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.
Savage-PA-2017-Half-and-Half

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.

Savage-Map-PA-2017

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.

Savage-PA-2017-Twirly-Bird

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!

Savage-PA-2017-Rig-Over-Water

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.

Savage-PA-2017-Kiss-My-Walls

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

Bonefrog New Jersey 2017 – Was it a picnic in the park? Technically it kind of was.

Bonefrog-NJ-Happy-Fathers-Day

I had the wonderful opportunity of running with CF Bane’s Army, a very well known face of BoneFrog on Father’s day weekend, Saturday June 17th, 2017. CF Bane’s Army is a mud and road running group dedicated to finding a cure for Cystic Fibrosis, and on this day we ran on behalf of a brave young Cystic Fibrosis sufferer named Conlee. Running for those who can’t. Please click on this link to learn more about this horrible disease, and what CF Bane’s Army with the help of the Lucosky Brookman Foundation are doing to raise awareness for a cure.

Bonefrog-NJ-CF-Banes-Army

The very first words that I can use to describe the Bonefrog New Jersey 2017 Englishtown course is, “It was like falling down a military themed rabbit hole and my name was Private Alice for the day.”

*Pre race packet pickup was available on Friday night before the event between 5pm – 7pm*

Their insanely fun signature obstacles were there, the venue specific obstacles were fun and challenging, the parking was incredibly convenient at $10 per car. They even had port-o-potties on the course (Thank you Bonefrog!), a very rocking festival area with quality foods stands, water stations on the course galore, and amazingly friendly military and non-military volunteers. They even had the fitness option of knotted and unknotted rope climbs with the good quality rope! So what was it about Bonefrog New Jersey that still has me saying, “What just happened? What was that? Did I like it? Was it a good touch or a bad touch?”, yet it strangely leaves me kind of yearning for more.

Speaking of bad touch, why does Bonefrog have zero changing tents? The only race series without changing tents, that makes no sense to me. While we are on the subject of what’s missing? Where’s Coach Pain!

Bonefrog-NJ-Rope-Climb

The course itself, where many other well-known races are held each year in Englishtown, New Jersey, was turned into a wonderland of crazy obstacles and even crazier people. If Bonefrog New England which I reviewed here was, “Hell on earth.” then Bonefrog New Jersey was an insane tea party picnic in the park literally, I’ll get to that part soon. There was definitely something crazy about this dirty Jersey course that I wasn’t sure if I was prepared to take on so soon after Bonefrog New England.

What Bonefrog New Jersey couldn’t make up for in extreme terrain, they made up for by completely and absolutely playing psychological warfare on your mind with a course that made me go, “WTF is this shit!” many times. The torrential downpour of rain that was on and off like a faucet made the obstacles much more muddy and slippery as well, so add +2 for difficulty thanks to nature.

Imagine being thrown into a whirlwind world of uniformed military men and women manning the obstacles and serving you water, monster trucks in the middle of nowhere,  running across racetracks and up curving motocross hills. Suddenly you are in the middle of a beautiful wonderland of lush green scenery, a secluded manmade beach that looks postcard perfect with a sailboat just sitting there. The scenenery once again changes abruptly into urban-ish areas as quiet as an apocolyptic film and just as creepy. Swamp-like land with shoe sucking mud awaiting unsuspecting racer’s shoes, oh and they made you run through a public park.

Bonefrog-NJ-muddycourse

Bonefrog must have gotten a parks permit because suddenly we found ourselves running through children’s birthday parties, family picnics, old men fishing who were extremely agitated because we were scaring the fish away by diving into the water to complete 1 of the 3 swim obstacles. You absolutely have to leave all societal norms at the starting line to be a mud runner. I wish I was able to take a picture of these people hiding their children and the old men looking at us with their jaws dropped. You can almost see the question bubbles over their heads that said, “Are you doing this for fun or did you all lose a bet?”. So instead I will put it into 2 words. Bemused horror.

“Send in the clowns! Here’s your free entertainment folks!”

Bonefrog-NJ-Swinges-club

I’ll admit it was hilariously amazing! I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. That is definitely something that I didn’t even know was on my bucket list.

