Spartan Race Atlanta Sprint 2016 – It’s cold in March in GA

Spartan Race Atlanta Sprint 2016

PROLOGUE:
March 5, 5:25 AM, My Driveway – Holy Crap! 34 fucking degrees! It’s cold! Not in the I’m going to die, because I could just put on a turtleneck and my tweed, way; but rather, I’m running a race today and I’m sure to get wet and will die way!

5:45 AM, 20 East – What an awesome time for an AC-DC rock block! Speakers are at 11

6:00 AM, Exit 82 Conyers, GA– I miss my fellow Grey Berets as I fuel up alone at the Waffle House.

7:00 AM, GIHP parking lot – I load up my wagon with the essential OCR supplies: racing gear, folding chair, 2 cases of beer, an easel, and a special poster that pokes fun at some friends.

7:15 AM, Festival Area – The Festival area is HUGE. I can see several signature Spartan obstacles along the fringes. I find the largest team tent and claim a parking space for the Grey Berets beer wagon.

7:25 AM, Festival Area – I decide that it’s cold enough to justify wearing full compression tights, AKA “pecker pants”. Of course, I have to wear my well-worn race board shorts to cover all the naughty bits. I have also decided to wear some work gloves for the first time ever to keep my hands warm and a long sleeve compression shirt. Oh, and a skull cap. I’m becoming soft.

OBSERVATIONS ON THE RUN:

  1. We get the usual speech at the starting corral: the emcee droning out his spiel – rote reciting, sounding like a flight attendant with 20 years.
  2. Everyone in the corral is excited though. We are the very first wave of Spartan’s new competitive category.
  3. I keep reminding myself of the promise I made all week: do not go out like a fucking jack rabbit and die a mile and a half in. Keep that monstrous ego in check!
  4. It’s 36 degrees. And, we are off!
  5. We get to the Hurdles in the same place via the same route as last spring. This time though, there is not a thick layer of frost on them. I launch with a sense of well-practiced ease and get denied. I’m hanging on like it’s a sternum checker and then get spit off. Well fuck! That’s not a good way to start a race.
  6. The course continues as per last year and we hit two rows of round Hay Bales sitting in the fire break.
  7. I immediately drop into some dense woods, where there’s not much choice but to go single file or risk getting pummeled by branches.
  8. The woods open up a bit and there is a bit of water and mud that everyone is avoiding like it’s fucking liquid magma. No sense getting the tootsies wet and cold this early in the race.
  9. The 6’ Wall goes more smoothly.
  10. The woods are still open but we are definitely bushwhacking it by following strips of white Spartan course tape. In fact, we have already crossed over several actual trails. It’s all beautiful, and the sun is out, and my bawbags are still toasty.
  11. Uh oh! There’s a creek. Please don’t make us go in it!
  12. It’s a constant dance on the toes to avoid all the tree fall and forest floor detritus. I’m not known for my fucking grace, so I keep my head down.
  13. The Mile One sign pops up in the middle of the woods. Shortly after my watch buzzes with the same information. My pace is somewhat where I wanted it to be. Perhaps a bit conservative and definitely not jackrabbit like.
  14. I’m a fucking human pinball as I go careening down a hill bouncing off trees. Whoooooaaaa!
  15. HA! Suck it! I made it down the hill unscathed!
  16. Fifty feet later….Flying through the air! FACE PLANT. Piper down! We have a piper down! Luckily I land in the soft leaves and am back on my feet before the guy behind me runs me over.
  17. After a bit, it feels like I’m gonna need to settle in for a longish run. The forest is beautiful, and the pace is good…………..annnnnnnd I fucking face plant….again! Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with me?!
  18. Vertical Cargo Net pops up out of nowhere. The thing is a short flaccid mess. Like a fucking idiot I go straight to the middle, the mostest saggiest floppiest part. It’s a challenge climbing up as it leans back thirty degrees. The flip technique gets me quickly over the top, and with my feet only inches from the safety hay bales, no down climbing is needed. spartan vert cargo net
  19. The trees have greatly thinned out and I’m now on an actual trail. The running is fine. I muse about what was here before, seeing as how obviously this is all new growth trees.
  20. The. Fuck. Is. That. Smell!? A putrid smell of death and decay assaults my prominent proboscis. I immediately get flashbacks of OCRWC (go here for THAT review). My nose hairs (old man hairs mind you. Takes a lot to get those fuckers tingling) curl up for the better part of a quarter mile.
  21. The Invert Wall shows up in a clearing. The boards on the approach make it an easy task. It’s an opportunity for passing folks. I’m still cautious on the slide down though; it’s an ankle twisting zone.
  22. So far my new Icebugs are performing like a dream despite my fucking clumsiness.
  23. The density of the woods remains the same but we are back to bushwhacking it. I’m loving this!!
  24. We cross the firebreak for the second time.
  25. As I drop into thicker woods again, I get the first taste of water and mud that can’t be avoided. I’m good and warmed up, what the hell; I splash through it with abandon. The water is absolutely fucking freezing. My feet are not happy, but my hands are warm and toasty in the work gloves.
  26. I pass what looks to be the kid’s course, which means I’m heading back towards civilization – the festival area.
  27. O-U-T comes into view. A quick hop over the 5’ wall, a quick roll under t….OWW! I whack my arm and hand on the wall. I’m so floppy when I roll. I’m like some fucking ragdoll. Why can I not have control over my extremities? The stick and giggleberries refuse to comment.
  28. I wish I had a killer form going through the “through”. But alas, I look like a geriatric corgi going through a doggie door that’s six inches off the ground.
  29. It’s nice flat grass running as I pass the starting line on my way to the A-Frame.
  30. The A-Frame spans the entryway to the kid’s course. The lil’ grommets are going to get a kick out of walking underneath the “big kids”. The Flip-n-Crab ™ goes flawlessly. (Learn this technique my lovelies. It’s saves time and makes it easier on the down side.)
  31. I love the Spartan Monkey Bars, especially when they’ve been in the sun and don’t have fucking ice on them. They are at different heights and spacing, and the bars are good and chunky and fit oh so nice in my hands. I opt to kick the bell for the first time ever. Meh. I cheated myself out of the last bar. spartan monkey bars
  32. More flat, fast grass running brings us to a ninety degree turn into more heavy woods. The ground is soft with leaves, pine needles, and humus. The pine trees bristle with limbs and branches and other pointy things that could catch the inattentive racer.
  33. The first real hill appears, and as always, I power walk it to conserve energy.
  34. The 8’ Wall appears in a break in the woods. Mud at the base of each makes the approach tricky, but the top is reached. More people are passed.
  35. Back into the sun dappled woods.
  36. Damn! I’m feeling like Samuel L. Jackson, because it’s a fine motherfuckin’ day!
  37. I cross the fire break for the third time, which means we must be heading out to the back forty again. I’m just glad we aren’t carrying heavy shit up the long ass hill that is this fire break.
  38. The scenery just keeps getting better running through some open trails.
  39. Plate Drag pushes prodigious piles of pine straw at its prow as I pull that ponderous piece of poop across the ground. At least it’s not like the soul crushing mud at the Carolinas Beast.
  40. I am rewarded for my efforts with a downhill bombing run. Gravity is wondrous (except when you are face planting). Thank you Sir Newton (fuck you Sir Newton).
  41. I can see the Yellow River through the trees as I take a hard left on the gravel trail. Memories of a tough Battlefrog jerry can carry jump out and say “BOO!”
  42. It remains a slight downhill as I cruise to the Z-Walls. The legs are feeling good.
  43. Well, well, looky here! I have caught up to some people I needed to catch up to. My starting pace is paying off.
  44. At the Z-Walls, I favor an inside corner for the first transition and luckily the walls are positioned such that this choice is bathed in fair Lady Georgia’s golden radiance. So, everything is deliciously dry dry dry!
  45. Even dry, you must give these walls the proper respect they deserve. A measured pace with a firm grip and well placed feet is the key (kind of like sex), and don’t stick your ass out (not kind of like sex), you have to keep your center of gravity close to the wall.
  46. The Bell is rung.
  47. The course continues to be absolutely fantastic as I drop into some single track in a wide open forest.
  48. Cross the firebreak for the 4th time – Heading home baby!
  49. I get into some thick woods with single track and get behind three women walking (hello? Elite females? WTF?). I make the obligatory “on your left”, and then notice there ain’t no left to be had, with a tree filled steep embankment impeding my way. They aren’t helping at all by not squeezing right.
  50. I finally scramble off to the right on a tree fall that takes me down to some strange sand flats and some kind of swamp in training.
  51. Cargo Net Cliff Climb starts off with a long rope and transitions into a cargo net on an ever increasing slope until it finally goes to vertical. It’s a cute version of Pinnacle Hill at Mud, Guts and Glory, but still fun as hell.spartan carg cliff
  52. Annnnd it leads right to a fucking hill. I can’t bitch and moan too much, it’s only the second real hill of consequence so far. It gets the same Jazzercize power walk treatment.
  53. The downhill on the wide open trail feels glorious.
  54. I pull up to the Spear Throw confident in my ability to channel my inner Achilles. I lovingly prepare the rope on the target side of the barrier so as not to inadvertently step on it. I grasp my spear (easy there people!) in the appropriate location with a medium grip (ok! Knock it off!). I take my usual one long step back. I line up Spearman with my left arm. I send that fucker zipping through the air like a rocket.
  55. I shanked it! motherfucker! I shanked it! You have got to be shitting me!
  56. It grazes the right side of the middle bale. Just like at home! Those 5 whole minutes of practice the previous weekend just worthless!
  57. I do my thirty. There goes a couple of precious minutes.
  58. At this point I am on very familiar ground – the service road/riding path that shows up in every single race at the Georgia International Horse Park. At least it’s flat.
  59. Rolling Mud with Dunk quickly appears. Backlit like an angelic steaming pile of poo. Only this steam is coming from the water pits. I go over the first mound and jump into the water. Sweet baby Jesus! That water is cold! The coldness hits me like a fucking sledgehammer. I squeal like a tweener at a One Direction concert while Yung the Hung and his dim sum go seeking refuge in my spleen.spartan dunk
  60. Thankfully the pits are not as deep and the mounds not as tall (duh! Civil engineering!) as last year.
  61. Two more mounds and one more water pit, I can’t feel much of anything below my chest and then my day gets really interesting; a fucking dunk wall! Holy Beelzebub’s bathtub Batman! It’s still very early so the water is right up to the bottom edge of the wall. No choice. Complete immersion. There go the warm dry hands in the warm dry work gloves!
  62. My leg muscles are about to revolt and the right honourable member for Fuckinghamshire and his clockweights have completely abandoned me, leaving me wet and alone as I drop into the woods for more bushwhacking. Wait….that doesn’t sound right
  63. Face Plant! AGAIN! Just fucking great! It’s shaping up to be a repeat of the first half of the 2015 season.
  64. The work gloves, though now wet, prove to be a boon for filling the bucket in record time at the Bucket Carry.
  65. I pass muster under the careful gaze of a volunteer checking for the appropriate fill level and head on out.
  66. What the fuck?! It’s a short forty-five-degree slope through trees to start the loop. Sketchy does not even come close to describing this.
  67. The loop is flat, easy, and short through some lovely pines and is over in no time.
  68. Fuck! Now it’s time to go up the same slope. The shoes dig in like a Rottweiler on a ham bone. I pity anyone who doesn’t have lugs on their shoes.
  69. Distance was traded for scariness. The start and finish are ankle snapping, gravel spewing, head knocking clusterfucks waiting to happen. I would rethink this part Spartan.
  70. Two hundred yards of open grass running and I’m at the Atlas Carry already! Diabolical. The scale of the weight has changed (lots of little pieces of gravel vs. one honkin’ sphere of concrete), and the carry distance is short, but my back still yells, “you’re an asshole!”
  71. With no mud, Satan’s love spuds are not suctioned to the ground (ok, that didn’t sound right either) and it only takes foreplay levels of grunting to get the damn thing lifted.spartan atlas
  72. The Rope Climb is immediately next. Though tricky with the new(ish) thinner ropes, the bell is rung without a hitch. I forgot to take my gloves (now soaking wet) off, but this did allow me to slide down in double time without setting my hands on fire.
  73. Barbed Wire on flat grass with a couple of 4Xs thrown in. Yawn……
  74. I run for the next few yards with eyes crossed, staggering like a hammered college kid on spring break, as I shake of the post rolling dizziness.
  75. The Slippery Wall is in the shade but dry. Up and over and the shoes perform flawlessly.
  76. Back in the woods and straight into a fucking cold swamp. Oh how the feet doth protest! I swear the water is getting colder at each new location.
  77. Will this swamp ever fucking end?!
  78. Oh shit! I feel the fluttering of electrical impulses in the calves. Please don’t cramp on me now! I pass a couple of more racers just to get the hell out of the water faster and get back on terra firma.
  79. A quick run through the woods and then we are back in the water in an ice cold brook that is neither idyllic nor babbling.
  80. Well that’s a random 6’ diameter steel culvert pipe sitting there unburied. Fun to run through though.
  81. The tunnel under the road is shin deep with rushing water. I’m high stepping in the dark because this is the last place I need to do another face plant. There’s a distinct aroma of horsehit assailing my nose (the only thing not wet and cold; but now, again, unhappy)
  82. Fuck it’s cold! My feet are going to leave my body and kick me to death for this insanity.
  83. In lieu of the nice dry mountain bike trail that parallels Centennial Olympic Parkway, we get to keep the feet wet by running in a goddamn concrete drainage culvert…which is actively draining.
  84. The calves are still whispering to me. I just hope they don’t start yelling.
  85. I hop out and arrive at the base of a large face of exposed granite and see the unmistakable crates that hold the Sandbags.
  86. It’s a fairly short loop entirely on the granite. Again the shoes perform well on this new type of surface. The sun feels fan-fuckin’-tastic reflecting off the granite.spartan sandbag
  87. I drop the pancake and head in the direction back towards the festival area. To my right is a golf course and there is a foursome stopped in their cart looking my direction. I imagine they are wondering what the fuck is going on. “Better mud and frozen balls then Kentucky bluegrass and Titleists”, I think to myself.
  88. Back under the road. The water seems deeper and swifter in this tunnel. No less sphincter puckering cold though.
  89. At this point, I know I am heading back to the festival area. When is this “sprint” gonna to end?
  90. I get to the Herc Hoist. ORM videographer extraordinaire, Jeff Marier, has a camera stuck in my face and wants color commentary. Hell, I love the camera!
  91. I heave on the rope. Abso-fuckin’-lutely nothing happens. What the hell?! Again. Again, nothing! I get on top of the metal fence barrier thing and just fall backwards towards the ground. I swear I hear the bag say, “yeah, whatever. If I have to. I guess I’ll go ahead and lift off the ground.” Satan’s nutsack is only a couple of feet off the ground and I’m struggling like never before! Why is this so fucking hard?! I am barely moving the bag with each pull. I start to internally panic while showing the appropriate media worthy grit on the outside. Where normally each pull moves the bag in increments measured in feet, I’m struggling to move it inches. I’m wrapping the rope around my arm like a python on a caiman. The progress is excruciatingly slow. Tunnel vision ensues and I am aware of nothing but that black bag of pain and anguish. Finally, the top is reached. Untangling myself and lowering the weight takes even more precious time.
  92. One hundred yards later, I’m at the Multi Rig. Evil placement after the Herc Hoist! My hands hurt and are really cold. Why did I not take off the wet gloves, like 5 obstacles ago?! I really need to pay more attention to what the fuck I’m doing.
  93. I shed the gloves.
  94. I study the rig. Rigs are my jam. My covered porch given over to my very own interchangeable rig system. I got this. I can smell the barn! Ring, Rope, Ring, upward angled “pipe dreams”, ring rope, (big gap) ring, bell.
  95. The guy in front of me slips on the second ring. I hop up and wait, getting the swinging rhythm of the second ring locked in. Grab the first ring, skip the rope and grab the second ring. Transition to the horizontal pipe. Hmmmm! My hands don’t feel so good! Grab the third ring. I’m gonna use the rope to bump to the last ring. I feel a pop in my finger and my left hand slips off the rope, and just like that I’m in the fucking burpee pen and losing more precious time. I watch with dismay as several guys I caught up with and passed, now pass me.spartan multi rig
  96. Barbed Wire Crawl #2 is pure Spartan; holes, humps, water and a shit ton of mud. It goes on forever. At this point I don’t feel the freezing water anymore. I’ve long abandoned the idea of seeing Wormy McJuicemaker and his man-satchel until summer. I’m slithering around finding the path of least resistance trying to catch up.
  97. I look up and there is a pedestrian log bridge we have to go under. Of course it’s spanning a deep pit full of water. On the other side? More crawling.spartan barbed wire crawl
  98. In this section I’m able to get some rolling done in between crawling. I’m half way through, and Zing! A barb catches my skull cap and Spartan headband and they are flung backwards at least a body length. I remain silent; there are children about. I shimmy back and retrieve them.
  99. I’m pretty gassed. The end is in sight. The smell of smoke urging me on. I’m now fully lathered up with Georgia’s finest clay.
  100. The Fire Jump gets no dramatic flourish today. The tiredness and carrying stuff in my hand throws me off my jumping game. I shouldn’t have been such a slack-ass in the off season.
  101. And just like that, 5.64 miles is done. That was FANTASTIC! The course layout was the bomb dot com! It was the same ol’ Spartan obstacles, but the unexpected struggles and the cold morning gave it fresh life.
  102. They (Spartan) keep doing races like that and Tretsch says DO IT!.

