Montane’s Cheviot Goat – England’s Loneliest Winter Ultra

In most races we do, our friends and family offer encouragement and say things like “good on ya” for trying.  The Cheviot Goat Ultra is not one of those races.  In the lead up to this event, the few times I’d honestly explain what the Cheviot entailed I’d watch facial expressions turn from curiosity to horror.  Then I’d get the exasperated follow up: “why would you do that to yourself?”

 

Well, the Cheviot Goat is billed as England’s Loneliest Winter Ultra.  As the crow flys, it’s an unmarked course that traverses 54 miles along the hills and bogs near Scotland.  By most standards, the individual mountains are fairly small but they collectively manage to gain 9,800 feet.  The weather’s cold, the winds are strong, and the “Bogs of Eternal Misery” are truly awful. The exposure is so real that runners are required to carry a survival bag and GPS tracker with an SOS button.  If people quit anywhere past the halfway point they’ll likely need both to make it long enough for Mountain Rescue to extract them.

 

After reading about this last year, I was so turned on that I flew in from Alaska to join 278 like-minded runners from across the globe last Saturday for the 2019 Cheviot.  Despite jet lag, pre-race insomnia and daily panic attacks leading up to race, when the 3-2-1 start happened all the nerves went to zero.  In almost all of the N+1 challenges I’ve done, once the safety of the starting corral is gone and the body has no other choice but to continue forward the near crippling anxiety and self-doubt invariably stops.

Shortly after the Start

Despite a bazillion false summits, the first five miles of climbing were amazing.  The initial course was muddy and truly sucked (literally and figuratively), but the steady stream of headlamps snaking through the respective elevations was surreal.  When the sun finally started to rise, the early morning lit up the multi-color hills so vividly that it felt like we were running within a work of art.  I lost several places stopping to take in the morning vistas, but didn’t regret the decision one bit.

Views that Validate Months of Training

The first genuine ordeal along the course was navigating the fabled Bogs of Eternal Misery.  They’re hilly and go on for miles!  I’d only read about these bogs, but the descriptions usually involved expletives and fear.  I can testify: the stories are true.  Bogs are crap things to “run” through.  There’s no straight path between them, they can be quite large and it’s anyone’s guess how deep you’ll sink if you fall into their water.  They’re a simple but terrifying thing to negotiate: line up from a tenuous position on one side to a landing spot on the other side you hope is stable enough to support your weight, then jump across several feet of water with the aid of prayer or trekking poles and hope you won’t fall into something that swallows you whole.  Screw it up and you’ll sink to your knees or worse.

The reward for graduating the bogs was climbing to the courses’s highest summit and namesake: The Cheviot. Since there were 80 MPH winds forecast for the evening, the race directors had us run the course in reverse so we’d hit this highest and most exposed peak early in the day.  It was a smart call.  Near the summit, the course marshals were supporting us in truly awful conditions.  The tents they had for shelter were being blown around like rag dolls, it was misty and cold!  I can’t adequately express how much I appreciate them for being out there in that weather to keep us safe.

 

From the start line to the Cheviot Summit, through to the halfway point at Barrowburn, navigation wasn’t really an issue.  The terrain often sucked, but finding the right path was manageable.  There were the treacherous stone slabs along the Pennine Way to guide us or clusters of people to follow.  But once we reunited with our drop bag at the halfway point and night fell, it became a different race altogether.

Luckily for me, I started the back half with a fighting chance because I’d made a friend.  Somewhere around mile 20, a group of us guys stopped to pee (#hydrateordie) and when we started running again I found myself pacing with a cool guy named Tim from Newcastle.  We’d both watched beaucoup navigation tutorials on YouTube, but if our lives came down to orienteering via compass we were as good as dead.  Continuing on like we did at night might have been more an act of faith than smart racing, but sometimes the dice are what you’ve got… At the very least, we felt safe having company.  We went off course a lot, but somehow always managed to find our way back and avoided dying.

 

Once it got colder and dark, it also started to rain and my glasses (which I really, really need to see) became useless for several hours.  The 80 MPH winds showed up a bit later and amplified the rain’s suck factor by a lot.  I was able to follow Tim’s feet and check my GPS for bearings when need be, but only briefly.  At its peak, the wind was so strong it ripped the glasses off my face so many times I had to secure them in my pack.  If it hadn’t have been for Tim’s help here (and elsewhere), I would not have finished this race.  Functional blindness wasn’t a contingency I’d planned for.  Friends matter.

