Obstacle Course Races and the Bad Business of Spectator Fees

Spartan-festival

Photo Credit Patrick Prentice

Last week I experienced my very first DNF in my three years, fifty plus race career. I was running the Spartan Beast in Spartanburg, SC with my longtime running partner and around mile 2.5 I started experiencing knee pains from an injury I sustained over a year ago. Luckily, we had just passed by the festival area and I sent her on to run the remaining ten miles alone while I hobbled back up the path to turn in my timing chip. My teammate and I had driven up from Florida together so I had no choice but to wait around for her to finish.

This is the first time I have ever spent an extended amount of time in the festival area of an obstacle course race and let me tell you: it was boring. I have been to craft fairs that are more exciting than a Spartan festival area and those have no entry fee. On top of this, there is no seating, the only entertainment is top 40 hits blaring from the center stage, and the food situation is reminiscent of a high school lunch cafeteria (but twice the price). In the end, the most exciting thing I came up with was balling up my gear bag and taking a nap in the grass. So why do Spartan, Savage, Tough Mudder, and all of the other big names in OCR think that this “festival experience” is worth anywhere between $10 and $25 dollars?

The issue of spectator fees really hit me when I ran the fall leg of the Savage Race one week after DNFing my Spartan Beast. My fiancee happily agreed to accompany me to my race just in case my injury started to flare back up while I was on the course and I was unable to drive myself home. After paying $60.80 for my entry, $15 for the insurance, $3 for a service charge, $4.20 for a processing fee, and $10 for parking I had already spent $93 dollars for the privilege of gracing Savage Race’s 7.2-mile course. Upon reaching the entry gates, however, I realized there was one thing I hadn’t accounted for: the spectator fee. This fee not only confused my fiancee but when she inquired about what the spectator’s pass entitled her to she was met with the lackluster response, “Access to the festival area.”

savage-festival

Photo Credit Savage Race

Spectators at athletic events such as races, triathlons, and OCRs have a vital function for the athletes. A well-placed spectator can drastically improve the performance of the athletes and provide the necessary motivation to complete the event. Anyone who has had a friend or family member cheer them on during a race knows what this feels like and it really should go without being said.

Running is a sport where the energy of the crowd can be the catalyst for change. Dave McGillivray, the director of the Boston Marathon, states in his article What Do Race Spectators Need to Know? for Runner’s World, “I always picked up the pace a bit whenever I hit key pockets of screaming fans… If we put timing mats at the beginning and end of this stretch, I’m sure we’d see just about everyone hitting their fastest paces of the day thanks to the immense crowd support.”

On the flip side of that coin is the function spectators perform for the race organizations themselves. In the 2012 study The Relationship Between Visitor Spending and Repeat Visits: An Analysis of Spectators at the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon researchers find that “spectators are just as important to a sporting event as participants” (Botha, et al). The reason given for this claim is that the more times a spectator attends a race the more likely they are to visit it in the future. Obviously, in a sponsorship-laden sport such as obstacle course racing having more people exposed to the sponsors can only have a positive effect on a race organizer’s relationship with those sponsors.

In another study published in the Journal of Sports Economics The Rewards to Running: Prize Structure and Performance in Professional Road Racing (Lynch and Zax, 2000) the researchers claim that participants of races actually derive utility, or a sense of accomplishment, from larger numbers of spectators in races. The utility can be seen as the driving factor for participants to actually compete in races, especially in races where they have little to no chance of receiving any monetary compensation. In other words: spectators equal customer retention.

fort-lauderdale-a1a-marathon-festival

Photo Credit Fort Lauderdale A1A Marathon & Half Marathon

I contacted both Spartan and Savage concerning why they charge spectator fees and what those fees are used for. Spartan Race responded by saying that they have started to improve the spectator experience at their races by opening up the venue to allow spectators to follow the racers more closely at a majority of their courses. They went on to tell me that the spectator fee went towards paying the insurance premiums for each individual race. In Savage Race’s response to my inquiry, they simply stated that spectators would have access to the festival area and the ability to follow the runners along the entire course. Savage had no comment on the use of the spectator fees but did exclaim that the fee was similar to any other sporting event.

