Savage Race FINALLY Arrives in New England

After many years of begging, bribing, kidnapping, and other forms of threat and intimidation, Savage Race finally agreed to invade New England with a pretty fantastic course on the “venue of all companies” in Barre, MA. Here’s the course map:

Savage New England Map_BOS17

If you’ve never raced in Mass, and aren’t familiar with Carter and Steven’s Farm in Barre, let me tell you it’s an ankle breaking, thick mudded cow farm, and steaming cow patties are an unofficial obstacle at every event. It is a swampy, stinky course and cows gather in groups and moo in protest as you run along. They do have an onsite brewery and ice cream stand though, and it really is a great place to put on tough events.

And this Savage Rage was tough. Savage Race follows the gold standard of mandatory obstacle completion for the competitive wave, called “Pro” at Savage. Pro racers received a nice wrist band.  We had to surrender the band if we couldn’t complete an obstacle, multiple attempts allowed. I can’t say enough about how great this is. More and more events with prize money have adopted it, with one notable exception, our favorite burpeepalooza.

Savage Obstacles

This course was crammed with familiar obstacles, many had a unique twist. There were a crapload of rigs. These guys love rigs, and it’s hard to argue with them. Rigs can be arranged in so many crazy ways and Savage Race definitely put some insane stuff out there.

Below is a pic of Tree Hugger. This was a wooden rig that required traversing square poles and logs with foothold cutouts. The early morning rain made the poles slippery. It was a challenging upper body exercise. Very creative and fun.

After a short run, we came upon Wheel World. I’ve wanted to try this for a long time. It’s a momentum riding obstacle, as long as you don’t fight the spins at all, getting to the last wheel isn’t so bad. However, scores of folks couldn’t quite make the dismount. Savage Race very cleverly arranged the solid ground to be just out of reach unless one let go of the last wheel at the height of the centrifugal pull. Lots of racers were left hanging desperately for a while before trying again. Wheel World was a blast!

Savages Overcome Fear

I like that Savage Race combines challenging obstacles with ones that require you to overcome fears. It’s really a great combination. This is an undervalued asset of our sport. The next article I am writing for ORM talks about this in specific, through the eyes of a man trying to conquer his phobia. Savage Race has Shriveled Richard (think TM Arctic Enema) and Davy Jones’ Locker, which is reminiscent of the high jumps into water that other races USED to offer. Kudos to Savage for keeping it!!  Thor’s Grundle, pictured below, had a high freak-out potential.

Savage Race really cranked it up in the last couple of miles, this awesome slide below, Colossus, was HUGE and epic fun. I wanted to do it 13 times. Rumor has it that Savage Race installed several permanent obstacles, including Colossus, at the farm. Pre-registration is open for 2018 already, in the cow patties.

Savage Grip Obstacles

The last mile-and-a-half had three very tough grip obstacles. It was a straight up gauntlet. Grip strength is my thing, but by the end of the third rig, I was running on fumes. Sawtooth came first.  The rungs were all wet. It is long. Not easy. I’m filthy in this pic thanks to a face first swamp pit fall. You shoulda been there.

Next up was the Savage Rig. This obstacle was a series of rings and thick ropes. It was easy to get tangled in this rig. This one was tricky.

 

The last obstacle was a brute named Twirly Bird, and it was one of the hardest obstacles I have personally attempted. Basically it is an alternating field of single flat handles, and loose clumps of thin ropes that they describe as a mop. Accurate. I watched a video on this one where folks wisely just used the handles by swinging big. Well, they adjusted the distance on this one forcing you to grab the mops too, as a result it was far more difficult. I would have fallen off if this obstacle was any longer. This was an impressive obstacle. It wouldn’t surprise me if Twirly Bird had a 90% failure rate.

I was very impressed with this event. Good medals, nice shirt, and very involved owner as well. I have only two complaints: the first one is that there are really too many events at this venue, but I get that it is hard to find space near Boston, so this one is forgiven. Secondly, handing out full size bottles of water at aid stations is wasteful. Buy some Dixie cups. Everything else was righteous!

Savage Race, I’m glad you’re coming back next year, cows and all. I highly recommend this event. See you then!

Savage Race Chicago 2015

The 2015 Chicago Savage Race was held on the weekend of August 22 at Richardson Family Adventure Farms in Spring Grove, Illinois. This was an ideal location for race director Garfield Griffiths and his team to install all of the quality obstacles Savage Race is known for. Obstacles were evenly spaced over the mostly flat, 6.96 mile course. While turnout was lower than I expected, the atmosphere was great, and the comradery was instant the second I stepped out of my car. Mr. Griffiths and men’s Spartan Pro, Brakken Kraker, were greeting people and taking pictures.