POSTSCRIPT:
The weather is absolutely beautiful now. It’s a blue bell day and the temperature is climbing towards the 60s. I shed my clothes and crack open a beer (I can’t stand Shocktop – Spartan’s beer sponsor – so I bring my own). There’ll be no second lap today, because my lil’ grommet is gonna run the kids race. The Grey Berets as usual are goofing off, cutting up, and socializing. Everyone is just having a grand ol’ time. It’s a fine day to start the 2016 season.

Photo Credits (in order): April Williamson, Eden Hardy, Kimberley Williams Blake, Spartan, Jeff Marier, Spartan, Jeff Jones, Lauren Thompson-Phelix


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Green Beret Challenge/Urban Rescue

GREEN BERET CHALLENGE/URBAN RESCUE – 2/20/16

PROLOGUE:
6:00 am – Perry, GA: The open air corridors of the Days Inn smell like fucking horse manure. As I stumble down the stairs, I have to dodge bits of straw flecked horseshit.

6:02 am – Perry, GA: The vast majority of vehicles in the parking lot are huge honkin’ dualies. Even in my pre-coffee haze, it’s obvious these may be the source of all the equine crap nuggets.

6:05 am – Waffle House: A few of the Grey Berets: Mr. Pink, Patriarch, Dirty, myself, and Angel, kick off the first official 2016 pre-race fuel up ritual. With each successive sip of the black gold, I become more amped. The GBC gave birth to the Grey Berets last summer, and we are eager to see what momma has got cookin’ in the kitchen this time.

6:55 am – Guardian Center: In the gloom of pre-dawn, we pass quickly through the perimeter gate after paying our $10 parking fee and start to drive by a building that seems to have no end. And it just keeps going. And going. Seriously, this is a really fucking long building. We finally make a turn and pass by a flooded “residential neighborhood” and a collapsed bridge. What is going on?! We park in the vast gravel lot, and through the windshield, I see a cityscape of buildings, both standing and collapsed. What is this place?! THIS is the Guardian Center, a disaster preparedness and tactical training validation center. I shall call it Disasterville and for today only, Mark Ballas is its Mayor.

7:03 am – Guardian Center: It’s cold out, but the day is scheduled to be a sunny one.

7:05 am – Guardian Center: Registration is indoors! And there is a bathroom….indoors! It’s the little things that make me happy just before the hammer falls.

7:30 am – Guardian Center: I’ve now had to run back to the car 2 times. I’m getting a good warm up, but where the hell did I leave my brain!?