Not every organizer believes in charging spectators for their attendance. Rugged Maniac, most notably, did away with their spectator fees in 2012 (along with every other nickel-and-diming fees such as insurance and processing fees). In a 2015 interview with Obstacle Course Racing Media Rugged Maniac’s COO Rob Dickens explained their position, “But we stopped doing it the minute we could afford to, which was back in 2012. Why? Because price-gouging your customers show a complete lack of respect for them and violate the golden rule (do unto others…). I don’t like to have a bunch of fees tacked on to something I’m buying, so why would I do it to my customers?” Rob Dickens also claimed the following:

After all, none of the “processing” or “insurance” fees charged by the other guys are legitimate. We all have nearly identical insurance policies, and none of those policies require us to charge our customers an insurance fee. Likewise, we’re all using similar registration platforms, and none of those platforms charge more than a $2 fee per registrant, so why are the other guys charging 8%-12% processing fees?

Everyone’s insurance policies are based on the number of expected attendees in a calendar year, so if Spartan is charging an extra “insurance” fee when someone run the same course twice, it’s simply another way for them to squeeze more money out their customers. Their insurance company doesn’t require it, and they don’t have to pay higher premiums for someone running twice. As I said before, their insurance companies don’t require any “insurance” fee. It’s completely bogus.

If Rob Dickens is correct then this claim would appear to contradict Spartan’s own response to my inquiry over the use of spectator fees.

rugged-festival

Photo Credit Rugged Maniac

Despite Rugged Maniac being free to attend, their festival area and spectating experience never leave you wanting. Coincidentally, both Rugged Maniac and Savage Race are held at the same location in Florida every year: Little Everglades Ranch in Dade City. It is hard not to compare the two races, thanks to this shared location.

One of the most prominent differences is in the way they use the venue. Rugged Maniac puts all of the high energy, high traffic areas such as their stage, vendors, and sponsors in one area while Savage Race spreads their vendors, sponsors, and their stage around the edge of their festival area. The difference is pretty dramatic: Rugged Maniac festival area feels more alive thanks to the sheer number of bodies in one area. Savage Race brings out tables and chairs (a huge improvement over Spartan’s zero-seating offerings) but Little Everglades Ranch has its own bleacher style seating that only Rugged Maniac takes advantage of.

Savage may claim they want their spectators to have sporting event style experience, but Rugged Maniac actually achieves this by using these sporting event style bleachers. One other difference that might often go overlooked is the difference in the number of children at each event. Savage Race, unlike Rugged Maniac, has a kid’s course. Despite this, however, the number of little people at Rugged Maniac greatly eclipsed Savage’s population. The reason for this is obvious: if your children want to watch you race you’ll have to pay another $25 to have someone there to look after them at Savage.

Another example of a race organization that does a fantastic job of providing a fun spectator experience is Warrior Dash. Like Rugged Maniac, Warrior Dash is completely free for spectators. I last ran Warrior Dash in 2016 and I heard nothing but praise for the festival area. Unlike most other organizations, Warrior Dash had live bands playing on their stage with a live DJ in between sets.

One other thing that set them apart from the type of audience participation they organized. Pushup or pullup contests are common events that obstacle course race organizers will put on but those types of contests are geared towards athletes, not your average spectator. Compare that to Warrior Dash who delivered a dance contest and a beard competition, both less physical and more engaging than their competitor’s presentations.

warrior-stein-contest

Photo Credit Warrior Dash

So why does it seem that the more widespread and well-known obstacle course race organizers are so anti-spectator? There are studies showing the positive effects that spectators have on both race organizations and athletes making it scientifically sound to encourage attendance. Athletes around the world sing the praise of a cheering crowd and the ability they have to motivate. The extra attendance would invariably please the sponsors and vendors of these events.

These are all things that traditional road races such as marathons and triathlons realized a long time ago but at some point, the OCR world dropped the ball. By all appearances, it would seem that removing the spectator fee, a barrier to attendance regardless of what anyone claims, should result in greater customer retention and revenue via sponsors and vendors. Unfortunately, it would seem that OCR organizers would prefer to view their spectators as a revenue source instead of their true function: revenue boosters.

 

Savage Race Dallas

Getting Savage Again

Every Savage is a unique experience.  On a hot day in October at the Beaumont Guest Ranch in Grandview, Savage Race Dallas began in great weather. Everyone was having a great time with a smile on their face.  Savage brings a unique feeling to the OCR community which allows serious athletes to compete and test one another, but to joke and share a hug at the same time.

Savage Race Venue

The Beaumont Ranch is a quintessential Texas venue.  I enjoyed the “Texas” feeling this venue offered more than anything.  Savage did a great job utilizing what little elevation and technical terrain they had access to on the ranch to provide some challenge.  Occasional hills, dried creek beds, and patches of brambly grass provided a technical challenge in a state not known for running elevation.

