Tactical Titan

Tactical Titan


“Not your beginners 5k OCR”

Tactical-Titan-Logo

 With only its second race to date, Tactical Titan is leaving athletes sore, challenged, and damn proud of themselves. This race is apart of the TitanRuns series hosted by Mike Nelson from Plant City, Florida. Tactical is a mudless 5k OCR that was held on June 10th 2017 at the Hillsborough County Fairgrounds. Due to a rainy week in Central Florida the race left runners dirty and racing for the showers post run although it was advertised as being mudless. To offset the flat terrain at the fairgrounds Tactical made sure NOT to slack on the intensity and creativity of their new obstacles.

I thought to myself “pshhhhht, I got this” when I saw Tactical was only a 5k…BOY was I WRONG! Tactical Titan boasted 30+ obstacles in the 5k distance including THREE challenging rigs, tire flips, monkey bars, inverted walls and a SPINNING TUBE OF DEFEAT! As I helplessly attempted to crawl through the tube I felt like I was a pair of tennis shoes getting rolled around in a quick speed dryer! After witnessing these kickass obstacles, I quickly learned that they were NOT to be taken lightly. This race had me feeling a type of exhaustion that I have never felt before during a 5k like Rugged Maniac or Warrior Dash. By the time the last obstacle (bleachers….. oh JOY) had come around I had reached my breaking point due to the amount of physically intensive obstacles.

Tactical-Titan-June-Course-Map

I mean come on now; LOOK at THIS TUBE !!!!!!! 

After the fun of really EARNING our medals, Tactical hosted its one of a kind Rig Tournament Challenge. First, athletes had to successfully complete the rig by going down and back across the various hanging objects (balls, ropes, and rings). Second, they had to be faster then their opponent in order to move onto the next round. Pictured below is Rich King from Orlando who made such a BADASS come back in the rig tournament. Rich started in eighth place because of a shoulder injury, but came back to dominate the competition and win first place. He states that the hardest part of the rig was “the balls. It was hard to grab the balls”……… we’ll just leave it at that… BUT; he kicked ass and took home the overall win for the men.

Tactical-Titan-Rig 

This race showed me that teamwork really does, as cliche as it sounds, make the dream work.

     Tactical was able to deliver the three main aspects of OCR; team work, comradery, and getting stupid dirty! This race required a lot of teamwork due to the physically demanding obstacles. “MUDRUNFUN” was titled as the BEST TEAM at the course. Team captain, Eduardo Gonzalez came back out on the course after his run to coach athletes through each step of the challenging rigs. I wouldn’t have been able to get through as many as I did without his help!

Best-Team-Tactical-Titan

Whats Next Titans?!

The Titan Runs series will be bringing Tactical Titan 3 to Dover, Florida again for its revenge. Can’t wait that long?! Mud Titan8 will be October 7th, 2017 in Plant City, Florida. MudTitan8 will feature 1 extra mile, with an additional 10 obstacles!!! Racing information and all things #TITAN can be found here at their website-  Titan Runs !!!

Photo Credit: Course Map and Logo Photo owned by Tactical Titan, while Jack Goras provided additional on course photography !

Stay dirty, Stay fit, and Stay motivated !! 🙂 

Jacksonville Spartan Weekend 2016

Jacksonville Super/Sprint weekend finished off the 2016 Spartan season this year in Bunnell, Florida outside of Jacksonville.  A vast and remarkably lively crowd of racers showed up, including loaded elite heats with several familiar faces.  

jacksonville-super-high-five

Saturday and Sunday races both kicked off with a flag ceremony followed by our national anthem performed by yours truly, and the energetic Robert Lyday with his infamous pre-race speech!   

jacksonville-super-robert-lyday 

Both the Super and Sprint started with the elite men, chased down by the elite women, then the competitive heat, followed by the open heats for the day.  Elite athletes battled for the top 3 podium places.

