Ottawa City Chase Rush

City Chase is a Canadian urban adventure race, taking teams of two+ to various checkpoints by-way-of a scavenger hunt throughout the city. While the traditional City Chase distance of events past was longer, this past weekend’s Ottawa City Chase Rush offered participants a more condensed version. It comprised of a map including twelve clues, which teams used to navigate around Ottawa’s Downtown, Centretown, Byward Market and Sandy Hill neighbourhoods. Participants had three hours (10am – 1pm) to find and complete 8 of the twelve checkpoint challenges, three of which were mandatory. City Chase always had a huge charity component. Three local community organizations that support children and their families who are faced with the diagnosis of a serious illness benefited from Ottawa City Chase Rush. These include: Kids Kicking Cancer Canada’s Heroes Circle Program, Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and CHEO Foundation.

The race began at the Startline located at the Royal Oak at 180 Kent Street in Downtown Ottawa just after 10am, with chasers locating the course map on the other side of the building. Chasers then proceeded to decode the checkpoint challenge clues and strategize as to their route of choice, or simply run to the first checkpoint they recognized. City Chase is truly a “choose your own adventure” type race, as not all checkpoints are mandatory. Although there are always a few overachievers who attempt and even complete ALL checkpoint challenges. My team located and completed the following checkpoint challenges in order:

 

  1. Money, Money, Money (a scavenger hunt at the Bank of Canada Museum
  2. Let’s dive in (Locating the hockey puck at the bottom of a pool with a number that corresponded with the rubber ducky you selected)
  3. Power, Peace, Purpose (Karate instructed by Kids Kicking Cancer Blackbelt Volunteers)
  4. Tug-o Truck (a firetruck pull)
  5. Can you find him? (Finding Waldo at Bayward Market)
  6. Tasty Treats (Fish heads, dog biscuits, hot peppers, M&Ms, gummy worms)
  7. Stretch it out (Bunny Yoga!)
  8. The Yard (a scooter and hopscotch obstacle course)

City Chasers were to locate all checkpoints by foot. This resulted in a total of 14kms (8.7 miles) ran by my team. This was excessive due to critical errors. The atmosphere is cooperative with an emphasis on fun and charity over the competition.

 

 

 

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.

Spartan North American Championships – West Virginia Beast 2019

Obstacle-Gauntlet-in-West-Virginia

If there’s anything Spartan Race does well, it’s finding one of a kind locations for their races. Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia proved to be the perfect place to not only put on a Trifecta weekend, but host the 2019 North American Championship race. 

The Venue

Summit Bechtel Reserve is absolutely perfect to host an event like this. Those unfamiliar with West Virginia’s terrain were greeted with numerous climbs that ended with gorgeous views. Elite and Age Group racers had to qualify to take part in Saturday’s Beast, while everyone else could run in the Open waves. In total, the Beast ran about 14.4 miles with close to 2,900 feet of ascent. Anyone unfamiliar with West Virginia’s terrain were greeted with numerous climbs that ended with gorgeous views. 

Climbing-the-Mountain-in-West-Virginia

This was only my second Beast ever and happened to be the last piece to complete my second Trifecta ever. My first Beast was the 2018 Ohio Beast held at the Southington Off-Road Park. That venue was very flat with altering terrains, while West Virginia is mostly trail but a good variation of climbs and descents. 

 

The West Virginia race was definitely more difficult, but if I was left with a choice between the two, it’s an absolute no brainer. No matter what distance you want to do, West Virginia is a must race. 

Spartan-Trifecta-Weekend-in-West-Virginia

Why A Beast?

Maybe you’ve only ever run Sprints because 5 miles seems like enough. Or you’ve done a Super and are wondering if you should take the next step up. So, before we get into the specifics of the course and the obstacles, let’s talk about why a Spartan Beast at all.

 

I would recommend everyone set out for a Trifecta at least one time. If you would rather stick to shorter races, great! But there’s something special about running over a half-marathon with obstacles. 

 

On top of that, the open waves are more spread out than the shorter races. This is great for people who want to get in some running between obstacles. Granted, the climbs and some obstacles do still get jammed up some in open heats. Despite that, even some of the more narrow trails had space between runners. 

The-Views-at-the-North-American-Championship

Oh, The Obstacles!

