Terrain Race, the Spirit Airlines of OCR?

Here at ORM, we see plenty of complaints about races. Sometimes complaints are valid, and sometimes race participants are venting about things that don’t really merit the venom that gets spilled. One of the downsides of the spread of social media is that it has become very easy for people to complain, loudly and without the need to show both sides to a situation. Was your life really ruined because they ran out of race t-shirts in your size? Probably not. Disappointing? Sure.

Accounting for the numerous grains of salt that have to be taken when reviewing internet comments, there is still one race that generates more legitimate beefs from racers than any other: Terrain Race. Some complaints represent what I would consider minor inconveniences: having to pay almost as much for parking and insurance as you do for the race fee, for example, or missing race photos. But others are more worrisome, such as complaints about safety and unpaid podium winners. And plenty of these complaints have come from people who want to like Terrain and want to see the company succeed.

Here’s a good example from Colleen in Florida:

I was the first place female finisher at their Pensacola race on April 7, 2018. I was also the only female to keep my band that day. When the results came out, after a ridiculous amount of time, they were incorrect. I emailed them, sending  everything they asked (photo with my band on and a time stamp) and they have never corrected them. As an OCRWC qualifying race, I would think the results would be expected to be accurate.

My husband also had a podium finish that day and the week after the race we sent in the required paperwork in order to have our award checks mailed. After not receiving the checks or hearing back from TR, we emailed and they repeated replied with “we will look into it” or “it has been sent to our accounting dept”. Eventually I started sending Facebook messages and after a couple they ignored those too.

A couple of weeks ago my husband posted on several of their FB ads regarding the issues we have had and they again requested the tax paperwork, which we sent…again. They said it was sent to the accounting dept, again and we would receive checks in about 3 weeks. I’m not holding my breath!

I really HATE to bash a race company because we love racing and don’t have a lot of options here in Pensacola, but it is a business and as customers we deserve what was promised to us.

I have heard that TR has someone new trying to straighten things out and I surely hope they are successful.

And from Greg in Pennsylvania:

I’ve done a few Terrain Races the past few years. The most recent was May 5th Pittsburgh at Mines and Meadow. They were suppose to have an event in Erie, PA on Aug 11th but announced it only a few months ago then cancelled it and apparently rescheduled it for next year. The event is Pittsburgh did not have a single person on course anywhere taking photos. I ran the multi lap option and never came across anyone. Not even someone from terrain taking any photos to put on their own page. Some obstacles were described pretty accurately in the Facebook video the other day that mentioned the Robert Killian stuff. The walls were very wobbly. But their walls are basically 2x6s that they slide into a track that keeps them upright but doesn’t secure them into place. One of the starting pools actually deflated and all the water drained out of it. The half cargo net that you had to climb the metal pipes to reach the net was scary. The net totally had too much slack so when you start to go up or down the other side it shifts. Racers were pulling down the one end to stop it from moving so people could get down it more easily. There was talk that someone fell off it and broke their leg. There were some volunteers at a few obstacles but I can’t remember which ones did and didn’t. A lot of the end obstacles didn’t have anyone like the monkey bars or the plank walk to the sideways cargo net.

Like the bigger races series (Spartan, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash) Terrain puts on over sixty races a year, but they have distinguished their brand by having very low race entry fee, usually $30.00. And those ads you see warning you that you should buy now because the price is about to go up? No, the price isn’t about to go up. It’s going to be $30.00. Is this a good deal? You might think so, especially as you can pay five times as much for other race series if you wait until the last minute. However, the race experience will feature the dramatic builds you see at a Tough Mudder or the well-oiled machine you observe at a Spartan Race.

I’ll make the comparison to Spirit Airlines. Their prices are lower than, say, Delta or American, but the services they offer aren’t as good. The planes aren’t as comfortable, you get charged for every possible add-on, and the customer service? Well, better not to ask. However, Spirit will still get you to Florida, and for less. If that’s what you’re looking for, then Spirit isn’t necessarily a bad choice. I have a friend who is grateful for the existence of Spirit because they had direct flights from her home in Philadelphia to Minneapolis, and she could afford to visit her recently widowed mother each weekend. Spirit doesn’t lack for customers.