The scenery in the creek beds and the occasional tight spot through some trees was a sight to behold.  These routes gave me the feeling of fleeing outlaws in the old west. The winding path of the race course was well thought out and utilized every natural obstacle around.  Despite its lack of extreme elevation, the scenic Texas venue made up the difficulty with a good bit of heat.   The lack of any foliage to block the sun can take its toll on runners and hydration was a must.  Savage did a great job providing a total of three water stations spaced out quite well and before key obstacles.

Beaumont Ranch Savage Race Dallas 2017 venue

Beaumont Ranch Facebook

Volunteer Performance

Well-informed volunteers did a great job of being sure the pros were aware of all the rules.  They were also quick to call out any pro who did not follow them.  The volunteers also did a superb job of being sure to repeat safety concerns to competitors at each obstacle such as Davy Jones Locker and Sawtooth.

Obstacles

Designers placed “warm-up” obstacles over the first mile of the course quite well.  A good mix of crawls, under overs, and climbing walls lead you into the second mile which also upped the ante in the terrain.

In the extreme heat Shriveled Richard (Savage’s always super cold ice bath) was almost a welcome sight.  Shriveled Richard immediately led into Squeeze Play which wasn’t under water this time around.  After a bit more running and a water break, we moved through Back Scratcher, Big Cheese, and Big Ass Cargo before hitting the third mile-marker.

Savage did a superb job at keeping rhythm with the obstacles. There were about three obstacles per mile.  All of the difficult obstacles were not placed at the end of the course.  Savages “spectators are allowed anywhere on the course” stance can benefit in the course design in this way.

Savage

Savage Dallas Anthem

Summon your Inner Savage

Next came the upper-body grinder with three obstacles in succession: Tree Hugger, Wheel World, and Kiss My Walls.  These well thought out designs can annoy, challenge, and push competitors to the brink.  We train even harder to be ready for the challenge the next time around.

Each bit of terrain traversal leading to well-placed obstacles felt like a pleasant progression in difficulty to the finish line rather than a slog.  Nearing the end of the 6.5 miles, competitors encountered the new obstacle: Hang-a-rang.  This balance obstacle consisting of two logs suspended from chains is a welcome break up to the usual OCR fare.  Competitors were not allowed to touch the chains but only the tiny rope midway through each log.

Savage Hang-a-rang Savage Facebook

Savage Hang-a-rang

The adventure ended with Davy Jone’s Locker, the time consuming Mad Ladders, the infamous Twirly Bird, and Blazed.  Many competitors speed through until the end: shoulders worn out, forearms burning only to see Twirly Bird standing between them and the finish.  Nothing compares to seeing the smile on racers’ faces as they conquer a well-designed, just difficult enough obstacle like Twirly Bird.  They then jump over the flames with gusto to the cheers of a crowd able to comfortably witness it all from the festival area.

Final Thoughts

Other than one skimmed-over piece of stray barbed wire in a creek bed that could have caused an injury, Savage Race Dallas had no other detriments.  Designers utilized the venue to their utmost and created a hella good experience for racers and spectators alike.  Savage Race Dallas succeeded in cementing my love for the race series and showing me that they continue to improve as a company in providing both challenge and experience for the money.  I would also like to note that upgrading to Pro from Open on-site was quick and simple.  I have never had such an easy time with a company in modifying a registration.

Bling

I will say the new syndicate medals and state pins are a welcome adage to my collection.  These medals are high quality.  You don’t have to buy something extra to put them on OR pay extra money to get one.  Savage seems to have continued to grow and excel while still maintaining that care for their customers and appreciating what they do. Just like the words from amazingly talented Emcee Matty T, “Savages are a family.”  We are all there for one another, and that sense of family is something that is truly felt from the festival area to the course, to the finish.

 

Savage Race Syndicate Medal

My second Savage Race Syndicate Medal

Savage Race Georgia Fall 2017


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Savage Race Chicago 2017

Savage Race is known for coming up with new and innovative obstacles year after year and the 2017 edition of their Chicago race was no exception. With many race series turning down the difficulty level Savage constantly brings up their game and it’s refreshing to experience firsthand. I can easily see why attendance at their events continues to grow event after event as word of their commitment to putting on a great event spreads after each race. Pulling up to their event at Richardson Adventure Farms on the Wisconsin/Illinois border with my family I found parking to be a breeze with costs ranging from 10 dollars to 25 for the up-close VIP lot. Lines for the pro/elite check in were extremely long with only two lanes open while the open class had many more lanes open with next to nobody in line. With the popularity of their pro/elite class soaring it might be wise to shift some of their volunteer help during early check in from the empty lines to the full lines. Bathrooms in the festival area were also grossly underestimated. Athletes were lined up 6 deep before the start to take care of their pre-race evacuation further cutting down on some athletes warm up time. The festival area itself was well planned and spacious with a decent number of vendors along with plenty of tables and chairs for athletes to hang out post-race with friends and family.