Savage Race obstacles

Parking was in a grassy field and very close to the entrance. There were several volunteers directing drivers, making the $10 parking fee well worth it. There were restrooms near the registration tables, which were clearly marked. Several volunteers and staff members were stationed at each table to make the lines move quickly and smoothly.
Savage Race has two basic formats. Savage Open is just that. It’s open to run with friends, with no penalties for missed obstacles. Savage Pro is the competitive format where each racer wears a blue wristband. Instead of a physical penalty, Savage implements a mandatory obstacle completion requirement. If you don’t complete the obstacle, they take your blue wristband and you are disqualified from winning any age group awards.

The obstacles were quite demanding and left me feeling thoroughly tested. The “Teeter Tubes” are smooth, narrow tubes that are positioned like a teeter-totter. Racers must climb up the tube until it pivots down, and then crawl out. For a person with a large or broad build, this is a real challenge. “Block Party” is a test of strength. Racers must pull a chained, cement cinderblock across a field, then pick it up and run it back to its origin. My personal favorite, the always tough “Saw Tooth” is a set of monkey bars that is designed like the teeth on a blade of a handsaw. Climbing up, down, up, and down again while maneuvering monkey bars is extremely challenging. If you lose your grip, you fall into the water and start again.

Savage Race Sawtooth Obstacle

The course weaved through cornfields and forests, always taking 90 degree turns along the way to keep you guessing which obstacle was coming next. According to my GPS watch, mile markers were correctly spaced along the route. There were enough aid stations along the way to keep you hydrated, and I found the volunteers to be attentive and helpful. In fact, after falling off the “Nut Smasher” (a balance beam over water), the volunteer stationed there even gave me advice on a different approach, which worked perfectly for me. The mix of upper body intensive obstacles and get-on-the-ground and crawl obstacles were set in a way that really gave you a feeling of a total body workout. The “Me So Thorny” low crawl with barbed wire was set quite close to the ground. Volunteers worked tirelessly unloading bags of ice from a truck to keep the water in the “Shriveled Richard” ice cold. Participant safety was clearly on display at this event. They even had a diver stationed in the water for the “Davy Jones’ Locker” obstacle (think jumping off a high dive). Savage did a great job avoiding most of the pitfalls of a first-year venue race. I heard several racers say that this was their favorite race to date this year.

Savage Race ice bath
Savage Race Mud

For spectators and racers, the festival area was clean, open, and spacious. There were several tables and chairs set up near the sound stage. Music was playing for all to enjoy. I think some large tented areas would have been well received as it was a sunny, warm day, and there were no natural shade providers in the festival area. There were plenty of clean restrooms for the amount of people there. Results were available immediately upon race completion for those competing. This is fantastic since nobody gives out as many awards as Savage Race! Cash prizes were awarded to the top 3 Overall Men and the top 3 Overall Women.

If you have run a Savage Race at any location, we’d love to hear all about it. Click below!

Savage Race Review

 

Savage Race Pennsylvania 2015

I’m going to be straight with you. I really like Savage Race. I’ve done four of their events, three of which took place in the exact same location, and I have loved all of them. If you know anything about me you probably associate my existence in the Social Media OCR World with Tough Mudder (or trolling), yet you may be confused at the recent influx of pictures showing me and my wife tackling obstacles covered in blue paint sporting the Savage name. Since I am not a RACEist I will give my hard earned money to any company that puts on a good event and is relatively close. If I cross the 2.5 hour drive to another state barrier, well then it appears we have something special. Enter Savage Race Pennsylvania.

“You just listen to the words of the old Porkchop Express and take his advice on a dark and stormy night when the lightning is crashing, the thunder rolling and the rain falling in sheets as thick as lead. Just remember what Jack Burton does when the earth quakes, the poison arrows fall from the sky and the pillars of heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton looks that big old storm right in the eye and he says: ‘Gimme your best shot pal, I can take it!.” –Jack Burton, Big Trouble In Little China

I felt a lot like Jack Burton on the morning drive through the Pocono Mountains to Skirmish USA, the site of Savage Race PA. It was clear that my wife’s decision to sign up for a race when it would be “warmer” out backfired as the weather was calling for a high of 59 and rain. LOTS of rain. The first obstacle for many, including eventual race winner Ryan Atkins who toed the SavagePro start line with minutes to spare, was actually getting to the event. A road closing accident on one of the few roads in to the venue was closed with no indication of when things would clear up. Using my “mountaineering skills” I zoomed in and out of iMaps looking for roads that would connect and drove around the side of a large waterfront gated community and eventually found a side way in. Upon our arrival check in was smooth and we were treated to what was very clearly the most spectator friendly OCR set up I have ever seen. The festival area, kids course and all of the large scale obstacles were located in an open field with spectators able to view the majority of the obstacles. Colossus, Sawtooth, Nut Smasher, Davey Jones’ Locker, Shriveled Richard, and the new innovative Wheel World were all in short walking distance of one another. If I were to recommend one event to have people come and spectate then THIS would be it.