Outside of what I needed to get a Trifecta in 2018 and 2019, I usually stick Sprints and the occasional Stadion (Stadium). But the way Spartan has moved over the last year or two, you see a lot of the same obstacles. So at that point, the more Sprints you run, the more you’re just looking at the venue itself and the course design. Don’t get me wrong, I love the short distance of a Sprint, but I also love obstacles!

 

If you really want to be exposed to Spartan’s full gauntlet of obstacles, you absolutely positively must run a Beast. This year’s West Virginia Beast had 38 obstacles, many of them I haven’t seen since last year’s Beast in Ohio. Though I didn’t run the Sprint and Super on Sunday, they each had 20 and 31 respectively. 

 

There’s really no room to complain about what obstacles Spartan had because, well, they pretty much had them all (Though I wish they included that Twister/Monkey Bar combo this year). The Beast threw at you everything from the Yokohama Tire Flip to Helix to Tyrolean Traverse and even a Spartan helmet-shaped Bucket Brigade course. The Beast even included a nice little swim late in the race. 

Ryan-Woods-finishing-Helix

Quite A Warm-up

If I had one complaint about the race, it’s that parking was incredibly far away from the festival. Our heat wasn’t until around noon, so 10:30 am seemed like a good time to arrive. But we still ended up on the outskirts of parking. I’m not sure exactly how far of a walk it was to the festival from our car, but I would guess it took around 10-15 minutes. That’s a great way to warm-up for the race, but made the walk back pretty daunting. 

 

Spartan could add a few shuttle stations throughout the parking area. This would allow small shuttles to take racers to the festival entrance. Though parking and bag check were both free this year, so the there would probably be some trade off. 

North-American-Championship-Spartan-Medal

Ya’ll Come Back Now, Ya Hear?

The venue is great. The area around the venue is gorgeous. Southern hospitality is a real thing. Biscuits and gravy are everywhere. There’s a lot to love about going to West Virginia for a couple days. Not to mention the North American Championship Beast medal all Saturday finishers walk away with. 

 

I told myself after this year I would stick to short races and not need more Trifectas in the future. But as long as Spartan keeps coming back to Summit Bechtel Reserve, I have a feeling that so will I.

 

Photo Credit: Spartan Race

emPowered OCR – Lancaster’s First Stadium-Style Obstacle Race

emPowered-OCR-at-Clipper-Magazine-Stadium

 

A well-run local obstacle race is a great find. A well-run local obstacle race that’s for a good cause is a gem

 

emPower Training Systems and The Mighty Mehal Foundation teamed up to bring Lancaster, PA its first ever stadium-style obstacle race. The 3.25-mile course took place in and around Clipper Magazine Stadium, home to the Lancaster Barnstormers. 

 

A lot of local “obstacle” races I’ve experienced tend to be more of a glorified mud run than obstacle race. emPowered OCR was a true obstacle race that challenged competitive athletes while ensuring new racers would have a blast. There were even family waves so parents could run the course with their kids instead of watching them run a smaller course from the sidelines.

 

Inside-Clipper-Magazine-Stadium

For A Cause

A lot of people use obstacle racing as an escape from the ordinary day to day. But some people use it to get through their own personal obstacles. emPowered OCR was created to help those people, with all proceeds benefiting The Mighty Mehal Foundation.

 

The foundation was created in honor of Shaun “Mighty” Mehal and provides scholarships to qualified applicants who are entering a recovery house in Lancaster County. 

 

Free Free Free

We all know how most of the larger races go. Need to park? That’ll be $10.00. Might even have to take a shuttle. Want to bring your grandma so she can cheer you on? Open up that wallet. 

 

Pretty much the only thing you needed to pay for at emPowered OCR was your registration and bag check, if you needed it. Parking was provided in the stadium lot and spectators were free of charge. There were even plenty of free samples from local and national vendors. 

 

As with the larger events, each registration included a tech shirt, finisher medal and a free beer for anyone over 21 years old. 

emPowered-OCR-course-map

Course Design

The course was designed by the co-owner of emPower Training Systems and personal trainer, Josh March. The distance came in right around 3.25 miles and featured 23 obstacles. Clipper Magazine isn’t as big as a major league stadium so, unlike those, it wasn’t all stairs. Most of the course took place just outside the stadium, with the last quarter-mile or so being inside. 