jacksonville-spartan-podium-finishers

This course was designed by Norm Koch and he was present at both races. This flat, fast course allowed for no mistakes if athletes wanted to finish on top.  Race designer, Norm Koch, made great use of this flat land and undoubtedly challenged athletes.  Signs of Norm Koch could be seen everywhere!  

jacksonville-spartan-race-trail-run

Elite masters athlete, Kevin Donoghue who placed 3rd in the Super masters and 1st in the Sprint masters, stated,

Well, it was the flattest/ fastest Spartan I’ve ever done.  I set a PR for a Super by 3 minutes due to the incredibly low 22 feet of elevation gain!  Having such a unique course gave it the feel of a stadium race. That in regards to importance of not having a penalty.  One mistake and you would fall hopelessly behind!  It was a step on the gas and go as fast as possible for the entirety of both the Super and Sprint.  But it was by no means easy terrain.  Constant changes from loose sand, to hard baked sand, to thick mud, broken up by dense vegetation kept you on your toes enough to keep it interesting.”

The Super course was definitely a course for the seasoned runner, lots of running through ATV trails, creeks, and woods, mixed up with obstacles for the most part a couple at a time.  The race started off with 2 hurdles in an attempt to slow down some of the runners.  Next, racers climbed over a 6’ wall and a 7’ wall, followed by a very early spear throw, leaving many racers completing burpees while the lucky ones continued on.  

The rugged terrain and lush vegetation made it difficult for footing and Spartan Race, mapped out a challenging course on the flat terrain.  

jacksonville-spartan-race-mud

Ryan Kent, first place elite finisher at both the Super and the Sprint said this about the course:

“When you think Florida, you think flat. But the Palm Coast venue was anything but easy. Flat running becomes quite challenging when you add sand, mud, and Florida jungle to it. I was really impressed with what Spartan was able to do with that place. The terrain was always changing, and they did a phenomenal job using natural obstacles. The last mile was super fun, too. They packed a ton of my favorite obstacles in the final 2 kilometers, such as the Bucket Brigade, Herc Hoist, and Multi Rig. That Barbed Wire Crawl on Sunday sucked, though. I came out of that thing covered from head to toe in dirt and mud. Thank the lord for that Dunk Wall just before the finish. I’ve raced all over the country, and this was definitely one of the more unique venues I’ve been to.”

After the spear throw racers tackled a sandbag carry, the 8 foot wall, Z wall, atlas carry, and finally the Tyrolean Traverse.  These obstacles were the ones removed from the Sprint on Sunday.  The course continued through the mangled brush and large tropical roots, where racer’s had to be very careful where they stepped.  As racer’s turned the corner, the much loved, Bucket Brigade was in sight!  By Bucket Brigade standards, this was a remarkably mild one.  Racers walked through sand and some thin mud and climbed a few small mounds at a short distance of maybe 200 meters.  

jacksonville-spartan-race-bucket-carry

Next on the list was the Hercules Hoist, followed by an extremely long and low barbed wire crawl, and an immediate Stairway to Sparta.  Runner’s once again, entered narrow trails with complicated footing.  As runner’s emerged from the woods,  the infamous Multi-Rig appeared.  This obstacle was in view of spectators, ninja skills were tested to the max,  and the burpee zone was full of racers!  

jacksonville-spartan-race-rig

Upper body muscles were getting taxed at this point and the next two obstacles, the rope climb and cargo net, pushed racers close to muscle exhaustion.

jacksonville-spartan-race-rope-climb

 Racer’s once again, entered back into the brush of the Florida woods on a trail run, before winding up in another spectator friendly series of final obstacles.  These included the monkey bars, muddy trenches, slip wall, and the final fire jump to the finish.   

jacksonville-spartan-race-trenches

Athletes were awarded with the 2016 Spartan medals by a very friendly volunteer crew.

jacksonville-spartan-race-finish

Aside the actual course, Spartan Race impressed me with a larger than normal festival area.  They also had local food trucks selling food, rather than having their own.  This was a great marketing move, focus on what you do best Spartan Race, and contract out the other stuff.  