Similarly, Terrain Race will get you around a 5K course with some obstacles, and you’ll get a medal and a t-shirt at the finish. Will the obstacles be dramatic or challenging? Not really. Will you still have a fun day out with the friends you brought? Probably, assuming that none of them see themselves as elite racers and everyone keeps their expectations low. And hey, it was only $30.00! What else can you do at that price? It would be churlish, not to mention snobby, to condemn Terrain for being cheap.

You still get a medal at the finish

However, what about those safety issues? And what about those missing podium checks? Terrain has timed first heats (generally 8:00 a.m. for the men and 8:05 a.m. for the women). Checks are promised to the top racers, but too many people have written in to complain that Terrain hasn’t paid as promised and has dodged customer service requests to fix this. Even those not in the money have complained about timing. This isn’t just an ego issue: Terrain Races are qualifiers for the OCRWC, and there are athletes who are relying on accurate timing results in order to get to the championships. A number of racers have written to ORM with their stories of missing results and getting the runaround from Terrain when they complained.

More worrisome are stories about lackluster monitoring of the courses and safety concerns. After a rig collapsed at the Terrain Race in Chicago in 2016, you would think that safety would come first at every event since then. Nevertheless, a rig obstaclce had to be shut down at a Southern California race last month after it appeared to be unstable (no injuries were reported this time). People will still fly Spirit even if they charge for soft drinks, but if their planes start falling apart, that’s a reason to stay away.

Terrain-Race-Chicago-Cargo-After

Not Terrain’s finest hour

Terrain Race is currently operated by company called Cool Events. Cool Events have been producing The BlackLight Run and Foam Glow 5k for the last few years. Both of those races have some complaints on social media and the Arizona Better Business Bureau. The BBB states 

BBB files indicate this business has a pattern of complaints concerning service and refund issues. Complainants allege the business may fail to be responsive to race or refund inquiries as races are repeatedly cancelled, and may also fail to ensure consumers are informed of the business’ no-refund policy. In addition, complainants allege the business may occasionally offer refunds, but may fails to follow through with providing the refund. BBB contacted the business regarding complaint history concerns. The business responded indicating a no refund policy, but failed to address the cause or offer a resolution to the current pattern of complaints.

When we reached out for comment to Cool Events management, they referred us to their new spokesman, Dustin Dorough.

Dustin has been a start line MC in the OCR scene for years, and is extremely well liked in the community.  To his credit, he was candid about the problems Terrain has been facing. Many of the problems people complain about simply boil down to money. The race promises course photographs (for a fee, by the way), and social-media-ready pictures are the lifeblood of OCR as documented in Rise of the Sufferfests. And yet Terrain failed to provide any photos at a number of races. Why? Dorough explained that, unlike other races that can afford to bring staff photographers to each race, Terrain hires locally, and sometimes the photographers simply fail to show up on the day of the race (or, worse, one showed up but… forgot to bring her camera).

He also explained the reason for another complaint, the lack of volunteers monitoring the obstacles. Since volunteers are promised a free race entry, and a race entry costs only $30.00, it is difficult to recruit someone to work for six hours in exchange for, well, do the math.

Dustin is optimistic that Terrain can improve. I expect this is partly his nature (you can hear much more about Dustin in a highly entertaining interview here before he was affiliated with Terrain), but he also told me that he is part of a new team of staffers brought in to address the same issues that racers have been complaining about.

Will this new team be able to turn Terrain around? Let’s hope so. There is room in the market for a lower-cost, less epic race product. After all, Tough Mudder has been experimenting with shorter courses with fewer obstacles. Terrain also appears in smaller markets that are not served by some of the big races. OCR shouldn’t have to be expensive. The question remains whether the $30.00 price point is sustainable for Terrain, or for any race, in the long run.

OCRWC Partners With Dream Team Television

2018 Obstacle Course Racing World Championships to Air Across Multiple UK Television Networks

The first broadcast of the 2018 Championships will air on the 27th of October on the UK’s Channel 4, with further broadcasts planned on additional networks including British Eurosport, Sky Sports, and more.