 

The back half took so long that I stopped looking a my watch.  There were bogs, hills, bogs on hills, more bogs and more hills (with bogs). I got depressed, sleepy and started to hallucinate somewhere around mile 45.  Coming down from a hill (through more bogs), there was an unusual amount of glistening green grass that was covering grave markers spaced out through the mud.  I couldn’t figure out why they’d route us through a cemetery until I realized the gravestones I was seeing weren’t real.  Apparently, the 12 hours of sleep (total) in the days leading up to the Cheviot was enough to induce my first ever race day hallucination.  Despite this epiphany, the gravestones wouldn’t go away! For about another mile, I continued watching one gravestone after another pass underfoot without saying a word.

 

When I finally mentioned how sleepy I was feeling, one of the runners (aka Guardian Angel) pulled out a thermos of coffee and Tim handed me a caffeinated gel.  Literally within minutes, I got my mind right.  Over the remaining hours we’d get lost again, climb a bit more and muddle through more bogs, but after 19 hours and 21 minutes we finally ran through to the finish line.  At the close, the staff and race director were waiting to shake our hands, pass out medals and make sure everyone got a finisher pic.

Technically and physically, the course was brutal.  Including screw ups, our route spanned roughly 57 miles with 11,500 feet of gain. It also entailed a lot of time stopping to ask “where the hell are we?” and trying to find our way back to where we were supposed be.  Of the 279 people that started, 237 finished.  One of those finishers was John Kelly (last person to finish the Barkley Marathon) – who finished about 9 hours before we did.  The others?  I’m not sure what the profile was of a representative runner, but at my pace I was chatting with some fairly experienced people with big races under their belt like the Dragon’s Back.  It was a super welcoming crowd, but definitely not the place to make a run at your first ultra distance.

I’m incredibly grateful to the race staff at Cold Brew Events and the North of Tyne Mountain Rescue Team for hosting a truly epic event.  This thing was intense, but the objective dangers were managed so well that I had zero doubt if I needed to push my SOS button someone would have been there to save me.  Happily that wasn’t needed.  If you’re considering a race-cation like this or want to get in on the action for the challenge’s sake, I’d recommend not putting it off.  This was year number 3 for their series and it sold out. My hunch is that it’ll become an increasingly popular event and progressively harder to get into as the years go by – rightly so.

Safety doesn’t Just Happen – They Worked Hard to Make Sure we were Okay

If you’re so inclined, I posted roughly 3 minutes of live footage from the event set to holiday music (from one of America’s great treasures) to my YouTube Channel.

 

Photo Credit: Mari-Ann Secker, Cold Brew Events, Course Marshals

Ultra Spartan Trifecta Weekend- Krynica Zdroj, Poland

The only ultra beast for Spartan in Central Europe was held august 24th weekend in Poland at the mountain Jaworzyna Krynicka. This was the Ultra Spartan Trifecta Weekend!
In preparation, you needed to have some source of hydration, a race lamp, and a emergency blanket. They were mandatory and the volunteers checked prior to the race at the transition area.

Spartan Krynica Observation Tower

Course outline

Unlike your original Ultra Spartan Trifecta Weekend where you had to repeat the beast course twice, this ultra in Krynica, Poland had one giant loop. This race was very unique like none other. You encountered different terrain throughout the whole race like open hills, single trails, running upstream in the water, rocky terrain, and maneuvering through trees and shrubs.  The course marking was easy to follow. The trails consisted of one big outer loop followed by 2 smaller loops inside. The course was outlined in such a way that you stopped by the transition area 3 times. The first stop at the transition was at 28km.  Spectators had amazing views of the transition area which was surrounded by obstacles. Competitors were doing these obstacles each time they stop at the transition area. The obstacles included the vertical cargo net, the rope climb, Hercules hoist, and the spear throw.