OBSERVATIONS ON THE RUN

  1. The Sun has come out as we tow the starting line. It’s going be a blue bell day for some legendary pain.
  2. The start has us running through the streets of Disasterville.
  3. As we round a bend, I can see two “wrecked” cars kissing grills and blocking our path. I see the people ahead of us climbing over them….climbing?! I say Nay Nay Nay!!! Every episode of Starsky and Hutch, and the Dukes of Hazzard I saw as a kid flashes through my mind. There is but only one thing to do in this moment – the classic fucking hood slide. YES! Oh sweet baby Jesus thank you! (I know what you’re thinking, oh faithful followers of mine….”this is not gonna end well….and there’s pavement involved!”). As I near the cars, I kick up the speed, fill my mind with a pleasant, but Deadpool rated, image of Daisy Duke, and launch towards the left car. I glide across that beautiful product of American automotive might, as slick as snot and smashed bananas, whooping it up the whole way! I land in full stride and camera dude is right there! “Did you get that?” I ask as I run by. “No”. “Want me to do it again?!” “No”. Harshin’ my mellow man….
  4. Running by a simulated collapsed building and parking deck is fucking cool.Green Beret Challenge Disasterville
  5. We arrive at the first challenge, and it’s bedlam. A volunteer is yelling for teams to take one each of five different items: A Ruck, a 5-gallon bucket of rocks and dirt, an ammo crate with sandbag(s) in it, a cinder block with a rope handle, and an 8’ long 4×4 with a sandbag hanging at each end. We’ve made a critical mistake and dived into this scrum without taking a few seconds to huddle together and come up with a fucking plan. We are scattered throughout the crowd as I grab the 4×4 and heave it up on my shoulders. I turn and see Dirty pacing around looking for something to pick up, and Mr. Pink lifting a 4x to HIS shoulders. He’s not pleased when he sees me with one already on my shoulders.
  6. I start down the trail and immediately feel the effects of weighted pendulums hanging from each end of a long beam. Physics is such a bitch sometimes! The bags pull me from side to side forcing me to stagger like an E-3 on a shore leave drinking bender. This is going to fucking suck! Somehow our minds sync and we remember this is a team event. We make the necessary adjustments and carry on. At some point we make a trade; Dirty and I get the ruck, ammo box and block, and Patriarch and Mr. Pink get the 4×4 and bucket.Green Beret Challenge challenge no. 1
  7. Pink and Patty start pulling ahead of us. Patty is carrying the bucket in the crook of his elbow like some sort of OCR handbag. This makes me chuckle. After a few stops – why is this killing us so badly?! – we lose sight of Patty and Pink. What is the deal?! It shouldn’t be this taxing this early? Dark thoughts of my lack of training motivation during the winter start to tickle the edges of my consciousness. Dirty is weezing and grunting like a pug in heat, so I take the ruck. It’s a fucking beast.
  8. At least it’s not a coffin filled with fucking sandbags!
  9. I can see one of the outermost buildings through the scrubby, low trees. We must be close! We finally make the turn back towards the beginning, straight into a severe cross slope gully. I loathe cross slope running, hiking, stumbling with a 100 pound ruck, etc…!! We go a couple of hundred yards in this miserable fucking ditch when Mr. Pink and Patriarch appear from around the corner, angelically backlit and free of encumbrances, and relieve us of our ammo crate. We hustle to the pick-up/drop off point and shed our miserable burdens. Well that fucking sucked, but now it was time to run. Dirty expresses some concern about how all that went down. I know this man though. He is a tough fucking dude. He’ll cowboy up.
  10. We run along the perimeter fencing and see some of the leaders on the other side carrying sand bags. “Well that answers the question of what’s next”, I mumble. We arrive at a huge pile of sand and proceed to each fill up a brand new sandbag. I heave mine to my shoulders and proceed to lose half my sand and bury my shoes. Fuck! “Scribe! You gotta learn to tie a knot!”, says Mr. Pink. He gets down with me to assist in refilling the bag. Time’s a-wastin’! The boys head on out while I tie up, annnnnd…….my string breaks. Motherfucker! I mentally throw up my hands, give the bag a few more twists and haul ass. I slog through a muddy squelchy “dry” retention pond, climb up a steep embankment, and settle into a trot along the perimeter fencing. All my boys are ahead of me while I deal with how to carry an untied sandbag. My thoughts go dark as I think about the inauspicious start to this race. Realizing I’m not going to be able to run with this bag of pain across my shoulders in its current state, I reluctantly stop to try to tie it up with the anemic bit of string that’s left.
  11. I am successful.Green Beret Challenge sandbag carry
  12. After a couple of hundred more yards, I drop off the grass track and straight into an absolutely gorgeous pecan orchard. I finally catch up to the lads and we oooh and ahhh over the obviously old trees laid out in a rigorous grid. I can feel the tension of the first challenge and the sand bag clusterfuck fade away as the bucolic setting works its magic on my nerves. The pace is good and we soon arrive at the next challenge set up on the periphery of the orchard. A plastic body sled laden with 3 very full sandbags and a nylon litter – with 2 lengths of pipes adjacent – and three fucking sand bags were going to be our next traveling “companions”.
  13. The spray painted arrows on the ground take us on a circuitous route through the orchard. As the weight settled in on the shoulders and started to grind us down, the orchard lost its charm and quickly became a bunch of fucking trees we had to avoid. I don’t even like fucking pecan pie!Green Beret Challenge pecan orchard carry
  14. We took turns carrying and dragging, each of us sucking up the fucking misery. Hey, but the sun was shining and the temperature was perfect, and at least we weren’t carrying a coffin filled with fucking sandbags! We cleared the orchard and dropped down onto a full scale replica of a divided 4 lane interstate highway, labeled I-70. We trudged along the shoulder looking like a strange group of hitchhikers, with no possibility of a ride.
  15. The shoulders are starting to really complain.
  16. Dragging the sled became much easier on the asphalt so we went to 3 men on the litter. It was gloriously flat until we were forced to cross the road and drag our asses and those damnable sandbags up a short but fucking steep and rutted hill. Once we arrived at the top, we were rewarded with a view back towards the start of this miserable loop. A few more rounds of this GBC Chinese fire drill and we were breaking down the sled and litter and saying goodbye to O-Yama’s orchard of pain and suffering.
  17. Back over the “highway”, we headed into the woods via a long crawl under barbless wire. Visions of almost being garroted at OCRWC went racing through my melon.
  18. As we headed deeper into the woods, I was sure this was going to be one of the few pure running portions of the race, so I settled into a nice pace with my boys. And then I felt it. Fuck! The unmistakable flickering electrical impulses of my calves getting ready to tell me to “fuck the hell off, we are outta here!”
  19. I had forgotten those precious little yellow packets of liquid gold, so I called out to Mr. Pink to drop a couple on the trail for me. No Stopping! The vinegary bite feels good.
  20. That’s a mighty fine tree stand.
  21. That’s a creepy random plywood shack.
  22. We pop out of the woods and get back on the “highway”. The ruins in Disasterville are visible in the distance.
  23. We are back to running along the perimeter fence and quickly come up on our next challenge.
  24. TIRES! Big fucking tires! Tires that hold up trucks that move mountains. Tires that should stay on the ground and be beaten with sledgehammers. But nooooooo! With 4 steel posts (2 long 2 short……love me some hardcore 90s rap) sitting next to each tire, it was obvious we were going to be taking these fuckers on walk about.Green Beret Challenge tire carry
  25. At least it’s not a coffin filled with fucking sandbags.
  26. Pink and Patty commence to wrapping and frapping, minus the backbeat, while Patty and I get in a little extra PT getting the 40 pounds of water out of the tire, flipping the to and fro. Heave Ho and off we go. Pink gets us all walking in sync, after some awkward stutter stepping.
  27. Compared to last year’s coffin carry, this carry is working out to be the easiest task of the day. We yuck it up, tell stories, and discuss Grey Berets “business” (nicknames, future old dudes, doing math on our team’s average age [55, by the way] etc..); Just a merry band of old farts taking a fuck ton of rubber for a Saturday stroll through the fields and woods of Georgia. Pink gets the pace quickened, and we start to close in on the team ahead of us.
  28. It’s just a grand old time, said my shoulders never.
  29. Patty is hurting. But he soldiers on like the beast he is.
  30. Shit! We have to set the litter down to adjust the pipes that have gone all wonky. “Oh look! The creepy plywood shed again. We’ve crossed the halfway point methinks
  31. I’m switching shoulders so many times it looks like I’m doing walking shoulder presses.
  32. We make a move and overtake the team ahead of us. Before we know it, we’re back at the ravine separating the woods from the “highway”. It’s fucking sketchy, but with some good communication, we are able to avoid snapping a leg, twisting an ankle, or disappointing Matt B. Davis, who is yelling words of “encouragement” at us.
  33. We complete the loop and almost kill a volunteer when our rubber friend falls off the litter while lifting it off our shoulders. “Oopsie! Sorry!”
  34. Spirits are high and I have definitely shaken off all the dark thoughts from the beginning. Not that it’s all fucking sunshine and unicorns, rainbows and fluegelhorns, but I will not die today.
  35. A short run gets us to the fifth challenge, annnnnnd there are the coffins filled with fucking sandbags.
  36. I’m gonna die today.
  37. What the fuck am I looking at? A coffin, 3 banged up pipes (2 long, 1 short), several lengths of rope, and two used tires?! And I see a team ahead of us pulling away with all of this built into some kind of contraption that looks like Red Foxx had a three way with Mad Max and an undertaker. We choose a pile after Dirty gets all smart and points to the tires with no tread; “they’ll be lighter!” Our mission is to get all these pieces of junk into some type of Burning Man meets the Addams family assemblage, without the benefits of mind altering drugs, extreme heat, and naked chicks riding unicycles. “Tires must touch the ground at all times!” yells the volunteer.
  38. It takes us awhile to get our “vehicle” constructed. Shit! the team we passed has caught up! It’s now a race to see who can McGyver the shit out of this problem faster.
  39. We lose.
  40. We finally are ready for the road and get a whopping 10 yards and come to a screeching halt. Our rope tying has bound up the wheels. We get our shit in order but have lost serious ground.Green Beret Challenge coffin carry
  41. As we move down the road, the tires are flopping around like blown out flip flops on a beach bum. Speed is the key to keep them rolling and vertical. And just as we get into a groove, a STEEP fucking hill shows up. But it’s not a hill, it’s some sort of bunker buried under dirt and weeds. The slope must be greater than 45 degrees if it’s a degree! There’s nothing to do but power up that fucker, dragging our piece of shit-pine box derby car from hell, flaccid tires be damned.
  42. Pink and Patty are on point, while Dirty and I are dragging the rear. I have my free hand firmly planted on Patty’s ass giving him a push while my feet dig in for purchase. There’s more grunting and groaning than nickel night down at the whorehouse.
  43. We reach the top with everything intact. We are immediately struck by two things: We came close to impaling ourselves on the lightning rods poking up through the dirt and we have to go down the other side and then repeat the same fucking process on a second bunker!
  44. We place a clod of dirt on the sharp pointy business end of the rod and then make our way down. Dirty and I are human brakes. I’m leaning so far back, I’m almost parallel with the slope. Weeds and vines grab at my feet threatening to trip me up. We’ll be ass over elbows if even one of us slips. The transition between the two bunkers is barely longer than our coffinbarrow. We grind up and down the second bunker without incident.
  45. Going along a paved service rode lets us pick up the pace. Well, as much as one can, dragging two tires not following the laws of round things, and a coffin with fucking sandbags in it tied to stupid fucking poles lashed together with rope, hope and a prayer.
  46. The calves are burning!!! All of us are switching from running forward to running backwards and back. It’s a bizarre pas de quatre, but without the tights and toe shoes. Well, except Pink, he is wearing pecker pants.
  47. We come around the bend and can see the team who passed us! They have gotten about a quarter of a mile ahead. And then we blow out an axle! Mr. Pink comes to the rescue with some quick wrapping and frapping, and it’s back to the fucking grind. We have lost sight of the team ahead of us.
  48. We finally arrive at the top of the hill where the tire carry drop was and make the left for home. That miserable dragging-coffinbarrow-fuckall had to be a mile if a foot!
  49. There’s now more people around as the people at the tail end of our wave finish up the tire carry and some young guns from a later wave have caught up.
  50. As we pull our chariot from Dante’s 9th circle of hell into the staging area, the team we are chasing is just leaving. We’ve managed to make some gains! But we still have to break down our contraption.
  51. We’ve done one long run so far, so by my calculations and Patty’s GPS watch, we should be due for another. I’m feeling pretty beat down.
  52. We head in a direction that takes us directly back towards DisasterVille. We make a left at the flooded neighborhood and run along the perimeter berm. It’s warmed up considerably and I remark how nice that water is going to feel, because I know Ballas ain’t gonna let such a nice, accessible, and stagnant pool of water go to waste. But alas, we veer away from it and are taken on a route that hugs the side of a building. It quickly becomes apparent this is the building we drove by earlier in the morning that went on forevvvvvvvver.
  53. And we run alongside it. And we make a 90-degree turn, and we continue to run alongside it.
  54. Pink seems to have gotten a second wind, and I have to rein him in, ‘cuz I’m fucking dying over here!
  55. And then another turn, and it just keeps fucking going and going and going.
  56. We come up on a horrific scene of dead bodies everywhere. Oh, those are just dummies.
  57. We have arrived at the (I’m confident about this) last challenge. We increased our gain on the other team! We enter the building to find more dummies. They are just finishing their setup as we roll in…..the team not the dummies. Wait, the team are not the dummies. Shit! nevermind.
  58. The volunteer – “grab a dummy. (So I hug Dirty) They all weigh 185# (fuck me!!)! choose a sled or a sling.”
  59. We choose the sled, because we want to drag not carry.
  60. We are directed to go through turnstiles. Turnstiles? What the hell? And all of a sudden we are in a subway tunnel. Holy shit, how cool is this?! We are then instructed to enter the former DC metro cars and traverse down to the last car and then hop down to the tracks on the opposite side.
  61. There are no lights in the cars and the going is dark. The dummy gets hung up a couple of times on the center poles. Nothing a well-placed foot does not take care of. Our poor dummy would be dead by now if he was a critically injured human. But we are racing not rescuing. And that is why, when we reach the end of the train, he gets tossed onto to the tracks and not gently lowered. Sorry dude!
  62. The scenery is just amazing as we run down this never ending tunnel. We pass a train car that is ripped apart as if by a bomb; we have to negotiate under a flipped train car leaning against the wall; we have to go back and forth over the tracks, all the while dragging our battered dummy.
  63. When the fuck is this going to end!
  64. We finally make a turn, have to crawl over broken slabs of concrete, twisted rebar and a wrecked car, and yet we are still not finished!Green Beret Challenge tunnel drag
  65. We can just see the team ahead!
  66. We have arrived in the car tunnel disaster simulator. We weave around wrecked cars, flipped cars, stacked cars, a car in the back of a bread truck, flipped school bus, cop cars, squashed cars. It’s just fucking amazing. I’m just glad we didn’t have to haul Dingle-fucking-Dorfmeister the dummy over any cars.
  67. I can’t resist writing “Grey Berets” in the dust on a couple of windshields. The lads aren’t happy with me when they lose 25% of the help.
  68. We finally exit the building and head straight down into the flooded neighborhood. OH SWEET JESUS! That is cold water! It quickly gets waist deep and Winky the milk spitting tunnel ferret and his tetlies immediately vacate the area and snuggle up next to my pancreas.
  69. We pass the two houses on the short axis and then turn left to travel the long axis. For some reason, I am really struggling with the coldness, breathing like a living room full of future mommies taking a Lamanze class. I look at Pink and say “remember when I said the water would feel refreshing? You need to fucking smack me for that stupid shit!”
  70. We turn left on MLK Dr. (I shit you not. That was on the street sign) and head towards the exit ramp. We have closed the gap on the team to 50 yards.Green Beret Challenge water challenge
  71. We grind up the small hill and try to turn on the gas as we hit the asphalt streets.
  72. We head into DisasterVille hot on their heels. They make a right turn. We make the right turn. SHIT! The finish line is there 100 yards away!!! We can’t close the gap.
  73. And just like that – we are done.
  74. THAT was fucking brutal and awesome with some seriously heinous and diabolical shit!!!!! Mark Ballas, you glorious sick fuck; I love to hate you, I hate to love you. I am still deciding on which.
  75. Tretsch says do it! (or at the very least ANY event that comes to the Guardian Centers)

POSTSCRIPT

After some picture taking, we load Dingle Dorfmeister onto the luggage cart (yeah, we had to do that. A nice little post-race stab in the back!) and get to the serious business of relaxing and hanging out with the other Grey Berets, GORMRs, and all manners of other people who are there. Beers magically appear (there is no official post-race beer) from Pink’s truck. Hundreds of bags of Frito-Lays products courtesy of our Grey Beret brother Chips, are poured out onto a luggage cart. We have the honor to cheer on the other teams, fellow Grey Berets, and individuals as they cross the finish line. I get in a few Dubsmashes, because the backdrops are creatively inspiring. The BBQ sandwiches and smoothies for sale are fantastic. The sun is shining, the temperature is perfection and the 2016 race season has been kicked off in grand and painful style. All is well, albeit fucking sore.

photos by Jack Goras (via GBC), Mariano Oliveti, Mike Bravo Charlie

BattleFrog Atlanta II – 2015: Race Review

BattleFrog Atlanta II – 2015
PROLOGUE
4:38 AM – I20 West:  It’s fucking raining……..again = 3  f/bombs

OBSERVATIONS ON THE RUN

  1. It was fucking raining and muddy = 19 f/bombs
  2. The rigs were fucking insanely hard = 40 f/bombs

IMG_9591

POSTSCRIPT
12:07 pm – Festival Area: I feel fucking violated = 3 f/bomb
Writer’s note: I love Battlefrog down to my bandless soul.

