Spartan Palmerton Sprint #2 – Enjoy the View

Spartan-downhill-sand-bag-carry-at-Palmerton

The hills are alive with the sound of Spartans!

Okay, maybe “alive” is a bit of an exaggeration. For the second weekend in a row, Spartan Race invited all those willing to climb the mountains in Palmerton, PA and challenge themselves on one of its most difficult courses.

The course, itself, was mostly unchanged from Sprint #1, so for more information on that, you can read my review. The only difference was a slight change in route coming down the mountain. This was due to a heavy dose of rain received the days leading up to the race. The previous route was too slippery, and almost certainly would have ended in numerous injuries. I was slightly disappointed that the obstacles weren’t switched up a little, to add something fresh for those returning from week 1. But, logistics for that may not have been possible.

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MAKING AN ENTRANCE

Since the course was pretty much the same, that leaves time to discuss a few other aspects of what to expect at a Spartan Race. Parking at Blue Mountain didn’t require a shuttle. Some lucky race-goers were parked just outside the entrance, while others had to take a brisk walk to check in. Volunteers and Staff were parked just on the other side of the lodge from the entrance.

Plenty of waivers were accessible for both the mountain and Spartan. Rather than forcing you to look up your bib number on a giant board of papers, Spartan allows you to either bring a predetermined barcode, or have the volunteer look up your name. Either are quick and makes check in even easier.

Ski-lift-view-at-Palmerton

ENJOY THE VIEW

Spectators had several opportunities to watch competitors, right from the festival area. Just before mile 3, on the far side of the festival area, they could watch Olympus and the Spear Throw. Back on the nearside, in the last mile of the course, the Bucket Carry and Barbed Wire / Slip Wall were in perfect view. Spectators could also walk up the hill near the finish line to watch the final few obstacles: Twister, Dunk Wall, and Fire Jump, then the finish.

One of the coolest parts about spectating at Palmerton is the ski lift. I’m not an avid skier, so I was a bit surprised at how long it takes to get to the top, despite making the trek on foot a couple times already. It’s a nice reminder of just how tall the mountain is. Once at the top, you can take a short walk over to watch the Atlas Carry and Cargo Net. Fair warning, if you don’t like heights, the ride down may be a bit unnerving.

View-from-the-top-of-Blue-Mountain

PALMERTON PHOTO FINISH

Once done on the course, again a plethora of post-race snacks were available. No organic milk this time, though! After receiving your medal and picking up your shirt, a nearby tent had several tablets where you could easily search for your time and rankings. Some of them seemed to have issues connecting to the server, but I only ever waited a few seconds until one freed up.

If race pictures are important to you, Spartan has you covered. Sprint #1 was on a Sunday and preceded by a Super on Saturday, so photos took a few days to get posted. Sprint #2 took place on a Saturday, with no race on Sunday. Photos and official results were posted on Monday. This is definitely one of the quickest photo turnarounds I’ve seen. Searching by bib number returned good results, but if you couldn’t find any, there was a time search option. You may be wondering why that’s helpful. Spartan is smart enough to place the checkpoints from Chronotrack at the same obstacles as their photographers. So, if you go onto Chronotrack or Athlinks, you’re able to see what time you crossed each checkpoint, and narrow your search for photos. Genius!

 

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Photo Credit: Adam Gori, Spartan Race

Savage Race FINALLY Arrives in New England

After many years of begging, bribing, kidnapping, and other forms of threat and intimidation, Savage Race finally agreed to invade New England with a pretty fantastic course on the “venue of all companies” in Barre, MA. Here’s the course map:

Savage New England Map_BOS17

If you’ve never raced in Mass, and aren’t familiar with Carter and Steven’s Farm in Barre, let me tell you it’s an ankle breaking, thick mudded cow farm, and steaming cow patties are an unofficial obstacle at every event. It is a swampy, stinky course and cows gather in groups and moo in protest as you run along. They do have an onsite brewery and ice cream stand though, and it really is a great place to put on tough events.

