Roots 4th Birthday Bash – Peak District, England

Roots Adventure Training turned 4. So to celebrate, they held the 12-hour Roots Birthday Bash endurance event.  Now for those who don’t know, Roots is an adventure training company based in the Peak District in England. They specialize in team building events, survival skills & endurance races.

I’d been looking forward to this event for the past month for several reasons. The main one being that I had never actually done an endurance event before.

I was curious to see how I would manage. Having already signed up for the Spartan Race 4hour & 12hr Hurricane Heat, I figured that this would be an excellent starting point to see where my training needed to go.

I was right.

Roots-River-Crossing

Now I feel that I should note that some of my memories from the day are slightly hazy. I’m not sure if I can put that down to the lack of sleep before/after the event or perhaps it’s just down to the fact that we did so much throughout the day.

After a long drive from Edinburgh to the venue, we had a brief sleep before awaking before dawn to begin.

With a 6am start and two hours of map reading skills, we gathered outside the camping cabin to begin. Mustered in a circle, we had 60 seconds to empty the contents of our bags. This proved slightly more difficult than we’d realised. Personally, I’d prepacked everything tightly so emptying the bag was interesting. More so was repacking it in the same time. We quickly accrued some punishment points before we even began.

Our pre-event kit list had included the standard items but, within these items we also had to include a party hat and a balloon.

The balloon & party hat gave the list a sense of amusement which I think made the preparation somewhat less daunting. Now, standing together having reassembled my kit at least three times, I was starting to understand the time hacks that we’d be facing.

Onward to some warm up drills – counts of 8. It’s during these that we started to gel as a team. Position one was a low squat with palms to the floor. Two had us jumping back into plank position. On three our feet jumped out to shoulder width apart. Four, back to plank. Five saw us do a downward push-up and six saw us return to plank. Seven had us back in the low squat and eight rounded us off with a jump up to the start position. Under the watchful eye of the staff we had to get it right, an error had us sent back to the start position.

Eventually, we set off from the base camp. Our first major task of the day was to solve a riddle. Some may have heard of the river crossing riddle where the farmer has to take items across the river but can only take one at a time. This was our riddle. We had the farmer, a crocodile, a mouse & some cheese. Each team member represented an item within the riddle. This exercise was made more enjoyable as the four characters ‘costumes’.

Roots-Birthday-Bags

We completed the task and moved on to our next way point. One of our jobs as a team was to find out way points via the map coordinates given to us by our guides. All the time we marched along while passing the ammo-box between one another.

At any point throughout the day, if we failed to answer a question, the team were given punishment points. We reduced these by successfully completing more 8 counts. As we got colder throughout the day the more I welcomed these. One of my favourite moments of the day came when we got to explore an abandoned mine. It was actually Ecton mine. Climbing inside the small entry hall and into the water filled cave was fun. Getting to spend time there looking for some malachite stones which the Roots team had hidden was a good challenge. We were told the history of the mine & how it had once belonged to the Duke of Devonshire and had been mined for copper, but perhaps more interesting was that it had been mined since the Bronze Age about 3500 years ago.

However, it was also at this point in the event that I started to notice a sharp pain in my shoulder. I’ve had some minor problems with my rotator cuff in the past but I had thought that it had healed. I was silently hoping it wouldn’t affect my process through the rest of the event.

As we progressed further to locate more grid points on our maps, the sun was getting lower in the sky as we entered a small valley. Ahead of us lay supplies needed to build a stretcher and carry a new addition to the group (a dummy called The General –  or as I liked to call him, Steve). Another learning experience, this time in creating knots; the clove knot and the square knot. Binding together the beams, we lifted The General onto the stretcher while supporting his neck and limbs. Suddenly behind enemy lines, our event took a covert turn. We had to safely carry The General to a safe location.

Roots-Stretcher

The sun had set, the temperature had dropped and The General was getting heavy on our makeshift stretcher. We waded through the river Manifold, under a bridge to avoid detection, up along the bank and we reached our destination, an old animal shelter where we were given a rest, time to eat, drink & told to change our shoes and socks. We could all feel that the end was coming, be it in the next hour or several hours. I think the group had a slight surge of energy with this knowledge. Our next task was to locate and retrieve. Three new locations given in succession. With only our head-torches we trekked along to discover some wonderful caves. The items we sought were illuminated by glow sticks. One of these caves is known locally as Thor’s cave, my mind suddenly perked up from the sleepy haze. The entry to this limestone cave was up a set of stairs moulded into the hillside. The entrance to the cave was slick and certainly made for an interesting climb in and out.