Savage PA

Now, if you are asking yourself how an OCR event can have almost all of their obstacles in a spectator friendly area and still manage to hit the advertised mileage of 5-7 miles there is a simple answer: Skirmish USA and Gnarly technical trail running. The majority of the running took place in the woods through heavily rooted trails, trails dominated by moderate and large sized rocks, stream crossings and enormous man made outdoor paintball structures. Picture yourself quickly navigating the technical terrain when you approach what appears to be the white castle walls of Minas Tirith (minus Legolas and Gimli). As you run through to the other side of the trail it becomes clear that is one of the coolest venues to hold an event at. In between some of the paintball “villages” were walls and various other obstacles to break up the trail running. They routed us in and out of the woods on numerous occasions to hit the larger scale obstacles in the open field so it did not have the feel of a trail run with a bunch of obstacles set up at the end for people to watch. In routing the course as they did, the achieved an entertaining event for both the participants and spectators while also providing technical trail running to keep the race fresh for both the SavagePro and Open racers.

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Things that are New:

1. Wheel World: This is the second showing for Wheel World and it did not disappoint. This obstacle is aimed at grip strength and managing your momentum. Spinning pipe wheels are mounted to the structure and the participant must cross the water while using their upper body to get across. It gets tricks as depending on how you shift your weight the wheel may spin you around as you reach for the next one. This is the first obstacle of its kind and from what I saw had a pretty high failure rate amongst open participants. This is a great obstacle and I cannot wait to do it again.

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2. Participants: At the beginning of every wave the start line emcee asked how many participants were doing Savage Race for the first time. Of the 3 waves I witnessed being sent out a large amount of people raised their hands as first timers. This was also evident as I overheard many people on course expressing how excited they were and how exhilarating the event was for them. As someone who does a lot of events I enjoy seeing new participants as it reminds me of how I felt at my first event. Additionally, having new participants makes for a much better after party. Even in the pouring rain.

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3. Sponsor: Savage Race was sporting a new sponsor named Nu Aquos. This is important because I believe new sponsors coming aboard the OCR train are an important part of the future and help enhance the experience of racers during the event and in the festival area. Having a rehydration beverage on course that tasted good was a huge positive, and who doesn’t like free samples?

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Wrap Up:

If you are new to Obstacle Course Racing and see that Savage is in town it is a no brainer to sign up. Dollar for dollar Savage Race provides probably the best race experience as their prices are extremely reasonable for the quality of obstacles they provide. If you are a seasoned Obstacle Racer and you haven’t signed up for a Savage Race yet?? Seriously, what are you doing? Sign up.

*Photos By: Savage Race, Skirmish USA, and Keith Allen

Savage Race Review Ohio

So you haven’t done a Savage Race yet? Why not? I have participated in over 60 obstacle course races and these guys are truly one of the Big 4. Savage Race came to Ohio, for the 3rd year in a row, on June 13 at Mad River Mountain Ski Area in Bellefontaine, Ohio. Participants numbered around 4,000. The weather was a typical Ohio summer day with lots of sun and temps in the upper 80’s. There were storms the night before and the humidity was through the roof. They got the distance up to around 6.5 miles this year but kept the start line the same, looking straight up the longest ski slope at the venue. This first quarter mile of going straight up a hill will jack your heart rate to incredible levels, you have over 6 miles left to go and will be back up that hill several times on other trails.

Savage 1

There were 25 listed obstacles and they were all spread out nicely. There were no long trail runs with all the obstacles near the festival area, like other races might do. They had all the standard Savage Race signature obstacles like, Colossus, Sawtooth, Shriveled Richard and Nuttsmasher, including last year’s introduction of Pipe Dreams. I love the Pipe Dreams obstacle. It takes a lot of upper body and grip strength and has an extremely high failure rate, especially when it gets wet.

Savage 2

New addition to Savage Race this year and introduced in Ohio is Spin City. Based on a Ninja Warrior and playground style obstacle, this thing was great. Consecutive bars that spin when you grab them, the key to this one is stay in motion and go with the flow. The elites went through with about 15% failure rate and the open waves had a 40% to 50% failure rate on this one. As with many obstacles in all the events this year, upper body and grip strength is key. This new obstacle was the brought to life from an idea of Garfield Griffiths, OCR veteran and new hire to Savage. Garfield gave a sketch of the idea to Go Native Gear, who completed the final design and fabricated it. Go Native Gear specializes in obstacle and Ninja Warrior design/builds for homeowners, races and gyms and is based in Cincinnati.

Savage 3

Another item unveiled by Savage Race at the Ohio event is their new sponsor. NuAquos signed a 3 year sponsorship with Savage Race to provide recovery liquids at the finish line. I have to say this is the best tasting sports drink I can remember having and it has added protein. This will be a great relationship.

