OCR Transformation- Dawn Stowers

ORM presents the series of stories on OCR Transformations. Runners and athletes whose mind body, and spirit have been altered through obstacle racing.

 

 

 

 

Dawn Stowers is a 45 year old mother of two who enjoys Obstacle Course Racing, CrossFit and auto racing of all sorts. When she turned 40, she weighed 182.6 pounds and was miserable. Performing the basic tasks in life were difficult for her. She was like most other mom’s with tweens, always running around errands with her girls. She would eat the worst possible take out and generally putting her health and happiness on the back burner.

Before Dawn’s 40th birthday, her father passed away unexpectedly and meanwhile her and Dawn and husband were at odds over her increasing weight gain. Her husband lost some weight few out of spite, and she was determined to do the same. Dawn had half-heartedly tried so many things over the years, but eventually realized that the only thing that stood between her and her weight loss goal was self-control. That is when she finally decided to commit to changing her health for the better. Over the next few months, she found a program that worked work for her. Dawn significantly changed her diet and began to eat cleaner than ever before. She also found a support group of others looking to be a better version of themselves and together they persevered.

Dawn began to realize that she was capable of so much more than she ever thought possible. She eventually got all the way down to an unhealthy 112 pounds as she became obsessed with watching the scale go down further and further; to the point that she became sad on the days it didn’t move. At that point, Dawn decided getting stronger and healthier should be her goal. This quest soon became her focus and she found a Boot Camp that she enjoyed, it became her home away from home. She went religiously, rain or shine, sickness or in health and enjoyed the feeling of becoming better. Dawn feels that the gym is one of the few places on earth where everyone has only one focus; to be the best version of them possible.

Eventually, she heard about the Spartan Sprint in Charlotte and decided to sign up: ALONE. She knew that it would be the ultimate test of her physical and mental abilities but it was something she says, “I HAD to do it for ME.” Another one of her boot camp friends eventually signed up with her and together they set out on a quest to jump the fire. It was sleeting as they stood at the starting line shivering, wondering what was to come next and then AROO! AROO! AROO! They were off! It took a long time and Dawn failed many of the obstacles, but she exclaimed “who doesn’t love burpees!?!” Dawn believes that jumping the fire was one of the most satisfying things she has ever done.

She wore her medal most of the day and had to figure out how to get that feeling again and again! She joined several Spartan Facebook Groups and realized that her Boot Camp wasn’t going to get her the training she would need to be more successful in her Spartan Trifecta quest. As a result, she searched for a new gym and found CrossFit 77 where she works out 4-5 times a week. OCR has become a big part of Dawn’s life and helps defines who she is as a person. Her running partner is her youngest daughter, Ashley, who is a sophomore in college. For Dawn and Ashley, OCR is the perfect Mommy/Daughter Weekend getaway activity. They try to run at least one OCR a month together which gives them an excuse to see each other and to keep training hard.

Dawn is now beginning her 4th year of completing double Spartan Trifecta’s. She doesn’t limit her runs to strictly Spartan’s, as she has enjoyed many other OCR’s: ie BattleFrog, BoneFrog, Warrior Dash, Dirty Girl, etc. Dawn and her daughter Ashley just recently completed 8 hours at Toughest Mudder Atlanta. However, Spartan is by far her favorite race. The Spartan Festival Area is our Narnia! She says, “everyone there is happy, working to be the best version of them, encouraging, helpful and generally pumped up!” The OCR Community is all about the build-up and never the tear-down; it truly is a FAMILY. Dawn wants everyone to know that it doesn’t matter how old you are or where you start; ONLY where you want to go. Age is only a number. Find your passion! Leave your comfort zone and find the new best version of you! NEVER SETTLE! AROO!

Epic Series Los Angeles

So, you like your OCR’s with a little less running and a few more obstacles huh? Does less run, more fun sound right up your alley? Then the Epic Series might be your future event of choice. With obstacles often lined up back to back and total running distances typically less than 2 total miles, Epic offers the ultimate OCR test of functional fitness. The Southern California based company held one of their outstanding events on April 23 at the Los Angeles Police Academy across the street from Dodger Stadium, and I was lucky enough to get the assignment to cover the event. This marked my second time covering an Epic event and the blend of functional fitness and OCR immediately made this my favorite race series. Epic offers three different levels of intensity on each obstacle. For Elite men and women, and for Open runners the difficulty will vary accordingly. For example, a keg carry meant a full keg for men’s elite, half full for women’s elite and empty for open class runners. As a bonus, elite division racers also got to participate in an extra CrossFit style event after the race for more trophies, which I’ll explain later in this article.