 

In the competitive waves, the majority of the obstacles were mandatory completion. Racers were given an extra band at registration and had to take it off if they were unable to complete an obstacle. Two obstacles did have a penalty loop, in addition to mandatory completion and one had a burpee penalty. 

 

For the “Strike Zone Challenge,” If you missed the strike zone net, you were required to do 15 burpees. Unfortunately for competitive racers who missed, the burpee obstacle was shortly after, which added another 15 reps in the hot sun (I speak from experience).

 

There were two carries out on the course, bucket and sandbag, which surprisingly had the same weight for men and women. It felt like the weight would be a little light compared to other men’s carries and a little heavy for women. The bucket carry was about a quarter-mile, while the sandbag weaved up and down the stadium steps. 

 

emPowered-Peak-Obstacle

No Easy Task

For anyone looking to challenge their grip and coordination, that was well taken care of. Several obstacles required bell ringing. “Because I Was Inverted” required traversing upside down across a steel beam from one end to the other. The “Y-Wall” was a fun mix of relatively easy rock holds out to a pair of hanging metal tubes. 

 

“emPowered Peak” almost seemed similar to Spartan’s Olympus due to the requirement to go from side to side on an angle. Unlike Olympus, though, there wasn’t much to grab. The obstacle was made up of vertical 2x4s that required careful transitions and shoes with some grip. 

 

Perhaps the toughest obstacle of the day, though, was the Barnstormers Rig. According to March, it turned out to be a band killer among competitive racers. It required transitioning between rings, baseballs and even a baseball bat in order to ring the bell at the end. And because it was late in the race, many of the athletes already had fatigued grip. 

 

A-look-at-emPowered-OCR-rig

What’s Next?

According to March, the race was a great success and they’re already in the works for a 2020 race and potentially a second event. With around 450 total participants, emPowered OCR definitely has the potential to become an annual event, with some expansion.

They do plan to keep the competitive waves mainly mandatory completion, which personally I love. There were a few hiccups with the registration process, but plans are already underway to improve the process for next year. They’re also looking into a more OCR-equipped timing system as this year’s timing was not set up to show 100% completion and non-completion among competitive racers. Instead bands had to be manually checked among the top finishers. 

emPowered-OCR-top-finishers

emPowered OCR was a fantastic race and the team did a really great job running the event. At no point did I feel like this was a first-year race. It’s definitely one that will be on my calendar for 2020 and beyond!

 

Photo Credit: emPower Training Systems, Jesse Keim, Kevin Peragine Photography, Lindsey Makuvek

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/

 

Toughest Mudder Central Review

It all started in 2011 when I was provoked by a Facebook challenge: “Are you tough enough?” I clicked the link and found an advertisement for Tough Mudder, a 10-12 mile race with military-style obstacles. Crawling under barbed wire, sloshing through mud pits, traversing monkey bars, this was the coolest thing I had seen in years!  I immediately signed up and brought new life into my training regimen. I had a goal, to crush Tough Mudder. That Mudder taught me many lessons and I have made many changes and corrections to both my training and pre-race prep. Recently came a new challenge, Toughest Mudder. A 12 hour, overnight race complete with obstacles… I had to get in! This would be the next step on the way to World’s Toughest Mudder, which I have not been able to get into yet, but has been on my bucket list for several years.

I wasn’t completely prepared. I hadn’t trained the way I wanted to, my toddler and busy schedule made sure of that. I would like to have gotten a lot more miles in to prep my ligaments, but that didn’t happen. I was able to maintain basic muscle strength at the gym with my two workouts a week. Would that be enough? I have mental grit, it would have to be. 