Today, Adventurey, LLC, producers of the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships (OCRWC), announced a partnership with Dream Team Television to produce programming for the 2018 Obstacle Course Racing World Championships. The program will air on the UK’s Channel 4, British Eurosport, Sky Sports, and other international networks.

“Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) has exploded in popularity over the past several years and is now recognized as a premier sport for professional and amateur athletes,” Adrian Bijanada, Adventurey Founder & CEO, said. “We’re excited for our athletes to showcase their skills and introduce OCR to sports fans around the world.”

The 60-minute recap of the event will follow both amateur and professional OCR athletes in the lead up to race day, as well as document the championship event as it unfolds.

“The OCRWC is a grueling test of athleticism unique to the sport of OCR” Bijanada said. “Our competitors are some of the world’s best all-around athletes. They possess exceptional strength, speed, endurance, and agility which will be on display to those watching the race.”

Competitors for the OCRWC must qualify for the event by meeting specific results criteria at other obstacle course races around the world.

“With the OCRWC, we believe we have created a unique and independent platform that celebrates the sport of obstacle course racing,” said Bijanada. “We can’t wait to show the world the exceptional nature of this sport’s community.”

This year’s OCRWC takes place from the 19th to the 21st of October outside London, England. Thousands of the world’s top athletes in the sport of OCR from more than 60 countries will compete for the title of World Champion in 3K, 15K, and Team Relay events.

The OCRWC will air on the UK’s Channel 4 on Saturday, the 27th of October. Following the debut broadcast, additional international networks will feature the program in their lineups with programming details announced as they become available.

For more information, please visit OCRWC.com, or contact Stacey Kennedy at stacey@adventurey.com.

About the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships
Founded in 2013, the OCR World Championships are the only truly independent global championships for the sport of Obstacle Course Racing. Its mission is to unify, promote, and increase participation in the sport of OCR while celebrating its athletes and community. Competing in the event requires athletes to qualify for a limited number of spots through a network of qualifying events. The 2017 competition drew more than 4,000 athletes from 67 nations to compete for cash prizes in individual Elite, Age Group, and Team competitions, making it one of the broadest and most diverse races in obstacle course racing history. For additional information, visit OCRWC.com.

About Adventurey
Founded in 2013, Adventurey is a leading innovator in the endurance sporting event market that produces and markets premier sporting events that offer unparalleled experiences for athletes and spectators. Adventurey’s portfolio of events include the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships, North American Obstacle Course Racing Championships, 24-Hour Enduro Obstacle Course Racing World Championships, South African Obstacle Course Racing Championships, and the Empire State Marathon. Learn more at Adventurey.com. For additional media inquiries, please contact Stacey Kennedy at stacey@adventurey.com.

About Dream Team Television
Dream Team Television was established in 1994 following a successful production of The Everest Marathon. In the following years, the team went from strength to strength, covering adventure and endurance events around the world for S4C, Transworld Sport, and SNTV.

Dream Team Television has since grown into one of the UK’s leading production companies specialising in Triathlon, adventure, and athletics programming. The company has a worldwide reputation for producing the highest quality programmes in this field.

Dream Team produces programmes on the top British Triathlons as well as Marathons, ultra-marathons, mass participation events and cycling.

Our client list is made up of top companies and organisations including IMG, Ironman, British Triathlon, One Step Beyond, Always Aim High, Activity Wales, Human Race, Welsh Athletics, Challenge and Men’s Health plus many others. For additional information, visit dreamteamtelevision.co.uk

Spartan Race 2018 North American Championship Recap

We know it may be difficult to keep track of all the Championships this time of year, especially since Spartan keeps coming up with different ways to celebrate champions. Just two weeks ago, the 2018 Spartan US Championship Series winners Ryan Woods and Lindsay Webster were crowned in Utah.

Here are the remaining Championships that Spartan Race will deliver in the United States alone by the end of the year. The Stadium Series (Fenway), Mountain Series (Tri-State), Honor Series (???), World Championship (Tahoe).  There are additional regional and national championships in several countries, but the events most North Americans will be interested in are the Trifecta World Championship in Greece and Ultra World Championship – 24 hour event in Iceland.