For me, this was actually the toughest part of the day. Throughout the day’s events, the pain in my shoulder had been getting stronger. I had informed the Roots staff and they were nice enough to alter some of the punishment workouts for me. But to gain access to some of the caves involved a bit of clambering & climbing over walls, not something I would usually have problems with but suddenly I found tears in my eyes due to damn pain. I’m not someone who likes to cry in front of others. I know there is absolutely nothing wrong with showing your emotions but it’s just a personal preference me for. With my raw team buff pulled up as far as it would go, I gritted my teeth and got on with it.

Finally, we had gathered all the objects, four lengths of wood, a jerry can, two white bottles and two lengths of rope.

OUR FINAL OBJECTIVE

We had to fill the jerry can using the two smaller bottles. All three had to be filled and attached to a rig made up of the wooden planks. The catch – at no point should the jerry can touch the ground and none of the bottles were allowed to touch the wooden support. Using what we learned earlier we rigged up a frame, attached the ropes to the cans and secured them onto the rig. With a steady march onward we made our way back to the basecamp.
We were mostly lucky on our trek back up the hill, which suddenly seemed twice as long as it had that morning. The bottles swung a few times and tapped the wood which resulted in some more punishment exercises.

Soon enough though, we reached base camp, asking for permission to put down the rig without punishment (we’d learned from experience not to trust everything our mentors had said) we created a circle around the fire to receive our finisher medals & pins and a well-earned beer.

Roots-Ammo-Can

This experience meant a lot to me. Not only was it my first endurance event but also because I now have a starting point for what I need to work on for future events. I’m not sure I would have managed to complete the event without my fellow seeds & event staff and I’m grateful to each and every one of them for the experience. I honestly can’t recommend the Roots event enough and if you ever have a chance to take part you should.

www.rootsadventuretraining.com

Photo Credits: Turner Videos & Matt Talbot

Machete Recon XII Seattle – 12 Hour Overnight Endurance Event

Machete Recon XII was held at Golden Gardens/Shilshole Beach in Seattle, WA on February 18-19 from 8pm to 8am. The Machete team drove all the way from Southern California to put on this event. Some of the members of the local “Beasts OCR” team assisted as well.

Going into this was exciting, but made me nervous at the same time. I’ve completed shorter endurance events, and knew what to expect for the most part, but never one that lasted 12 hours, let alone overnight. Here it was…..Go Time! There were so many thoughts running through my head. Can I last that long? Will I get too cold (it was 40 degrees and predicted to go to 35 overnight)? Am I packing enough or too much? Will I be able to stay awake? I was about to find out!

We met in a parking lot and proceeded down a dark forested trail to the beach. We brought headlamps but only used the red lights when there were stairs or other obstacles. We were given a sand bag and instructed to write our names on it and NOT lose it no matter what. A 5 gallon bucket with no handle was on our gear list. These two items would be used throughout the night for our black ops style missions.

We were divided into two teams. One of our first missions was to run down the beach and find one of the leaders. The sand was loose and half ways down the beach it got very rocky. I’m not sure which was harder to run in. We reached the leader and did some PT and then filled our sandbags. Half way for women and full for men. Then we raced back with our sandbags to the start.

The Puget Sound waters are about 45 degrees year around. Hypothermia can set in in as little as 12 minutes. I’m mentioning this because we had various options and missions to complete in order to stay out of the water; however, there were a couple of times we did go in. Once was carrying a very heavy log into the water about knee deep. As a team, we pressed it overhead until we had hardly anything left to give.

The other water mission was challenging as well. We took our buckets and dug a trench about 2.5 feet wide, a foot and a half deep, and 30 feet long. We were all sent to the water to fill our 5 gallon buckets completely full and transfer it to the trench. Bucket after bucket came and the trench filled with very cold water. Team 1 army crawled through it, then team 2. We then laid diagonally in the trench and the other team ran back and forth with more icy buckets of water and proceeded to pour them on us. After both teams enjoyed this refreshing adventure, we ended up burying team 2 as a penalty from earlier. Some of the buriers got creative with the buryees.