Bonefrog if you wanted to take your racers to the brink of insanity with the most amusingly oddest OCR course that I’ve ever run, you’ve done your job correctly in my opinion. My biggest complaint besides that damn grenade throw which I’ll get to in a bit, was the horribly marked course. Terrible lack of markings and mileage signs as well. Oh and little pink badminton birdiess or whatever those are do not help once they get stomped into the ground by other racers. The only mileage sign was a military volunteer that told us, “You’re at mile 4.9.” Great, now what if he doesn’t feel like talking?

Okay aside from bitching about course markers, Bonefrog Englishtown, New Jersey is a fast flat course even by road running standards which had about 40 obstacles for Challenge, a great place to go for the higher tiers such as Tier-1 and Endurance if that’s your thing. Some of the obstacles were not marked on the course so I wasn’t sure if some of them were even obstacles to be honest, and I don’t take Bonefrog’s course map seriously except to see the terrain, I am notorious for not reading course maps period. Bonefrog is notorious for sending out bogus maps anyways. See, mindfuckery. That’s the Navy SEALs for you right?

                                                                        I do not even know if this was the actual course that we ran!

Let me say that Bonefrog has the most amazing traverses in any of the race series that I’ve done hands down. Their Spider traverse on their New Jersey course aka, “The never ending cargo web of pain.” was hands down my favorite obstacle on this course. It was a loose shaky cargo net that looked like a mile long suspended tennis net. It turned you upside down, tangled you with what felt like no end in sight, it was great. Sometimes simple is the best, not always… but sometimes it is and this was definitely one of those times.

Speaking of the traverses, I was wondering where Bonefrog’s signature obstacle the river rope traverse was, but looking at the terrain there was absolutely nowhere to hang the ropes from. Sorry New Jersey, it’s a bad ass obstacle too!

Bonefrog-NE-RiverRopeTraverse                                                                             Just showing you what you missed in New England.

The worst obstacle is that dud of an obstacle the grenade toss. This time it didn’t even have a hula hoop target. There were hints of what could have been green spray paint or chalk. I don’t know, because the green paint/chalk blended in really well with the grass. I don’t know if this fellow racer was joking or not but they asked, “What are we supposed to do? Throw them at each other?”

I so badly wanted to say yes but the thought of being hit by one didn’t sound like a good idea to me. I told them that we were supposed to toss them. “At what?”, was asked so I said, “You’re supposed to imagine a target.” Stop trolling us with this obstacle guys! Seriously.

Bonefrog New Jersey was denser in high wall obstacles and balance obstacles than New England as well. Due to the extremely muddy conditions the group and I were extremely careful using our hands where we could on balance obstacles, and shoving each other’s asses (and sometimes naughty bits by accident) over walls. The Irish tables were MUCH higher than any big name race series that I’ve personally done and extremely terrifying, especially when covered in mud.

Bonefrog-NJ-Irish-Table

Another amazing obstacle was a water one which even my non-swimming ass thoroughly enjoyed. It was a series of huge buoys which you had to swim under and then crawl up onto a manmade beach. Great obstacle Bonefrog, more of these and fewer grenades please! It also gave you time to wash the mud off.

Bonefrog-NJ-Barrels

Many including myself hoped for a mud run and it was delivered on a silver platter by the dozens. The course was so muddy that sometimes you really do have to be careful what you wish for. There were even mud pits where if you stepped in the wrong spot you sank like a stone up to your waist. This is where running as partners, or in teams and in groups really comes in handy.

Bonefrog-NJ-Friends-That-Race                                                                                     Friends that race together, stay together!

Their obstacle Seat bars or better known as, “The green monkey bars that look like they are made from spare roller coaster parts.” Seriously that’s what a lot of people call them, has had a bit of a makeover. Instead of climbing up a cargo ladder to the bars, now it’s jump to the bars from a sketchy platform and hope you don’t fall off. It definitely clears the log jam but there’s like 4 lanes. Can there be a fitness option for these? One with ladders for amateurs, and the new design for the pros? Just a thought.

Bonefrog-NJ-Seat-bars                                                         Example of the ladders to the bars. This picture is from New England.