Savage started out their 6.3-mile course by running athletes around the back side of the farm for four tenths of a mile, thinning out the crowd some before throwing racers down on the ground for a barbed wire low crawl. The course was very backloaded with obstacles and the terrain at Richardson Farm was extremely flat with only 100 feet of elevation change throughout the entire course. The Barn Doors came up quickly and afterward, this obstacle consisted of an 8-foot wall climb and was the second obstacle Savage threw at racers before a cool dip in a container of ice water Savage appropriately called Shriveled Richard. Unlike some events that just use cold hose water this quick bath included perhaps more ice than actual water leaving most gasping for air upon completion. With our bodies now stiff from the ice bath Savage led racers away from the farm and into the crops and country side for some trail running while throwing racers under a few barrels {Squeeze Play} and testing our agility with a series of 5-foot walls with barbed wire low crawls set in-between. One more barbed wire low crawl through a pit of mud started athletes on a path around a lake and across a busy road that was thankfully blocked off by local law enforcement and on to an inverted wall set up on the adjoining property. Tree Hugger, a pole to log to pole traverse, was the first test of an athlete’s grip and body control. Luckily plenty of dried cut grass was laying around for anyone to use to wipe off the remaining mud from the previous low crawl.

After hitting the bell at the end of Tree Hugger it was back on the trail leading up to a series of climbs. The Great Wall {9 foot} and The Big Cheese, a semi-circle with triangular slots cut into it, were set along a path of twists and turns through the pine trees which led racers up to the Savage slip wall. Scared of heights or swimming? Davey Jones Locker was the next obstacle Savage set up along the trail. The high dive type jump into a water pit always looks higher when you’re on top looking down at the water and always causes a few racers to turn around and climb off the apparatus. After climbing out of the water pit Lumberjack Lane was a short jog away. This wooden beam carry consisted of an incredibly short trip in a circle around a few pine trees and really should have been made longer, especially since Savage used this location as one of their photo zones. Kiss My Walls was the first Savage obstacle that had long lines of racers waiting for their turn as this wall traverse used rock climbing hand and feet holds causing for many slips and falls. The inverted wall design with the top sticking out farther than the bottom really added to the grip strength test with some of the pro wave giving up their bands on this pesky obstacle. Shaking out our hands to help dissipate the lactic acid build up racers now made their way through the pines to the Pole Cat. This Savage unique obstacle consisted of parallel poles placed horizontally at different heights and required an athlete to place one’s feet on one section while placing hands on the section directly across. A sideways crawl got an athlete across this obstacle while a slip meant getting wet in the water pit placed below.

One of my favorite obstacles was next up for racers. Wheel World is a set of spinning wheels suspended over a water pit requiring an athlete to traverse from one spinning wheel to the other and makes for a great test of grip strength and body control! Now making our way back towards the lake and festival area Savage stacked the Block Party, a cement block on a rope pull towards and carry back, and the first of the Savage rigs. This new rig for 2017 was about average difficulty wise and consisted of a few rings, three low monkey bars onto a dual rope and ring finish. A slap or kick of the bell signaled completion of all Savage rigs and you could hear bells ringing all throughout the course. Another new obstacle for this year, Hangarang, was next in line for racers. This balance obstacle was truly unlike any other in the world of OCR. Two logs were set in line and suspended off the ground by chains at either end. The goal here was to cross the logs without falling off which would require a restart. The last obstacle before racers were led back across the road to Richardson Farms was the Big Ass cargo net, this A frame climb was on par with every other cargo climb in the industry but was still taxing nevertheless. After a stretch of running on a dirt path Savage set up their second new rig, Rig Over Water was precisely that. Rings and ropes suspended over a water pit was a nice addition to the race for 2017 and provided another chance for racers to test their body control.