jacksonville-spartan-race-food-truck

Spartan also included a kids race of various shorter distances and had a nice turnout of kid athletes in attendance, making this experience a nice family atmosphere for athletes of all ages.

jacksonville-spartan-race-kids-race

The parking was a bit of an organized frustration.  Racers that paid extra to park in the VIP lot, found themselves walking near a mile to the festival area, meanwhile being passed by shuttle buses from the economy lot.  The rest of the racers parked in an offsite lot where they were shuttled to the festival area.  Talking with Spartan staff, venues are all unique  in terms of size and capacity and fitting that many racers into a small area is a complicated art.  Spartan Race did the best they could with the venue they had.  

jacksonville-spartan-race-racers

All in all, Jacksonville Spartan weekend was a hit for racers.  Norm Koch made great use of the flat land to provide racers with an excellent, yet challenging obstacle race.  The Spartan season in Florida ended on a high note and racers were satisfied with their experience.  People from all over flew or drove to Florida to experience the last race of the year.  

Where in the World is Waldo?

A Gator Mud Run Race Review, Waldo, Florida

Waldo, Florida? Never heard of it. Seriously, even Google Maps struggled with getting me to the race venue; but once I got there and saw about 15 wooden obstacles all within my field of view, and they all looked cool, I knew I was in for a killer morning of racin’.

Race Organization

Who cares? I never have anything to say about race organization ‘cuz I really just don’t care. I’m there for one thing – playing on big-boy toys while I run through the woods. I really don’t care what the shirt looks like, how long the lines are, nor what kind of ‘swag’ we get at packet pickup. If you like that kind of stuff, my reports will not be your thing.

Race Obstacles

This is what I care about most. I’ve always judged OCRs on one standard – Spartan Race. I’ve always had the best experiences at Spartan races in the past; however, the last few felt cookie-cutter, and more designed around ease of the course designers, not the enjoyment of the athletes. I guess that’s what happens when you get huge and have to franchise a process.

Gator Mud Run was a nice surprise. Having dipped out of OCR for awhile, I was excited to race again, and Gator promised 40 badass obstacles, over 5K distance.

That’s a lot of obstacles.

Waldo Mud Run race course map

Blow by Blow

Let’s see how much I can remember… Ready, go:

  • After the starting gun, the front pack bunches up, leaping a few waist-high log jumps and shaking out the butterflies.
  • We got to the first of a crap-load of wall ascents. Lines started forming? …Really? I charged ahead and got over the damn wall. The elite division is the money division, and lines don’t make sense. Race like ya wanna win, ma’an.
  • Ducked into the fringe of some woods, jumped more walls, stepped through some tires. Nothing crazy …yet.
  • Next, the quintessential series of up-and-down mud pits followed. You could actually jump across a couple of them without ever getting in them, but I don’t think volunteers knew what to do when that went down.
  • Ropes. Rope climb was pretty standard. ~20 feet, with knots. Let’s be real, knots make it easy, but that’s ok. It was fun.
  • An interesting “barrel hop” obstacle came next. We ran up an inclined plank of wood, and then leaped across a series of full, plastic barrels. Cool obstacle. Very unique.
  • And then, egad. The sliding obstacle, which really isn’t an obstacle, but I get called an a-hole whenever I slam slides in races, so, well… I’m still saying slides are lame. Sorry, they just are. At least I got wet, and cooled off for 3 seconds.
  • More raised log jumpin’, more wall scalin’, and then came the pegs. Horizontal traverse using pegs and rock-climbing holds. Cool obstacle. maybe my favorite.
  • More walls, more mud waddlin’, and then those crazy floating boards you see in races. You have to try to run across them, over water, and not fall in. I know the strategy, so I moved through this pretty quickly. I stopped to thank some volunteers and take a sip of a mystery drink. Story for another time…
  • A few underwater pipe crawls, and we found ourselves at three A-frame setups. The challenge? Run up the step slant as fast as you can, hope you make it about 12-14 feet to a piece of rope to use to hoist yourself all the way over. Lots of failures and thus burpees happening here, and I’m glad I wasn’t one of them.
  • 2.1 miles in and I could still see the front guys. Race is going well. I’m gassed, but happy and excited and fulfilled.
  • Next obstacle, flip tires. A strong man’s love. This was really too easy. Two flips? come on, RDs, make it 10 at least.
  • Jumped in the water for a 100 yard swim. Not much to say about that other than, “ahhhhh… nice and cool.”
  • The last obstacles were designed to pin people down right before the finish (which is brilliant).
  • Trampoline launches to Tarzan ropes, and floating boards came next. I chose the ropes. Tarzan swings are my jam.
  • Next, the rings. I have rings at my office. I train rings all the time. At the Ninja gym in Atlanta, I used rings-based obstacles to warm-up before every training session. I NEVER bust on rings… I busted on the rings. Simply slipped. 20 burpees was my reward.
  • Lastly, there was a short barbed-wire mud crawl to get us nice and dirty for the finish line pics.