The top finishers of the Pro wave for this event truly earned their accolades. Yuri would have to let us know for sure but I have to believe the Ohio course is the most difficult Savage Race, simply because of the terrain. This event marked Yuri’s 10th top Savage finish and coveted axe. Following are the top male and female finishers of the Pro wave.

Savage 4

In my humble opinion, Savage Race is the best overall event on the market. They have incredible obstacles that are true, massive obstacles. They challenge everyone that participates, as well as the elites. The course designs are very well spread out and portioned. They don’t stack obstacles on top of each other and simply send you on a bunch of trail runs. They have added a couple ‘heavy lift’ style obstacles but they don’t overdo it by throwing ridiculous heavy carries and lifts all over the course, this is an obstacle course race not a crossfit competition. The addition of the manadatory obstacle completion requirement for the Pro Wave this year has legitimized their events as qualifiers for the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships. The festival areas are always well thought and keep the participants involved with things to keep them onsite. I look forward to the potential growth of Savage Race across the country. The west coast needs to get Savage too.

As always, the best part of these events is the people you run with.

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And then there was this guy ….

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*Photos By: Savage Race, Kori Cioca, T. J. Shanteau, Juffrey Turley.

Catching Up With Savage Race

I have a dirty little secret…. Come to think of it, most of my friends that I have met in person have been letting me know about it for quite some time: I am an OCR Addict. I’m a member of far too many OCR Facebook groups. Hell, I even admin too many OCR Facebook groups. We talk about shoes, gear, course directors, and the future of the industry. A popular topic is what races are emerging to challenge the “Big 3” of Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and Warrior Dash. More often than not the races being mentioned are Battlefrog and Atlas Race. Battlefrog is new(ish) on the scene and while they garner amazing race reviews and positive feedback on their challenging and innovative obstacles and courses, their attendance so far this year has yet to mirror their social media machine. Atlas hasn’t fared any better, but you wouldn’t know it from the amount of “coverage” they get on Facebook. I do, however, have an idea of what current event might eventually have a puncher’s chance to enter the ring with the “Big 3,” and that event is Savage Race.

savage-race-growth

Savage has come a long way from their first event in 2011. They have added large scale innovative obstacles, an upgraded website with top notch customer service, and most importantly more participants. I recently went back through the timing company results from 2014 and compared last year’s fall Florida race to this year’s fall Florida race and their weekend attendance (Saturday and Sunday) increased from 4,608 to 7,480, an increase of 2,872 finishers in a year’s time. Florida is Savage’s home race, so I doubt the growth will follow in every market, but clearly they are doing something right. Considering all of this, I often find myself fielding questions about Savage Race from veteran OCR friends on the internet who somehow haven’t heard about or done the event. Don’t get me wrong, Savage Race has an online presence, but they have always managed to stay out of the fray of OCR drama and at the moment are thriving in spite of it. So, instead of posting a status asking the OCR community to explain all of this, I reached out to CEO and Co-Founder Sam Abbitt and Race Director Garfield Griffiths of Savage Race to find out for myself.

ORM: What is your approach to growing Savage? How would you say it differs from your competition?

Sam: We approach the growth of Savage Race with a combination of enthusiasm and patience. We’re excited to see the company grow, but also careful to grow at a pace that we can handle. We want to provide the very best experience for our participants, and that means delivering the world’s best obstacles and an awesome race experience every time. We may be growing a little slower than some of our competitors, but we’re know that our approach will ensure that Savage Race is around for a very long time to come.

ORM: I’ve had very positive customer service experiences with Savage in the past. Is this an area of focus for you?

Sam: Absolutely. We’re always working to provide great customer service to our participants. With so many people attending our events, it means that many people have customer service needs. Everyone on our team is experienced with customer service and helps out with it, which means that we can all take great care of people on race day, too. And we’re constantly working to improve our processes and come up with solutions that meet the most needs for the most people. It’s always going to be a focus for us.

ORM: Garfield, You’ve worked at other events, how has working for Savage differed from your other experiences?

Garfield: Savage reminds me a lot of my first OCR company, Fearless Events. They keep it small, and have a very family vibe going on. Everyone pitches in! At any one time, you will see SR team members running the volunteer tent, then sorting Payroll, then helping build obstacles….it’s great. For example; for my first Savage event a few weeks ago, I was build crew, an obstacle designer, a volunteer shuttle driver, I was in charge of the new SavagePRO program and helped get the elites ready to go. Oh yes, I even filled in as the MC on stage for 3 hours doing contests and such (yes, I did a “butt selfie” contest). Those people that know me, know I am happiest wearing many hats. I honestly love this approach. It keeps everyone busy and challenged – you would be hard pressed to get bored with your job here as it keeps changing.