There were several team challenges including a two mile run over rocks and pavement and a two-mile sandbag run. The team who came in last had to complete a “penalty lap”. The lap included a rock staircase going uphill through the forest until you met a trail (still uphill) and came down some cobblestone style rock staircases. It was a good distance, about 200 feet of elevation gain, and tiring. We would end up completing this many times before the night was over.

Several hours into recon, we were heading down the beach again. We were requested to pick up firewood along the way in the pits the locals make beach fires in. We reached one of the pits, when the leader said we had 5 minutes to make a sustainable fire or we were going in the water! We saw an ember in the pit and worked fast and furious to build it up. Some of the team went to look for twigs to use as kindling, one pulled out a piece of paper we could use, and I did 10 burpees to earn some kleenex for tinder. With just a little time to spare our teamwork paid off and we got it going and it turned into a beautiful blazing fire! We all took a little break at this point and circled around the fire and told our story. One by one we learned about each other’s struggles, dreams, and goals. A group of individuals became a team of brothers and sisters.

There were so many challenges and PT opportunities that I can’t put them all down, but we ended with a big one. With about an hour left, we ceremoniously cut our sandbags and emptied them back onto the beach. I felt like yelling and cheering as loud as I could, but figured that might put the team “in the water”…noooooo! We disposed of the empty bags and were instructed to tape our buckets to our backs. The sun was beginning to rise which seemed to give everyone a boost.

We went to the start of the “penalty lap” and bear crawled our way up. Once we were past the rocks, where the trail started, we received new orders which included walking lunges and inch worms with a pushup. That made for a long long long trail, especially because we could see our cars in the parking lot. We were so close, yet so far. Once we reached the top we still had 30 minutes to go. We finished with tabata style PT. Burpees, pushups, jumping jacks, high knees, it felt like it would never end.

Then, we were told to stop. We had successfully completed our mission and we did it with all of our team members in tact. Every single one of us persevered, gritted it out, and achieved something together that we will never forget. Our names were called one by one and we received a shirt, patch, and wrist band. Items that have so much meaning behind them. We gathered for one final photo, our group picture.

MACHETE RECON XII….WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSION!!!!

I wore my shirt the next day and felt such a sense of accomplishment. It’s not just a shirt, but a symbol of what we earned and the amazing memories we will all have of Recon XII. I will wear it with pride every time I put it on! Thank you to the Machete team for making the trip to Seattle, the Beasts OCR members who assisted, and all of the others who helped to make this event a huge success. Aroo! Aroo! Aroo!

Photo credit: Machete Madness, Dustin Garrett, Adam Birgenheier, Kim Collings

Christian Griffith – Roster #11 From The Selection

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Christian Griffith Roster #11

Christian Griffith stopped by the day after the finale aired for History Channel’s The Selection.

He talks about how the experience has changed his life for the better. His opening up about his personal history with sexual abuse has already touched thousands if not millions of viewers. Christian hopes he can help even more with the platform the show has provided him.

Listen in to learn all about that, how he promised himself not to leave the competiton in anything other than handcuffs, and much more.
Todays Podcast is sponsored by:

Obstacle Guard –  Get it on because Monday’s a workday! 

Show Notes:

ORM’s recap of all History Channel The Selection episodes.

Roster #11 Facebook page

History Channel The Selection website

Listen using the player below or the iTunes/Stitcher links at the top of this page. 

History Channel’s – The Selection: Evolution 7 Recap

Evolution 7: Integrity and Humility

With only 2 episodes left, there are 5 remaining candidates: #2, #11, #12, #17 and #19. They start off the episode with the candidates doing more PT, and then, we are transitioned into seeing the candidates receiving medical attention for various issues. Candidate #2 has knees that have been worn raw. Candidate #19 has a blood blister (and we also learn that while he has a size 10.5 foot, he is wearing size 8 boots. WTF?), and we get to see #11’s medical issue: butt blisters. I am sure there are jokes and comments to be made on this issue, and I will leave that up to the audience.