And this Savage Rage was tough. Savage Race follows the gold standard of mandatory obstacle completion for the competitive wave, called “Pro” at Savage. Pro racers received a nice wrist band.  We had to surrender the band if we couldn’t complete an obstacle, multiple attempts allowed. I can’t say enough about how great this is. More and more events with prize money have adopted it, with one notable exception, our favorite burpeepalooza.

Savage Obstacles

This course was crammed with familiar obstacles, many had a unique twist. There were a crapload of rigs. These guys love rigs, and it’s hard to argue with them. Rigs can be arranged in so many crazy ways and Savage Race definitely put some insane stuff out there.

Below is a pic of Tree Hugger. This was a wooden rig that required traversing square poles and logs with foothold cutouts. The early morning rain made the poles slippery. It was a challenging upper body exercise. Very creative and fun.

After a short run, we came upon Wheel World. I’ve wanted to try this for a long time. It’s a momentum riding obstacle, as long as you don’t fight the spins at all, getting to the last wheel isn’t so bad. However, scores of folks couldn’t quite make the dismount. Savage Race very cleverly arranged the solid ground to be just out of reach unless one let go of the last wheel at the height of the centrifugal pull. Lots of racers were left hanging desperately for a while before trying again. Wheel World was a blast!

Savages Overcome Fear

I like that Savage Race combines challenging obstacles with ones that require you to overcome fears. It’s really a great combination. This is an undervalued asset of our sport. The next article I am writing for ORM talks about this in specific, through the eyes of a man trying to conquer his phobia. Savage Race has Shriveled Richard (think TM Arctic Enema) and Davy Jones’ Locker, which is reminiscent of the high jumps into water that other races USED to offer. Kudos to Savage for keeping it!!  Thor’s Grundle, pictured below, had a high freak-out potential.

Savage Race really cranked it up in the last couple of miles, this awesome slide below, Colossus, was HUGE and epic fun. I wanted to do it 13 times. Rumor has it that Savage Race installed several permanent obstacles, including Colossus, at the farm. Pre-registration is open for 2018 already, in the cow patties.

Savage Grip Obstacles

The last mile-and-a-half had three very tough grip obstacles. It was a straight up gauntlet. Grip strength is my thing, but by the end of the third rig, I was running on fumes. Sawtooth came first.  The rungs were all wet. It is long. Not easy. I’m filthy in this pic thanks to a face first swamp pit fall. You shoulda been there.

Next up was the Savage Rig. This obstacle was a series of rings and thick ropes. It was easy to get tangled in this rig. This one was tricky.

 

The last obstacle was a brute named Twirly Bird, and it was one of the hardest obstacles I have personally attempted. Basically it is an alternating field of single flat handles, and loose clumps of thin ropes that they describe as a mop. Accurate. I watched a video on this one where folks wisely just used the handles by swinging big. Well, they adjusted the distance on this one forcing you to grab the mops too, as a result it was far more difficult. I would have fallen off if this obstacle was any longer. This was an impressive obstacle. It wouldn’t surprise me if Twirly Bird had a 90% failure rate.

I was very impressed with this event. Good medals, nice shirt, and very involved owner as well. I have only two complaints: the first one is that there are really too many events at this venue, but I get that it is hard to find space near Boston, so this one is forgiven. Secondly, handing out full size bottles of water at aid stations is wasteful. Buy some Dixie cups. Everything else was righteous!

Savage Race, I’m glad you’re coming back next year, cows and all. I highly recommend this event. See you then!

Savage Race Boston 2017. New Venue, Same Great Race?

Colossus-New-England

To the delight and high demand from many Nor’Easterners, Savage Race debuted their special brand of, “the world’s best obstacles” to Savages old and new who came from from 31 different states to get Savage as F*ck in New England!  The new venue in Barre, Massachusetts at Carters and Stevens farm on Saturday, July 15th, 2017 was familiar to many who ran it because they have hosted Spartan races in the past. Was Savage able to bring their special brand of fun obstacle course racing to a highly expectant crowd?

Short answer: F*ck yes! Read on for the full low down on one of the best OCR brands that you might not be running.

Let’s get past the boring questions first.

Q: What was the parking situation like?