Spartan Krynica Barbed wire

Also, in this ultra spartan in Krynica, Poland there were 2 heavy sand bag carries. Both uphill. The sand-filled bags and the 1km loop around the lake made it feel heavy! For males it was 40kg, females 30kg.  Soon after you were rewarded with the transition area.  My sunto calculated 51.5km and 3300m of elevation gain of this terrific terrain.

Spartan Krynica Markings

Observation Tower

In addition to this course, a new observation tower has been built this year. It opened to the public just 3 days before the race! I appreciate the amazing opportunity to race this ultra and run through the new observation tower! This was part of the ultra! At first, you had an intense hill to climb which lead towards this observation tower. Next, you climbed multiple floors of stairs that lead to the top of the observation deck. It was truly a great experience and a fantastic view.

Spartan Krynica Ultra Course Outline

 

Burpees

Without a doubt, never have I seen such disciplined and proper burpees. In this Ultra Spartan Trifecta Weekend, there are multiple volunteers at each obstacle and are making sure everyone is doing their burpees. They have cameras as well. The participant calls out every 5th burpee. For each burpee, the chest has to touch the ground, and on the return is jumping with their hands above their head. The volunteers will call you out if you don’t. All these strict rules applied even in the open heat. This was the greatest thing I’ve seen for spartan races. All the open competitors are doing proper burpees and all 30 of them! I didn’t see any squats or sit-ups or any of that joke in the race for the penalties. Spartan in Central Europe really stepped it up when I’m comparing this to Spartan Canada, or even Spartan USA.

Spartan Krynica Burpees

Atmosphere

Definitely the atmosphere was positive here at Krynica, Poland for the Ultra Spartan Trifecta Weekend. The festival area was really big and connected to obstacles near the transition area. They have vendors that sold ice cream, food, coffee, beer, and more! A big tent in the middle with the DJ where the announcements were held. They set up a big projector showing recaps of the race and race highlights. Surrounding this area registration tents, medical, merchandise, physio, and sponsored tents.

Spartan Krynica festival panoramic view

 

Spartan Krynica Start and Vendors

Pre-Race Warm up

Also, for every open heat there is a coach from the Spartan training group. These pre-race warm-ups are quick stretches and exercises to get your blood flowing, heart pumping, and get you ready for the race ahead. Many people take part in this every heat. They even have warm-ups for the kids’ races! Adriana, who also completed the Spartan Ultra on the 24th, was providing these warmup sessions all day on the 25th. She will be heading to Lake Tahoe to compete in the Spartan Worlds Championship!

Spartan Krynica Open heat training

Medals and Podium

Importantly, racers received the classic Spartan belt buckle with this one labeled Krynica-Zdroj, Poland after completing the ultra. With this Spartan Ultra being the only one in Central Europe, many people from different countries came to compete. Top 3 male and top 3 females elite competitors also received an entry to the Spartan Ultra Championships along with a bag with contents from a sponsor Sonrisa, and suitcases. The top male and female in each age category received a free entry as well. Alas, the top 3 in the open category received the free entry as well.  With this all said, Spartan Poland adds in something extra. Each top competitor in each division received a glass Spartan trophy. Overall my years of racing, I only saw this done in Spartan Central Europe.

Spartan Krynica 1st place trophy

Sponsored Challenges

Furthermore, Spartan Poland has many sponsors. These sponsors provided tons of water, snacks and sweets and nuts for all stations, and the Spartan team decided to have a few giveaways. The competition here was a dead hold from standing position which you held the water bottles as long as possible. This hold activates your front shoulder muscles. Winner for male and female gets a prize with all said goodies.

Spartan Krynica Challenges

Volunteers and Finish Line

Along with the well-established event, the volunteers in Krynica at the Ultra Spartan Trifecta Weekend were organized really well. First, they knew their duties. Second, they had a training meeting prior to the race. In fact, for any competitor that didn’t bring their own printed signed waiver had to do 30 burpees to get a waiver. Third, everyone was strict on the burpees which was nice to see. They even put some extra love at the finish line with motivated notes on the bananas haha. Without a doubt, nonalcoholic beer, Lech free (0% alcohol) was also given at the finish line, although you could purchase alcoholic beverages at the vendors.