Adventurey will be putting on their World Championship in England in a few weeks after already producing their North American Championships (NORAM) with Ryan Atkins and Lindsay Webster taking both the 3K and 15K titles.

Tough Mudder will also be crowning their Tougher Championship in Seattle next month, and doing that 24 hour thing aka World’s Toughest Mudder in Atlanta in November. (Oh shit, I almost finished this article, and forgot Tough Mudder X)

Exhausted yet!? Awesome, let’s get to yesterday’s results.

Robert Killian, who finished third to Woods and Atkins in this year’s US Champs Series, beat both of his closest rivals to take home the win and $12,000 first place prize. This might be the biggest win for Killian since he shocked the world back in the fall of 2015. Back then, he was an Army Ranger that came out of nowhere to beat the best OCR athletes in the world including multi-title champions Atkins, Cody Moat, and Jon Albon in Tahoe.

These days, “The Two Ryans” and Killian are separating themselves from the rest of the men’s field and will certainly be the favorites to battle it out for supremacy in Tahoe in a few weeks.

On the women’s side, Lindsay continues her world domination with a smile on her face beating out the other 3 members of the “fearsome female foursome” Nicole Mericle, Faye Stenning, and Rea Kolbl; who finished 3rd through 5th respectively. Relative newcomer Rebecca Hammond had a very strong showing, and finished a little less than 3 minutes behind Lindsay to take 2nd.

One more important note  about yesterday’s race was the improved live Facebook coverage. Spartan has given us several pairings of Spartan Pros (and dare we say Spartan Pro Wannabees) over the past year in the broadcast booth.

The results have been decent to cringeworthy since David Magida left the booth a few months ago. For this event, Spartan hired veteran action sports broadcaster Pat Parnell , who brought a great rhythm and a level of professionalism previously not seen. Pairing a pro like that, with a knowledgeable Spartan athlete, in this case Kevin Donahue, seems to be what Spartan needed to make for a great broadcast. It’s the standard straight man  (non athlete)/color man (athlete) combination that works most of the time in sports. In addition, they seemed to have ditched the super cheap “cell phone/no graphics coverage” that we’ve seen on the recent broadcasts and gone back to a more expensive production package.

Here are the top 10 men and woman along with the payouts for the 2018 Spartan North American Regional Championships:

1st Robert Killian/Lindsay Webster: $12,000

2nd Ryan Atkins/Rebecca Hammond: $8,000

3rd Ryan Woods/ Nicole Mericle: $5,000

4th Cody Moat/Faye Stenning: $2,000

5th Mikhail Gerylo/Rea Kolbl: $1,000

6th Jesse Bruce/Alyssa Hawley: $900

7th  Ian Hosek/Amelia Boone: $800

8th Ryan Kempson/Kristin Saad: $600

9th Logan Broadbent/Cody Mezebish: $400

10th Mike Ferguson/Kaci Monroe: $300

Spartan Race – Surprise Drug Testing

At last month’s Spartan Super in Utah, athletes were told at the start of the race that the winners would be drug tested. For four years Spartan has put its racers on notice that they might be drug tested if they reached the podium, and one of the many check boxes racers of all skills have clicked on to get to the next screen included the promise to abide by the anti-doping rules that Spartan has adopted.

For 99% of the people who jump over fire to cross the finish line, doping controls never cross their minds. How many weekend warriors would bother with the time, expense and health risks that doping entails in order to get a medal and a banana? However, racers who are in it for the money sometimes take that risk.

A little background: Spartan announced its drug testing policy in 2014, but it did not get around to doing any actual testing until the 2017 World Championship in Tahoe after a few false startsThis hit the news at around the same time that OCR star Ryan Woods was disqualified from the OCRWC after testing positive for a banned substance he says he took by accident. 

The OCRWC family of races has tested frequently and consistently, and last month Spartan raised its drug testing profile by the surprise announcement in Utah. Even Lindsay Webster got a little worried at the start when she heard about drug testing at the start line. On a recent podcast she told ORM’s Matt B. Davis that she started second guessing all of her recent medication choices.

Since Lindsay really is the sincere, honest Canadian she appears to be (as well as a champion athlete), the drugs she was worried about? Advil and Tylenol. Which are both completely legal.