A: Shuttle parking for $10, and $20 for VIP parking next to the venue. ***These prices are for regular cars and trucks only. Larger vehicles are $25+.

Savage Race originally had no plans for VIP parking at this venue, but some of the farmers were kind enough to rent out their land for the day. I heard from many that the shuttles went smoothly to and from the venue. Sam Abbit of Savage race did say that they had a fleet of 10 shuttles that would run regularly, and they did. I personally heard 0 complaints from anyone.

Q: I couldn’t make the race due to rain, kids, injuries, I’m scared, etc.. how much is it to defer?

A: $30 to transfer to another venue/race. No you don’t have to pay for additional insurance.

Q: How much is bag check?

A: $5 per bag.

Q: How do I get a big, beautiful, spinning medal too?

A: Click on the following link to find out about the Savage Syndicate program.

The buzz is that once again Savage Race did not disappoint in terms of fun and I agree to an extent. I personally think that the Maryland course is their best venue in terms of the terrain, emcee, and obstacle rotation, but Savage Race Boston was still an absolute good time. Savage Race Boston had one of the best festival areas out of all of the Savage races that I have run in 4 states, however.

There were interesting racers to meet and greet, the post race beer was brewed on premises, smiling faces everywhere, clean porta-potties, secure bag check, and very tasty food trucks and stands with reasonable prices! Everything that you are used to or expect from running a Savage Race.

Even INOV-8m the shoe of choice for many obstacle course racers was there, running a promotional sale. They lent out pairs of OCR shoes which you were able to return after the race, and yes I will repeat that… after the race. As in they let you run that day with a loaner pair. If you loved them you were able to buy a pair for $60-$65 flat. It looks like a lot of racers took them up on this deal (which are incredible prices for these shoes). Click here for Inov-8’s online store.

Savage-Race-Boston-Inov-8-LogoSpeaking of before the race, where in the world is Matty T? He’s one of the best pump up starting line people in the business. It just doesn’t feel like a full Savage Race without him and his, “starting line fun time.” No crowd surfing at Boston? Boo! Matty T. has been missing for awhile, has he been kidnapped? Matty, if you read this and need us to call 911, just blink once for yes.

Clocking in at close to 8 miles according to Savage Race and closer to 9 according to some racer’s Fitbits, it left some people asking, “Wait, I thought it was only 6 miles?”

Well SURPRISE! The Boston course had more room in which to spread out obstacles, along with narrow running trails where putting an obstacle of Savage sized magnitude would have been pretty much impossible, unless you want them to water it down with random cargo nets, walls, and logs. That’s not very #SAF in my opinion (For the newly minted Savage, #SAF means Savage As F*ck!) and that is choosing quantity over quality, which of course Savage Race did not do.

I can’t deny that this was the longest and muddiest Savage Race course to date for me personally. A big shout out to those that did their 2 lap first time Syndicate run at this venue, or even did fun run multi-laps. It was definitely tough due to mud, the heat, and stink. Wasn’t one of the obstacles wading through a mile of cow piss and shit? It smelled like the porta-potties AFTER the race in there.

I swear I felt like the main character from Shawshank Redemption once I came out of the many sewage/mud pits on this course. The only thing that was missing was the sweet, sweet rain to wash all the cow crap off. I mean look at the faces. You like mud boys and girls? Savage gave us all of the mud that we could handle and then some.

Savage-Race-Boston-Mud-Cargo

The only way to get all of that stink off of you, to the chagrin of quite a few racers, was to leap off of Davy Jones’ Locker aka the cliff jump, which was the next obstacle after the worst of the sewage/mud pits. There were a ton of, “Oh no, I’m not ready for this.” I dove right in though, no way was I going the rest of the way covered in cow pie. It was quite refreshing to feel clean. Well played Savage race, making a lot of us look forward to jumping off of a 15 foot platform just to get clean. Does anyone else think that Savage Race should put a photographer at Davy? I personally heard a few people say that they’d only jump if there was a camera person present at this obstacle, lots of skipping in the open wave. *Hint Hint*

Savage-Race-Boston-Davy-Jones

Speaking of mind trickery they placed everyone’s favorite (NOT!) obstacle at #3, the dreaded Shriveled Richard aka the ice tank, and then Blazed the fire jump immediately after. So not only did you freeze but you got to jump over a blazing fire while soaking wet which helps your clothes absorb the heat from the fire. Bet there were some chapped asses there. Hey Savage I thought it was Fire and Ice, not the other way around. Lots of people hate the Shriveled Richard but it’s one of my personal favorites, I mean where else can you get hilarious pics like this?