At the same time that medical is going on, the instructors are reviewing the candidates. This is one of my favorite parts of the episode. They feel that #2 has transformed himself. They feel that #19 is not excitable. They wonder if there is something eating at #12, but they also comment on the passion of #11 and #12. They also comment that, despite his age, #11 is being carried through by his passion.

Candidate #17 is taken for an interrogation and when asked, “Why are you here,” he replies with the same answer he has given in the past and this irks the instructors. He opens up and reveals that he believes he is the weakest link on the team. He also states that he has thought about becoming a SEAL and felt that this was a good experience to prepare him for that path if he so chooses. He also mentioned that he was bullied growing up because of his small stature. The instructors tell him that he needs to step up if he is going to make it to the end.

We finally come to the episode’s evolution: INTEGRITY. Basically, the candidates are going to run a 2.1-mile course with 6 PT stations. At each station, they are to do 50 reps of a predetermined exercise.

  1. Squats with ammo cans
  2. Shoulder presses with ammo cans
  3. Push-ups
  4. Burpees
  5. Jumping Jacks
  6. Return the ammo cans to the pits and then run to the top of Flag hill and back.

What they aren’t aware of is that they will be filmed at each station and that the instructors are looking for integrity violations – candidates who says they did all the required exercises but really did not. It is during this segment that instructor Ray Care says something that resonates with may of us who do OCR’s, GORUCK‘s, marathon’s etc.: “People want to get dropped off at the top of the hill and look down.” We have all heard of how others want things handed to them without working for it, but instructor Care said it best. Plain and simple, if you want to make it to the top, you are going to have to climb it. Good words to live by.

The candidates seem to finish the evolution with no issues and are seen relaxing for a while before they are back in the classroom. It is here that # 17 is asked to stand and read from the board: what is the meaning of integrity? The class is asked why it thinks the instructor has asked #17 to read the meaning of integrity aloud. Yes, it appears that someone has broken the integrity rule. Someone did not do the required 50 burpees at station #4.

When asked who might not have done all the burpees, at first no one replies, but then, #17 stands up and states that he may not have completed all 50. He stated that he was overheated and may have missed a couple. This does not set well with the Instructor who states that #11 was overheated as well and did all 50 of his burpees. He gave kudos to #11 for doing it all despite his age and the heat.

As they finish up in the classroom, you can see that #17 is upset at himself for his infraction. The team is very supportive of him and #11 can be heard saying, “Everything is a learning experience.”

Candidate #17 later has a one on one with Instructor Care who asks, “Why did you not complete the 2 burpees?” He really could not provide a good answer. He is disappointed in himself and feels that he should quit. The instructor tells him not to quit (I was a bit surprised, but then thinking back, again we learn from out mistakes. He admitted he made a mistake and was willing to accept his punishment), but he is told that he owes the instructor 50 burpees and that he will have to pay his debt later. The instructor believes he has integrity and #17 is seen leaving to go apologize to his teammates for his failure. Like a good strong team, they are very supportive of #17 and forgive him.

The instructor then calls out #17 to “pay back” his 50 burpees, and we see the whole team come out to do burpees as a team. This is what teamwork is all about and what the instructors strive to instill in the candidates. You win as a team and you lose as a team. When all is said and done, the instructor and #17 are all squared.

In reflecting back on this episode, there seemed to be a lot of “down time” for the candidates. Was it time for reflection on their part or part of some mental game being played on the part of the instructors?  Making the candidates wonder when the other shoe drops? As the evolution ends, we see instructors interviewing the candidates; #2 is emotionally weak and thinking of quitting; #11, when asked about his role in the group, states that he thinks he is a leader  and is able to share his life experiences with the team; #12 still feels that he has to prove himself to his dad who has never told him how proud he is of him; and we close with #19 when asked what one thing he has learned from his experience so far he replies, “Humility.”

Next week’s episode appears to be the culmination of everything the candidates have been taught and experienced during the past 7 episodes. In the previews, we see what appears to be the return of the box, and based on the comments made by the instructors in the preview, does anyone make it through? Looking forward to seeing the final episode.

Read recaps of previous episodes here:

Watch the episodes here.
All photos courtesy of A&E Television Networks  ©2016 A&E Televisions Networks

Are you fit for the F.I.T. Challenge?