Waves started off at 8 a.m. with the elite division leading the way with upcoming waves following every 5 minutes. The Epic flag lap started off the course with a jog around the track carrying a large Epic Series flag on a pole. As a matter of fact, all obstacles were placed inside the track area making the course very compact and offering a great view for spectators along with offering a great opportunity for photos. After finishing the lap and dropping off your flag racers immediately transitioned into a low crawl followed up by a wall traverse. Now things started to get tougher. Atlas Stones over the shoulder for 15 repetitions was waiting next and really started to tax your cardio ability. When finished tossing the stones Epic transitioned into their unique balance obstacle. This consisted of a C shaped beam with small raised platforms placed about two feet apart that required racers to basically hop from one peg to the other. Once finished an athlete had to pick up a slosh pipe for another lap around the track.

After the slosh pipe sprint came the dreaded wall sit. Racers were required to hold an hour glass out in front of them while stuck in the 90-degree wall sit position for three agonizing minutes. Lumberjacks were the next bad ass obstacle on the list. You may have seen something similar on World’s Strongest Man on ESPN. This obstacle consisted on flipping over a long section of square metal tubing over and back. Heave it up, walk it to vertical and push it over before going to the other side and repeating the movement. 15 flips were required here and the task really took it out of you! The rope climb was the next obstacle in line with a twice up and down requirement for obstacle completion and then it was on to the timed plank. Once again, a three-minute hold was required after one flipped over the hour glass to start. I’m almost positive that was the longest three minutes ever. Once complete, athletes were required to run another lap, this one with nothing extra to carry which was a great relief to those of us who were already winded.

Upon completion of the sprint lap, the keg hoist was ready and waiting for you. Three repetitions to the top and back down once again tested that grip strength. A ladder wall followed up the keg hoist before moving on to the toughest obstacle I found at Epic. 15 reps of burpee box jump with a 36-inch-high box. Most of the elite competitors I saw were thoroughly gassed on this obstacle including yours truly. Things got slightly easier for the next two obstacles in line. An inverted wall climb and side to side ab twists with a 30-pound medicine ball. That small break was much needed because next up was another lap to run, with two full jerry cans! Traps and grip screaming towards the end of that lap I guarantee you!

After finally dropping off those damn cans, athletes were finally on the home stretch of the race. This started off with a unique obstacle called The Archer. Targets were lined up which required two hits with a bow and arrow. Yes, OCR with a bow and arrow! I bet you never thought you would see that in a race huh?  After racers got their fun playing Robin Hood a series of three walls were next in line. The Tri Wall, Ladder Wall, and another inverted wall all needed traversed before being led to Barnaby’s Wall which was kind of like a rock climb wall up and over. It was gut check time for the very last obstacle. One placed in this position to see who wanted it more. Athletes were required to run just one more lap, but with a full keg across their backs! Man, I couldn’t wait to ditch that damn can after that final lap. Once complete plenty of vendors were handing out various drinks and some cool bling was put around your neck.

Trophies were given out to the top 3 men and women overall and top 3 men and women masters. Little Epic kiddies had their own race to provide total family fun. Mix that with free parking and free EPIC pictures and you have quite an event! Sponsor tents were all over including The Vitamin Shoppe, BodyArmour Super Drink, Rush 10-8 Gear, and Live Sore with finishers shirts made by Clinch Gear. Now, this was a great event. But if you ran elite there was a little something extra waiting for you……

Set up in an adjoining parking lot was the Epic Strength and Endurance course – only for elite competitors. Elite athletes could choose one of the two with weights and reps being the only difference. First off was a police SUV pull for distance: jump into a harness, get low and go. Right after that was a push press: 10 reps with 135 for Endurance and 5 reps with 185 for strength. Immediately following that was the deadlift: 225 for 10 reps Endurance and 315 for 5 for the big boys. Right after that was an Atlas Stone you needed to throw over a wall and then proceed to jump over the wall for 5 repetitions. An unknown weight tire flip for 5 reps was next up followed by 15 step ups with heavy ass kettlebells. Finally, a sandbag lunge for distance was the last test before a sprint, or crawl to the finish line. Knowledgeable judges were provided for each competitor and a 15-minute time cap was used to keep things rolling. This separate event also gave out trophies for the top 3 male and female in each division. So, if you want a unique OCR race, or an awesome test of functional fitness you must try an Epic Series race in the future!