Speaking of their more intense signature Savage obstacles, wheel world had some real world problems with many of us racers. A lot of us felt that the initial jump to the first wheel, and along with the dismount at the end was a bit too far and out of reach. Many of us couldn’t even reach the first wheel without a flying squirrel leap, and still fell short. You used to be able to reach the wheels fairly easily, it wasn’t like 10 yards away. At least that’s how far it felt and looked as you stared up at the wheels.

Sawtooth, oh boy. The absolute favorite love and hate obstacle for many. I love the challenge it brings, but I hate that out of 6 Savage races that  I ran, I still can’t nail that sonofadog. Sawtooth at Boston seemed like a combination of the old and new Sawtooth. A kind of hybrid with the thinner rungs, but with the new harder transition from the “tooth” along with the metal framing which makes for better pictures in my humble opinion. I still want a shot at the original Sawtooth though. The group I was running with hit Sawtooth during the heaviest part of the brief rainstorm making it extra crispy challenging and slippery. Right into the drink for many.

Hangarang, another new addition and fan favorite seems to have found a nice balance between much too hard and doable. The mud made it extra slippery but it’s a great obstacle that requires some decent balancing skills. It has also been put back over water, YAAAAY!

Another view showing just how muddy and slippery Hangarang was at Savage Boston. I wonder what the dirt to cow pie ratio was in this mud mix.

The Pièce De Résistance of every Savage Race is that wonderful, glorious giant of an obstacle called Colossus. I have had dreams where I am doing this obstacle. It is that good. There is usually some amazing team work involved in this 2 part obstacle. The first part is scaling the 20 foot warped wall with different fitness levels of ropes. You can go sans rope if you have the ninja skills to do so. It’s so impressive to see. There are stairs on the side of Colossus if you feel unsafe going up the warped wall for any reason but still would like to go down the 2nd part, which is their 25 foot slide and the angle seems to get steeper at every race. Awesome!

Savage-Race-Boston-Colossus

As Savage Race likes to say, “You have to earn this slide!”

Savage-Race-Boston-Colossus-Slide

Twirly Bird gave the Boston racers a run for their money. Lots of bands are lost on this one (according to every volunteer I have asked at this obstacle at every race this year). It’s one of the toughest rigs in obstacle course racing according to many. I agree, but I just suck at rigs in general, and yes I am working on my grip strength.

Savage-Race-Boston-Twirly-Bird-Fail

    I can feel her pain.

What do they drink at a Boston Savage race? A nice refreshing craft pale ale by Stone Cow Brewery which is right on the premises. Lots of Savages were happy that it was a pleasant change from the dreaded Coors Lite that many lovingly refer to as “race piss.”

Savage-Race-Boston-Beer

 

Many said that Stone Cow was absolutely fantastic, even my friend, the non-beer drinker, called it delicious.

 A nice friendly pour.

The food at every Savage has been good, but the food at the Boston Venue was incredible! They had a food truck selling fusion cuisine for $7 with amazing portions and flavor, a jerky truck selling fresh jerky for $3 a bag, a brick oven pizza stand, and the food stand with your standard festival food.

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 Some of the best quesadillas and smothered tater tots ever.

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They even had a banana and chocolate chip pizza. $10 per pizza pie.

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The food stands if you preferred more traditional festival fare.

As you can see, Savage Race was a huge hit with the New England crowd that likes their races down and dirty!

*Bonus Read below! Not for the squeamish! Graphic Content! May be disturbing to some readers!*

Disclaimer: Obstacle Racing Media, Savage Race, and myself DO NOT condone pinning your bib to your skin ever, or attempting any other dangerous stunts. This is a bit on a very interesting Savage Pro racer, and American Ninja Warrior, Rigel Henry who happens to do this as “his thing.” Attempting this or any of his stunts featured has the very high potential of landing you in the hospital at best, and the morgue at worst. So please don’t do this ever, anywhere.