In the days leading up to the event, I tried to keep everything perfect. Getting good rest (toddler didn’t understand that and continued to wake us up in the middle of the night), taking it light in the gym and eating appropriately. Well, 2 out of 3 is good! I was very careful not to get any stupid injuries like slicing a finger cutting veggies or getting sick by touching anything in son’s daycare center. Success, I found myself at the airport ready to go with 2 days until the race. I would get 2 nights of good rest because my boy was staying home for this one! These 2 days were spent with my Dad who lives in Minnesota; relaxing, and getting the final items for the race. I found out at the last minute that you need to have a flashing strobe light or glow stick in addition to the headlamp to be allowed on the course after dark. I had electrolytes, Strawberry Fig Newtons (my go-to between each lap), Bob’s Red Mill Peanut Butter Coconut bars, oranges, bananas and some secret sauce (NOS energy drink) to give me a kicker for the final hours. I tried the NOS toward the end of the first Gauntlet event and discovered its power! On the way to the event, I realized I had left the electrolytes at my dad’s place so we stopped and picked up a couple of bottles of Pedialyte. They worked like a charm! I had two goals for this event: 1. Consume the nutrition properly to fuel me the entire 12 hours maintaining consistent energy levels 2. Reach 40 miles and earn contender status for World’s Toughest Mudder in November. Around 6 PM I had arrived at Wild Wings Oneka, the hunting preserve in Hugo Minnesota where the Central Division Toughest Mudder was about to commence. 

The festival area was quiet with the final Mudders clearing out from the day’s normal events. The registration desk went smooth and I went to the pit area to set up. I brought a backpack, small cooler and plastic bin with food, dry goods, and extra clothes. There were rows of tents, canopies, and coolers spread throughout the pit area with contestants making their final preparation.  I put on a cool dry-fit lycra shirt, Athletics 8 compression pants, non-cotton socks, and Saucony Excursion TR12 trail shoes. These shoes were a great option at for under $80!

Things were calm, too calm, like the calm before the storm and we all knew what laid ahead. With the 8 PM start time approaching, Sean Corvelle got on the mic to rev up the crowd. We all took a knee and listened to his words of inspiration. We recited the Tough Mudder oath and waited for the start gun. He offered the “Mental Grit Award” which was $20 to the last Mudder to enter the course prior to the 7:15 AM cutoff and not stopping all night long. Soon enough we were off on the “Sprint Lap”.  On this first lap, all of the obstacles were closed and the first person to finish would be awarded a free entry to The World’s Toughest. I knew I wasn’t the fastest and I had a long night ahead so I took it easy observing each of the 20 obstacles as I passed. I was excited to get in there and try them out, my anticipation building but I knew that this lap would allow me to conserve energy and get ahead on time. 

There was a planned rolling opening of the obstacles starting at 9:30 and I made it through the first lap quickly. I was pleased to be able to skip by electroshock therapy without penalty! The second lap allowed for time to be made up in advance as I passed closed obstacles wondering which would be the first. I got past the newly created Gauntlet, Funky Monkey, Augustus Gloop, and many others. The one that finally got me turned out to be Block Ness Monster, close to the end of the lap. The guys in front of us passed on by as three of us were flagged into the now open obstacle. We jumped in the water happy to finally cool off and struggled to make it over the first monstrous rotating block. They were waterlogged and it took everything we had to get it to flip with a guy hanging on. I was able to get over the blocks on my own and we all decided that was the best way forward. The next obstacle – the dreaded Electroshock Therapy. I was all too happy to avoid the dangling wires by taking the penalty lap, a short run out of the way and back. After that, we encountered the new obstacle Mudderhorn which was a huge (seemed like 50 feet tall) a frame cargo net with an outer cargo netting layer. It was easy to get caught up in all that netting and proved to be an obstacle to slow you down, pull your headlamp off and tangle up anything hanging or dangling from your body.

By the next lap, most of the obstacles had opened and we were all in full swing of the Toughest Mudder. We climbed the inverted wall at Skidmarked, carried logs, traversed slacklines in Black Widow and Spread Eagle, Crawled through the Devil’s beard, dipped in and out of mud pits in the mud mile, climbed up the ladders in the water-spewing tubes of Augustus Gloop, and confronted one of the new 2019 obstacles; The Gauntlet. This started as a 2X4 balance beam to a plank position crossing about 10 feet long to swinging rings to the final segment which was a horizontal piece of wood big enough to get your fingertips on which you worked your way across to a doorknob, followed by a piece of wood handle, another doorknob, another wood handle, another doorknob and another fingertip crossing to the end. This obstacle could be attempted 4 times, each failure incurring a penalty lap on a short loop nearby. 