OCR World Championships (OCRWC) – 2015 Review

ocrwc monkey bars

Prologue-2015 OCRWC
7:05 AM, Lebanon, OH – We walk the two blocks down Main Street towards the breakfast joint. Fine examples of 19th century architecture make for a picturesque town. But, it’s still fucking cold as hell. We are happy we are not racing until just after lunchtime.

7:30 AM, Lebanon, OH – It ain’t Waffle House but the Breakfast Club Café is a fine establishment and we fuel up with gusto.

8:20 AM, Lebanon, OH – There is a substantial layer of frost on the cars. The Elite males must be freezing their betty swollocks off.

8:50 AM, Kings Domain – We opt to pay the premium and park on site. Then we get a luxurious golf cart ride to the festival area. There’s no shame; we’ll get enough exercise in a few hours.

8:55 AM, Festival Area – My skin practically tingles with the excitement and energy that is in the air. Or it could be from the fact it’s fucking 33 degrees out. But it’s a blue bell day and the sun will do its magic by the time I shove off at 12:30. I hope.

9:30 AM, Festival Area – The Grey Berets tent backs up to the last part of the course right after the slide/tubes, so I am treated to seeing Albon hit the 12 foot slant wall like his hair is on fire. Even rested, recently fed and caffeinated I know I’ll barely make the 50 yards to the other side of the festival area to catch his finish…..and he still has 5 obstacles to go.

9:33, Festival Area – Albon crosses the finish line. The math works out to 1:33. You have got to be fucking kidding me!? How is that even humanly possible? That pace would have my heart scattered into a billion pieces all over the grass 100 yards from the start line. Then 4 minutes later Atkins cruises in as smooth as spun silk to take second. I take some mental notes on his flawless technique through Skull Valley.

9:38 AM, Festival Area – Coty Moat is at the slant wall and it’s covered in fucking frost. Takes him three tries to get over it. God, I hope the sun hits the face of that thing later or I’m fucking screwed!

9:39Am – 12:20PM, Festival Area – For the next few hours it’s a whirlwind of watching other racers on all the spectator accessible obstacles, chatting with friends, people watching, photo taking, going to the fucking port-a-johns 7 times (TB – tiny bladder….with a healthy dose of nerves), going up to the camping area for some snacks and coffee, and gearing up.

Observations on the run:

    1. I’m standing in the starting corral, under the flags of eleven of the 26 nations represented today. I feel good, I feel ready. I just need to get to that first obstacle to ease the jitters. Coach Pain is laying down some sweet gospel; making me feel proud. I AM seasoned for a reason! And then the canon goes BOOM!OCRWC 45-49 start
    2. It’s not long before the hills start and the first 2 obstacles go by in a blur. We swing back towards the periphery of the festival area to the kids Monkey Bars, but in a twist the volunteer tells us to touch every bar. No problem for me as I can’t do the monkey swing-skip-a-bar technique anyways.
    3. We head straight for the base of the slide and there is a pile of Wreck Bags waiting for us. My heart is pounding like a pile driver and we gotta take this 50# sausage up the fucking steep slide hill. And the carry goes on and on and on. As I’m crouching under a wooden bridge (the course crossing over our heads) I remind myself I cannot drop my bag or I’ll need to start over (fuck that!). Suddenly the bag catches the bridge and it’s sliding off my shoulders! Fuck! It hits my thigh just as I grab for it stopping the handles mere inches from the ground. I about soil my drawers. “Finally! The turn!” I start to jog thankful for the downhill. Back under the bridge but it’s taller on this side. Under some cargo netting. “Crap! This crouching is tough on the thighs!” “Oh swell a grid of nylon strapping to high step through”. This grabby grid may as well be called Tretsch-fucking-face-plants! I stumble, but today is not a face plant day. Over a small wall…don’t drop it!…and we’re done.
    4. Quick work through Pipe Dreams and Hurdles, (after some awful fucking hills of course) and it’s time to settle in for some running.
    5. Everyone is very civilized and sportsman like and call out hazards on the trail. “log!” “hole!” “root!”. Anyone see my legs?
    6. I come around a bend and I can see the Little Miami River. Shit! The river crossing already?! At this point I’m dry and warm (if the heart doesn’t fucking slow down I’ll also be dead). I was hoping to stay that way just a little longer.
    7. We drop down to the river’s edge and it’s a nightmare of shoe sucking mud as we run alongside the river. The further we go the less space there is between the water’s edge and the vertical river banks, until finally we run out of land. The water is so fucking cold and my feet immediately feel “the burn”. “So much for a quick river crossing!” I think. I try to move as fast as possible to keep my feet out of the water. I finally see some racers ahead of me in the middle of the river so I know I’m close to the crossing. The blowing wind is a nice fucking touch once I make the turn. As I make my way across the Little Miami, it becomes clear it’s going to get deeper. First the knees, then quickly to the thighs. I place my hands on my head to keep them from getting wet as the water reaches my waist. “Fuck!” I hit a G6 note as the cornstalk cowboy and his two lil’ doggies seek shelter in my esophagus. “I really hope I don’t find a hole and go under!” I think. I stumble onto the rocky bank with frozen legs.
    8. Back in the woods we are on a beautiful rolling trail. I chat for a bit with a very nice Englishman named Steve.
    9. The legs and feet warm back up, but I fear I shall not see Lord Thrusty and his two fat knights ever again.
    10. The sun comes out and I am buoyed by the hope it will stay out and things will warm up.
    11. We come into a clearing and tackle Cargo Climb. The Flip-n-crab ™ is executed flawlessly. There is a pleasant campfire crackling away with inviting log chairs encircling it. But, the show must go on and there is no time for marshmallows.
    12. As I cross the river for the second time, fighting a strong rushing current, I think perhaps just a quick stop at the fire would have been nice.
    13. We are now on an island.
    14. We scramble through the brush and over some logs and come out to the 3rd crossing. The water is extremely swift and I have to take a path at an angle upriver, leaning in the whole time. “I really wish I was at that fucking campfire.”
    15. Back in the woods it’s still pretty flat but the sun has bid adieu.
    16. I can start to hear the sounds of the festival area. “Oh yeah! Obstacle game on!”
    17. The Castle suddenly appears and it’s an easy climb to the apex. The unexpected swaying of the structure while transitioning to the down climb is not entirely fucking pleasant. My sphincter makes note of it.OCRWC Castle
    18. The festival area is positively roaring with excitement as people take positions throughout the field to watch the racers tackle the obstacles.
    19. They have added a bottom 2×4 rail to The Destroyer. Since I’m only 3ish miles in and have a shit ton more upper body obstacles to do, today is not the day for heroics to try and prove to myself I can do without it (or not…). I use the 2×4, easily top out, and jump down. One less obstacle, one closer to band retention.
    20. It’s a short straight run paralleling the start and then a 180 to Dragon’s Back. Couldn’t wait to do this one! I was looking forward to seeing how I would react to the mental side of this obstacle. Made out of wood, versus the steel scaffolding in Toughest’s home country, there was only two jumps. There were a handful of racers on the two platforms looking like they were doing some serious mental gymnastics. I took a deep breath, and jumped, hoping I wouldn’t hyper flex my feet/ankles/calves, or any other important body part I needed for the next fucking 7 miles. My hands solidly gripped the steel bar a fraction of a second after my feet touched the angled wall. “Whew! One down and no twinges!” The next one goes just as smoothly; and as I am climbing down I note a couple of racer’s wince when they hit the walls.
    21. Thinking about something I saw before the race as I approach the Tire Jump, I’m convinced I can successfully do the same move that dumped some dude on his ass. I mean sometimes you just have to throw a little flourish in the mix. NOW, if you have read my reviews before, you know damn well I have the grace of a hippo in high heels, and are probably thinking “what a fucking idiot”. I jump horizontally towards the massive tractor tires leading with my left shoulder, and as I hit the rubber, I roll over and pull my feet over and down. I land on my feet, facing forward, and in a stride. “Holy Shit! I fucking did it! I cannot believe it!” Oh I’m feeling good now!
    22. Getting over the Irish Table is as ungainly as it can be. I wonder how short people do that thing?!
    23. Englishman Steve shouts out “you make this look easy!” as we are tackling the Hurdles. “Well that is what I thought about you, my gazelle like friend, as we were going through the woods.” I think to myself.
    24. The Monkey Bars are a giant “V” shaped beast, which either stands for “victory” or “vanquished”. I just don’t want to be in that cold fucking water. As I climb up the tires I decide I am going to use my feet (allowed) on the upside to preserve my arms. Again, it’s about keeping the band. The down climb goes smoothly with gravity helping the alternating hand per bar technique. At the flat transition I pull my feet up as if the water is fucking molten lava. I take the up climb with caution as the bars are wet from those that didn’t keep their feet out of the water. It’s not fast but the technique feels solid and I’m to the other side in one dry piece.
    25. Climbing down the tires my brain is reeling from the success of these first few miles. Sure my legs feel a bit tired too soon, but damnit, if the obstacles aren’t just flowing under me like water!
    26. I jump onto the first massive set of logs at Over Unders, and with intentions of keeping as much of my upper body, especially my hands, as dry as possible I gingerly drop down into the water with my hands above my head. It all goes wrong. Horribly fucking wrong! I slip on the black plastic liner and in exquisitely painful slow motion, as if to scrutinize the motion for scientific study of transient phenomena, I go under water…..completely. The water is sooooooo fucking cold! Spurt Reynolds and the bandits exit my esophagus and hightail it to the nearest campfire, leaving me here wet, frozen and nutless. “FUCK! This is way too early in the race to be completely wet!” My mind clouds with ominous thoughts.
    27. Abandoning any need for caution now, I tear through the over unders and straight to the Pipes. I get down low to enter the plastic culverts and slam the top of my head against the exposed edge of the pipe. Little stars and birdies circle my head as I crawl through the pipes. No blood…yet. “what happened to that smoothness bro?!”
    28. The sweet feel of flat terrain is quickly replaced by brutal hills and the gloom of the day is enhanced by the heavy canopy of trees.
    29. Luckily there has been no rain of late, so the leaves on the forest floor that have taken an early leap are dry as tinder. I grab large handfuls of leaves in each hand. I have to get my hands dry and warm. It works like a charm.
    30. The downhills are fucking brutal
    31. The uphills are fucking miserable
    32. The vertical Cargo Climb was a floppy flaccid mess. It did not tense up until all the horizontal slack on the opposite side was pulled in. But with other people on it, flipping over the support cable to the other side was a dream because I could just roll down the gentle incline. Extracting myself at the bottom gracefully was another story.
    33. “Oh for fuck sakes another High Steps! And it’s uphill!” True to form I trip half way up. I rest a second pretending I’m just about to rip out a few push-ups off the nylon straps…..
    34. I’m starting to get chilled, so I grab more dry leaves and hold them on my head and neck.
    35. The Inverted Wall pops out of nowhere at the bottom of another fucking hill. It’s a brute; tall and looming with no cross beams for feet. Nothing a honking heel hook can’t take care of. I’m careful about sliding down the backside lest my knees blow out.
    36. I’m starting to feel fucking violated by the terrain and my watch mocks me with its low mileage count. Part of me wants the battery to die. “Die fucker, die!”
    37. The Balance Beams are small diameter logs. “No jumping at the end!” yells the volunteer. “You must go the entire length.” Another small detail on an easy obstacle that might trip up a few people.
    38. I’m keeping the cold at bay with the leaves, but it’s still a predator in the tall grass, ready to pounce at any minute.
    39. Sternum Checker comes into view and there is a pack of people at it. Shit! I knew I needed to hit sternum checker without stopping or I would end up overthinking it. It’s a big fucking monster; bigger than any I had done to date. This crowd was not part of the plan. As I slow down to assess the situation the volunteer yells out “left side or middle!”. I see a narrow gap between two racers standing on the launch log in the middle and I “thread the needle”. I hit the launch too timidly and catch every bit of that giant log straight in my fucking gut. My center of gravity (aka my bubble butt) is too far back! For a split second it could go either way (Howard Cosell doing the color commentary in my head), then I dig into the bark with my fingertips and haul myself over.
    40. Yet another steep downhill. My thighs, the delicate little flowers that they are, scream in protest on the downhills.
    41. I can hear the festival area. My watch tells me I’m still not even fucking close to finishing, so it can only mean one thing: Platinum Rig #1.OCRWC plattinum rig
    42. Standing there with a pile of leaves on my head and ignoring all my fans, um, I mean random mob of strangers watching the action, I picked a lane whose foot ring was moving the least and got it started. It wasn’t smooth and it wasn’t pretty but I reached the last two rings. “Where the fuck is the bell?!” “Wait! Why is the bell tied up above my head?!” “Oh MY GOD what is happening?!?!” Then, out loud, I calmly scream to the volunteer, “WHERE’S THE BELL?!” “No bell, just get both feet over the yellow line” he says. “Oh……..ok.” And off I went.
    43. What a joy this fucking creek bed is on my ankles.
    44. So……….you know, more fucking hills.
    45. Shit!” That minute has arrived. The predator has sprung from the tall grass! More Over Unders with water! I manage to stay on my feet in the deep cold water, but I know once I get out I’m going to be in trouble. I grab a silver mylar emergency blanket (aka a “space” blanket) from a jumbled pile and wrap it around myself. There is a happy little campfire here and I spend some precious seconds remembering what warmth is.
    46. And sur-fucking-prise, there is a steep hill to climb!
    47. The blanket starts to work its magic but the cacophonous rustling is disturbing the tranquility of my woodland misery.
    48. Good Lord! The Weaver is massive!” I toss the blanket onto a pile and heave myself up to the first log. I don’t pick the right side and get stuck behind a bit of a slowpoke. But I’m too lazy to shimmy to the other side where there is a clear lane. It’s all good. I grab a space blanket on the way out.
    49. There is the slide as I crawl under a wooden bridge. So close! Yet so fucking far!
    50. The hills! They fucking grind on. Whether it be uphill or downhill, they just never. Fucking. Stop.
    51. I down my first mustard packet, enjoying the vinegary bite.
    52. Holding my heroic silvery cape of OCR justice does not make for an easy gait, but I am forestalling potential hypothermia.
    53. The water stations have been providing kid size bottles of water. Oh, how awesome this is! With my 20 year old Quicksilver board shorts I’m able to take one on the go.
    54. How many times have we crossed this road? I’m starting to mumble to myself.
    55. I can tell we are working our way up to the camping area. I’m excited to see the Grey Berets Command Module (otherwise known as a pop-up camper) conveniently encamped adjacent to Platinum Rig #2. This means I will be roughly half done, according to previously mined sources. This looked menacing the night before when it was installed, but in the gloomy daylight it doesn’t seem so bad – two rings, stripper pole, ring, 5 looooow square monkey bars. I use tall guy beta and skip the first ring by leaning over and grabbing the second ring. I then swing past the stripper pole, or more accurately through it….clang! oww!, and grab the third ring. I let go of the second ring and use the momentum to carry me down to the bars. It takes all of what little core I have to keep my feet off the ground as I monkey across. I don’t see how the big fucking Dutch dudes nipping at my heels are going to get through this. Feet up boys!
    56. I pick up my silvery woobie and double back whence I came.
    57. And like a broken fucking record on Satan’s Victrola along comes another hill.
    58. The downhill is so steep I finally just give up and slide down on my ass. Actually works pretty well. I just hope I don’t have a wardrobe malfunction and expose my Voltron undies.
    59. I wince when I see the Bucket Carry, but immediately smile when I realize the buckets are sealed. “Carry them anyway you want,” says the volunteer. “Oh it’s on!” I throw it on my shoulder like the big plastic log it is and enjoy the flat short loop with an easy jog.
    60. The flat terrain has the half-life of a fruit fly and soon I’m back to the fucking hills that have made it crystal-leg-crushingly-clear I am inadequately prepared for their “charms”.
    61. I down another mustard packet
    62. The log choked, boulder strewn ravines continue with painful regularity. But, damn if they aren’t gorgeous parts of the course.
    63. The giggle comes out of nowhere. Low at first, slow, gaining traction; welling up from deep inside me. It soon develops into a full on cackle, loud and with abandon, reverberating off of the walls of the ravine. “Holy shit! I have gone defcon 5 crazy. I’m losing my shit!” and just like that it goes away and I’m back to reality (cue the Eminem).
    64. I kind of laugh when I get to Pinnacle Junior, because all the hills have felt this steep and they didn’t have ropes.
    65. More beautifully torturous ravines.
    66. All of a sudden I’m bear crawling, yup you guessed it, up a hill and it’s under netting. And it just keeps going. I’m in Broken. Then we are going down a steep, what do you call it?……oh yeah, a fucking hill. But now we have to go under barbless wire strung across the trail…..ok ruts….fine! It’s a gully! Every single move is potential strangulation by garrote and I don’t what to end up like Luca Brasi. It stops and then we 180 and go uphill under the wire. I’m now bear crawling again and I’m so close to the guy in front of me I pretty much have my head in his ass. All I can concentrate on is the heel of his shoes. “Just keep going” I tell myself.
    67. I suck down another mustard packet. I’m starting to pop these little yellow packets of vinegary goodness like Hunter S. Thompson on a pill binge………just without the lizards.
    68. For the umpteenth time I tie my mylar cape around my neck to let my arms swing naturally with the gait. I am loathe to get rid of it. This wonder of materials science is saving my bacon and keeping me on the course.
    69. I bottom out at the 410,000th hill of the day to find Tall Walls and a fellow GORMR. Tarnandus my man, in the bright yellow Batman technical T with the matching calve sleeves! I am delirious with excitement at seeing someone I know and give him a big old hug. The physical contact buoys my spirits and as I drop down the other side of the 12’ wall, my giant silvery bow fluttering, I yell back to him to “keep on! Keep strong!”
    70. My legs are fucking tired. The mustard and electrolyte tablets have kept the cramps away but the relentless technical terrain is starting to slow down the getaway sticks.
    71. I thought I was done with Wreck Bags for the day but Hoist proved me wrong. Rows of 50# bags in pairs are lying on the forest floor and tied to a rope slung through a fixed pulley. Since my mechanical advantage is only 1 and there is no immobile object to push against, I have to take a small jump to grab the rope and allow my full weight to raise the bags. Digging my heels in and leaning way back allows me to continue raising the bags to the required height. And like all hoists, I have to ease it down in a controlled manner. The hands feel strong. It’s a good sign for obstacles to come.
    72. And right on cue Rope Climb comes along, and it’s sitting in a deep water pit. “Fuck! The water sure isn’t any warmer in this part of the woods”. The rope feels synthetic and doesn’t have the grippy texture of hemp. But it’s thick and the J-hook works well so the bell is rung.
    73. I’m scrambling through another ravine (are these Mother Nature’s trash cans for every fucking dead tree in Warren County?!) when the guy ahead of me yells back, “Are my shorts ripped? “Yes, they sure are! Hope you don’t have a wardrobe malfunction!” I reply. Inwardly I am yelling “please don’t rip completely open because all I see is white ass and don’t want to see more!”
    74. Getting out of this ravine proves a huge challenge. The hill is steep and muddy. The entire face is raked with scars from all the shoes of the racers before me.
    75. I almost go sailing over the edge of Rope Burn, but not really, since my pace is reminiscent of a Galapagos Tortoise high on muscle relaxant. I had watched a video of this obstacle from last year so decided to run down forward with the rope in my hands. I’m not sure your hands are supposed to spontaneously combust into flames. Perhaps my technique could use some work. The burn of the rope does feel good on my cold hands.
    76. More water at Trenches, but it is shallow, the logs are high enough to allow for a low crouch, and I have my shiny pashmina of power to wrap up in afterwards.
    77. I grab a water and continue along the creek bed. A creepy tent, a long house writ large in canvas, appears out of nowhere. I immediately think “oh great, they’re going to gas us.” That can’t be a healthy thought, can it? But the trail bends around it and I continue on.
    78. A horrific stench assails my prodigious proboscis. “What the fuck is that smell?!” I yell to no one in particular. It has the unmistakable nose hair curling bouquet of rotting flesh. I can feel the tickling of my gag reflex warming up. “Fuck! Gak!” I have a delicate balance of Gu, Shot Bloks, Homeostasis and mustard lining my belly and the last thing I need is to splash that chemical cocktail all over the nearest oak tree.
    79. For the first time today I am happy about a hill. The elevation change gets me out of that toxic cloud.
    80. “The creepy tent must have been an inspiration”, I think as Blackout comes into view. A massive swath of canvas is laid over the trail and I have to crawl under it. “Hell yeah! This will be the warmest I’ve been all day!” this proves to be true, as the dark confined space is noticeably warmer.
    81. Yet another hairy scary descent immediately follows. This goes on any longer I’m going to have to sprout horns and hooves.
    82. Through the trees I see the distinct look of a GORMR jersey and realize it’s Joe; a true blue friend of the Grey Berets. I yell out to him and he says “is that Tretsch?! Fuck! Are you kidding me!? Shit!” I catch up to him in yet another tree fall choked ravine. And for the second time that day, I make another racer give me a giant bear hug (Grey Berets hug it out. What can I say?). I embrace him, rub his shaved head, and give encouraging words (really more for me), then keep moving on. We commiserate for a while until I encourage a more silent approach to our collective misery.
    83. Above my head is a massive circus like net spanning the two sides of the deep ravine I’m in. I see people seemingly walking on air above the net. I take a hard left and go straight up to find Tension. It’s slow going traversing the steel cable like Phillipe Petit, except I get another cable over my head to hold on to. Half way across, below my feet, I see the two huge fucking Dutch dudes down below. We have been trading places all day, and damn if I’m going to end up like Mortimer and Randolph.
    84. Spontaneous giggling wells forth once again. I am cracking for sure.
    85. Polish Traverse is an awesome break for the legs. I scootch along the top of the pole with that weird hand, butt rhythm. Since Dick and the Balltones are hiding out there is no discomfort, but that doesn’t stop the crotch jokes from flying among my fellow racers.
    86. I have reached some kind of flat plateau where a nice trail loops back and forth. I so want to pick up the pace but my legs feel like they want to remove themselves from my body and beat the shit out of me. The two big fucking Dutch dudes finally pass me.
    87. But I feel pretty in my shiny bow.
    88. The ropes have a deep sag at the Tyrolean Traverse, which makes getting on to them a bit of a challenge. I have no earthly idea how to do the top of rope technique so I hang like a sloth; a sloth with a fancy reflective cravat tied about its neck. After finishing, an Englishwoman and I both groan at the, now expected but no less hated, hill immediately springing from the obstacle platform.OCRWC Tyrolean traverse
    89. I continue through the punishing terrain. My mind starts to wander. That gorgeous black band of silicone is still affixed upon my person and I start thinking about the finish. I can see the festival area in my mind. My body has held up surprisingly well. I can “smell the barn!” 100 yards later my body says “not so fast Skippy!”, and a shockingly painful cramp seizes the inside of my right thigh, from knee to crotch. “OWWWWWWW! What the fuck?!” I don’t even know what to call this pain. And of course, I’m at the bottom of another brutal hill that needs to be surmounted. I start hobbling upwards muttering to myself. The muttering gets louder, the censoriously abusive language darker, the anger flaming hot. There is no power walking here; the pace is glacial, but it is upward and onward. I crest the top and start a tentative jog. And just like that, it’s gone; the pain button seemingly switched to off. I yell out a triumphant cry.
    90. Surely this must be the top of the hill that leads to the slide.
    91. And then I go downwards. “FUCK! WHERE is the slide?! Will it ever appear?!”
    92. I come around a bend and see Pinnacle Hill. “Holy shit!” The entire day’s hills have been idyllic fucking knolls compared to this monster. Racers near the top look terrifyingly tiny. I can see three different pitches of rope. As much as lying down in a fetal position and sucking my thumb sounds like a swell idea, it’s not going to get me any closer to the slide. The soil is loose but the ropes are dry. I go with an easy pace so not to burn my arms out. My legs would be shedding tears if they could. I stop 15 feet from the top, gassed. The volunteers encouraging words get me past the last vertical section.OCRWC Pinnacle hill
    93. Surely this is the last apex!
    94. After what seems like an eternity of climbing the 9 levels of hell, THE Slide finally shows itself! Oh sweet tiny infant Jesus, with your golden fleece diapers, with your tiny fat balled up fists, thank you! Thank you for finally bringing this terrifying slip-n-slid from Satan’s back yard barbeque to me at this moment! It’s time to let my freak Mylar flag fly! I jump off the platform bridging part of the course that intersects my direction of travel and just keep motoring. I run about 15 feet down the slide and jump onto to my keister, holding the space blanket up behind me so as to flutter with maximum effect. “I’m a fucking SuperherooooooOOOO!……………….I immediately spin around. Before I can say “fuuuuuuuuuuck!” or anything for that matter, I’m on my back head first and rocketing down at breakneck speed. As I watch the top of the hill recede with horrific rapidity, my cape wrapped around my head, I am struck silent in my terror. I am in no more control of my body at that moment than I am of the ebbs and flows of my wife’s moods. My mind’s movie reels are spinning out of control as images of gruesome outcomes play out on my neuro movie screen. “Will I stay in the lane?!” “They’ll be picking pieces of my body out of the trees for days!” “I’ll take out someone at the Wreckbag carry!” “I hope my bowels hold!” “fuck! Fuuuck! Fuuuuuck!” And then a sudden calm comes over me, and I realize there is fuck-all I can do about my current predicament. So I do the only thing that can be done in a situation like this; I throw out the metal horns. And I wait for the end. And I wait. And I’m going faster. And faster. And then nothing. I have “shuffled off this mortal coil” and become airborne. I hit the water at 20-25 mph square on my back and skip. I fucking bounce like some kind of human skipping stone! I stand up in the water, toss my tinfoil woobie to the side, and execute metal horns once again. And the crowd, that glorious mob – lining the banks of the water pit, crowding the bridge to capacity all waiting for epic crashes – lets out a giant roar of approval. I clamber up the log wall and drop into the tunnels under the bridge happy to be alive and unsoiled.OCRWC Slide
    95. I’m standing next to the Grey Berets tent eyeing the 12 footer. I am soaked from head to toe from my delightful ride down the slide of terror, and without my woobie I start to feel the cold. I need to do these last 6 obstacles quickly! Angled walls give me trouble late in races because the sudden change in foot position can light my calves up like the 4th of July. I run and launch with just enough effort to reach the rope. The transition at the top is scary with only a rope to help with the shear drop back down to terra firma.
    96. Sternum Checker #2 is the baby brother to that monster in the woods. The top cross log can be reached with my feet still touching the launch log. Any kind of form is just ludicrous at this point, and I just flop over.
    97. That breeze fucking sucks. Everything is grey under a gloomy sky.
    98. I’ve enjoyed a couple of Battlefrog races this year so Tip of the spear was a welcome sight. The ropes are thin, and more than once the knot saves my bacon. The sweet volunteer is shouting words of encouragement at the top of her lungs and this gives me the push I need to ring the bell. I give her a high five and a hug. (Grey Berets hug it out.)
    99. With images of Cody Moat in my head I run towards the Ramp wall with trepidation. I am elated to see there is no frost on the wall. In fact I see a small strip of dryness and head straight for it. This obstacle requires a full on assault, calves be damned. I get great position high on the wall with my foot and launch! Success! I am so stoked!!!! Two more obstacles to go!OCWRC ramp wall
    100. There is a backup at Skull Valley. I pick a lane that will allow me to traverse the skulls from left to right. People are packed on the vertical cargo net that separates the skulls from the two hanging ropes. Having to transition from the approach side of the net to the finish line side of the net by going under the metal pipe securing the net causes people to do a complicated dance to stay out of each other’s way. A girl pushes up behind me and gives me all sorts of attitude for the fact I’m not going. “Where would you like me to go?” I think to myself. “There is no space on the net to occupy, and I just don’t think I’m in the fucking mood after 9.5 fucking miles to hang by my fingers while it all gets sorted out.” My facial expression says enough for her to back off. A space finally opens up and I campus across the skulls. Their wide, flat and slightly in cut tops make for an easy traverse. At the net I have to pick my feet up a few times and shift positions a few times to allow for others to make the transition. I finally start the process myself, confident about my arms but scared to death about my legs. If I cramp up at this point it’s game over. All goes well and I awkwardly stand there assessing the ropes. The Beard’s™ partner in crime, the Ginger Soul Keeper, is there telling me to get a move on. Giddy up! The finish line awaits! I opt for a big Tarzan swing and skip the second rope. My feet find the wall beyond and I’m able to pull myself upright with the second rope! OOOOOO boy! Now it’s just 8’-9’ feet of horizontal cargo net over my head to negotiate to the other side and all the grip obstacles are done baby! I take a deep breath, envision what Atkins did, and JUMP! I grab the net just over the halfway point and the momentum carries my feet to the opposite wall. Fuck yeah!! With the feet firmly planted I’m able to walk my hands across and finish out. “Holy Crap! Holy Crap! Holy Shit! I did it!”
    101. I size up the Warped Wall, do a wide circle in front of skull valley for some speed, thump my chest with my fist and sprint towards the final obstacle of this harrowing day. “God, I hope my calves hold out!” The wall is dry and my feet feel solid as I keep the knees moving. The OCR gods, who have been magnanimous with their blessings all day (well except for that stench. Jesus! What was that anyways!), throw me one last bone and I find myself chest high at the lip. Copying Atkins again I roll across the horizontal netting, flip over the edge, and roll down the backside where the netting is in a perfect swag. I extricate myself without falling flat on my face and head for home!
    102. I cross the finish line overtaken by a war cry; a day’s worth of pent up emotion released in one loud primal scream. The MC gives me a high five and says, “Well some people are more excited than others!” You’re damn skippy brother!