Rigel Henry first made waves at Savage Maryland when he went skins with his bib attached to his abdomen. I mean Facebook and Instagram blew up big time when his Savage Race pics came out. He’s on this season of ANW where they aired a part of his run last month, but are supposed to be airing the full run in August. He’s becoming better known as “Safety Pins Spicoli” in the OCR world.

Savage-Race-Boston-Rigel-Henry

Rigel has run Savage Races in 3 different states now, and he says that he is hell-bent on beating Yuri Force aka, “Mr. Has He Ever Lost a Savage Race?” I personally don’t know the answer to that. Maybe one of you other Savages can educate us in the comments regarding Yuri’s track record. Yuri Force took it all in Boston, including the $1,000 1st place overall prize money by finishing the entire race with 100% obstacle completion in 58 minutes. The second place winner was still  a 1/4 of a mile behind as Yuri Force crossed the finish line.

So how does Rigel keep the bib and his skin from ripping off during the race? Especially during belly crawls and jumping off of Davy Jones’ locker? He holds onto it he says and he places the pins deep. Very simple answer and he plans on making a Youtube video in the future on how he puts the bib on due to the slew of questions that he’s been getting.

Sorry Rigel, but you’re about to get a lot more.

What does he do once the pins are removed to prevent infection? He swears by Neosporin.

Now WHY does he do this? I wish I could tell you an elaborate tale of how he went on a spiritual retreat to India or Tibet and acquired super human abilities to ward off infections, pain, and maybe even death. That’s not it though.

The reason isn’t anything groundbreaking, and some might even call it petty… but he sees it as good old competitive spirit. He says, “If I can’t beat Yuri Force, I’m going to look more badass than him.”

I forgot to ask him if he’ll stop if/when he beats Yuri but I just have a feeling that his answer is going to be, “No.”

Rock on Rigel and it’s awesome that you chose Savage Race as your favorite place to test your ninja skills. If all the stars align properly we might get to see his full run on American Ninja Warrior this season within the first couple of weeks in August. At least that’s the rumor.

Rigel Henry showing off his ninja skills. He made that look too easy btw.

Now let’s play a game, is this Rigel or Spicoli?

 

Photo credits: Savage Race, Poly Poli, Richard Anthony, Surfermagazine.com

 

Spartan Race Palmerton Sprint #1 – Going Up?

Palmerton-Sprint-#1-Twister

Last year, I ran my first ever Spartan Race at the Blue Mountain Sprint in Palmerton, PA. Whenever I told someone that, their response was along the lines of, “Well, you picked a heck of a race to start with.” See, Palmerton has a reputation. The word infamous comes to mind. The climbs are long and steep. And, with an NBC Series Super only the day before, Sprint racers could expect a difficult course on Sunday.

THE FESTIVAL AND PARKING

Out of the handful of OCR races I’ve been to, Spartan has had the largest festival area. Although, it’s worth noting that I have not been to a Tough Mudder yet. And I’m not sure if Palmerton’s festival is larger because of the NBC race on Saturday, but there was plenty of space and plenty of vendors. I have heard that the line to park can grow long as the day goes, but early in the day it took no more than a few minutes to get in. Check in was simple as well and the lines moved quickly.

Palmerton-Sprint-#1-Elite-Men-Start

THE HILLS

Maybe “hill” is an understatement. Palmerton offers a straight up mountain course for anyone willing. The Sprint course only has one climb to the top of Blue Mountain, whereas the Super had two. This may lead you to think that the ascent on the course wouldn’t be too bad then. If you were there, then you know that’s wrong.

First off, my GPS watch thought the course was about half a mile longer than it was. I’m chalking that up to the climbs. Overall, it logged a total of 1,755 ft of ascent. On a course that was roughly 4.5-4.75 miles, that’s almost 400 ft per mile. Checking my splits, not a single mile averaged a descending number. In fact, each mile had over 125 ft of ascent. So, even when coming down the mountain, you were still going up. Mind blowing, right?