Get to the chopper, another grip strength obstacle that many including myself fail miserably at is still in my opinion, “Too damn tall!” Congrats to all of those that beasted this harder than nails obstacle. It takes serious grip strength and strategy to get through this one.

Bonefrog-NJ-Chopper                                                                         How does Justin T. Manning Make this look so easy?

My husband had the pleasure of briefly chatting with one of Bonefrog’s staff regarding difficulty in courses and obstacles. Bonefrog is trying to find a balance of tough as nails while helping those new to obstacle course racing find their fitness levels and reach their goals. I think that they are doing a great job so far, and it seems many agree due to the number of cars I saw filling the lot. So if you’ve never tried a Hesco Bonefrog race, I highly recommend it. Who invented obstacle courses to begin with? The military of course, specifically Lt. Col. William M. Hoge  of the U.S Army.

Bonefrog-NJ-William-Hoge                                                                                                   Meet the father of obstacle courses.

Finally, I’m able to give a HUGE thank you to all of the men and women that not only volunteered their time to this race series, but who also continue to sacrifice for the U.S.A, and those that made the ultimate sacrifice. I hope that you Bonefrogs did 1 for Bart at 31 heroes or signed the Memorial wall if you have a loved one in the service. It’s not all fun and games at Bonefrog.

Bonefrog-NJ-MemorialWall

Photo credits: Hesco Bonefrog, CF Bane’s Army, Wikipedia

Goliathon Obstacle Challenge – Evolve With A Cause

Everybody who’s ever ran an obstacle race has gone through a progression. The final phase in each persons cycle will lead them to their end game in OCR. Be it..

  • competitive racing with a goal of a podium
  • reaching out to every brand with a ™ symbol seeking an ambassador deal so you can promote yourself as “sponsored” on your athlete page that’s followed by the same people on your personal page friend list(they accepted the invite because they didn’t want to be rude than immediately “unfollowed” the page hoping you wouldn’t notice.
  • having a bad experience with one brand canceling a race and not offering a refund before you had a chance to experience some of the truly great brands out there(chances are if you’re reading this article, and know what ORM is, you haven’t ended on this path)
  • making an event a family fun time involving your kids whether as spectators or participants in one of the many kids race options

Or…..you’ve been lead to the final path that I have, by testing the waters of many brands, to find the brands that produce a race you truly find to be a blast.
I enjoy doing a Muckfest because the obstacles are just plain old fun.
I enjoy doing a Tough Mudder because the obstacles are fun and physically/mentally challenging
I enjoy Savage Race because the obstacles are fun, physically/mentally challenging and the “Pro Wave” mandatory completion option motivates you to try a little harder, push a little harder.. And in many cases with their obstacles.. Stay dry.

 

Guess what… There’s a race brand that caters to every phase of your OCR life cycle, in one event, not forcing you to engage in the aspects that turn you off on a brand. It’s the equal opportunity OCR life span event that gains popularity by word of mouth and social media with every event they put on…… If you haven’t heard the name(did you just get internet access?) I’ll introduce you to Goliathon Obstacle Challenge.

Recently they sold out an event at 1k racers. They could’ve had many more registered athletes but in the best interest of the overall athlete experience they opted to cap the event to minimize obstacle backups(which is an OCR athletes biggest pet peeve). Some were upset they didn’t get to experience this new form of OCR. So the amazing team at Goliathon revamped some obstacles(as they do every event) but this time added additional lanes to backup prone obstacles. By doing this it allowed everyone’s run to flow smoother from obstacle to obstacle while permitting more registrations….
It worked.

Their most recent event had 1,200 registrations. I was admittedly doubtful of solid numbers being that the always popular Tuxedo Spartan Race was on the same day. Next time I won’t question the ever growing following this brand is gaining with every event they produce.

Sounds like they’re doing pretty well… They are
Sounds like they’re very profitable(I  mean they’re selling out events and not sponsoring college football games)…
They’re not.
Normally that would be cause for concern… Not in this case .. Let me explain.

One of the most amazing things that draws me to this brand is the people behind it. Goliathon Obstacle Challenge is a 100% non-profit event.