Another exciting new obstacle was the leap of faith. You had to jump out 5 feet over water to grab vertical cargo net.  You climbed the net to a pole which you shimmied down to dry land on the other side. This was fairly simple and lots of fun! ‘

Another new obstacle was Hydrophobia which was crawling through a small tube submerged in water. I was happy to see Funky Monkey which was an inverted monkey bar to a horizontal wheel which rotated you around to a large vertical wheel which spun you to a smaller vertical wheel which whipped you to a pole you would work down to the other side. Certainly a grip zapper! I found the cage crawl to be relaxing. There were long trenches filled with water and topped with cage sections which you pulled yourself through on your back keeping only your mouth and nose above water. This was very peaceful as your ears were underwater and you could only hear the sounds your breath as you worked your way through. Of course, we endured Berlin Walls – 8 ft walls to overcome, Everest 2.0 with some guys who selflessly spent much time at the top helping everyone through. Pyramid Scheme, which had a rope to help out when you were solo. You still had to get up a slippery surface to get to the rope as it only reaches a short distance down from the top. Nobody’s favorite Arctic Enema was included (construction container full of ice water) and some used the 4th lap wristband to be excluded from the torture. 

At the end of the 4th and every subsequent lap, we were given a blue wristband which could be used to surpass any obstacle without penalty. They were often given up at The Gauntlet and Funky Monkey and Electroshock Therapy.

My third lap went without fail, all obstacles completed but I started feeling tightness in the ligaments behind my left knee. I knew this was going to be a problem the rest of the night and would have to dig deep to beat it or drop out of the race early to avoid injury. I wasn’t born to be a quitter so I pressed on. I earned my 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th lap bracelets which I used for the Gauntlet and Funky Monkey in laps 6 and 7. I had not failed any obstacle at that point (I did take the penalty lap at electroshock each time) and using those wristbands saved me time. One thing I noticed around 2 AM was that there was a lack of volunteers at most of the obstacles. There was one at Gauntlet, Funky Monkey, Electroshock Therapy, Blockness Monster, and Mudderhorn but most of the rest had nobody. It was concerning at the least to think that it would be easy for some to pass the obstacles and the penalty lap without retribution. Also concerning was the fact that if there was a serious injury, who would know? Volunteers often bring energy to the races and encourage you to keep going, but this lack of their presence really made this event quiet. You would feel the energy every time you got back to the finish line/pit area as there were plenty of people around.

When I was in my sixth lap I knew I had to dig deep if I were to complete two more laps to achieve my 40-mile goal. Each lap was 5 miles with 20 obstacles. I completed the seventh lap, swung by the pit to quickly refuel and get back on the course by 7 AM beating the cutoff. I knew I didn’t have enough time to finish the eighth, but I wasn’t going to quit without trying.  I got 4 miles before I heard the finishing bell which rang promptly at 8 AM. It was a bittersweet sound as the race was over and I had my results – 39 miles. Just one short of my goal. I managed my disappointment by reminding myself that I didn’t really deserve the contender’s bib because I hadn’t put in the necessary time training, I was winging it. Something that my ligaments were reminding me with every step I took. When I got back to the festival area I was greeted by fellow Mudders who had endured the night and waited excitedly for the awards ceremony. First, Second and Third place awards were given to top males and females in age groups as well as winners of 2 person teams and 4 person teams. 

I hobbled around the festival area which was starting to wake up in anticipation of Sunday’s events. I Tried out some products like Tin Cup whiskey, Every Man Jack Beard Butter and Endoca CBD oil. I was impressed with all of these products and found relief for my aching muscles immediately upon applying the lotion! New Mudders and the energy of a new day filled the area as I reviewed my accomplishments and failures in my mind. I had made it through the night with excellent nutrition, was full of energy and even won the mental grit award (yes, I made Sean give me the $20).

I reminisced the sun going down as we started the race and the mosquitos coming out. You put on Deet at each pit stop which was washed off at the first water obstacle. We were serenaded by a chorus of bullfrogs and I even heard a few coyotes around midnight. There were crickets and owls and some rumbling things in the bushes that couldn’t be identified. I remembered when the morning sun brought new energy (and deerflies) and the chance to remove the headlamp and run in the light. I reveled in how myself and over 350 other Mudders did what many think is crazy and impossible. I reminded myself this was just the warm-up. The next big thing happens over 24 hours in November.