Palmerton-Sprint-#1-Map

THE COURSE

The layout of the course was pretty similar to 2016. Some thought that was going to be a negative, but with some of the minor route differences and new obstacles, I thought they improved on last year’s design.

Racers start out with a short climb up a snow tubing hill, followed almost immediately by a longer climb up a couple skiing hills. Almost the entire first mile is making your way up the mountain. Total ascent on the first mile is over 750 ft. The extended climb, with minimal obstacles, allowed for a spread out field.

Palmerton-Sprint-#1-Atlas-Carry

THE OBSTACLES

Spartan included many of its new obstacles, such as Twister and Olympus, plus several classics. One I expected to see, but didn’t, was the monkey bars. They were included in the section of the Super course that veers from the Sprint course, along with Z-Walls and a few others. The layout of the obstacles was pretty spot on. The hurdles and walls were mainly early, with the tougher obstacles coming after the mile-long climb to the top. Once the top was reached, racers almost immediately were faced with the Atlas Carry.

Palmerton-Sprint-#1-Ape-Hanger

A couple permanent Palmerton obstacles reappeared, of course, as well. First was the swim through Blue Mountain’s pond. A life jacket was optional for the Sprint (the day before it was mandatory for Super racers). Shortly thereafter, competitors had to try their grip strength on Ape Hanger, just shy of 4 miles in.

There were two heavy carries on the course: single sandbag carry and bucket carry. The hill that the sandbag carry was steep enough that many racers were walking. The earlier waves were told that it was a bit slippery from the overnight dew and were advised to be extra cautious. The Multi-Rig was all rings, but no bell. Instead, after swinging to the final ring, racers had to transition onto, then over the ladder wall. It didn’t add much difficulty, but was a nice little curveball to keep Spartans on their toes. Twister was saved for the final 100 yards, so that the only obstacles left on the downhill finish were Dunk Wall and Fire Jump.

Palmerton-Sprint-#1-Elite-Women-Finishers

THE FINISH

A volunteer awards you with a medal and even a hug as soon as you finish. One thing Spartan is great at is post-race snacks. Even though I didn’t plan on having much more than water, I grabbed each of three Clif Bar flavors, a banana, some organic chocolate milk and, of course, a cup of water. Once you’re done stocking up and leave the finisher’s corral, the finisher’s shirt pick-up is right there.

Another worthy note is that many Elite/Pro racers from Saturday stuck around for Sunday’s Sprint. Ryan Atkins, Ian Hosek and Angel Quintero took top 3 for the men, with Lindsay Webster, Rea Kolbl and Faye Stenning finishing on top for the women.

Photo Credit: Spartan Race

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Racer Spotlight: Unmasking CF Bane

Many of you may have seen, “That D-bag in the elevation mask.”, or maybe even rolled your eyes thinking, “Oh look, another guy playing Batman.” if you’ve ever seen him on the course.

Well shame on you if you have ever thought that, and for the record it’s a silicone airtight cosplay mask, not an elevation mask. CF Bane cannot breathe comfortably while he’s wearing the mask, which is almost all of the time since entering the OCR circuit.

Bane-City-Challenge
Why does he do this?

Bane runs for a truly amazing cause that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. I’m talking about Cystic Fibrosis (That’s what CF stands for in CF Bane, just in case you weren’t aware.), a debilitating lung disease where most sufferers do not live past the age of 40. Their quality of life is extremely challenging every second of the day due to their inability to breathe comfortably. Breathing, something that you and I might take for granted.

Bane-Cystic-Fibrosis-Life-Expectancy

CF Bane wears the mask in order to simulate the sensation of not being able to breathe in honor of these young people who leave us too soon.

Whether it’s running a road race, a Tri-Athlon or tearing up an OCR course, CF Bane has garnered a lot of positive attention and popularity due to his hard work. Even one of OCR’s favorites Hobie Call was so intrigued, he approached the intimidating looking man in the mask at last year’s Atlantic City BoneFrog to ask what it was all about.