Spartan Krynica Volunteers

Overview

To summarize, Spartan Poland organized this ultra and it was one of my favorite Ultras. Coordination was amazing, the atmosphere was cheerful, and determination to finish the ultra was there! Out of ~1000 competitors over 900 completed the ultra and received their medal.

Runmageddon in Szczecin – Recruit 6km OCR

Have you ever heard of Runmageddon? Well now you will.

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What is it?

Runmageddon is an obstacle race held in multiple cities in Poland. They have multiple different race lengths that vary from 6km & 30+ obstacles, 12km & 50+ obstacles, and 21km & 70+ obstacles, and also include the kids and junior races. The races are called Recruit, Classic, and Hardcore respectively. There is also an intro 3km, and ultra 42km, both with obstacles. Similar to Spartan in the way of a trifecta, once you complete each of these distances you are awarded a veteran trophy which then you can insert your medals. This weekend, Runmageddon held the recruit and classic race on August 3rd and 4th in Szczecin, Poland.

Runmageddon has been growing in the number of participants year after year. It originated in 2014. Last year the total number of participants reached over 60,000! This weekend there was well over 1000 racers on each day.  So why race Runmageddon in Poland? They have some fun and creative obstacles, location is always different which has different terrains, and it has a welcoming and positive atmosphere!

Recruit 6km and 30+ obstacles

There are multiple different challenging obstacles I’ve never seen before. One favorite was only for the elite runners.
They use retry lanes in these series of obstacle course racing, so you can try as many times as possible to succeed at an obstacle.
For the 6km Recruit race, they had almost 200 elite runners, and they announced all 200 names as they entered the start area. I enjoyed that. After the 2 elite waves have gone, the open heats started. Workout and stretching are presented by a trainer before every open heat. I thought this was a really neat idea how everyone was synchronized.

Runmageddon Open Heat Warm-up

Racing in elite

When you are racing in the elite series, you are to complete all obstacles without additional help. If you fail an obstacle, there is a retry lane and you have unlimited attempts to complete this. When one cannot complete the obstacle and throws in the towel, they will have the elite headband taken away and will not qualify for the podiums.

Packet for Elite Start

Obstacles worthy to mention

 

Poledance

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One of Runmageddon’s famous obstacles. Before we approached this obstacle, we went into an ice bath and a crawl through the sand. Needless to say, the climb up was tough. It was my first time seeing an obstacle like this. Once you reach the top, you slide down the pole and continue on your way.

Wariat (Madman)

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This was the most difficult obstacle of the day. There were many fails and attempts at this obstacle that a queue began. For me to attempt the obstacle on my first try I had to wait 5 minutes. To re-attempt this obstacle, I had to wait an additional 5 minutes. There are only 4 lanes. For all the reasons above, this was only open for the Elite series.  And to clarify, for all obstacles you have to start holding the first bar/ring/rope.

Tire Obstacle

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It’s like a rig with tires! First is a zip-line assembly with the tire followed by a grab and a foothold. To finish the obstacle you climb the stack of tires and ring the bell. All the tires are attached with chains and can swing. I felt that this was a really good use of the tires.

A few more obstacles that stood out in this race are as follows.  MultiRig – The assembly was 5 rings followed by 2 long horizontal bars followed by 5 tennis balls holds and the bell. There was a tire crawl where you squeeze between the tires and the ground. An ice bath that was replenished roughly every hour with ice. The football squad! They were only there for the open heat. They were great at motivating the runners.

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The Course

Furthermore, the terrain was mainly sand and trails with multiple single tracks through the woods. The 300m run through the bog made up for the lack of elevation ascent. My Suunto watch recorded 6km and 120m of elevation gain. All the heats started with a sandbag, but we dropped it off after 200m. The first couple of kilometers were on the sandy trails.  We had multiple walls and carries and climbs to overcome. The second half was through the swamp. The final stretch of the race was through the water and followed by the main difficult obstacles that were visible for the spectators.

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Medals

Runmageddon Recuit Medal

Runmageddon Veteran Trophy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, each finisher received a medal with the R which symbolizes the Recruit race, the Runmageddon Recruit headband, and a choice of water or non-alcoholic beverage and some snacks.

Overview of the event

To summarize, the Runmageddon event was really well organized. The festival area was surrounded by multiple booths ranging from food, beverages, merchandise, and vendor samplers. The technically challenging obstacles were in view from the spectator area.