And “just like that” it’s done. Three hours and seven minutes of the most amazing experience of my short OCR life. Take all the superlatives you know, write them down on a piece of paper and then burn it, because they cannot even begin to describe this event. I sure as hell am not going to try.

There are only four words you need to hear: Tretsch says DO IT!

Postscript
The wet clothes are quickly shed, well if by quick I mean the ten minutes it took, working through massive toe and thigh cramping all the while shivering. For the next couple of hours, I have the distinct honor, in the company of so many different nationalities, to watch and cheer while my fellow Grey Berets cross the finish line.

More ORM – OCRWC Coverage Here.

Writer’s note: it is 6 days later and the buzz has not worn off. See you all in 2016.

Spartan Race Atlanta Super – 2015

PROLOGUE- Spartan Race bound:
October 10, 4:45 AM, 285 South – It’s a frog choking gully washer and my car is sliding all over the place. What the hell?! My knuckles may have a tinge of white.

5:10 AM, 20 East – It’s still a frog choking gully washer, but route 20 must drain better because the car’s back end ain’t shimmying around anymore. Flashes of lighting burn my retinas. And it’s all in the direction of the race.

5:35 AM, Exit 130 Greensboro, GA– I miss my fellow Grey Berets as I fuel up alone at the Waffle House. Most of the people in here I can tell will be going to the race. More compression gear, less camo.

6:10 AM, somewhere – It’s stopped raining.

6:38 AM, Durhamtown ATV Park – This is the craziest fucking parking area ever. It’s dark as hell, starting to rain, and I’m dodging trees.

6:40 AM, Durhamtown ATV Park – As soon as I start walking to the festival area, the clouds open up. It sounds like a freight train. And how the hell am I going to find my car?

6:50 AM, Festival Area – Find the biggest team tent and duck in for cover…right into a fucking pond in the middle of it. Who’s the MENSA genius from team Spartan that placed the tent in a low spot?

7:25 AM, Starting Corral area – They have delayed the start until 7:45. No sense in standing out in the rain. Back to the natatorium…… I mean team tent.

OBSERVATIONS ON THE RUN:
It is fucking down pouring as we sing the National Anthem, and it looks pretty damn dark still in those woods. MC gets everyone fired up. “Who are you?! rah rah rah!” “I’m a fucking wet dog for the second race in a row!”

  1. I’m excited to toe the line with my fellow Grey Berets. We are opting for cruising today to keep fresh and unhurt for next week’s OCRWC. It’s going to take some effort to reign Frosty in, as we plan on running together.
  2. Damn smoke bomb is let off! Damnit! I hate that shit! Satan’s fart cloud at the start is not my ideal way to start a race. The smell and taste is awful.
  3. And we’re off!…….to the slowest start in Spartan history! The early morning gloom, combined with the smoke makes visibility almost zero. We’re all shuffling our feet like fucking Tim Conway, trying to get through the smoke. The blind leading the blind. We break free of the cloud from hell and immediately go down a steep slippery slope that dog legs right. It’s all asses and elbows as several people immediately bite it. “This is gonna suck!” I yell.
  4. The Log Hurdles being square and at 45 degrees actually helps in the wet conditions. I manage to get over without killing myself.
  5. We come out of the woods and run along the road in a semi clear patchwork of tall undergrowth and sparse trees.
  6. It’s a little too early to get fucking kicked in the head at the Over of the O.U.T
  7. As I use the roll technique at the Under of the O.U.T, I suddenly remember I’m wearing my hydration pack. For a split second I have visions of electrolyte water exploding everywhere in a glorious blue geyser. Luckily the only thing getting me wet is the rain.
  8. A-frame cargo net –You go up, you flip, you crab walk down. The flip-n-crab ™. It is not very tall, but the nylon webbing is extremely slick.
  9. The last time I saw these Monkey Bars they were covered in ice, so a little bit of rain is an improvement. Despite some of the bars being at slightly different heights, the simian rhythm is pretty straight forward. The huge fucking gap between the middle two bars catches me off guard like it did at the Sprint and puts a hitch in my groove just as a dude to my right is falling. But it does not prove fatal, and I finish it out.
  10. The ATV trail is a miserable fucking muddy mess.
  11. What’s this?! Look at all these perfectly cut sections of logs. Give me an axe I’m ready to chop up some shit! What? This is the Log Carry? I go all Goldilocks and pick the one that’s just right and heave it up on my shoulder. Almost immediately we have a small descent into a creek. The footing on the way down is fraught with danger. Nothing short of fucking tank treads would keep you from slipping. My Anakondas continue to prove their mud mettle, and I get into the creek without cracking my tailbone. It’s a fairly easy carry (read flat!) along the creek. Then we have to get out of the creek. The creek’s edge at the extraction point is pretty much vertical and almost chest high. With a small tree in the left hand and a right foot dug into the mud, all the while my log (It’s log, it’s log, It’s big, it’s heavy, it’s wood. It’s log, it’s log, it’s better than bad, it’s good) is precariously perched upon my shoulder, I’m able to crest the lip of the bank. Suddenly, I’m on my heels, and I can start to feel the insatiable embrace of gravity! Fuck! I am on a razor’s edge of having an ugly and painful yard sale, but then I do some weird contortions and I get on the winning side of this tug of war. Whew!
  12. The ropes at the Cliff Climb are barely visible against the dirt with their muddy camouflage. Not much of a cliff, but the rope makes it possible given the conditions.
  13. We are running through the woods. Not a trail in the woods, but actually running THROUGH the fucking woods. Dodging branches that threaten to clothesline me, avoiding thorny vines that are eager to either trip me or tear the flesh from my body and hopping over all manner of forest floor detritus. It all has a very “The Fugitive” vibe to it and any minute Tommy Lee Jones is gonna shoot my ass.
  14. We pop out of the woods and go “off trail” into a grass swamp. The craziest feeling. Like walking through a wet, thick, very shag-a-delic carpet. Yeah baby! Luckily there is someone ahead of me to show where the bottom suddenly drops out. “Fuck! He looks as if he was pulled under! Keep it together Tretsch! It’s not at all creepy out here!”
  15. I approach the Sled pull and immediately go to one that is not occupied and is further in the direction we are headed. No sooner do I sit down then I’m yelled at, “those are the women’s!” Well that explains the 8 empty lanes.
  16. Fuck! These sleds are heavy. The rain certainly adding to the sandbag weight. I’m dragging this steel plate monster, and it gets hung up on a rock in the ground. I put my back into it, the plate digs up the fucking boulder, and now I’m ploughing the earth like farmer Brown instead of skating over the mud like Yamaguchi. The mini Stone Mountain finally gets left behind and I quickly pull the last few feet problem free. Dragging that damn sled back to the start sucks and of course I trip over the fucking rock!
  17. Oh looky! A fucking hill….of mud and rock.
  18. Fuck! This “road” is muddy and hilly. Cross slope is a……..WHOA! Dude is sliding towards me with “cleats” up. I reach down to assist in stopping him, thus protecting my ankles and hopefully keeping me from landing on him like a ton of bricks from being undercut. Annnnnnnd, I put my hand right on his crotch. “Well HELLO there!” I manage to avoid him and then stop to assist. I go to help him up and he’s all “I’m ok, I’m good!” Hey if it’s any consolation, you just got felt up by a Grey Beret.
  19. It’s an 8’ wall; you go up, you go over, except when you slip and run into it.
  20. Come out of those damnable woods and smack into everyone’s favorite pile of gravel. The volunteers at the Bucket Brigade are aggressive and make it VERY clear there were no holes to be seen! Back into the woods with my personal gravel pit. Though negotiating all the possible trip hazards on the forest floor was a challenge, the loop was flat and quick. This made me very happy.
  21. Back into the woods. After a short while it changed into this bizarre landscape of tall skinny pine trees in neat rows at an angle to our run and brushy, grassy undergrowth bristling with thorny vines. And it all went fucking uphill and downhill and uphill. And then I hear a yell from a kid in front of me. He’s startled a deer out of some thicket. I’m too busy looking at my feet to keep from busting ass, so I miss it. Then I hear a high pitched scream from behind me. There is much yelling about bees. I think it’s fellow Grey Beret, Chips, so I commend him on his girlie scream. Writer’s note – It was not in fact Chips. HE took his sting to the kneecap like a true Grey Beret: stoic, silent, strong. It was the guy BEHIND him, and he got stung in the purple headed womb broom. Fuck! I sent out a silent man-prayer for a fellow bro. Come to find out, many, many people got stung in all manner of places.
  22. We finally exit the scary Pine Barrens and head straight into another shit storm of mud, and it’s a Log Carry. Now that I am a seasoned veteran of one log carry, I pick up my wooden friend with supreme confidence and head out on a path of giant muddy whoop-dee-doos and steep embanked turns. A wet dream for dirt bikers but an absolute nightmare for taking one’s cylinder of cellulose for a walk.Spartan Race Atlanta - Super log carry
  23. We come up at the top of the rise and out of the godforsaken woods, and I see the Z-walls. Oh yeah! A boulderer’s jam! I got this!…….As I do my 30 burpees in the mud, I wonder what the fuck just happened. Sure the pieces of painted 2x4s were slicker than a harpooned hippo on a banana tree and muddier than a West Georgia pig sty, but I’m a climber for fucks sake! “This plus the atlas carry will be my only ones”, I vow.