OUR CAUSE
Our goal at Goliathon is to bring aid to those in need around the world. All of our proceeds to date have been sent to another non-profit organization called charity: water to bring clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries. We have completed one water project in Bangladesh and have six other projects currently underway in Ethiopia, Nepal and Cambodia.

Taken directly from Goliathons website.

Ok, not everybody is moved by such a compassionate gesture in today’s society. I’m sure the growing number of registrations for each event isn’t because people want to do good in this world(im sure many are). So in order to continue on their mission of providing clean drinking water, the team at Goliathon must produce an event that will continue to grow, which brings me back to my original point.

Goliathon produces an event that caters directly to the elite athlete, that trains and honed their obstacle proficiency skills.

Goliathon produces an event that caters to the fun loving athlete that enjoys testing himself on obstacles their confident in completing

Goliathon produces an event for a family(ages 10+) to do together, laugh, have fun and bond.
Goliathon is not for the speed racer as an untimed event(use a local 5k for that) which is great as the sport seems to be veering towards the obstacle side of OCR with more brands adopting mandatory completion.

Goliathon has 3 tiered difficulties for each obstacle. If you pass, you collect a color coordinating wrist band with a point value. If you fail, you continue on to the next obstacle. These are not your standard obstacles. Yes, many brands have a rope traverse, but how many throw in random wooden poles and sliding pvc piping to navigate?

Everyone loves hanging rings… Rugged maniac has those, but Goliathons version leads you to a rope swing over water with a small landing platform required for completion.


Balance beam? Been there, done that.
Balance beam with random objects to navigate over, under without touching to be disqualified.. Followed by an angled leap to an incline board all over water?  Yes please.

Rope climb? Everyone has one.
Rope climb with a 40lbs chain around your neck that must be used to touch the bell for completion at the top?
Only Goliathon has that.

Don’t be scared… These are G2 and G3 variations.. There’s the fun for all warrior dash level variations of all obstacles for G1 difficulty.
As more athletes catch wind of this amazing, one of a kind event, the team registrations grow, the training specific for this event increases, and the team at Goliathon is continually evolving with the athletes, adding new tweaks and preparing new surprises for every event.

This event draws out the top Ninjas, Parkour athletes, and families looking to have fun. If you like obstacles, hate running, want to have fun, and support a good cause.. You need to try a Goliathon today.

Photo Credit: Goliathon

Spartan Vancouver, B.C. (Mt. Seymour) 2017 Sprint/Super Weekend

Spartan-Vancouver,-B.C.-2017-SprintSuper-Weekend-01-Matthew-Romero

June 10/11 2017 was the date of this year’s Sprint/Super weekend that was held up on a snow covered Mt. Seymour in beautiful Vancouver B.C.
Many racers knew ahead of time what they might be getting themselves into as pictures of snowboarders wearing shorts & sunglasses were still being posted 2 weeks before the event. Luckily things heated up the week before the race & some of the snow toward the base started to melt.

I got to see things from a bit of a different perspective & point of view at this event as I was both working it & volunteering. I initially arrived at the site on Friday June 9th at 7:30am. Due to all of the posts leading up to this day on Facebook I really didn’t know what to expect up on the mountain. I ended up packing a duffel bag full of cloths, everything from shorts & sandals to long sleeved shirts & rubber boots. I’m glad I did as I ended up using almost every bit that I brought throughout the weekend. The temperature throughout the day was pretty good & I got away with wearing a T-Shirt & a hoodie when it did lower a bit. We had sun, hail, rain, wind, fog & the rest of the whole gambit of Vancouver weather none of any of it sticking around long enough to get completely comfortable with. I ended up spending the vast majority of my time on Friday helping flag off the kids race course & setting up Registration. On Saturday I ended up helping a Registration again then I volunteered over at the kids race. I’m so glad I did! The weather during the kids race was sunny with a little fog rolling through here & there.