And that’s about it.

I ran the Elite wave, not because I see myself as elite, but because waiting for obstacles in the open waves is something I just can’t imagine myself doing without making hella enemies. Racing and waiting do not go well together.

Finished the race in about 33 minutes or so. Not really sure yet as the race clock was all jacked up, and we started later than expected. For me, my main goal these days in athletics is to blow the doors off of what is expected of Masters athletes. I want to show that we can be strong, fast, trained, and dedicated, just like the young athletes. Age is only a number. I expect to continue to be competitive until I die. I will run my heart out because I care about giving it my all. I just do.

Every race… every experience… they are gifts. Gifts to be treated with heart. I can’t even imagine what life would be like without these physical outlets to keep crazy-hyper dudes like me from climbing the walls. Or, let’s be honest, getting into trouble.

Great race, Gator. Thank you for the abundance of obstacles, and keep up the good work. (but, that was not 3.1 miles. Jus’ sayin….).

 

Mud Mingle, O-Town Style

Mud Mingle, Orlando, Race Review

Tony manages some mud at Mud Mingle obstacle race in Orlando

Contributor Shyam Sriram went down to Florida with his buddy Tony Ferrante and came back with this review.

Advertised as the “silliest, messiest, muddiest, most funnest, mud run ever,” we decided to drive down to Florida for the January 25th Mud Mingle Orlando. The event was not actually in Orlando, but 30 miles north in Sorrento. Mud Mingle is relatively new in the world of obstacle course racing, but many of the course designers and organizers have experience from working on other events and it showed. This was a fun, professional and well-organized event that was not exactly as advertised, but still a lot of fun.

Tony on the bars at Mud Mingle

The course was advertised as a 5K (3.2 miles), but actually came out to more like 3.8 miles. However, due to the absence of mud and that damningly slick Georgia clay, this was a very manageable 3.8 miles (6.11K). Yes, that’s right, very little mud. Oh and even better? We both came to the revelation on the morning of the race that we were in Central Florida so there would be no hills!