Savage Race Florida Has Serious Beef With Their Racers!

Savage-Race-Mens-Pro-Start

Thanks to the Florida Women’s Cattle Association, Savage Race served up protein packed, amazing post race bites of some of the most well seasoned, succulent rib eye and NY strip steaks. That sure beats the traditional bananas and protein bars for this racer!

I’m getting ahead of myself however, so let me run down the basics before getting to the true meat of Savage Race, the obstacles. The heart-pounding, well-designed, and amazingly fun obstacles that had thousands of Savages from 37 states descend upon Florida to run the very first Savage Race of 2017.

The parking situation: Savage Race Florida did not have VIP parking. It was $10 to park at the venue with a first come, first serve situation in order to get the best spot. The parking area was close enough to the venue with a short walk to the entrance, where a friendly volunteer handed you a course map.

Savage-Race-Course-Map-Volunteer

What about the Port-o-potties? There were portable crappers in the parking area and the festival area as far as the eye can see. So, if you had to do race rule #1 (Take a dump before the race), there was no wait before or after the race. They also had 2 portable crapper stations on the course right around miles 3 and 6. As for the cleanliness? You’ve seen worse. Much much worse, trust me on that. Post race is where you start asking, “Mud or poo?”

Savage-Rage-Venue-Porta-Potties

Registration and packet pickup: Simple and hassle free. Just make sure that you have a valid I.D., your bib number and a signed waiver.

Savage-Race-Registration-Volunteer-Packet-Pickup-Tent

Bag check: $5 (each bag) to check your belongings, and if you needed to get something from your bag after checking it, like a second packet for your Savage Syndicate lap, or if you simply forgot something they will not charge you again. Your belongings were kept behind long tables where very friendly but watchful volunteers and security made sure your things were safe.

Savage-Race-Bag-Check-Tent

Savage Syndicate Program: There seems to be some confusion on how this works. It’s very simple folks: run 2 paid laps in 1 calendar year and you get a big, spinning medal to go with your 2 regular medals. You can run 2 paid laps on the same day like I did and BOOM, you too can walk around like King or Queen shit though the festival area with your neck laden with bling. You also get a state pin, and the best part? All Savage Races that you run after becoming a Savage Syndicate: you get the regular medal and another Syndicate spinner medal with that state’s pin, without having to run double laps at the same venue.

Savage-Race-Syndicate_Kevin-LaPlatney

Savage Race Pro Kevin “MudMan” LaPlatney, Owner of Obstacle Athletics with his Savage Race Syndicate Bling (Gold Medal not included)

Water stations: There were 3 water stations on the course spaced every 2 miles, and Savage Race is still keeping the water on ice. So when you are handed your own personal water bottle, it’s nice and refreshingly cold. They spoil their racers, unlike another race brand (which shall not be named) that tends to run out of the water and is warm enough to make tea with.

The obstacles: Oh my, where do I even begin? Savage Race surprised many of their Florida regulars with the course set up this year. The first mile was a nice long run without any obstacles. You heard that correctly my fellow Savages, a Savage Race where they didn’t bombard you within the first ¼ mile with obstacles. How is this a good thing some may be wondering? It builds up anticipation, and you get a nice warm up mile to get the blood flowing before they start slamming you with obstacle after obstacle.

Savage-Race-Shriveled-Richard-Obstacle

Once you hit their first obstacle named Barn Doors, which is a wooden fence that you climb over the obstacles start coming at you quickly in true Savage Race fashion. Barbed wire crawls, mud pits, cargo nets, high walls, their signature obstacles like Sawtooth, Shriveled Richard, Wheel World, Colossus, Davy Jones and much more are spaced so that once you are done with one obstacle you are just a stone’s throw away from the next one.

On my first lap I did notice that the Squeeze Play obstacle which was placed over a mud pit was closed. Of course, the first thought that came to mind was, “GATOR IN THE MUD PIT!” but that thought quickly went away as I ran towards the always intimidating Sawtooth. On my second lap Squeeze play was placed over dry ground a few feet away from the mud pit which had red lettered caution tape, so it kind of confirmed to me that there was a “GATOR IN THE MUD PIT!” There is no official confirmation on that however, and it could just be all in my head.