Making our way back to the festival area now Savage set up their Colossus obstacle. A slip wall climb up to a giant water slide usually makes for great fun, but the water wasn’t working during the pro/elite wave so a simple climb up and then right back down was the work around Savage came up with. The popular Sawtooth monkey bar traverse was next up on our way along the course and is a favorite photo location for athletes of all levels. For those thinking this race was close to done and in the bag, Savage set up the toughest rig yet. Whirly Bird proved to be a pro/elite band stealer and general pain in the ass for all racers. This handle to cluster of small ropes repeated traverse was a brutal test of grip strength and coordination. The lines were huge here as the pro/elite class racers had to repeat until completion and were made even longer by the open class racers following them. This was another new obstacle for 2017 and I tipped my cap to Savage for coming up with it as I handed over my band to the volunteer after failing repeated tries at this beast. This was the make or break obstacle for the pro/elite wave and separated the haves from the have nots. After either crushing or being crushed by Whirly Bird Savage set up another fan favorite. Teeter Tuber, an obstacle placing an athlete into a claustrophobic tube requiring a racer to climb up in the small tube to a point where the Teeter Tuber over causing one to slide down to the ground on the other side. One last new horizontal traverse was now all that separated a racer from the fire jump finish. Mad Ladders was an innovative obstacle consisting of a wooden ladder on each side of a suspended cargo net in the middle. Lots of spinning around on this one till you figured it out, most likely using up the last of your grip strength in the process.

The 2017 Savage Race series is certainly worth doing as anyone from a pro to a novice would enjoy the new challenges. Savage provides a great combination of running along with ever evolving fun obstacles that will test you. This also continues to be one of my favorite race series because of their awards setup. 66 different medals are given out to age group, overall, masters, and team top finishers down to third place giving athletes a great chance to score some extra bling. And speaking of extra bling if you race more than Savage Race you also qualify for the huge Savage Syndicate medal. This monster of bling really looks great around your neck or hanging on your wall. Race photos and bruises were free as always along with the great memories!

Photo Credit: Savage Race


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Savage Race New England 2017 – New England’s Most Anticipated Race

I had heard a lot of good things about Savage Race, and when I heard it was coming to Massachusetts I immediately got excited. Like other recent races this one was held at Carter & Stevens Farm in Barre. It is a relatively flat terrain with lots of fields, wooded areas, and cows. Parking was a short shuttle ride away and then a short walk to the actual registration tent. There were some lines for registration, and it took a little longer than expected but it was a smooth process.

SavagePro

The SavagePro heat started at 9am, with an athlete meeting to explain rules at 8:50am. Each SavagePro athlete was given a wristband. If an athlete could not complete the obstacle then they turned in the wristband. This was great format for the competitive wave. It put more pressure on obstacle completion.

Savage Obstacles

The course was muddy and rugged. There were a lot of opportunities for a twisted ankle. It was about half a mile before the first obstacle, the barbed wire. The second half of the course had more obstacles than the first. The quality of the obstacles was fantastic. They were more difficult than other races. They also seemed sturdier and felt safer. There were the usual obstacles that can be found at the majority of obstacle races: walls, a heavy carry, cargo net, fire jump, and barbed wire.

However, there were several obstacles I had not encountered before. The “wheel world” was such an obstacle, a set of spinning blue monkey bars that were suspended over water. I watched people attempt this one over and over again. The amount of water on the course, in forms of ice baths and “Davey Jones’ locker” stood out for me. I personally enjoy water obstacles and welcome swims, dipping under submerged walls, and jumping into water from great heights.

Savage-Race-New-England-Wheel-World

Savage Determination

It was refreshing to have unlimited attempts at obstacles and to see the perseverance and tenacity this brought out in the athletes. There were two Savage Rigs on the course, because one didn’t seem to be hard enough… Both sets of rigs were brutal and took a spectacular amount of upper body strength.

As I passed the final rig I noted a SavagePro athlete standing to the side. She still had her wristband on and this was the very final obstacle. It was clear to see that she had been at this obstacle for a long time. I was unable to complete it and as I left she was back in line to try again. The determination on her face seems to be what Savage Race is about.

Savage-Race-New-England-Rig-#2

Savage Aftermath

The course was approximately 7.6 miles long. Savage Race boats the “perfect distance” and I can’t help but agree. It’s long enough to wear you out and beat you up, but not too long. By the time you reach the finish line you feel like you deserve that medal and that beer.

The medals were superb and the t-shirt was soft and good quality. There were food vendors and a beer vendor, as well as merchandise and several companies giving out free samples. The festival area was buzzing as I passed other wet and muddy finishers all discussing the highs and the lows of the past couple of hours.

Overall I would strongly recommend Savage Race to anyone out there looking for a more unique obstacle race with a great atmosphere. I will definitely be signing up for the 2018 race.

Savage-Race-New-England-Shriveled-Richard

 

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!