Mud

View Photo: http://www.zoomphoto.ca/viewphoto/19770-110-27365667/1/

I’ll be honest. Until my wife booked me a ticket for the Mud Hero as a surprise, I had never heard of it. I thought it was just a goofy little low budget race that would have minimal attendance. It was just a small blip on my racing calendar.

I have never been so wrong! Mud Hero delivered one of the best race days ever!

A great marketing campaign, low prices, and an unintimidating ‘fun at all costs’ atmosphere meant that the Mud Hero was one of the few recent OCR events to actually get close to capacity, with the Saturday 6km event about 95% full. The numbers are impressive: this was a three day event which saw over 15,000 people sign up and run the course. Kids races were also available and the Sunday event boasted a 10km ultra Mud Hero. 

THE GOOD
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Parking and access.
I attended with my wife and three children, so easy access to the race venue was really important for us. From the moment we arrived, mud hero was busy. However, the parking lots were plentiful, close to the event arena, and well marshalled.

Fast registration
We were running a little late, and by 11am morning, large lineups had formed in front of the registration tents. However, we were through the entire processing system in about 5 minutes because of a slick check-in system and prepared volunteers. That’s a win.

Amazing volunteers and staff.
Out on the course the volunteers were just as encouraging and well informed. Adding to the fun, some of the race crew were dressed as characters from super Mario brothers. Watching a few people getting pulled off the course by Luigi in a Razor ATV was worth the price of entry alone. Everyone was smiling. Everyone seemed to know what they were doing. Every station had volunteers. It was great!

View Photo: http://www.zoomphoto.ca/viewphoto/19770-110-27369709/1/

The Venue
Almost all of the obstacle races in Alberta tend to be on disappointingly flat courses. However, the Mud Hero is held at Canyon ski area, just a few kilometers outside of the City of Red Deer (located about halfway between Calgary and Edmonton). The result is a 6km and 10km obstacle course race that actually involves some long descents and hard climbs, with quality trails winding down to the river valley bottom before forcing runners into a grueling climb to the top of the canyon and the final muddy conclusion of the race. Course planners had thought this one out, exploiting the natural mud slides, large mud pools, rutted single-track to great effect. I can’t wait to tackle it again.

Mud
Mud gets its own category here. Mud hero featured many different types of mud, each with a unique character and effect. First there was the kind that seeps up from wet grassy soil and covers your shoes. Then there was the classy grey soupy clay mud that you might find in a high end spa (this was actually found mainly in the ‘frog spa’ area). ‘Thief’ mud that attempts to steal your shoes and finally, rich, dark, ‘black forest ganache mud’ that was used almost exclusively for the finale. I thought it would be too much mud. It wasn’t. Mud is what this race is about. I’m still chuckling to myself when I think of all the many funny situations and chaos the mud created.

View Photo: http://www.zoomphoto.ca/viewphoto/19770-110-27476569/1/

Obstacles
View Photo: http://www.zoomphoto.ca/viewphoto/19770-110-27479847/1/

Obstacles were spread evenly throughout the course, and as you will have gathered, almost all of them involved mud, were preceded by mud, followed mud, or were just well… mud. It’s a simple formula, but it works. Mud makes for an interesting dynamic in almost every situation.

My favourite obstacles were the mud slide, the backwards bullfrog crawl, the mission swing probable multi rig and the final ‘worlds most epic mud pit’. This thing was a series of mud holes, probably about a quarter of mile long, with a singular purpose, to cover people head to toe in mud. Nobody escaped it. Everyone loved it.

View, share and download all your photos for FREE from: http://www.zoomphoto.ca/event/19622/

Arena
The festival arena was large and open. One of the greatest features of this event was the unspoiled view of the ‘money shot’ final obstacle – the worlds most epic mud pit. Spectators could walk alongside the entire length, cheering and laughing as people worked their way through the mud and to the finish line. It’s a good way to end the race – watching your loved ones become completely covered in mud. It was clear that the organizers of Mud Hero want this to be as much fun for spectators and visitors, as it is for participants. This is a huge deal: It’s hard for my wife to wrangle three kids while I run but a well set up arena made that task so much more manageable. The arena also featured a stage with live music, DJ’s, a huge beer garden, kid’s races, sponsor tents, and the shower/changing area. Everything just worked well. The weather was even on our side.

Oh, and they had enough porta potties for those pre-race requirements.

Kids Races
Mud Hero offered great kids races! Obstacles included balance beams, spider web, tunnel crawls, tipping beams, two sizes of A-frames, and finally a small but very real mud pit filled with plenty of deep mud. It was the stuff a kid dreams of. To allow the kids to run a few extra laps if they wanted was another great gesture, and showed true understanding of how kids love to experience these new things. My son Euan (5) ran three laps of the thing! Cheers guys!

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THE BAD?
Not much to say here really. Um. The showers were a little cold and far away? The event arena was kind of big? Really scraping the barrel here.

CONCLUSION
Mud Hero is an unmissable part of the OCR calendar in Alberta, and wherever it is available elsewhere in Canada. The Alberta event punches well above it’s weight, delivering an event that was well organized, family friendly, well planned and expertly staged. Seek it out and enjoy!

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Episode 166 – Jesse Fulton

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Episode 166 Jesse Fulton

For starters, as promised, its 15 minutes with Carlo and Amelia to talk NFL Championship games.  Amelia also expands a little on the whole “enjoying dry needling in her butt” that she eluded to on  The Tim Ferris Podcast. For those that hate our football chats,  you can fast right the heck forward. For those that love them, enjoy.

The main course on this episode is Jesse Fulton. Jesse was a professional snowboarder for 13 years before going on to coach the Canadian Olympic snowboarding team.  He also is one of the founders of 365 Sports.

365’s website says that they “Specialize in Event Management, Experiential Marketing, Concept and Development and Brand Execution. We provide creative, fun and innovative athletic events to engage all participants, seasoned athletes and novices alike. We are dedicated to inspiring a healthier, happier society through the combination of fitness and philanthropy”

In other words, they put on cool ass events like ski and snowboard festivals, The Urban Slide, and 5K Foam Fest Canada. 365 was also announced as strategic partner for the OCR World Championships, which is what led to this interview.

Jesse and Matt talk about translating industry knowledge from “action/adventure sports” to OCR, how to launch a brand successfully in Canada that previously failed in the US, and what he and his team are going to bring to OCRWC.

Today’s episode is sponsored by Mad Anthony Mud Run. $50 before February 10th.

It is also sponsored by Macon Mud Run. April 2nd, 2016 in Macon, Georgia.

Show Notes

365 Sports

Shreducation The TV show Jesse was a part of that was sold to 4 different networks.

You can use the player below to listen or use the iTunes or Stitcher buttons at the top of this post.