Savage-Race-Mad-Ladders-Obstacle

Savage Race threw many racers for a loop when they placed Colossus a few obstacles before the finish line. I heard quite a few Savages wondering, “Colossus isn’t last?” Oh no my friends, they placed it right before Teeter Tuber making crawling up the rubber pipes extra challenging and fun because the insides were SAF (Slippery As F*ck).

Savage-Race-Colossus-Obstacle

Speaking of challenging, the hardest traverse wall in OCR, “Kiss My Walls” just got even more challenging. Savage Race upped it up a notch by adding fencing in between the tiny rock climbing pegs. Still no step stool for us shorties, sorry my fellow vertically challenged pals.

I’ll touch briefly on their 2 new obstacles that many were wondering about, Mad Ladders and Twirly Bird, since nobody had even seen a picture of these two before the race. Mad Ladders consists of rope ladders and loose cargo nets which you traverse across. Sounds easy? Far from it as you’ll be spun around and tangled up.

Twirly Bird? No propellers involved, but it’s the rig to end all rigs. Oh you thought trying to hang onto tennis balls was hard? Try hanging onto shredded ropes with tiny individual knots. You better have the grip strength of a silverback gorilla to get through this one.

Savage-Race-Twirly-Bird-Obstacle

All in all it was 28 great obstacles (no heavy carries allowed) packed into a 6 mile course.

Savage-Race-Runners

Festival area: After jumping over the fire and getting your precious medal and finisher shirt, Florida Savages were treated to what seems to be every OCR racer’s favorite post race beer Shock Top. For those that do not drink, your beer ticket was treated like you just handed off a $100 bill.

The food stalls worked much like a carnival where you bought tickets at a booth and various food and drink items cost x amount of tickets. $10 for a sheet of 10 tickets was how it was sold. The fare was burgers, chicken gyros, chicken on a stick, roasted corn on the cob and other carry around friendly foods.

Savage-Race-Food-Stalls

There was a nice large main tent where people were enjoying food and drinks giving it a very cool Oktoberfest vibe. There were plenty of canopied tables scattered throughout the festival area as well giving people a nice view of the stage where they held pushup contests. Hats off to the Savages that participated because this Savage could barely hold her burger up after the race.

Changing room and showers: You mean garden hoses and changing tents. The garden hoses should have a sign next to them saying, “Obstacle #29” so cold! The changing tents were secure, clean and roomy.

Savage-Race-Changing-Tents-Venue

Exit through the gift shop: Savage race has the best prices for gear and still continues to do so. Good selection of shirts, compression sleeves, headbands and if you buy 2 shirts you get a venue specific shirt for FREE!

Savage-Race-Gift-Shop-Tent

The best next race deal around: For $75 you can buy a voucher for upcoming Savage races at any venue. That price includes processing fees and the mandatory insurance, but wait there’s MORE! You also get a Savage race wristband, a “Train Savage” t-shirt and decals.

Savage-Race-Voucher-Swag

Thank you Savage race for putting on an amazing event yet again, the first race of the year was incredible and this Savage is looking forward to even more fun at Maryland Spring on April 29th.

If you’re still on the fence about trying a Savage Race, it’s time to get off of that fence, grab some friends and jump into the mud or water pit because it’s time to get SAVAGE AF!

Savage-Race-First-Timers

Photo Credit: Kevin “MudMan” LaPlatney, Poly Poli, Savage Race 

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RockTape RockWrist Wrist Wraps Review

RockWrist Wrist Wraps
4 Overall
0 Users (0 votes)
Features
Durability
Cost
Used it before? Leave a review

For a while I had been thinking about buying wrist wraps for weightlifting, but after spending money on lifters and knee sleeves, amongst other (expensive) things, I just couldn’t bring myself to buy anything else. Naturally, when I was given this product to test and review, I was more than excited. Now it has become a staple in my gym bag! RockTape’s RockWrist Wrist Wraps provide excellent support when lifting and working out & have proven to be quite durable.

rocktape-review

RockTape RockWrist Wrist Wraps Features

Elastic Band  – Keeps the wrap in place. Has a good amount of elasticity without being loose.

Velcro Closure – Works for a wide range of wrist sizes & allows you to tighten/loosen as necessary.