    Spartan Super Z walls
  24. The Invert wall is a tall monster, but with 2 horizontal 2x4s on the approach side, it’s a pretty straight forward climb. I slide down the other side and land much too hard. My knees tell me to fuck off.
  25. The trails are just ludicrously fucking muddy. We are at least 5 miles in, and I haven’t had anything that looks remotely like a normal running gait. I feel like a fucking fiddler crab.
  26. We come out into a wasteland of mud, ravines and scraggly trees to find the Sandbag Carry. Frosty and I head uphill in a ravine. The mud is redonkulous and the footing horrible. I look over and there is Frosty walking in a rivulet as easy as you please. “It’s better traction and rinsey,” he says. Sure as shit it is. It’s all sunshine and unicorns until we have to get out of the ravine. Then it’s everything I can do to keep from sliding backwards down the hill. We reach the top and get a jog going on the downhill to finish the loop. The mud has gotten so thick and sticky my shoes must weigh ten pounds by the time we drop off our sandbag. “This is the first wave!” I think to myself; “it’s going to be the 9th circle of hell by the time the afternoon waves come through!”
  27. As I approach the Multi-bars, I’m excited to see they are set up similar to my rig at home, just fewer rings; it’s a softball versus my baseball, and has one more piece of hanging rope. SO, giddy up! 3 rings, hanging pipe, hanging softball, hanging rope. Uh oh! I stall out on the first rope and lose my momentum! But a big reach gets me to the second rope and on to the bell. Whew!
  28. I was wearing my hydration pack to test out some prototype armor I had devised to protect the pack from the Barbed wire crawl if I decided to wear it during the upcoming beast. So I took a look at the muddy fucking HILL we were going to crawl up, pretty much internalized every known curse word I had, and went in. I could hear the barbs scraping against the aluminum plates and was feeling pretty sure of my Mcgyverness until my bubble butt got zinged. And we kept going, and it got steeper, and my fingers dug deeper, and I was getting gassed. Fuck! How long must this go on?! Frosty zoomed right up while I struggled. It was never gonna fucking end. It’s all core baby! And mine is lacking.Spartan Super barb wire crawl
  29. It’s an awkward approach to the Rope climb, but it quickly becomes clear this one is different than the norm: no knots on any ropes (they just get in the way anyways) and no pit of water. It’s a thinner rope than I have at home, but the J-hook still proves effective. I want to jump down to save some time, but the hay bales and all the gaps in-between them are a sure fire way to snap an ankle.Spartan Super rope climb
  30. We are now fully in a wide open Mud Zone. It’s a fucking mess!
  31. With the Slip wall being so late in the race, I approach it with just enough effort to get to the rope. No need for heroics.
  32. Being soaked to the core of my being since the minute I stepped out of my fucking car, the Dunk wall barely registers as liquid.
  33. A large muddy looping curve brings us to some kind of Logs-as-jerry cans carry (this was one of the classified obstacles, so it had no name). Again, with the perfectly cut sections of log but this time with thick chain attached to them for handles. I literally laugh out loud when I see we have to carry them 50 feet through water, turn around and come back. This is a weak copy of Battlefrog’s jerry can carry, but given a certain RDs’ love of brutality, I could see this being scaled up to a much longer and more technical length. But today, it’s humorous.
  34. Cramps start to rear their ugly head in Frosty’s legs; so, I break out the mustard packets. I take one too just for good measure. That strong vinegar bite is not an unwelcome pick me up.
  35. I have practiced the Spear throw in my backyard a thousand times if once. I even have a rope on it. It’s almost second nature. I have never practiced with the spear covered in mud. My anemic throw coupled with the muddy conditions resulted in an “air ball”. “Are you fucking kidding me?!” I couldn’t believe it. I did my 30 in even worse mud than the last 30 and then stepped back up and drilled that spear into the hay. “Well fan-fucking-tastic!” NOW I’m Achilles?!
  36. As I’m negotiating the 8’ wall, my quads seize up. What the hell?! I’ve never had that happen. It goes away as fast as it appeared, but not without leaving me with some pain.
  37. I don’t realize how short the Vertical cargo net climb is until I do the flip technique and my feet end up only inches from the bales of hay at the bottom. Sweet!
  38. I can smell the pungent odor of a wood fire! A beautiful smoky haze tantalizingly close.
  39. We climb up to an ATV drag strip, replete with a Christmas tree, to find the Atlas carry. And there they were, Satan’s bawbags – one hundred pounds of spherical concrete sunk in mud, caked in mud, smelling of mud. I squat down, embrace them lovingly as if they were my own betty swollocks and heave! Annnnnd nothing. The fucking mud has it in a vice grip of earthly suction. I roll the dam thing just enough to break Mother Nature’s greedy grip and give it another go. It comes up, and I can feel its full weight as I struggle with the slipperiness. I stagger to my feet and become THAT guy. You know the one; the guy at the gym who makes all those fucking ridiculous noises. But fuck me! It’s heavy, slippery and I’m tired. Everything the spring Sprint was not. I get to the other side in double time and soooo want to drop the fucker. But, NO! I do not want the damn thing to get stuck in the mud. So with grunting noises reminiscent of a rutting rhino, I ease that cantankerous concrete orb to the ground. Do the 5 muddiest burpees known to man and gird my loins for the return trip. It’s easier picking up but no less difficult to carry. The noises coming out of me are demonic. I get to the flag and let go of that thing as if it was on fire.
  40. I’m glad to see there isn’t a ridiculous water pit after the Fire jump. I execute “The Flash” ™ flawlessly in anticipation of the camera, and happily cross the finish line.Spartan Super fire jump
  41. That was fun! I love the wet conditions but how many fucking different kind of carries can one do. Not very creative. This was only my second Spartan race. I am doing the Beast to get a Trifecta, but the jury is still out for me on this race series. I haven’t drank the kool-aid.

POST SCRIPT:
October 10, 9:50 AM – I head to the showers in an attempt to get the mud off. The festival area is a fucking muddy squishy mess. The person who set up the team tent needs to learn from the person who set up the showers. The entire hose off area is covered in a thick layer of #57 gravel, making it perversely, the driest place in the festival area. I find a high point of gravel at the far left next to a Spartan wall.Spartan Super festival mud

9:55 AM – I am down to my Voltron undies and have washed every article of race gear I have to avoid washing myself. I fear the water will be ice cold. My fears prove unfounded. The water, while not warm, is bearable. As I’m spraying the orange off, I realize I forgot my towels! FUCK! Rookie mistake.

9:57 AM – I am patting myself dry with my Tough Mudder and Barbarian Challenge hand towels thankfully found at the bottom of my race bag. Reminds of some cheap hotels where the actual towels weren’t much bigger.

9:58 AM – The changing tents are far and will require traversing through some nasty lakes of mud and water. Screw that! I have nice “clean” feet, fresh socks and dry shoes. I’m going to change here. I put on my shirt, face towards the wall and drop the Voltrons. Oh whoa be the poor person that happened to look in my direction at that moment! Of course my vision of a finely executed and graceful wardrobe change is shot to shit when the Voltrons get stuck on my left ankle. So I’m trying to kick off the fucking wet boxer briefs, while trying to put on the dry boxers, my feet being stabbed by gravel, left foot cramping up, and my balance shot to hell, all while my blinding white ass is saying a happy “cheerio!” out from under my T-shirt.

10:00 AM – I am clothed and no one around me appears to have gotten sick.

10:30 AM – I can’t stand Shocktop. Besides everyone is complaining it’s warm and flat. I buy a frosty cold bud light.

11:00 AM – The water under the biggest team tent has grown into a reasonable size pool and almost shin deep. There is talk of swimming competitions later. And now that it is light out I can clearly see a high point not 30 feet away that would have easily fit the tent. SMH!

The remainder of the day is a blur of great company, picture taking and hilarious conversation. The original Grey Berets leave to go find some lunch. Just in time before the skies opened back up.

photos by Spartan Race, Kimberley Williams Blake, Sonya Williams Bresnihan

 

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Savage Race – Georgia Fall 2015

Prologue

6:03 AM – 75N – the truck I’m passing seems oddly familiar but it’s raining and still dark

6:03:30 AM-75N- The truck pulls tight up beyond me and flashes its headlights. I’ll be damned that is Mr. Pink, Patriarch and Angel.

6:04 AM – 75N – Even in the gloom of pre sunrise and rain, the lily white ass sticking out the passenger window of the truck as it passes me is startlingly bright.

6:15 AM – Acworth – Fuel up with coffee and breakfast at the unofficial conference room for the Grey Berets; Waffle House.

7:30 AM ­– Acworth – Racetrac must buy the same bathroom tile as my beloved QT.

7:50 AM ­– Dallas – Sam Abbitt must be the horse whisperer. For my third race in a row, there are sleek beautiful horses standing there albeit indifferent to our arrival at the Moonlight Stables.

8:00 AM  – Festival Area – It’s a muddy fucking mess. But Colossus still looks glorious looming over the festival area. I see all the important things: food trucks, beer tent, schwag tent, and port-a-johns. Not necessarily in that order of importance.

8:30 AM – Festival Area –glad we have tents as it has started raining. Ladies are looking cute in their stylish wellies.