What Mud Mingle Got Right

  1. Barring the delay at the beginning of the race when the 8:20 a.m. wave was pushed to 8:40 a.m., this was an extremely well-organized event. The race organizers were cheerful and wandering around and easy to find if you had a question.Registration was a breeze and the bag check at $5 was well-organized.
  2. Instead of mud, the entire course was covered in potting soil that felt like you were running on very cold sand, but that looked like ash. It was much easier to run through than mud, but still challenging. The sides of the sandy roads provided firmer ground when your quads and calves started complaining, but with ample cacti everywhere this was an added obstacle. It really made running kind of fun and interesting.
  3. There was one food truck, but the race organizers received major brownie points for providing not just any beer, but a complimentary Sapporo beer for race participants over 21; a fire pit, which was sorely needed with chilly early morning temperatures; and free hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was a nice touch and no small undertaking. The race organizers put in extra effort to make sure they kept the warm yumminess flowing.
  4. And on the subject of the beer, we want to point out our favorite sight of the day that went unheralded and unnoticed by most folks. There was a group of active duty servicemen in their camouflage utilities assembled to begin their assault on the Mud Mingle. We saw the race director, Garfield Griffiths (who was clad in a killer Union Jack kilt BTW), quietly approach our military men and women and graciously present them with two cases of beer and his thanks. Truly a class act, Garfield.
  5. We counted approximately 15 obstacles including traditional challenges like log and tire carries; a short scramble uphill with a rope for assistance; cargo net bear crawls; short and high walls; a rope climb; monkey bars; and a tunnel crawl. However, we ran through some obstacles that were out of the ordinary. We liked the two mental puzzles, one of which including choosing between two routes – “Death” or “Piece of Cake” – as well as one challenge where participants had to solve a riddle or do push-ups as punishment. We also enjoyed the knife throwing contest, which had an air of country fair coolness about it. You had three chances and if you stuck all three you won a huge carnival stuffed animal that you got to carry with you the rest of the race. Talk about fun, funny, and semi-challenging at the same time!
  6. Margarita and Bacon Stations ON THE COURSE! Clean eating and nutrition be damned! This is a running, muddy party, not an Ironman. The little cup of (possibly) spiked margarita about a third of the way in was delicious and such a fun thing to have. Then another third of the way through was a table of smiling volunteers handing out crispy and freshly cooked strips of bacon deliciousness. Running the rest of the way with the taste of bacon in your mouth is an experience to bring a smile to your face.
  7. The final obstacle was spectacular and a great way to finish the race. The organizers included the often copied inclined wall, but gave participants a very thick, knotted rope. Once you made it to the top, you had to climb down the structure and choose to go through a pipe on your back or head first and plunged about 10 feet into the mud. After a 10-foot crawl under “barbed wire” (actually bungee cords strung low) and staggering up, we were greeted with a full, whipped cream pie to the face – much better than the musclebound gladiators we all have come to know and love at the end of most OCRs.
  8. The medal was a nice, colorful Mud Mingle dog tag on a chain that says “Declare Shenanigans” and that’s exactly what you’re involved in. Blood, Sweat, and Tears may play on the DJ’s sound system at the after party, but it’s not really a part of this race. Even the “Elite Heat” awards had a funny twist. Jars of mud for the fastest Mud Minglers. You don’t see that every day.

What Mud Mingle Can Improve Upon

  1. For an event titled “Mud Mingle” there was surprisingly little mud. There were only two mud obstacles – an electrical wire crawl under barbed wire and live wires about half a mile in, and then the obligatory mud bath at the end. I understand that the Florida terrain was not inherently muddy, but by naming the event “Mud Mingle” it just seemed like an easy attempt to cash in on the popularity of mud runs. The logistical difficulties of importing dirt to a sandy location are understood, but future Mud Mingles at this venue would benefit from additional mud being added, especially because it was kind of nice mud. A good, muddy pit at the beginning covers the participants from the start and adds to the allure of the mid-race photos.
  2. If you are going to include an obstacle with live electricity than all participants should receive some sort of electrical shock. However, there were only electrical wires in the very middle of the obstacle and if you got very low, almost submerged and emerged “Apocalypse Now”-style at the end, you could avoid getting shocked completely. The gold standard for this kind of obstacle has to be the Tough Mudder’s Electric Eel. Maybe less power like the Savage Race uses so it only feels like you got hit with a rubber sledgehammer instead of possibly being rendered unconscious, but the shock obstacles usually provide the greatest number of screams, shouts, laughter, and “adult language opportunities.”
  3. There should be an option for those who are interested to pay for a timing chip so they could keep up with their time and figure out where they’ve placed among their peers and age groups. This can be a financial burden and may not work, but a lot of OCR athletes really enjoy being timed at these races because let’s face it, all fun aside, they are athletic events and races.