Motivational Phrases – Keeps you going throughout your entire workout!

rockwrist-wrist-wraps-review-1

RockTape RockWrist Wrist Wraps Usage

Just about every time I snatch or clean & jerk, I grab my wrist wraps. When it comes to putting weight overhead, I prefer the added support they provide. If I’m doing a workout with lifting as well as other movements, I may keep them a little bit looser to allow more flexion in my wrist, but overall have never had an issue keeping them on while doing pull-ups, push-ups, etc.

rockwrist-wrist-wraps-review-2

RockTape RockWrist Wrist Wraps Durability

I have doused them in oodles of chalk, sweat in them, and ripped them off very quickly, but despite the past two months of repeated abuse, they haven’t come apart in the slightest. As of right now, I see no reason to be concerned about the durability of this product.

RockTape RockWrist Wrist Wraps Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Provide excellent support
  • Very durable

Cons

  • Elastic band may become irritable during sustained usage
  • Expensive in comparison to Rogue and Harbinger

Similar Products

WOD Wear WristWraps and Harbinger are two of the most common wrist wraps I see in CrossFit gyms, but RockTape is definitely a competitor when it comes to quality. Unfortunately, RockTape RockWrist Wrist Wraps are $25, which is $8 more than WOD wear.

RockTape RockWrist Wraps Conclusion

Overall, I would definitely recommend the RockTape RockWrist Wraps. I use the wrist wraps just about every time I lift and have no complaints about durability, which is often one of my main concerns since I am pretty rough on my gear. RockTape has always been and continues to be one of my favorite brands when it comes to products that provide superior support and stabilization.


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Ali Tucker

is a full-time Nurse, Star Wars Nerd and gymaholic. She's a wife and mom of two cool kids, and can be seen dragging her family along to all of her races. She loves helping and motivating others and you can read more about her race adventures at www.musclesmudandmascara.com
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CMC Makes a Successful Return

In 2015, CMC announced that it was suspending its popular hybrid race series. The organizers promised to come back, and they fulfilled that promise on Saturday with a successful reboot.

CMC Brooklyn - Shirt

The new venue in New York provided the race with some benefits as well as some challenges noted below, but the race’s theme has always been military (CMC stands for Civilian Military Combine).  The format of the race was the same: a “pit” of timed exercises, followed by a more traditional obstacle course race. The organizers brought in veteran ocr operations guru Garfield Griffiths, who has been behind several other noteworthy race designs including Savage Race and the OCR World Championships, as VP for Event Operations for CMC. He brought his A-game, and this bodes well for the race series going forward.  Additional familiar faces were “Coach Pain” Dewayne Montgomery, manning the microphone on race day, a perfect addition to the CMC family after his recent departure from BattleFrog, and Amelia Boone, who acted as TV announcer for the day.

CMC Brooklyn - Boone, Montgomery, Bijanada

THE VENUE
CMC took over Fort Hamilton, an active military base located in Brooklyn at the foot of the Verrazano Bridge. Because of security and, more important, because of limited space on the base, free parking was located a few miles away at Coney Island, and the race provided a shuttle bus (for $10). By all accounts, this worked smoothly. In what might appeal to car-less New Yorkers such as myself, the base entrance is also a five-minute walk from a subway stop.

The race used the open spaces available on the base, but this urban outpost of the US Army is tightly packed. Most of the running was on asphalt, and you frequently got the feeling you were running through someone’s backyard. Apparently, not every military installation is as big as Camp Pendleton.

THE PIT
CMC Pit Brooklyn 2016

CMC distinguishes itself from other races by starting out with a CrossFit style workout, “the Pit”. While the Pit was optional, it appeared that most racers wanted to try their hand at this aspect of the competition. Three levels of participation were offered, under the labels “Alpha”, “Bravo” and “Charlie”. The Alpha movements consisted of bodyweight exercises: six burpees, seven box jumps and eight lunges; the Bravo level used kettlebells for swings, step-ups and lunges. The Charlie level, required for all the elite competitors, involved barbells. The goal was max reps in five minutes, and even the CrossFitters I spoke to were impressed by the workout. According to First place male finisher Alexander Nicholas, “there is no doubt that The Pit helps to truly define who are the greatest hybrid athletes.”