Bane-With-Hobie-Call

Photo credit: Jonathon Bivens

This is a snippet directly from the Lucosky Brookman Foundation , a group of philanthropic attorneys who has unleashed CF Bane onto the racing circuit in order to be Cystic Fibrosis’s ultimate Super villain.

“We were inspired to try to see what it felt like to have Cystic Fibrosis. Through the unwavering support of the Lucosky Brookman Foundation, the idea for running with the mask was born. As CF Bane runs, he sometimes struggles to breathe, to finish the race, and take each step. His luxury is one that those with Cystic Fibrosis do not have; he can remove his mask at any time. CF Bane’s struggle is temporary.
CF Bane was born to illustrate to the world through wearing a memorable mask in part what it is like to live with CF. It’s meant to try to provide a tiny glimpse into the struggles of living a life with CF. Sometimes concepts and struggles are hard to imagine. The mask serves as a stark reminder to everyone that the struggle is real. Everyone deserves to just breathe.”

Bane-CF-Girl

CF Bane with a brave sufferer of Cystic Fibrosis.

Click here for more information about CF Bane and the LBF.

CF Bane vows that he will fight Cystic Fibrosis until a cure is found, or until he breathes his last breath. I was lucky enough to run the Boomer Esiason 4 miler through beautiful Central Park on April 1st, as a part of his nationwide Army. I asked him what it feels like to be the face of the fight against CF in the OCR community. He replied,”CF Bane doesn’t see himself as the face of Cystic Fibrosis. My army and I, along with the backing of the Luckosky Brookman foundation see ourselves as a way to help spread awareness about the dreaded disease. There are so many amazing people fighting CF that are the faces. CF Bane simply wears a mask with no holes to show the public how it feels to not be able to breathe.”

Bane-Army-Boomer-Run

CF Bane has been fighting CF on the OCR courses since 2014, running over 30 races and many miles to date in that stifling mask. This year he also runs with a purple flag, the color of Cystic Fibrosis awareness. Those that run with him, have run with him, or have seen him on the course all agree that he struggles mightily to breathe in that mask. It is a task that many of us would not want to take on.

If you want to see CF Bane and his Army in action, they will be running the BoneFrog challenge in New Jersey on June 17, 2017. Say hello if you see him, he doesn’t bite… or he might if you bother him while he’s on an obstacle. I make no promises.

Bane-Bonefrog

As if BoneFrog couldn’t get any more intimidating with Norm “EffNorm” Koch as the new head designer for their courses, CF Bane is now also a BoneFrog race Ambassador. This has earned him the adorable nickname, BaneFrog.

BaneFrog

Yes the code works for all 2017 BoneFrog races!

When Bane isn’t running, He loves spending time with his kids at their sports, taking them to playgrounds, and playing Pokémon GO. Bane really does play Pokémon GO, I didn’t just throw that in there to be cute. Bane also enjoys Hooters, not for the pretty ladies in orange shorts, but because he’s an avid fan of wings and owls.

So keep your eyes on this incredible racer as he kicks Cystic Fibrosis right in the jimmies.

Now let’s take the mask off of this man so that he can just BREATHE.

Bane-Unmasking

Photo credits: Poly Poli, BoneFrog race, City Challenge race, Jermone Gonzalez, Ryan Sorenson, Jonathon Bivens, newhealthguide.org

Savage Race Pennsylvania 2017 – What A Skirmish!

Savage-PA-2017-PRO-wave

On fields where the combat normally involves paintballs, athletes from all over the country came to rise above the morning fog and win a different kind of battle. The threat of rain couldn’t prevent thousands of competitors from facing a difficult Savage course, head on. The terrain at Skirmish, located in Albrightsville, PA, was flat but technical, featuring rocks and tree roots on the majority of the race route.

Many attendees were returning Savages, ready for another challenge. Some came to earn their Syndicate medal, which Savage gives out for running multiple races in a calendar year. Others, like myself, hitting their first Savage of 2017. Those who had come to run their first Savage hopefully came prepared with upper body and grip strength.
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PRE-RACE AND ARRIVAL

Savage’s site is very easy to navigate and, though races can get expensive, there are usually plenty of promotions. Many of them include BOGO half-off deals. Once registered, email communications keep you updated on wave times, bib numbers, course map, parking and more. This way, you’re check in is quick and there’s little concern come race day. In this case, the course map was available about five or six days ahead of the actual event.