Spartan-Vancouver,-B.C.-2017-SprintSuper-Weekend-02-Peter-Collins

Volunteering at the kids race has to have been the best thing that I did all weekend, even outside of participating in the Super. I was stationed on the bottom of the grassy but very wet toboggan hill at the spear throw which was furnished with plain long wooden dowels & hay bales, there’s no need to be worried, there were no points on the dowels. The course was kind of split into two sides & the kids got to run through some wooded areas a couple times when going from one side to the other & coming back again. Hearing those little tykes yell out “Aroo” before the race and seeing them run down the hill with reckless abandon really warmed my heart. I believe the kids races started around 9:30am & went until 2pm. The weekend is a bit of a blur but I believe it started with the elite category & then ranged throughout all of the ages. We had a regular length course & a bit longer course for the elites & older age ranges. As per the norm, the course got a bit slipperier throughout the day. Watching the kids race really helped get me pumped up. Just seeing the energy in these kids was infectious & really helped me get over any of my fears and tribulations that had grown over the weeks about the weather & the race. The best moment of the entire weekend happened when I was manning the spear throw, there was this one little girl who failed to get her spear close to the hay bales. Her dad grabbed her hand to move her to the next obstacle but I could tell she was disappointed so I told her she could try again & she ran right back over again. I gave a lot of kids this option to try again. Try, try again right? I moved her a bit closer but again she missed. I picked up another spear & handed it to her, this time tapping it from behind when she launched it & she hit a hay bale. She jumped up & down & hooted then started to run off to her dad to go to the next obstacle. I turned my attention to the next child & heard a little voice behind me saying “excuse me” when I turned around it was that little girl, she came back & gave my legs the biggest hug & said “Thank You!”. My heart melted & I had happy tears in my eyes for the next bit. Yeah, I’m a big softie! That right there is why I volunteer. =) Thank you little girl. On to Sunday!

Sunday morning came WAY too early with the long hours I had been putting in on site since Friday & all, but I felt great. Maybe it was due to the absolutely wonderful time I had during the kids race the day before, the new friends I had while on site, or the fact that I now knew just exactly what I was getting into after talking to those whom had been out on course for the Sprint the day before. A friend of ours, Karolina, had come from Victoria to stay with my wife & I. She was going to run both races on Saturday & Sunday but unfortunately rolled her ankle and received a 1st degree sprain a few days prior so she decided to still come and volunteer at the race. We both headed up again early to the site to help run Registration for a few hours. I was getting rather excited about running my second super by this time. My wife Charity & our friend Troy whom I was going to participate in the event with arrived on-site around 9:30. We said our goodbyes to everyone in Registration and headed over to the Starting corral.

I had been listening to Chris the DJ since Friday, it really seems he was rather ecstatic to be at this event. Even Friday while we were all setting up he was blasting some tunes and encouraging everyone with his enthusiasm. This rolled into both Saturday & Sunday, he was on point this weekend I must say. We barely got into the corral on time for the 10:30 wave. We heard the last bit of the speech, shouted out a few “Aroo’s” & we were off.

The first few obstacles came pretty quickly. Das Boat (think x-large propane tank laying on its side), Hurdles (It felt like they grabbed some of the rails that snow boarders would ride on & turned them sideways) & then OUT.

Snow-Climb-03-John-Tai

It was a bit of an uphill climb to our next obstacle, the Sandbag carry. The snow made for either good grip if you found a good packed footprint to step into or a lousy grip if you got the soft stuff as it kinda just moves out of the way. A bit more hill & then back down. Now, at first when I was going downhill I walked slowly & surefootedly (is that even a word?) but soon I learnt you could go pretty quickly as long as you slide your feet out on an angle & kept your toes pointed up a bit, it was kind of like roller skating up a steep hill but in reverse! I ended up getting better & better throughout the race & at one point I was flying down the hills without care in the world. I actually remember one point about 3/4’s of the way through the race where I had sucked back a gel & after it kicked in a few minutes later I was skipping & hopping down the hill singing the “We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Oz” Ahh, the fun of being hopped up on gels! After my quite literal decent into madness came along the Atlas Carry. I had been able to take this one on in Vegas so I had hoped I could do it again. It took me two tries but I got one of the rocks up, carried it to the other side, did my burpees & then carried it right back. Yay me! I know it doesn’t sound like a huge feat, but I REALLY need to work on my grip strength!