THE RACE
CMC Race Start Brooklyn 2016

The pit provided a solid warm-up for the main event: running through obstacles placed around the base.  First place female finisher Elise Fugowski said that “the race itself was super fun. It was mandatory obstacle completion (my favorite) [mandatory for the pros] with some heavy and difficult obstacles. The event is a great opportunity to put your athleticism to the test!”

Many of the obstacles were familiar to anyone who has completed an obstacle course race: four-foot walls, an eight-foot wall, wreck bag carries, using a rope to pull yourself up a slanted wall, and an assortment of rigs, some more difficult than others. However, one of the best things about this race was the way Garfield Griffiths took some familiar obstacles and put a new spin on them.

Some highlights:

  • Diamondback – instead of constructing a simple A-frame to climb, he placed the bars in such a way as to replicate the movements needed to climb an inverted wall, followed by the A-frame climb over the top, followed by an inverted wall to get back to the ground. This obstacle was creative, challenging and, with effort, do-able. I hear that this obstacle will be back at the OCRWC next month.

CMC Diamondback Brooklyn

  • Comrades in Arms – rather than have competitors carry each other, as in Tough Mudder’s Hero Carry, CMC has had 60-pound dummies made (complete with CMC branding on them). Racers had to pick one up (trickier than it sounds) and carry the dummy up and down a hill.

Comrades in Arms CMC Brooklyn 2016

  • Take the Plunge – In addition to testing racers’ strength, some of the obstacles tested their mettle as well. Among these was Take the Plunge, essentially a dumpster filled with four feet of water. This doesn’t sound so difficult – no Arctic Enema-style ice to deal with – but the dumpster was also covered with plywood, leaving about four inches of air, forcing racers to float on their backs to reach the end, like at Tough Mudder’s Cage Crawl, but more claustrophobic. It also provided a few moments to cool off, as the race took place on an unusually hot and humid day, and to clean off, as it followed the relatively tidy mud pit obstacle.
  • Spin Class  – The final rig had racers climbing a pole, and the jumping on to rings that were suspended from spinning wheels. Let’s look at the video of Matt B. Davis struggling with this obstacle one more time. Despite his cries of injustice, the obstacle did not “fail”; it’s just tricky.

BEYOND THE RACE
The festival at the finish line was compact and provided a great view of the competitors in the Pit as well as the last few obstacles before the finish line. Racers got medals and t-shirts (it seems obligatory in race reviews to note the material of the shirt: good cotton, but not a high tech miracle fiber). There was beer and ice cream available, as well as a choice of food trucks. A hungry OCR industry expert noted that the pernil asado he got from one of the trucks was some of the best post-race food he had ever eaten.  CMC also offered a kids’ race of one mile, which was preceded by a kids’ version of the pit, complete with miniature kettlebells. I’ll repeat: MINIATURE KETTLEBELLS.

Kiddie Pit CMC Brooklyn 2016

A FEW MINOR GLITCHES
Any time an event launches at a new venue, there are bound to be a few problems, some of which are worth mentioning. Part of the re-boot of the event included talk of the great new scoring system that was brought on board to calculate the winners through a complicated formula combining the pit score and the race finish time. After waiting for more than two hours for the awards ceremony – and with cash prizes on the line – it was announced that there had been a technical glitch and that the winners would be announced the next day. This was disappointing for the elites, though it probably did not bother the vast majority of competitors. A bigger gripe was that the race portion was advertised as 5 miles, but it turned out to be closer to 5 kilometers. I expect that the cramped quarters on the base had something to do with this, and at other venues with more elbow room, there will be more space to run between obstacles. A few of the obstacles shown on the course map did not make it from the map to the course itself, but given the heat of the day, I did not hear too many people complaining that the course should have been longer.

At a time when other races are paring down or closing up shop, it is encouraging that a solid operation has re-emerged. The hybrid format may be an extra hurdle for some racers, but it also brought in groups from gyms who used it as a goal for their training. Every local CrossFit box should make it a point to be represented at the next race. CMC has just announced dates for upcoming races in 2017, and OCR fans should be rooting for CMC to come to a venue near them.