 

Redbull, Canon, and Salomon and any more companies sponsored this event. The Salomon booth was allowing participants to try the Speedcross 4 shoes for the race.

For future Runmageddon races, please visit https://www.runmageddon.pl/

 

Spartan Spain – Night Sprint Review

In the hunt for my first trifecta, Spartan Race Spain delivers an irresistible twist on stadium races, the Night Sprint!! A no-brainer at race selection.

As a parting gift from my 19-month old I was hit with a mild plague days before the race (ok ok just a cold), which the flight, kindly rammed into my sinuses leaving me jelly-legged and out of it until only a few hours before the race! Thankfully, adrenaline, ignorance and? Hopefully painkillers? (#notaspaniard #craptourist) cleared my vision and pain long enough to go for it, I set off.

Park and Arch

Locating, parking, and finding your way to registration at the Ricardo Turmo Circuit race track is fairly easy. Although, clearer signage when entering the car park, which was huge, would have helped too.

Registration was easy, and donning your glow-in-the-dark night sprint tee and mandatory headlamps mean you’re all set. As darkness drew in, the pre-race pump up began! Moshing, rugby scrums, piggyback wars and British bulldog style games were there to kill the 10 mins delay in starting, but then we were off!!
Racers leaving start line in night sprint

As the novelty of night running reached its peak, you hit the first few 4′ walls and the O.U.T. It’s then, that Spartan Spain goes and throws the proverbial bucket on the fire you just pumped up by moving off the pleasantly springy race track, onto loose, fairly deep, gravel!! Good gosh, what a proper energy sapper!

And oh, they didn’t stop there. I had assumed, it being a stadium race, it would probably be a longer distance, but I didn’t expect any trail running, maybe more obstacles?? How wrong I was!!!!! The route led off gravel and out of the stadium altogether and onto some SOLID inclines. Half, being wide long concrete steps followed by steeper concrete trails. Oh and the cherry? The BENDER.

As one of my favourite obstacles, the bender has the appearance of simplicity, until you reach the top where physics seems to abandon you (unless you’re one of those salmon jumping immortals). It is an obstacle that breaks many a spartan to tears, and as such, I did notice a number of people skip this obstacle all together (so easy at night), burpees and all.

Although, I can also understand why, with only one spartan on each of the three sections allowed at a time, it’s a BIG time sink. I easily lost 10 minutes here, waiting for my turn, helping and being helped with the obstacle. Get there first if your running for time!

Spartan Spain went on to milk the hills a little more, with some sweet, steep switchbacks and a sandbag carry to the hilltop, and then a return back down over some DODGY rocky trails for doing at night!

Day-time-sandbag

I added this day shot, to give you an idea of that tasty INCLINE! 

On the return to the stadium, the route loops around and over some crash barriers and onto 3 decently long MUDDY barbed wire crawls, dotted between 8 ft walls, the slip wall (with hoses running!) and the inverse wall. All of these made lovely and challenging to grip, due to a fair bit of thick goopy mud!

I found the whole section very satisfying, albeit, that wonderful gravel finding its way into the mud, and shredding my knees and elbows! At least it made for some solid knee/elbow grazing battle scars!

Barbed wire crawling

At 1.5K left on the course, glow sticks (which marked the whole course) led back onto that wonderful gravel, and brutally, all the way back to the festival area where you’re almost allowed to feel you’re reaching the end but alas, there’s still more to go. 

Arrive next at a confusingly light herc hoist, especially as the preceding obstacles seem adapted to INCREASE difficulty.  Lighter weights here seem to merciful for the spartan races of recent months (Ashton down, Windsor etc). Shoulders were definitely grateful 😉

A short crawl under a walkway leads to the spear throw, and back around to the side of that entrance archway. On closer inspection, this is actually an obstacle. Spartan netting sprawls up, over and back down. A neat little challenge for the vertigo-ed among us.

Descending this obstacle, and on to the last km takes you back out of the stadium boundary and on to the multi rig, consisting of monkey bars, tyres and rings, which is a really nice mix, creating a new challenge to all abilities.