The team at Savage is very hard working and MOST importantly, experienced. You have to remember they’ve been doing this since around 2011; not many races can say that. I was a little concerned about “fitting in” (you know how families can be), but not the case, I was welcomed with open arms and couldn’t be happier at this point.

ORM: You’ve revamped your elite heats to SavagePro and the payments are scaled based on location. Is this something you are looking to push further in addition to your successful open heats?

Sam: Yes, it sure is. We’re excited for the growth of SavagePRO and look forward to attracting more elite competitors to our events. This wasn’t always a strong area of focus for us, because we wanted to concentrate our efforts on developing a race that appeals to a wide range of people with all ability levels. But now that we’ve grown, we’re putting a little more focus on developing SavagePRO. It’s our goal to offer a well-organized, clearly defined SavagePRO elite heat with prizes and awards that do a good job recognizing the competitors. It’s going to be fun to develop this throughout the year and into the future.

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ORM: Savage Race has stayed east of Texas and does well at most of their events, yet there is very little talk about them on social media. Why do you think that is?

Garfield: Funny thing, I have been asked this a couple of times. My thoughts on the social media chatter not being as “loud” as other race series is (in my opinion) to do with the Savage Race secret recipe for success… grass roots marketing!!! Plain and simple. I feel “other” races concentrate so much time, money and effort on the elite/media side of things that Joe Public gets overlooked (and the race numbers suffer). These races don’t seem to realize that Joe Public pays the bills. So, Savage has quietly and incredibly successfully given the public what they want for many years. This might not have all the pizazz and wow factor that the media likes to see, but *9,000 people at an event? That’s pretty “WOW” in my eyes. That being said, part of my job now is to help with the PR side of things and raise the profile of Savage Race even higher, like on that bloody ORM site..LOL…

ORM: What are your goals now that you are a race director at Savage race?

Garfield: Going back to my first answer, based on the way Savage operates, there’s really no such thing as a “Race Director” mainly because everyone does everything here. So, we really are all “Race Directors” and part of the “Operations” dept. As far as my goals? Currently, my goals are to fit in, and hopefully bring additional perspective to an already great company. Also, I plan to help with the continued, but steady, improvement and expansion of the Savage Brand.

I read a great quote the other day, that to me totally sums up the Savage “way.”

A small team of A-Plus players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.” – Steve Jobs

I will just leave that there.

ORM: When you first started Savage I imagine you had a vision of what you wanted it to become. How does Savage compare to your original vision now? What is your vision of the future?

Sam: We’re really proud of what Savage Race has become. We started with a small team and a big idea, and the goal of developing an incredibly high-quality obstacle race company. I think over the past 4 ½ years we’ve done a great job at moving toward fulfilling that vision, and we’re only going to keep going from here. We’re continuing to develop the markets we’re already in, and expanding to new markets as we’re ready. Our team has grown considerably, our attendance is quite significant in the industry, and our obstacles are world-class. We’re just going to keep going on the path that we’re on. The Savage Race future looks bright and we’re excited to be a part of the obstacle racing industry.

*Editor’s note- The event Garfield is referring to actually had 7,480 finishers.  Typical no-show rates are in the 10-15% range for any obstacle race. Our experience is that almost all race directors tend to “round up” when giving  attendance numbers. They also tend to include actual or speculated spectator attendance when listing these numbers.

Savage Race Georgia – “Mud, Mud, and More Mud!”

Savage Race Georgia Prologue:

Friday, April 17th – I am trapped in the office. It has been raining for 5 days straight. I fear I shall not see the sun again.

Saturday April 18, 7:45 AM – It’s a grey, Pacific Northwest kind of grey, foggy day. The beautiful horses are resplendent in their grass munching indifference to the stream of cars pouring into the verdant grounds of the Moonlight Stables. As I am directed to my parking spot in the middle of the wet, hilly, and rutted grass field in my small low clearance car, I start to think Colossus may not be my biggest problem today. The registration is long at the Savage Race Georgia’s Pro™ bib numbers line. This is not surprising given our heat goes off in about an hour. This affords me the opportunity to have a nice chat with an OCR luminary; The Humble Hero, holder of eight axes. A nicer, faster guy you will not meet. The prerace Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (2 creams, 2 sugars. How do you Dunkin’) kicks in and I realize my Savage Race bib number sequence is the next line over. Boom! No line, and I am quickly in. And……….it’s a fucking mess. The mud is thick and squelchy, clearly showing the paths of all the heavy vehicles and equipment used during set up. I fail to grasp the significance of this obvious foreshadowing.

Saturday April 18, 8:10 AM – Once again, wonderful early rising magical GORMR elves have set up a fantastic tent area within the festival zone. The tent is electric with the buzz of the new SavagePro ™ concept and the blue rubber bracelet that will either be a boon or a bane once the finish line is crossed. Somehow I manage to get my gear on, have some pleasant conversation, body number myself and others, see a guy named John, get in a warm up run, and do some stretching all under an hour.