A short OCR course, based in New England. This OCR brainchild of Robb McCoy, brings its racers a non stop experience. With three words defining it, fortitude, integrity, toughness, F.I.T. Challenge tests physical capabilities on a multitude of levels. So are you fit enough for the F.I.T. Challenge? According to McCoy “Everyone is fit for the F.I.T. challenge.” His question is to what degree is your challenge? Covering distances and skill levels from multi lap survivor to mandatory obstacle completion, open waves and even coming out for a fun time as a team. “…there are so many challenges with in the one event you cant go wrong.”  Still unsure? Here’s a quick peak behind the curtain.

Are-you-fit-for-the-F.I.T.-Challenge

The Fall Fit Challenge VII was located in Cumberland, Rhode Island, a 3+ mile course stacked with 40 obstacles and a solid 1,100 feet of elevation gain. Needless to say, this is not your average 5K in the woods. Taking off, racers immediately hit their first climb. A direct shot up the mountain. What goes up, must come down, right? Lucky for us it goes back up too. After making the first descent we hit a back to back climbs over walls, vertical cargo nets, over-under-through combo walls, before the first of two carries, the log carry. A quick, but steep loop followed by hitting to more jumps and a floating inverted wall, before our next climb. Are-you-fit-for-the-F.I.T.-ChallengeAre-you-fit-for-the-F.I.T.-Challenge

This climb wasn’t as rough, but the obstacles that followed were stacked. Descent into a hoist, pulley curl, Double Ups, and a, choose at your own risk, Wreck-bag carry. If you were questioning your fatigue now F.I.T. presented you with the first Destroyer before going back into the trails. Where we faced a cargo net style monkey bar, back to back peg board and rope climb. Hitting an incline, army style crawl then a final steep rolling hill and climb.

Are-you-fit-for-the-F.I.T.-Challenge

Just when you think your out of the woods and in the clear, F.I.T. Challenge makes sure to get in some of its toughest obstacles. Over-Under Rig, walls, The Destroyer 2.0, 3-optioned Rig, Atlas Balls, and a slip wall, with a few walls and crawls sprinkled in between, before you were able to cross a finish line you know you earned.

Are-you-fit-for-the-F.I.T.-Challenge

So, are you fit for the F.I.T. Challenge?

Yes, your physical capabilities will be tested in many areas, pure brute strength, cardio endurance, lifting and carrying, along with speed and agility, if your racing it, but being super human is not a necessity. F.I.T. Challenge opens itself to catering to many different athletes, whether interested in an Elite, open, or Multi-lap Survivor option.

Are-you-fit-for-the-F.I.T.-Challenge

If your looking to have a challenging, but fun race, check out the open wave option. With ability to take your time and learn the obstacles, you’ll be able to build your confidence. Joe Crupi, founder of Team Panda Fit Camp SGX, says going out as a team is one of his favorite ways to take on a course “…It makes for an outstanding and fun experience, helping each other over walls, coaching each other through challenging obstacles like the rigs, and motivating each other to try our best and discovering abilities you never new you were capable of”.

Are-you-fit-for-the-F.I.T.-Challenge

“Signing up for the elite heat in F.I.T. challenge is definitely intimidating” – Sarah Kelly

Ready to fight for your band and take on the Elite course? If 3 plus miles of quick elevation climbs and 40 obstacles wasn’t tough enough, F.I.T. Challenge has a mandatory obstacle completion for its Elite wave. Upside is you get to give that Multi-Rig another shot if need be. Female Elite, Sarah Kelly’s advice is to be confident. “It’s a small and stacked group…but it’s a great way to see what your made of and how hard you can push yourself, since it’s such a brutal course.”

Are-you-fit-for-the-F.I.T.-Challenge

Now if Open and Elite waves don’t quite feed your appetite, F.I.T. Challenge offers you the Multi-lap Survivor wave. Giving you a solid 5 hours to get in as many laps as possible, with a mandatory last lap start before the final noon wave takes off. Get three or more laps in and earn yourself a handmade block to show off your toughness. Taking on a multi lap course, competitively, takes a bit more grit and mental preparedness then the others. As competitive multi-lapper and elite racer Antoni Favata would say its “an entirely different animal.” Aside from training, he stresses the necessity of having fun in order to keep a good and competitive mental state on the course. His advice is to “…get familiar with pacing. Train time on feet!” and to toss out the “cookie-cut 60 minute workout window”.