Photo Credits: CMC Facebook Page, Garfield Griffiths’ Instagram, the Author

EPIC Series – San Diego – June 11

RobbField2016-211-LOn June 11th Robb Athletic Complex in San Diego hosted the OCR/Crossfit crossover event EPIC Series. This short {2 miles} course offered 33 different obstacles to overcome and was every bit as tough as advertised. Epic Series offered Elite and Open classes along with a second event the same day for Elites. After they punished you through their 2-mile course, elite racers could choose between a strength or endurance course for separate prizes. So, two events for the price of one for elites. The kids race, parking, and bag check were all FREE! Also spectators could cheer on their friends and family at no additional cost. There were vendors showcasing gear and selling food.  A D.J. kept everyone energized and on schedule with music and timely announcements. Upon completion of the race, each participant received a finisher’s medal and a free t-shirt. Women were offered the choice of a tank which was a nice change of pace.

RobbField2016-43-LEPIC Series San Diego - Pole Lift

The course that everyone ran was segmented at most obstacles into Advanced, Intermediate, and Novice. Obstacles varied on the weights of the objects to be carried, the number of required reps, the amount of time required, or the height of the obstacle. Staggering heats every 5 minutes, athletes were instructed at the start to carry a large Epic Series flag for 400 meters around the field of obstacles in an oval, dropping them off back at the start line. This was the easiest part of the course by far. From there on it was hot and heavy on the obstacles. A series of several walls, including a couple inverted walls, to be climbed over started the obstacle parade.  Next, a very low and long crawl that left everyone dizzy led to the Epic Series’ version of the balance beam. Athletes were to balance on a crescent shaped series of pegs that were mounted to beams. The Elite racers’ beam was narrower and more flexible than the other two beams. What a unique way to make a balance obstacle! Up next for 15 reps was a box jump into a burpee. An Atlas stone throw (over the shoulder) and an over/under bar rounded out that leg.

EPIC Series San Diego - Walls

Racers then changed pace and went through an inflatable obstacle/slide to get back in touch with their youth. After a short rope climb, athletes were led back to the start line where a slosh pipe was to be picked up and carried while running around the 400-meter course and dropped back off at the start line. Another group of obstacles awaited that began with a timed plank, followed immediately by a keg hoist for reps and a strongman mainstay, Epic built metal pipes that needed to be flipped over 10 times. A short tire drag and an elastic band hop really started to make the misery set in as they then led you to a test of grip strength. Racers were instructed to carry 2 Jerry Cans while running once again around the 400-meter course.

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With traps on fire, athletes were sent to a timed wall sit and then straight into another peg balance obstacle! Epic then gave us a small break as we were set up with a bow and arrow that were used to hit a target twice before continuing on to another round of burpee box jumps and Atlas stone throw. The last thing Epic challenged you with was a final jog around the 400-meter course, all while carrying a keg on your back and shoulders. What an Epic Finale to the All-Levels Obstacle Course! Top 3 elite males and top 3 elite females were awarded trophies and swag bags for their achievement.

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But that’s not all! The event got even tougher for the Elite athletes who now had to choose between a strength or endurance short course where the obstacles were the same, but the weights/reps varied. A judge followed around each athlete on this course making sure reps were properly executed and counted correctly. Athletes started off being harnessed to a large truck to pull, followed up by a set of 10 on the military press. Drop that weight on the ground and on to the lunge for distance with a loaded bar on your back. Starting to sound tough right? Just wait. Drop the bar off your shoulders from the lunge and it was time to pick up a set of kettlebells for a 10 count step up onto a box. Now very winded athletes had to pick up an Atlas stone and throw it over a wall before then jumping over the wall for a set of 5. A farmer carry for distance followed this up and led to a barbell loaded up for 10 reps of a strict deadlift. A series of 3 Atlas stones of varying weight was up next all leading to a final 30-foot rope climb. The top 3 male and 3 female athletes on this separate course also were awarded trophies.

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I found the Epic Series to be an outstanding blend of functional strength and stamina all wrapped into one outstanding event. Always improving and making the course design better by actually walking around and talking to athletes is a great way to keep giving OCR and Crossfit athletes what they want. The swag was nice and the area was clean and well maintained. The only recommendations for improvement: first – expand the number of restrooms available, having only two meant there were long lines, and the basin filled very full; second, a bit more climbing, perhaps taller climbing walls or cargo net climbs. In the end, I found this to be one of my new favorite events. Based solely in Southern California, I’d love to see them expand to other parts of the US. Talks of finding new event locations are currently in the works. My conclusion is that if you like less running and more obstacles, with a variance in difficulty at each obstacle to allow all levels of athletes to challenge themselves, this is the race for you!EPIC Series San Diego - Archery

Photo Credits: EPIC Series and Jessica Lyn