 

In an Instagram post, Ryan Woods talked about his reaction.

 

Great post, but we could have done without the visual, Woodsy.

And as comments showed, some people will always be angry about those who have been caught cheating.

Joe Di Stefano told ORM that the top three men, top three women as well as a random competitor  were tested by a third party, who collected the urine samples and shipped them off to a lab at UCLA. To the relief of everyone, none of the samples tested positive. By contrast, the same company’s work at a recent CrossFit championship turned up fourteen athletes using banned substances.

OCR athletes can feel smug that our sport is cleaner than CrossFit. However, CrossFit prize purses are an order of magnitude greater that OCR’s, and the question remains whether our athletes will continue to compete clean as the rewards for winning grow.  For now, it is reassuring that Spartan Race is keeping its promise of random testing, and it is also reassuring that the threat of testing was enough to put a little fear into athletes who should have nothing to worry about (Lindsay Webster) as well as those who have learned to be much more careful about what substances they put in their bodies.

2018 NORAM OCR Championship Results

A post shared by Ryan Atkins (@ryanatkinsdiet) on


The first ever North American Obstacle Course Racing Championships (aka NORAM) took place over the weekend in Stratton, Vermont.

The weekend is put on by Adventurey LLC, who are also the event producers behind the Obstacle Racing World Championships (OCRWC), which has been held every October since 2014. You may recall that Adventurey launched a United States OCR Championship last September in Texas. However, that event was scrapped in favor of a North American Championship this year.

The races were dominated by Canadian Super Couple, Ryan Atkins and Lindsay Webster. They both won the short course (3k) on Friday and the long course (15k) on Saturday. On Sunday, they put a co-ed team together with Nicole Mericle and won that. It should be noted that Ryan also put himself in the men’s team category and finished up his leg in enough time to get back to help the women win that category. He settled for 2nd in the men’s team category with fellow Candians Marco Bedard and Benjamin Morin Boucher.

If you are keeping score at home, that’s 7 podiums including 6 firsts over the weekend for the duo.

Here are your official results for the 2018 NORAM OCR Championships.

3k (Friday)


Men
1. Ryan Atkins – 18:23
2. Veejay Jones – 18:38
3. Jesse Bruce – 19:13

Women
1. Lindsay Webster – 21:51
2. Nicole Mericle – 22:38
3. Alexandra Walker – 24:48

15k (Saturday)

Women
1. Lindsay Webster 1:48:01
2. Nicole Mericle  1:54:35
3. April Cockshutt 2:04:07

Men
1. Ryan Atkins  1:33:03
2. Mark Batres  1:36:30
3. Jesse Bruce 1:38:39

Team (Sunday)

Men
1. Team Platinum Rig – 58:47 – Samuel Hebert, William Brouard, Jesse Bruce
2. Team NorthMen – 59:19 – Marc Andre Bedard, Ryan Atkins, Benjamin Morin Boucher
3. NexGen OCR – 1:01:24 – John Penland, Veejay Jones, James Nair

Women
1. Mom Squad – 1:21:57 – Julie Hartjes, Rachel Corigliano, Ashley Samples
2. Bad Ass Masters – 1:35:26 – Darla O’Connor, Heidi Williams, Lisa Nondorf
3. Strong As a Mother – 1:38:21 – Chrisa Dustman, Cynthia Campanaro, Heather Gollnick

Co-ed
1. Team Suunto & Benji – 1:07:10 – Ryan Atkins, Lindsay Webster, Nicole Mericle
2. Conquer the Gauntlet Pro Team – 1:15:23 – Evan Perperis, Matt Willis, Amy Pajcic
3. Team Hotwheels MudGear – 1:22:06 – Alexandra Walker, Mark Batres, Natalie Miano

 

 

Tough Mudder London North: New Venue, New Obstacles

Considering the venue had a last-minute attack of the English disease that is NIMBY’ism (not in my backyard).  The local council decided to pull the plug on the traffic management arrangements, 48hrs before the event was due to start.  Add all this to the fact England was playing in the World Cup quarter-final, it is fair to say Tough Mudder HQ really had the odds stacked against them.