Parking was pretty simple and cost $10 for standard and $20 for VIP. As with other Savage races, standard parking was within walking distance from the festival entrance, making it easily accessible. For me, this saved me the $5 for bag check. I was able to keep my bag in the car and carry my valet key in the zipper pocket of my running shorts.

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I arrived at about 8:10 am, 50 minutes before the SavagePRO wave, which is their competitive heat.  The line orter line was a bit longer than the last race I had been to (Maryland Fall 2016). But, as I later found out, there were 100 more athletes in the competitive wave this time around. Overall, it took about 10 minutes to check in and get my bib, still allowing me time to walk back to the car to throw on my trail shoes and bib, so I could warm up.

Whereas Maryland really only had one or two obstacles near the start line and festival area, Pennsylvania had about ten, including a “mystery” obstacle that I’ll get into later. Many racers took advantage of this layout and got in some practice before the race. About ten minutes before the start of each wave, runners were allowed into the starting corral.

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THE COURSE

I’ll start this part by mentioning that Matty T, Savage’s normal master of the starting line, couldn’t make this particular event due to a scheduling conflict. Luckily, Savage was able to secure Coach Pain to fill in his place. Though they have two very different styles of beginning a race, both are extremely good at what they do. I had also run an open wave later in the day and heard a completely different, but equally motivating, speech from Coach Pain.

The overall distance was just under 6 miles, which included 30 obstacles. Runners were greeted with an obstacle-free run of almost 1.5 miles to begin the race. By mile 3, only 9 obstacles had been attempted. This meant that the last half of the course smacked you with 21 obstacles!

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Though I’ve only done a handful of races, this was definitely the toughest collection of obstacles I’ve faced. By the end of it, my biceps were drained of life. Savage found a way to take, what I thought was already a tough 2016 obstacle list, and make it even tougher. New obstacles like Twirly Bird compounded with two rigs at this venue ensured this would not be a cake walk. Not to mention that mystery obstacle, which was dubbed Half and Half by the end of the day. The front half was an inclined monkey bars, like you see in Sawtooth, with the back part a declined pole, as you see in Pipe Dreams. Did this mean there was no Sawtooth, then? Of course not! At the PA location, some of the obstacles are permanent and stay at Skirmish year-round. So, although racers didn’t get a chance to see the new Sawtooth setup, they were still climbing on it!

The only complaint I had about the course was that Kiss My Walls, during the Pro wave, had an extremely long line. It took roughly 5-7 minutes to even get one attempt. And, because Pro racers have mandatory obstacle completion and KMW is one of the tougher obstacles, it cost many competitors lots of time. Oddly enough, in the open heat I ran later on, there was hardly a line at any obstacle.

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THE FINISH

After racers complete the grueling course, they’re greeted with volunteers handing out medals, shirts and water. If you’re a “swag” kind of OCR junkie, Savage’s shirts are super comfortable and the medals are solid. Within 10-15 minutes, most times and rankings were available at the results tent. Though there were no actual showers (very common), Savage had several hoses and two changing tents set up a short walk away from the start line.

Each registration included a free beer, so that was available in the festival area after (and I guess technically before) the race. There were also beef jerky samples, a life insurance company, and food vendors set up in case you wanted to hang out afterwards. Savage also had two waves of their 0.5 mile kids race, called Savage Jr.

Results were posted the following day (Sunday). Runners also had the option of signing up for a program, called Pic2Go, that will automatically post pictures to your Facebook as they become available. Or, you could wait until Thursday when all the pictures would be posted on Savage’s site. Pic2Go could only post pictures where your bib was clearly visible, so some racers may have seen a few, while others would see upwards of 20.

This was only my second Savage Race, but there’s no doubt it will not be my last. Though the course presented racers with a legitimate challenge, the casual racer was still able to find a place to enjoy themselves with friends and family.

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Photo Credit: Savage Race