Saturday April 18, 9:00 AM – It’s Pro Go time! Giddy up!

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Savage Race Georgia Observations on the run;

  1. I’m strangely subdued as the MC whips the Pro corral into a good Savage lather. I wonder if I should be concerned. “What’s that twinge in my knee”? “There’s some OCR heavyweights here!”, “Isn’t J.D’s kilt pretty?” “Hey look a Drone!” Jesus! My mind is all over the fucking place!
  2. Blue smoke is cool. Blue smoke does not taste like blueberries. Blue smoke tastes like a nasty fucking combination of burning crack house and exploding transformers.
  3. And SQUISH! The open field is immediately a foot sucking, ankle inhaling mess. Sloppier than the stables of King Augeas, and I’m no Hercules. But no worries, a majority of the running will be on easy wooded trails…….right?
  4. savage-race-georgiaA quick barbed wire crawl after a ¼ mile slog (oh legs, don’t start crying now!) starts things off Back to back to back to back……..fuck! Would it ever end…..5 foot walls separated by a quick roll (ouch! That knee went a bit too high! Zing!) under barbed wire got the blood good and pumped for the upcoming Shriveled Richard.
  5. My Richard and his two sons survived, having taken refuge to a pre-puberty safety zone.
  6. A sloppy crawl at Prairie Dog and then it was into the woods where surely this fucking mud would end.
  7. The creek to my left was moving at a good clip, swollen with a week’s worth of rain. I on the other hand was moving in the opposite direction at a more modest pace; slowed by the mud from a week’s worth of rain.
  8. That creek would make a good obstacle.
  9. Shit! Huge branch! I stumble as the branch kicks up and completely takes out the guy close behind me and to my right! Great…..I have gone from solving my face planting problems to now causing them. “Sorry man!” At least the mud is soft.
  10. First steep hill. This is Savage so it certainly won’t be the first. I take the advice from my friend Richie, during a discussion at a race a week prior, and power walk up that fucker. This will be my modus operandi for the day; conserve energy on the ups; King of the Crips of Cruisertown on the downs.
  11. Damn! These trails are fucking muddy! Cross slope running is pushing the limits of my ability to avoid clumsiness.
  12. So the twig and berries were just about to remerge when Thor’s Grundle appears like a blue painted mirage from hell in the middle of the forest. “Fuck this!” they say as I drop in. “We’ll see you at the beer tent!”
  13. savage-race-georgiaWith nary a dry anything to wipe my hands off with, I approached Pipe Dreams with a healthy dose of trepidation. The large diameter pipes, slick with wetness from the early morning dew and rain made for a sketchy, always on the razor’s edge trip across the water. Using the sideways shuffle technique allowed me to cover more distance in less moves (having a big wingspan helps) while also using the movement of the pipe to my advantage.
  14. The Universe likes balance: Ying & Yang, Action-Reaction, Peanut butter and Jelly. And so it was on a downhill cross slope going full tilt, my legs slipped out from underneath me. The mud and wet leaves cushioned my fall as a girl right behind me stepped directly on my ankle. Luck was on my side. A fine combination of being in the right position for the wrong reasons and a girl who was smaller than one of Cranky’s rucks. No damage done.
  15. Time to settle in for a long trail run until the next obs.
  16. Fuck these hills! Fuck it’s muddy! Writer’s note: I am pouring myself 3 fingers of bourbon just thinking about it.
  17. It’s thinned out pretty good by now. The leaders surely ½ way complete by now as I pace a couple of guys behind me and chase a couple ahead of me.
  18. A wall. Small rock climbing holds. Manna from heaven for a boulderer.
  19. If there be photographic evidence of me at the Sawhorses, I will scour the earth to make sure it is eradicated. Imagine a fish. Imagine a fish with legs. Imagine a fish with legs out of water. Imagine a floppy, gasping fish with legs. That was me humping over those damn poles. I have the grace of a hippo in ballet slippers.
  20. Back in the woods……the fucking wet, muddy, hilly woods.
  21. Mile 3 vibrates my watch. The elapsed time showing of 35 minutes is a wondrous surging kick of confidence. My legs are all like “so fucking what!” There is no storybook surge of power and speed that follows.
  22. Did I mention it was hilly……..and muddy?
  23. Me So Thorny was a bit of a downer, even as it gave me a sweet “kiss” just before I exited. Last year it was an eye tricking zig-zag. Now that was cool! But, it was still in the middle of the woods which is always good.
  24. I’ve been pretty much on my toes all morning and looking down to make sure said toes weren’t going into a bottomless hole, a soul sucking mud pit, an ankle snapping creek/gulley, etc., etc., …..So, in one of the rare moments of looking up I find myself at a “T” intersection. I look to my left and there are racers coming at me, and then go by me! I am baffled, befuddled, and bewildered. A feeling of dread comes sweeping in like the Santa Ana winds. Their gale force winds stoking a wild fire of confusion and anger. FUCK ME! I am lost!
  25. For a fraction of a second; the kind of minute time measurement that can only be quantified at a place like the Large Hadron Collider, I thought about just blending in and continuing on. I shook off that awful thought and backtracked the 100 yards from whence I brain farted. At least six people have passed me! Writer’s note: This happened where the trail after Sawhorses (obs. No.8) comes very close to where the trail exits the woods on the way to the Great Wall (obs. No.10). If I had followed through on that fleeting thought, I would have repeated a long part of the course I had already run and the OCR gods would have had one hell of a laugh.