Believe me, the knives were already being sharpened by a few, as we rocked up and faced a 15-minute walk to the Tough Mudder village in temperatures already 77 at 7 am.

Podium PlacesCredit Tough Mudder

Once arriving at the village, the atmosphere was surprisingly light, there was a buzz of anticipation that only a new venue can create.  Rumours had already been circulating that the venue had laid down the law.  No holes to be dug, no mud brought in and no fun to be had at all (that last one is me being petulant but accurate nonetheless).

This led to a bunch of unheard obstacles listed on the course map, Hydrophobia, Kinky Tunnels, Next Level and hanging out.  Oh and the return of the dreaded Electric eel.  Not forgetting the return of electroshock therapy at the finish.  Tongues were most definitely wagging all the way to check in.

So, checked in by the usual awesome Volunteer crew and of to the warm-up and start line.  Where we were warned against the heat and told to hydrate at the water stations regardless of thirst.  Truly good advice, in fact, I was wearing my marathon vest with 2x 500 ml bottles and iso gels just in case.

We were off and on our way to my 16th and Julie’s 3rd TM full.  The first half Kilometer sprint was a nice warm up to kiss of mud followed a similar distance to skid marked.  The usual suspects followed bail bonds, water station, hero carry, Water station and Everest.

 TMHQ really had not left anything to chance with the water stations.

Water station Number one was sensibly giving out 500 ml bottles, not a cup full.  I was beginning to realise I was dragging my vest and water round for no actual reason.  Still, none else had one so I must be the cool one, right?  Right?

Yours Truly Focused on EverestCredit: Tough Mudder

Before we knew it mile 2 and Boa constrictor.   Which if you’re knocking on the door or in my case over 6 feet and built like a Greek god (so I’m told by my ego anyway), is a real struggle to get up the other end of the two angled pipes. Added to the deeper than normal water this was a real test and was welcomed.

A real treat was to follow though,

I honestly think I skipped like a kid would with excitement the last few feet (Greek god for real).  Face to face with the new hydrophobia, which is a 40-50 feet pool 15 feet across.  With three half submerged plastic sewer pipes which you had to duck down and swim under.  Now I’m a real water baby (Poseidon clearly), so this was a breeze, in fact, a lot of fun.  I was surprised however how many had a real fear of going under the pipes.   I found myself stopping at each pipe reaching under and joining hands, with more than a few nervous mudders and pulling them through.

Cooled and buzzing from hydrophobia, we plodded on through miles 3 and 4 passing 5-6 other usual obstacles and at least 3 more water stations.  On to Next Level which is Giant A hole parachuted in from the 5k events.  Love this obstacle. Who doesn’t love a 25 feet high cargo net with a 15 feet cargo net roof to traverse I know I do and again the fear factor was introduced to a lot of my fellow mudders.

Blue lap done we were into the Orange loop and fired over Cage craw and Arctic enema we hit the dreaded electric eel.

Which I am sad to say courtesy of the metal holding me together, following a motorcycle accident I am medically exempt from.  Electric eel back with a BangCredit Tough Mudder

Stood watching mudders being stung from the audible cracks, each time a wire bit them.

Sounded like a really pissed off wasp, followed by at best a yelp.  Or at worst, language your grandmother still doesn’t know you use.  I can promise you just watching was making the fillings in my teeth on edge.  Aside from hanging out, which is a longer lower version of Kong the last 4 miles flew by with Funky monkey, Kong infinity amongst the highlights.

Stunning Location For London NorthCredit John Donnelly

So, what am I reporting back to you?

First and foremost. I was magnificent obviously! even completing the head shoulders, knees, and toes challenge, before touching down on Funky Monkey and Kong infinity.  The course you say? Apologies, well it was it must be said it was short, 8.5 miles.  The ground was rutted and a real ankle twister  Plus the weather was punishing.  All of that is an aside if I’m being brutally honest.

TMHQ really knocked this out of the park.  Great new improvised obstacles, the return of a dreaded classic.   All nicely buried deep into 24 great obstacles.

All shoehorned into some stunning English countryside.  The course truly felt like OCR not a run with a few obstacles thrown in.  [Read more…]