The olympus wall, seems heavily aimed towards elites and those with insane grip strength. Everyday runners/OCRs, especially of the “more meat on bone” variety, may find this completely impossible, and may as well head straight to the burpees. Unless, of course, you have some spartan help nearby.

The finish area includes the rope climb, balance beams, straddling a weird little “product placement” obstacle; 3 Mercedes SUVs (see picture below), to crawl or squat past. The finish fire was the best I’ve seen yet. An actual jump! Maybe even high enough to trip over, but a great incentive to bust a pose….

Firejump

The post-race goodies were standard for a sprint, with coconut water, water, tee etc; which leads me onto my biggest complaint of Spartan race Spain, no free photos for the race. The group Sportograf gives well taken and finished. 6 Euros each (around £5/$6), leaves a bitter taste to a wholly sweet experience.

The race was satisfying and well organised, and I cannot recommend the night experience enough really. Only a slightly under-powered herc hoist and no free photos to complain about. An impressive mix and adaption of well-known obstacles over a 6.2km course presents a decent challenge for most. A backdrop of beautiful area and city to enjoy afterward, what more does a Spartan nomad want?!

Spartan Race Romania Trifecta Weekend

This is the first time Romania is having a Spartan Race and it’s the Trifecta weekend! The Spartan Race Romania is located in the mountainous regions near Brasov. This popular destination is famous around the country for those who love to go alpine skiing. Poiana Brasov, is where the Spartan race took place and it peaks at 1799 meters.

The weekend consisted of a 7.5km Sprint with 400m of vertical ascent, followed by the 13km Super with 1000m of vertical ascent and lastly the 21km Beast with over 1500m of vertical ascent. The course consisted of some rolling hills, technical downhill rocky areas, and some stream running.  In Romania, there is also some stinging nettle flowers throughout the course which made the race very exciting.  Stinging nettles will burn on contact with your skin for a couple minutes, so if someone was wearing shorts they were in for a surprise! You can see some of the tall flowers/plants in the picture below.

romania-spartan-stinging-nettles

Comparing Central European Spartan races to North American Spartan races

Top 3 in the Age group and top 3 in the Open heats are rewarded with little Spartan trophies. Also in Europ,e there are multiple teams from many different countries. Team awards are given for the top 3 fastest finished teams.  The teams must consist of at least 3 people, and the top 3 must finish within 1 minute of each other.

Spartan Race Romania Team Finish

The results tent was also above par in comparison to some of the Canadian Spartan Races. There is a screen dedicated to show the top 3 racers in every category including the elite waves, age groups and open heats and team heats. Other than that they also had the iPads which showed your time and ranking in your given field. I wish I saw a big screen televising the entire race. I have seen that in a couple of the Spartan Races and I think that is a great feature.

romania-spartan-results

Overall the Spartan Race Romania hosted a great trifecta weekend. The temperature was adequate, perfect for racing. The course was well marked on both days.  The festival area was located in a big open field where many spectators can watch some of their favorite obstacles. Food and beverage were nearby which is really helpful. And lastly, the atmosphere was positive. Friendships were made, medals have been won, and another trifecta is checked off the bucket list.

 

 

Muddy Warrior 2017 Review

Muddy Warrior Start line

Muddy Warrior

Muddy Warrior 2017 is here! At Obstacle Racing Media, we feel it is just important to support the smaller, first time efforts as it is to support the larger races annnd….. Since I live pretty close, I thought I would go and check out this local race.

Muddy Warrior is a brand new, small scale mud run organized by a small group of OCR enthusiasts and supporters in Cardston, Southern Alberta Canada.  It’s early days for this race company so it’s fun to see the genesis of these smaller events. Even the bigger races started out small.

Check in

On the day, the weather was a little cool, which may have hindered spectator turnout a little, but parking was easy enough and we didn’t have a long way to walk to get in or a long time to get cold. The venue featured a live DJ/MC and a kids playground very closeby to keep the little ones entertained enough. There was a bag check, and race photography available on site. A food truck also showed up. For spectators, there was a bouncy castle and inflatable zorb type things you could bounce around in. Not bad for a first event!

Zob
Muddy Warrior bouncy

Check in was simple and the course used an effective timing chip system and racing bib numbers. The event was attended by a relatively small number of participants but those who attended seemed to all have a good time at the race. Remember. Small beginnings.