  26. I break free of the woods at last and run straight into a field of wet, tall, heavy grass! Oh and muddy too. And rutty. And riddled with equine landmines.
  27. E.T. and his Reece’s Pieces decided to reappear just as I was approaching the Big Wall. Bad timing. Somehow I managed to pinch…..ummmm….the tip of the spear, and this wasn’t Battlefrog. Is there no end to the ways I can inconvenience my body?!
  28. The grass was endless. The muddy ruts endless. And then there was the game of horseshit hopscotch. If I was on my toes after 3.5 miles, I was positively En Pointe at this point. Fuck! Who doesn’t love some ballet humour!
  29. Fucking hills.
  30. I didn’t learn my lesson last week at Macon Mud Run regarding balance obs. I did not take a moment to find my inner Nadia Comaneci at Nuttsmasher. Two steps in and I had to make a quick jump back to the platform to avoid going in the drink. Back on and halfway across, shuffling like Tim Conway, I lose my balance. My instinct commands my right foot to go to the adjacent beam. So, there I was, one foot on my beam and one foot on my neighbor’s beam, and I was about to really find my inner Jean Claude Van Damme. The gigantic lens of a GameFace Media camera (great choice SR! great choice!) was pointed at me. There was no choice but to stick out my tongue and throw some metal horns; then I fell in. Shit! More people are now passing me! 3rd time’s a charm and it’s back on!
  31. savage-race-georgiaFucking tall, wet grass. Where’s a herd of hungry goats when you need them?!
  32. A cleansing 14 foot jump at Davey Jones was the pause that refreshed. With the course map in mind, I was ready for the onslaught of obs to come.
  33. A quick ladder climb. Great view. Well executed flip move.
  34. Will this grass/mud combo never fucking end!!?
  35. “Why are these culvert pipes set up like seesaws?” “In and up you say?” Wheeeeeee! A sudden and unannounced tip downwards has me squealing like Matt B. Davis finding the next new running section on the Beltline.
  36. Sometimes you need to keep this sport in perspective. An obs that makes you giggle is just the thing to do that.
  37. Missionary Impossible comes into view. I love it for two reasons: It’s not running, and it gets the shoulders loosened up for Sawtooth.
  38. That magnificent beast, Sawtooth, menacing in its assemblage of wood and steel, was there…….at the top of a fucking hill. Aggressive angularity ready to chew up and spit out even the most seasoned OCR racer. I hop up – ok, shuffle- to the launch deck. Take a deep breath (where was that at Nuttsmasher!?), grab the first bar, and “what the fuck?!” “textured paint on the bar?!” Oh, it’s on now! Giddy up.
  39. savage-race-georgia“Oh for fuck’s sake! More log hurdles!” They are in mud/water pits this time. Well if I take a digger at least there’s mud and water to break my fall, and spectators to enjoy the show. My form that has no form is floppingly flawless and I make it through.
  40. Back in the woods! I didn’t think I’d be happy about that after those first three miles, but let’s just say I won’t be doing a Julie Andrews number in an open meadow anytime soon.
  41. My wood for the woods doesn’t last long (getting old sucks……hehehe) as Big Ass Cargo Net comes into view…..sitting in a grassy field. I finally execute a flip move at the top without binding, pinching, or nipping any body parts. I crab walk down for the first time. This is a wondrous technique.
  42. Inverted walls (Venus Guy Trap? really SR?)! Cool! Ohhhhhh, no boards on the invert side. Smooth as melted chocolate with nowhere for the feet like in other races. Standing in the squelchy mud, the lip of the wall looked a mile up. A big jump, and BIG ol’ honkin’ heel hook, some ungentlemanly noises and I was up and over.
  43. The next inverted wall is reversed. Finally the mud becomes an asset as I jump straight down from the 8’ lip.
  44. There’s Slippery Incline. Fuck! Will these hills never end?!
  45. I get wood back at Lumberjack Lane.
  46. savage-race-georgiaFuck! Why must every major obs be majestically placed upon the peak of a hill, as if set up by Ingmar Bergman for a gloriously silhouetted scene straight out of The Seventh Seal?!
  47. Colussus, that fucking beast, gave me fits last Fall. This was the first obs I ever needed help on. Today there would be no help in the SavagePro ™ heat. As I had caught up to a guy, who I had chased down since being passed at Nuttsmasher, I had no time for reflection. He hits the pipe first, so I gotta giddy up! Good approach, shitty attack! Good grip on the rope! Lean back! Fucking climb! Commit to the lip! SHIT! not much of a lip! No turning back! I AM keeping this blue rubber bracelet today! Heave! HO! I’m up! A high jump onto the slide for maximum thrills and it is enema time!
  48. savage-race-georgiaGetting out of the Colossus pool was one of the hardest most awkward tasks all day! That plastic was slicker than two slugs fucking on a marble floor. I’m out and passing who I need to pass.
  49. Finally! Finally! Finally! I get flames to jump over and not just smoldering smoky ashes! Not roaring righteous flames of OCR badassery mind you, but flames nonetheless. I don’t have enough gas in the tank for the epic photo worthy jump.
  50. I can see the finish line and it’s DOWNHILL from here!
  51. I try two pulling methods at Block Party: hand over hand, and one big pull combined with leaning back. Neither have obvious advantages. Both clearly expose how tired I am.
  52. Cruising down the hill, I see a young guy about to take the last turn and he’s not paying attention. I feel a surge of competiveness (who knows what place I’m in, where I might land in the standings?!) and I kick it into full on sprint mode. I pass that dude just before the finish line. Stick a fork in me, I am fucking done. And, I have my blue rubber bracelet still on!
  53. This race was fucking awesome! It was muddy. It was hilly. It was grand. Savage put together a fantastic race. Do this race in the Fall. Tretsch says DO IT!