Overall Impression and Recommendation

We both truly enjoyed this event immensely.  It was a fun, semi-challenging way to get together with a large group of our favorite people in the OCR community and do the things we love to do.  If you wanted a more challenging physical experience there was a 10k (which ended up being 12.22k) option available where you just ran another lap to get more of a physical challenge.  We would recommend this race and any other future events organized by this same team, and we’re already trying to arrange to be in Miami for the Mingle de Mayo on May 3rd.

 

Photos courtesy of Fixed Focus Photography.

 

Special Ops in the Stadium

Special Ops Spartan Sprint Race Review, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida

Special Ops course map, Tampa

The Special Ops Spartan Sprint at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, was more than just your normal sprint and different from previous stadium events. For the first time, Spartan was able to combine the uniqueness of a stadium event with mud obstacles. Not only were you running stairs, you would also be crawling through dirt and running through mud.

Special Ops Spartan Race in Tampa

Florida is not known for its hilly terrain but Spartan made sure you felt like you were running hills. Right out of the gate you ran up about 6 levels of ramps in the stadium. This was a great way to spread out the runners from the very beginning.

After a small obstacle, you came upon the Hobie Hop for a few flights of stairs and while it is not normally too difficult, going up the stairs was a little challenging. I probably found it the most difficult of the day. Through most of the first part of the race, you were in the walkways of the stadium where you encountered a few walls and an over/under/thru. Into the stadium, you ran up, down and across multiple levels of stairs. Although running stairs is not the easiest, I liked them and used this as a great opportunity to make some headway on my overall time. After the traverse wall, you had a gamble which was either run another 6 levels of ramps or do 15 burpees with 120 stairs. I took the run up the ramp along with most people who were around me. The sandbag carry was also up, down and across the stadium stairs.

From the stairs, we encountered a new obstacle which was pretty much a burpee fest. Trashcans were set up side by side and we were given a Nerf style football to throw into the trash can. Rumor has it that the success rate for this obstacle was pretty low. Given the amount of people doing burpees when I attempted it, I would believe the rumor to be true. I, like many, took my burpees on this one. Interesting obstacle but given the nature of the race and location, it made sense. While at a lot of Spartan Races, you can hear people saying how they are concerned about the spear throw, well at this one, you heard more about throwing a football.

Next up, right in the middle of the field was an 80 yard barb ware crawl. This was probably one of the biggest bottlenecks of the race for the open heats. For most people it was a very long crawl or roll through damp sand. To me, it seemed the barb wire was also a little lower than normal. It took a little maneuvering to make it through all the people and the barrels stuck in the middle but it was easily achievable. This was the last of the stadium obstacles before we were on to normal sprint obstacles.

The Herc Hoist was next and seemed to be weighted heavier than previous races. Still achievable, many people struggled to lift the weight up and slowly down as needed. The atlas lift was next followed by rolling mud. To add to the Special Ops theme, the next obstacle was weighted ammunition boxes which we had to pick up 2, carry them out and back. We had an inverted wall, spear throw, rope climb, slipwall, fire jump and gladiator pit.

Nothing really stood out to me to complain about. I heard a few grumblings about not enough volunteers at obstacles, but this was not something I encountered myself. There were also some runners towards the end of the day who did not get the Special Ops medal. Had this occurred to me, I will admit, I would be upset. Probably the biggest conflict of the day was many of the front elite males going off course. Different reasons were given for this but as a result, the runners who went off course were allowed to run the race again. Current times for the male elite only shows up to the sandbag carry. I am sure there will be more to come on what occurred and what changes may happen in the future to ensure this doesn’t occur.

I really enjoyed this race. I felt they made really good use of the stadium to put on an interesting and fun race for the over 5000 runners from all over the country. Check in was efficient by using the ticket windows, which I thought was really smart. The race used a lot of the stadium and then when it went outside it almost looped around the festival area making it pretty spectator friendly once the runners were outside. The festival area seemed to be in a smaller than normal area, but still not over crowded. Overall, from my perspective, great job Spartan!

 


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