Observations on the run:

  1. It is pouring rain (Garfield must have the red phone to the Theoi Meteori), but the Savage MC is getting everyone in the SavagePro wave into a fine lather, so Mother Nature’s tears of Savage joy are ignored. I am jacked up! I LOVE this weather. Just like in the spring. And we’re off!Savage Race Start
  2. No blue smoke from the anus of hell. My lungs and taste buds thank you Sam.
  3. A smokin’ hot start plus some hills and I’m at Backscratcher weezing like the Marlboro Man.
  4. As I crawl under the “under” my hand almost becomes one with a giant pile of horseshit. In this field it ain’t surprising, but damn! I’m not ready for that kind of race patina……yet.
  5. I wonder, running through the field, if the tread pattern on my shoe is good at shedding shit.
  6. Enter the woods and settle in for an extended stretch of wet muddy trail running.
  7. Fuck these hills!
  8. I cruise through Sawhorses without my characteristic flopping form.
  9. Block Party is a welcome warmup for the arms and shoulders for the upcoming upper body obstacles, but fuck am I slow pulling that concrete filled cinder block turd up the hill. I run it back downhill with extreme caution; I do not want to end up like a charging rabid dog on a short leash.Savage Race block party
  10. And like in the spring, the hilly grassy running fucking sucks! BUT, at least it’s not mud.
  11. One of these days I’m going to do a back flip off of Davy Jones’ Locker. But today I just try to jump as far as I can to shorten the swim. The deep water cleans off the 10 pounds of goopy mud from Mud-n-guts.
  12. Annnnd there’s more heavy grass and more hills.
  13. Kiss-my-walls is a climber’s dream. They’ve added 10 degrees overhang on it, but the holds are positive, so it’s easy going. The rain does demand the need for measured, slow movement so the feet do not slip.
  14. Log-a-rhythm, with it’s over/under cadence in a mud pit just before Sawtooth, would be cruel to the grip on a dry day, but today it’s not about just having wet hands, it’s about being soaked to the soul. So just keep bringing the water obstacles, ‘cuz I can’t possibly get any fucker wetter.
  15. As I crest the hill I see Blazed and I almost shed a tear. After 24 races I FINALLY get my fucking righteous flames of OCR badassery! The flames are tall and bright orange against the gloom. I let the two dudes next to me go ahead as I want this moment all to myself and the Gameface media cameraman (even in race mode always play to camera baby!). As they clear the flames with no style whatsoever (where is your soie de vivre?!) – Amateurs! – I start running. I can feel the flames from a surprising distance. I launch into The Flash™ and…..completely fuck it up. My own damn move, with roaring flames, and I still manage to screw it up.
  16. Shriveled Richard was, as always, fucking cold. I’ve gotten used to the cold dunks by now. The key is to jump in as far across the dumpster as you can, keep your breathing slow and controlled and get the fuck out as fast as possible. Hmmm? The middle board seems to go much deeper in the water than I remember. Today I was concerned though with what effect it would have on my hands and arms having Wheel World the next obstacle. (Yes, I study the course maps prior to a race. They’re so pretty and full of promise)Savage Race Shriveled Richard
  17. Other than my population paste pump becoming a worthless little nub, after a few hundred yards of yet more slippery and hilly trail running, my hands, arms and the rest of my body warmed right back up.
  18. I came out of the trees in the shadow (I know it was raining. Work with me here!) of Colossus and finally see the obstacle I have been waiting months for: Wheel World. A thing of sublimely wicked beauty plucked from the playground of Satan’s Spawn. Five rotating and fiendishly askew steel pipe pentagons of evil. The pipes are slippery from the constant rain, but the boys from ORM are here! With cameras in my face and words of encouragement being shouted out, I pull myself up into go mode. I straight line it, monkey bar style, through the first pipe-a-gon to the opposite side of the second pentapipe. The third one suddenly fucking turns on me, placing my back to the 4th It’s all awkward stretching and kicking on the reach. My past daydreams of cruising through this obstacle in a fucking glorious aerial ballet of pirouettes was being crushed by the sheer terror of not slipping off those pipes! With a last heave I was done and out. Primal scream ensued. I was amped!Savage Race wheel world
  19. The euphoria of a successful, albeit ungainly, run through wheel world settles nicely into my bones as I run through the verdant.. fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck! Flying through the air, ground plane dropping away from me! The universe has a good sense humor, or balance if you will. The grace I lacked at wheel world comes to me at this very moment as I drop my shoulder, keep my legs in tight, roll (downhill) two times, and pop up on my feet facing uphill. What the hell did I just trip on?! I have now fallen on my face at every Savage I have done. I can already feel the scratches on my shoulders.
  1. Time for another stretch of running. Damn these wet muddy trails!
  2. Annnnnd, my feet go out from under me on a cross slope turn. Fuck! That twinged the knee a bit!
  3. I do not remember the pipe diameter at Pipe Dreams being so….girthy. Oh behave! And I don’t remember the two sections being that far apart. A GORMR/Mud Addict is there with encouraging words.
  4. Back in to the woods. Thor’s Grundle shows up in the middle of the woods after a particularly STEEP and sketchy downhill. This must have been a carnival slide by the third wave. Me So Thorny has its mojo back and is zig zagging once again.
  5. I’m cruising along the Yellow River, I can feel a bit of a second wind coming on when I hear someone coming up fast behind me. He then passes me like I’m standing still. It’s little Chris Acuff. Like Yuri and several other speed freaks, I usually only see him for about 50 yards after the starting line. “Ho HO!” I think to myself, “An obstacle must have really tripped that youngster up to be passing me after the 4th I ain’t gonna lie, it felt pretty good. I doubt it will happen again.
  6. Covered in mud and wincing from a view choice encounters with some fucking rocks in full on cloaking mode at Prairie Dog, I approached the Teeter Tubers. I was doing alright of a pace, feeling a little gassed, but knew I was getting near the end (again, it’s all about studying the map). Hmmmm…..? Seems to be a few people stacked up there for such an “easy” obstacle. I step up close and see guys sliding out of the tubes back to the entrance. “Oh that ain’t fucking good!” I hear a lot of words that would normally warm the cockles of my heart; words appreciated and savored by a guy who says fuck a lot. But these words portend ominous things to come. I pick a tube with no rhyme or reason and enter the shaft. I barely have my scrunched up body fully in the tube and I immediately slide backwards and out. Fuck! Spat out! It’s slicker than two slugs fucking on an ice covered marble floor! I try again, pressing harder with my back and hands. And again; the shoes have been shed and thrown into the tube. And fucking again; my socks now in the pocket of my board shorts! More people are stacked up. I start to see people I passed long ago. I see people I’ve been ahead of since the start! “You have GOT to be fucking kidding me!?” Of all places to be stuck, stonewalled, and stymied!

With only 75 yards to go and only one obstacle left to the finish, I gave up my band much too easily at BattleFrog Carolinas back in the spring. I promised myself I would not do that again without one hell of a fight. So with that in mind coupled with the onset of desperation, my brain goes all fucking mushy and decides stupid shit is actually logical and plausible.

Before we delve into that, let’s take another aside and examine the Teeter Tubers. The “Teets” are a classic example of a class 1 lever. The lever is one of the six simple machines those madcap Renaissance scientists identified when they weren’t busy dreaming up more complex machines like the Iron Maiden or the Judas Cradle. In this case we have a 24” diameter, 20 foot long plastic corrugated culvert pipe as our beam pivoted at a fulcrum. Now, since the racer is in effect the “effort” and there in no resistance, you’re basically climbing a ramp (another simple machine by the by) who’s interior is smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy (Julio! Get the stretch!) UNTIL you can get your exhausted, mud covered body past the fucking fulcrum, thus becoming the output.

So, back to the mushy desperate brain devising a plan that only Beavis & Butthead themselves would consider genius.

Here I am, not smart enough to try another tube (They’re all the same right?) and everything seems to be getting greasier with every attempt. I mean, my fucking shoes and socks are off for pete’s sake. This is a first for me and when the mud at the mouth of the tube squishes through my toes, I don’t get that “my toes are gonna be all fucking prehensile now!” feeling.

So, somehow I get the tube to balance; suspended horizontally in space. Wait for it…..don’t get ahead of me! I check behind me to see if it is clear, take a few steps back, mud and grass covering my bare feet, and launch into a full run forward. Channeling Vitaly, the feline star of Circus Zaragoza, I dive through the air aiming for the center of circle, willing my body to be as small as possible. I enter the pipe like Kelley Slater, gravity does what gravity does, and my body weight impacts the bottom of the pipe. At this point I remember I was never any fucking good at physics in high school. The Law of the Lever sends me crashing to the ground, and I take a direct hit in the hip with the lip of the pipe. The volunteer who had been yelling sweet nothings to us, insisting she did NOT want to take our bands, didn’t even bat an eyelash. She looked at me and deadpanned “that was a good idea”. “NO! That was the most moronic, ill-informed, half-baked, fucking stupid idea of all fucking stupid ideas”, I thought to myself.

I tried to crawl up yet again. My back, hands, and feet could find no purchase in this giant bucatini from hell. I slid backwards yet again. Doubt and fear starting creeping in. I did not want to give my band up at the Teets! I went to the adjacent stand of trees for the third time to wipe my hands on the leaves of some small trees. And then it happened; a fucking laser beam of light shot out from the light bulb above my head (forgive the incongruity of the technologies) and lit up the pine trees branches inches from my face. The needles! The fucking beautiful glorious needles! YES! I started tearing off small branches that were heavy with needles. The volunteer surely thinking I had gone mad.  I reengaged Satan’s bunghole, placed the pine needles, branch and all under my hands and pushed/pulled. I moved upwards! I finally moved fucking upwards! I repeated the move, the pine needles giving me just enough friction to overcome Satan’s anal leakage. Again. 6 inches. Again. Another 6”! And again. Painfully small but upward movements. And then without warning the sweet sexy sensation of the tube tipping! I had passed the fulcrum and had become the output! The tube walls echoed from my shouts of triumph. I was shat out, tired, muddy, and smelling like fucking Pinesol. (writer’s note – about 10 minutes after I got the fuck out of there, they started allowing assistance. A few minutes more after that, they added ropes to the tubes)Savage Race teeter tubers

  1. After all that exertion The Great Wall was the last blue wall I wanted to see.
  2. As I run up to Venus Guy Trap I see a friend at the top of the inverted wall (and this is not meant to sound douchey) who I never see during the races because of our different paces. The expression on his face when he sees me and realizes he has been ahead of me was fucking priceless. And this, in a nutshell, is the beauty of mandatory obstacle completion (MOC). I know that I had the exact same expression during Battlefrog Carolinas when I came up on people, stuck at an obstacle, who never see me after the start of a race. It’s a great fucking feeling. Today it was my turn to be on the struggling end of MOC. (writer’s note – My struggles at Teets cost  me 22 places)
  3. As I labor up to NuttSmasher at the top of a short but fucking steep hill, I remember that I fell in the spring and it took me 3 tries to cross. But the last few races I have done well on balance obstacles, so I approached brimming with confidence but tired as fuck. Then I saw all the beams had been replaced. Gone were the old beams with more curves than Marilyn Monroe and more warped than Star Trek. Oh it was on!Savage Race nuttsmasher
  4. I’m looking to make some ground up at Lumberjack Lane until I see the timbers we have to carry. Holy Shit! In the spring it was a 5-6 foot long southern yellow pine 4×4, dry and light. Now I’m staring at a pile of 5 foot long pressure treated 4x6s that look like they’ve been at the bottom of lake for a century and the volunteer cheerfully says “take two”.So with images of Shute carrying that huge fucking log up the bleacher stairs, I man handle the two timbers onto my shoulders. It’s all awkward and ungainly as I try to get them across my shoulders. I can’t get the slick sticks to keep from spinning against each other, so I abandon my vision quest and stack them on one shoulder. These beasts are heavy and awkward, so running is not really an option. It’s hella muddy! A power walk gets me to the turn. I switch to my left shoulder and with the slight downhill I am able start up a light jog. It’s tretscherous footing and a Grey Beret in front of me goes down hard. Somehow he keeps both timbers on his shoulders. Nicely done Mr. Clean. I finally approach the drop pile and yell for the volunteers to watch their toes; “I’m coming in hot!” I dump Satan’s chopsticks and jog/shuffle to the final obstacle. I’m so fucking tired.Savage Race lumberjack lane
  1. I reach Colussus, decide on the furthest left lane and go. I want to pass a couple of people and there’s no time to admire Big Blue. I don’t want to chance a slip or cramp on an overly planted foot, so I run with just enough speed to reach the bottom of the rope. The rope and wall are wet and muddy but climbable. A somewhat ungainly top out and it’s quickly to the ladder to reach the apex; the top of the slide. When a slide is at the end of a race, there is ONLY one way to drop in; you have to jump straight up to get down. This saves precision time versus sitting down on the lip and pushing off. Besides you get big air and warp fucking speed when you slide. (DO NOT jump out! You do not want to land in the transition. Ouch!)I still have no idea how to solve the problem of exiting the Colossus splash pit without looking like a complete drunkard. It is the most awkward water pit to get out of in the entire OCR world.Savage Race colussus
  1. 10 feet from the water is the finish line. Not the most dramatic finish (no photo finish footrace possibilities here (only people thrashing about trying to climb a slope of fucking wet plastic) but I’m done! This race was so fucking awesome!!!!! Tretsch says DO IT!

Postscript

I have just enough time for some goofery and a beer before my sweet Lil’ B and her BFF get there for SavageJr. 3 laps these little buggers did; dragging my tired ass each and every time. I finally had to stop them using the awards ceremony as an excuse.

After the awards the family had departed and I had to clean off. Luckily Wheel World was right there with its deep pool of water.

The rain and cold made it an unpleasant day for hanging out, but I still managed to dig deep and have another beer and shove a cheesesteak into my face hole. DFQ.

It was a grand day!