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

After that came the Block Pull & a new take on the Bucket Carry which incorporated Snow instead of rocks that I really liked, maybe it’s because the snow was lighter than rocks.  =)  A few more obstacles later & we came back into the festival area to finish up our 1st lap. The course was a slightly modified version of the first lap which I likes as you knew kinda what was coming. We unfortunately didn’t get the cargo bridge, I know they had it partly assembled on Friday afternoon but I’m not quite sure why it got disassembled & put off to the side, perhaps we ran out of time to properly build it.

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

Up the snow wall which was a nice steep hill with a rope to help you get up if needed, an 8 foot wall and back to Das Boat & the hurdles again. We did an extended hill climb this time. I really wish I had my head fully on my shoulders before going as I totally forgot to charge up my Garmin watch but according to my wife’s our total elevation gain was 450meters or 1476ft. I thought this climb would never end, we would get to one crest & then climb some more to the next one, then repeat it over again. Coming back down this time as I mentioned before seemed to get much easier although my wife mostly opted to slide down the chutes that a lot of others had made which also looked like fun so I tried it once too. Luckily there were no obstacles to be found this time on the trek up or down the mountain. We came out a section that I had seen the day before near the kids race but was told wouldn’t be part of the race. I’m assuming they were mistaken as it wasn’t part of the Sprint but it was used as part of the Super. On our way through the back woods on a new trail we hadn’t seen on our first lap we ended up having to work our way through what I would put on par as most of the mud pits that were strewn throughout the Seattle Super course. There were a few people stuck in the mud here & I tried to make my way over to them but got stuck up past my knee as well & had to keep moving otherwise might meet the same demise they did. They did have friends working their way around back to them so I wasn’t too too worried. Once through there we made or way over to the Spear throw & I landed the hardest hit that I’ve made so far. That sucker went elbow deep into the hay bales & took a lot outta me just to get it back out. From there came the Rope Climb, the Slip wall & then the fire jump. Now, I’m not gunna slag the firejump too much, but it was quite a short width & seemed to look like the propane tank was low as fire was only coming out of the first quarter. I was hoping that Spartan would have had their photos up by now & that’s some of the reason why this blog post is a bit later than I had hoped.  I found some pictures online of the fire before the race & during the Sprint & it looked quite healthy then. I guess making it wait for me to finish my stroll through the hills of Mt. Seymour took its toll on it. Either way, the 3 of us decided to try and get the best finishing pics we could so we took on that fire one at a time. Finishing felt wonderful! Yeah, some would say it wasn’t long enough, and I kinda agree. I heard anywhere from 9.7k (6miles) up to 10.6k (6.5miles) It all depends on who you asked. My wife’s Garmin clocked us in at 10.2k (6.33miles) It just drive home, to me, the fact that back in September at Sun Peaks when we did the Sprint we traversed 9.2k (5.6miles) I should have gotten a Super credit for THAT race! But, hey, I’m good with it. I actually decided to make Sun Peaks this year the finishing piece of my Trifecta & do the Beast there, God help me!

In conclusion, I had a great time working with Spartan Race Canada, volunteering & spending time with friends and family. I look forward to this event again next year. My fears of being frozen were abated by my wonderful Virus Coffee Infused warming gear & the fact that Mother Nature decided to wake up & warm up the climate a bit. Next up, Tough Mudder in Whistler B.C., there is also supposed to be snow there & I hear there are some bears strewn about just to make things more interesting. Oh my!

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Cheers!

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

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.

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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.

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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 !! 🙂 

XX Race – Indoor OCR near Philadelphia

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What’s great about OCR is that everyone is there for a different reason. Some want to improve, while others just want to finish their first race. Either way, you train so you can conquer the biggest and baddest races out there. You do hundreds of pull-ups, hours of dead hang, maybe even throw in some rock climbing. But, come race day, the obstacles catch you off guard and you find yourself doing burpees. Why?

Sometimes, the best way to practice for obstacles is to do obstacles. Novel thought, right? The problem: Not many people can afford to spend hundreds of dollars and drive hours away weekend after weekend in an attempt to get better. The solution: XX Race.