The Course

The course distance was 5 kilometers in a river valley, starting from the athletic fields and working its way out and back at a turnaround point with a water station near the halfway mark which could be accessed from either direction.

I logged about 100m of elevation gain and loss over the distance, which is quite manageable for experienced athletes but the hills may pose a good challenge for first-time racers or other casual muddy warriors. In all though, I would say the terrain itself wasn’t too challenging. Almost everyone could do this race quite happily without too much hardship.

Muddy Warrior wedgie maker

Obstacles

The obstacle course included a slip n’ slide (AKA the wedgie maker), a tire drag, tire flip, tire hops, hurdles, an 8 ft wall, a large hay-bale stack, two mud pits covered with string netting, a traverse wall including a rope traverse, a pair of old cars, over/under/through walls, a pyramid wall with ropes, 4 angled ninja platforms, a Zig-Zag balance beam, spider web sections and a great riverbed running section.

Muddy Warrior through

Muddy Warrior Crawl

RESULTS….

I finished in second place. Yeah, sometimes I podium. Someone faster always tends to show up when you need to be humbled. Today was such a day.

This was a first-time race from the course organizers so naturally there are a few things to tweak here and there. I’ll start with the issues I had on course, and then talk about the great stuff that worked really well.

Muddy Warrior Skip

Things to learn from

  1. Double check the course marking. This is easy to correct for next time by just adding in a few more arrows on the ground or on trees between breaks in the course marking tape. Some obstacles were too easily missed.
  2. There were no instructions on some of the obstacles that were unmanned.
  3. Some of the volunteers needed better instruction. 
  4. Many of the obstacles were not visible to the spectators, which meant that it was hard to get spectator participation or interest.
  5. I couldn’t find the defining signature of this race. More on that later and why that is important. That will happen as it develops.

The good stuff.

You can’t ever beat running over the top of cars. It’s just great fun and it makes you feel like you’re in an action movie.

Muddy Warrior Car

I also really enjoyed the massively tall slip and slide because of the speed and opportunity to catch my breath after the hill that led to it. The hay bale mountain was a really tough challenge and I would have welcomed more of those mountains in a row!

The Z wall/rope traverse was great. It was a really fun obstacle that offered enough challenge without being impossible – it wasn’t too short, but I would love to have another section to complete, making that into a uniquely challenging keystone obstacle of the race.

Muddy Warrior traverse

Running down the river-bed at high speed was probably my favourite part of the whole thing – the battle for first place took place along the riverbed and that added drama and a dynamic challenge underfoot.

Muddy Warrior River runners

Final Thoughts – Developing Identity

Many of the elements were superb and the setup is to be applauded. I loved the fact that this was a smaller local race. The course was laid out with optimism and a clear love of obstacle racing. people were having a great time. The formula is good, but with a few small adjustments to the layout and obstacles, this will continue to develop into really cool things for Cardston and Muddy Warrior.

Tips:

Showcase the awesome – Placing a few more of the key obstacles within the race-ground arena to allow participants to enjoy more interaction with the spectators during the event would be cool. Stimulate competition by letting the battles for position take place in the arena. The obstacles were awesome. Showcase that more!

Muddy Warrior Tire

Make it tough – make people carry heavy stuff up and down the hills during OCR. They like it – they showed up to go to the crazy zone. Honestly, they do – they come back next year for the unique challenge they struggled on. Bring in the heavy stuff. People will not be put off.

Muddy Warrior climb

Define yourself – Find a keystone/defining obstacle, moment or set of obstacle movements that become and define the identity of the race. Whether it’s three walls in a row, catching a chicken, or doing a Z wall with a blindfold, I don’t care. Make people change levels or positions most often.  Throw in more crawls, more cars to climb over, more heavy carries or water based obstacles than any other race, or even a pile of horse dung at the end – identify yourself as the race with the thing-a-ma-bob that makes Muddy Warrior what it is.

FINAL THANKS!

I’ll be back next year to see how things develop! Thanks for the great day and for being so accommodating Muddy Warrior.

 

Muddy Warrior River

Muddy Warrior Balance

Glenn runnin