Whether Open wave, Elite racing, or Multi-lap Surviving, or having fun, the best way to see if your fit for the F.I.T. Challenge is to cross the start line.

Are-you-fit-for-the-F.I.T.-Challenge

Spartan Race World Championships: Elite/Pro Tips for the Mental Obstacles

Spartan Race World Championships - Start Line

When one chooses to compete in a Spartan Race, one never knows, 100%, what to expect.  Having designers, directors, and build crews acting as evil scientists in a lab, concocting what they feel would not just be a physically challenging course, but one that is filled with mental tests in which the winner and the quitter battle and tuning out the noise is a necessity. The 2016 Spartan Race World Championships delivered just such a course – one that required both physical and mental preparation and stamina.

So how does one mentally prepare to reach the finish? Here are a few tips from elite and pro racers on how they overcame the common mental obstacles faced before crossing the finish line.

Mental Obstacle #1: Extreme Temperatures

Spartan Race World Championships - Cold Water

The 2016 Spartan World Championships were held in Tahoe so athletes had somewhat of a preconceived notion of what to expect, or heard the horror stories of temperature from the previous year.

It’s northern California in October and the chance of cold weather is high. Not to mention swimming obstacles would be a guarantee. This didn’t stop athletes from across the world  making the pilgrimage to compete. How you might ask? Well aside from preparing physically and knowing how to work temps to your advantage, Male Elite Competitor, Kevin Seaman reminds himself that “… you didn’t make it there by accident. You’ve proven you’re strong enough to handle it.”

Mental Obstacle #2: Seemingly Endless Elevation Gain

Spartan Race World Championships - Elevation Gain

As the start line corral filled up, nerves and excitement set in. Athletes soared through the festival area, to the first set of walls and rolling mud before the first, of two, ascents up the mountain. Although, this first lap was obstacle light, the continuous uphill, paired with the mountain winds and dropping temperatures, make for a sure fire set up for becoming weary. Female Elite racer Alex Sawicki says the best route is to keep it positive. Don’t let any self-pity in. Especially when fighting injuries, she refuses to waste energy on negative thinking.

“Move with purpose, move forward.” -Alex Sawicki

Mental Obstacle #3: Facing New Obstacles

Spartan Race World Championships - New Obstacles (Thigh Master)

Upon reaching the bottom of the first climb, racers hit the first of quite a few new Spartan obstacles. First was The Thigh-Master. A fun addition, in my opinion, involving a solid amount of thigh strength rather than anything else. Other new creations unveiled were – Olympus (a slanted wall fitted with rock climbing holds, chains, and cut outs, testing your grip strength), the Spartan Ladder, and the new multi-rig style, filled with old favorite rings and adding in rope hangs to the finishing bell. Along with the Apehanger, making its first appearance at the Blue Mountain Championship, fitted with a rope climb to angled hanging monkey bars over 4-ft of water.

Spartan Race World Championships - New Obstacles (Apehanger)

How does one racing to the finish not get held up by so many new twists? Well, Spartan Pro Kevin Donoghue doesn’t waste a second  saying that speed is the best approach, “Quickly assess, dissect, and execute.”

Mental Obstacle #4: Added Sanded Bags and Extended Bucket Brigades

We all can agree that the carry obstacles can be some of the most mentally torturous. So when told that the Spartan World Championship Beast was going to have a double Sand Bag carry and half mile Bucket Brigade jaws dropped and eyes rolled. All the grip training and back strengthening efforts are great reminders to get you through. In addition, Pro racer and 2nd Place Elite Female Championship Finisher, Lindsay Webster’s advice might just make you dig a bit deeper than you thought you could and keep pushing.

The thing about obstacle racing that really and truly sets it apart from any other sport is the amount of mental grit it requires. You just have to set aside thoughts of your aching muscles and screaming lungs and focus on forward progress. I came to Tahoe to race a World Championship, and even though my body was cramping and exhausted, I did my darnedest not to let it stop me. – Lindsay Webster

Spartan Race World Championships - Log Carry

Throughout all the courses and especially one as intense as the Spartan World Championship course, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you ARE capable. Get out and race, and as Spartan Race says “You’ll know at the Finish Line.”

Spartan Race World Championships - Medal


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