savage-race-georgia

Savage Race Georgia PostScript:

April 18, 10:30 AM – The beer is cold, the grilled cheese sandwich out of this world, and the post-race camaraderie just fantastic. Stories are told, experiences shared, fellow racers cheered through the finish line.

April 18, 11:30 AM – Unfortunately I have to cut it short and head home back to the family. My podium moment will just have to wait for another race. I don’t bother with a rinse off as I am pretty much dry and mud free (except for the feet of course. The festival area has only gotten worse since the first heat.). Flip flops make for a treacherous walk back to the car, as a feeling of panic starts creeping over my body. I drive a Mazda 3i hatchback. How the fuck am I going to get out of this mess?!

April 18, 11:40 AM – I start the car, more nervous than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. The girl in the 4 runner next to me starts to back out. All I hear is the distinct sound of tires spinning against slick earth. OOO! Boy! I slip it into reverse and ease out. Success. I use the Tiptronic feature and roll the car in first gear. It’s a downhill start, rutted by not too bad. I see some muddy ugliness at the bottom of this small hill. I kick the speed up a bit, go to 2nd and slide through the mud, and then I have to stop! A small pickup is spinning his tires trying to back out and is blocking the way.

April 18, 11:45 AM- I get out to help the guy. My calves have been one twitch away from full seizure since I crossed the finish line (still wearing the compression sleeves), so I am nervous to do some pushing. But hey, I may be in the same predicament at any moment. Many hands make easy work and I’m back in the car. No issues starting back up in this flat area.

April 18, 11:47 AM – I crest over another small hill and see a clusterfuck of mud on the opposite uphill. A couple of cars have stopped on the uphill, so I bide my time still pointing downhill. They manage to get through. I pick up some speed and hit the hill. “Remember Snowpocalypse! No stopping on an uphill climb! Never stop!” The traction is getting squirrely has the car shimmies to and fro.

April 18, 11:49 AM – I am clear of the grass field! Sweet! Nothing but smooth sailing on gravel from here on…….SHIT! it’s even worse! Up ahead is an absolute nightmare of mud. Flat but still deep and thick! Three cars ahead is that white pickup I helped, its rear end moving around worse than a twerking Miley Cyrus. All of them make it through and I hold my breath and go. The mud has got to be half way up the tires in some places. I can feel the bottom of the car being scraped by mud and gravel. I’m shimmying around like M.C. Hammer. Glory of glories, I am out!

April 18, 11:54 AM- My tires touch firm wondrous pavement. After two additional sketchy hills, some cursing and laughing I made it through the last obstacle of the day! The OCR gods were plentiful with their blessings on the race course, but they were downright magnanimous with their miracles in getting me the fuck out of that sloppy mess. By no rights should I have been able to get out of there with my car, and in another couple of hours I’m not sure I would have. I turn right to head home with a smile on my face and mud in my ears.

 *Photos By: Gameface Media, Jay Naval, Jeff Milsaps, and Lloyd Parker.