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THE RACE

The XX Race is (mostly) an indoor obstacle race located at iMETTLE in King of Prussia, PA, just outside of Philadelphia. While most races take place at a specific venue once or twice each year, iMETTLE is an OCR gym. So, they hold an XX Race as much as twice each month. Registration gets you in the race. No fancy shirt or free beer, but at just $30.00 per adult, it’s well worth it. Each racer runs a lap outside, which is just shy of a quarter mile. Once done, they come inside and complete an obstacle. Then, it’s back outside for another lap before hitting the next obstacle. There are a few outdoor obstacles as well (tire flip and sandbag carry, for example). A water station is located inside, allowing you to grab a drink after pretty much any obstacle.

Waves begin at 8:00 am and go off as quickly as every five minutes from then on. About 1-4 racers can begin during each wave. The race does not currently have a competitive heat, though there are plans to add one in the fall or winter. Racers can still write their name and time up on the whiteboard to see who posted the fastest race. There are also plans to add a competitive team competition with mixed indoor endurance.

Because it’s more of a friendly competition, iMETTLE allows you to do their penalty (Captain Americas), or the penalty of a race you’re training for (burpees, penalty lap, mandatory completion, etc.). If you’re unsure what a Captain America is, they’ll give you a visual explanation on race day, but essentially you walk your hands out, do a pushup, walk them back and stand up with your hands over your head. Ten of these is the penalty for a missed obstacle.

After all the adults are done, the course is altered and a kid’s race is held at noon.

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THE OBSTACLES

The obstacles were one of my favorite parts of the XX Race. It was a nice, even mix of what you normally see at many outdoor races. There were also a few cardio killers, such as the assault bike, row machine and SkiErg, to get your heart rate up. For those who enjoy spear throw practice, there wasn’t one set up at this race, though I heard it has been at past races. But, part of the difficulty of the spear throw is concentrating on form with an accelerated heart rate. Enter a basketball free throw shot.

For grip, they had monkey bars set up along with three (yes three) possible rigs. One of the rigs gave you the option of ascending a peg board instead, in case you thought that would be easier. There was even a rock wall traverse with the middle section extending out to make it that much harder. A few rope obstacles included iMETTLE’s version of the Hercules Hoist, Tyrolean Traverse, and, a gym class favorite, rope climb.

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No buckets were involved at this particular race, but plenty of sandbags were, the sandbag carry being the easier of them. Others were a bit more diabolical, the first of which included a roll of the dice and some math. Racers roll two dice, multiply the numbers together, and have to do that many sandbag burpees. I lucked out and only had to do five (5×1). Others were not so lucky. One of the last few obstacles was essentially a sandbag sled push. I’m not sure on the exact yardage, but it was long enough that my legs felt like Jell-O when running the lap after.

The final obstacle was a warped wall. Though you may not see it at a lot of races (yet), it’s still a fun one to try. There were four different heights to choose from and no mandatory lane, so racers were able to try whichever one they felt comfortable with. Once finished, athletes were free to go back and practice on any obstacles they wanted, as long as they weren’t impeding current racers.

Most obstacles only allowed one person at a time, though there were a few that had several pieces of equipment set up to allow for multiple racers. Despite this, there were only a couple times I had to wait for someone to finish. One big benefit of having most of the obstacles in close proximity to each other is that, if you want, you can always skip an obstacle if you don’t feel like waiting. Then, on the next lap, go back to the obstacle you skipped.

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BEYOND THE RACE

Because iMETTLE is an OCR gym, the XX Race is just a small sample of what they have to offer. As you know, the sport of Obstacle Racing requires training unlike any other. Competitors are very much considered hybrid athletes, which can be difficult to train for. That’s why they offer both OCR Training and Hybrid Training classes, which focus on both strength and conditioning, as well as obstacle-specific training. iMETTLE has also hosted a Spartan SGX workout, with more planned for the future.

Outside of the current offering of classes, a Bootcamp will soon be introduced. It will be a four-week challenge that will not only train an athlete’s function fitness, but also their mental toughness. Additionally, there are OCR workshops on the horizon, which will discuss race preparation, nutrition, hydration, and hands-on obstacle training. iMETTLE is even in the early stages of OCR Performance Testing, which will serve as a measuring point for athletes in order to track their progress.

For more information on upcoming classes and to register for the next XX Race, visit www.imettle.co.

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Photo Credit: iMETTLE/Vincent Naftal and the author