Savage Race Boston 2017. New Venue, Same Great Race?

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To the delight and high demand from many Nor’Easterners, Savage Race debuted their special brand of, “the world’s best obstacles” to Savages old and new who came from from 31 different states to get Savage as F*ck in New England!  The new venue in Barre, Massachusetts at Carters and Stevens farm on Saturday, July 15th, 2017 was familiar to many who ran it because they have hosted Spartan races in the past. Was Savage able to bring their special brand of fun obstacle course racing to a highly expectant crowd?

Short answer: F*ck yes! Read on for the full low down on one of the best OCR brands that you might not be running.

Let’s get past the boring questions first.

Q: What was the parking situation like?

A: Shuttle parking for $10, and $20 for VIP parking next to the venue. ***These prices are for regular cars and trucks only. Larger vehicles are $25+.

Savage Race originally had no plans for VIP parking at this venue, but some of the farmers were kind enough to rent out their land for the day. I heard from many that the shuttles went smoothly to and from the venue. Sam Abbit of Savage race did say that they had a fleet of 10 shuttles that would run regularly, and they did. I personally heard 0 complaints from anyone.

Q: I couldn’t make the race due to rain, kids, injuries, I’m scared, etc.. how much is it to defer?

A: $30 to transfer to another venue/race. No you don’t have to pay for additional insurance.

Q: How much is bag check?

A: $5 per bag.

Q: How do I get a big, beautiful, spinning medal too?

A: Click on the following link to find out about the Savage Syndicate program.

The buzz is that once again Savage Race did not disappoint in terms of fun and I agree to an extent. I personally think that the Maryland course is their best venue in terms of the terrain, emcee, and obstacle rotation, but Savage Race Boston was still an absolute good time. Savage Race Boston had one of the best festival areas out of all of the Savage races that I have run in 4 states, however.

There were interesting racers to meet and greet, the post race beer was brewed on premises, smiling faces everywhere, clean porta-potties, secure bag check, and very tasty food trucks and stands with reasonable prices! Everything that you are used to or expect from running a Savage Race.

Even INOV-8m the shoe of choice for many obstacle course racers was there, running a promotional sale. They lent out pairs of OCR shoes which you were able to return after the race, and yes I will repeat that… after the race. As in they let you run that day with a loaner pair. If you loved them you were able to buy a pair for $60-$65 flat. It looks like a lot of racers took them up on this deal (which are incredible prices for these shoes). Click here for Inov-8’s online store.

Savage-Race-Boston-Inov-8-LogoSpeaking of before the race, where in the world is Matty T? He’s one of the best pump up starting line people in the business. It just doesn’t feel like a full Savage Race without him and his, “starting line fun time.” No crowd surfing at Boston? Boo! Matty T. has been missing for awhile, has he been kidnapped? Matty, if you read this and need us to call 911, just blink once for yes.

Clocking in at close to 8 miles according to Savage Race and closer to 9 according to some racer’s Fitbits, it left some people asking, “Wait, I thought it was only 6 miles?”

Well SURPRISE! The Boston course had more room in which to spread out obstacles, along with narrow running trails where putting an obstacle of Savage sized magnitude would have been pretty much impossible, unless you want them to water it down with random cargo nets, walls, and logs. That’s not very #SAF in my opinion (For the newly minted Savage, #SAF means Savage As F*ck!) and that is choosing quantity over quality, which of course Savage Race did not do.

I can’t deny that this was the longest and muddiest Savage Race course to date for me personally. A big shout out to those that did their 2 lap first time Syndicate run at this venue, or even did fun run multi-laps. It was definitely tough due to mud, the heat, and stink. Wasn’t one of the obstacles wading through a mile of cow piss and shit? It smelled like the porta-potties AFTER the race in there.

I swear I felt like the main character from Shawshank Redemption once I came out of the many sewage/mud pits on this course. The only thing that was missing was the sweet, sweet rain to wash all the cow crap off. I mean look at the faces. You like mud boys and girls? Savage gave us all of the mud that we could handle and then some.

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The only way to get all of that stink off of you, to the chagrin of quite a few racers, was to leap off of Davy Jones’ Locker aka the cliff jump, which was the next obstacle after the worst of the sewage/mud pits. There were a ton of, “Oh no, I’m not ready for this.” I dove right in though, no way was I going the rest of the way covered in cow pie. It was quite refreshing to feel clean. Well played Savage race, making a lot of us look forward to jumping off of a 15 foot platform just to get clean. Does anyone else think that Savage Race should put a photographer at Davy? I personally heard a few people say that they’d only jump if there was a camera person present at this obstacle, lots of skipping in the open wave. *Hint Hint*

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Speaking of mind trickery they placed everyone’s favorite (NOT!) obstacle at #3, the dreaded Shriveled Richard aka the ice tank, and then Blazed the fire jump immediately after. So not only did you freeze but you got to jump over a blazing fire while soaking wet which helps your clothes absorb the heat from the fire. Bet there were some chapped asses there. Hey Savage I thought it was Fire and Ice, not the other way around. Lots of people hate the Shriveled Richard but it’s one of my personal favorites, I mean where else can you get hilarious pics like this?

Speaking of their more intense signature Savage obstacles, wheel world had some real world problems with many of us racers. A lot of us felt that the initial jump to the first wheel, and along with the dismount at the end was a bit too far and out of reach. Many of us couldn’t even reach the first wheel without a flying squirrel leap, and still fell short. You used to be able to reach the wheels fairly easily, it wasn’t like 10 yards away. At least that’s how far it felt and looked as you stared up at the wheels.

Sawtooth, oh boy. The absolute favorite love and hate obstacle for many. I love the challenge it brings, but I hate that out of 6 Savage races that  I ran, I still can’t nail that sonofadog. Sawtooth at Boston seemed like a combination of the old and new Sawtooth. A kind of hybrid with the thinner rungs, but with the new harder transition from the “tooth” along with the metal framing which makes for better pictures in my humble opinion. I still want a shot at the original Sawtooth though. The group I was running with hit Sawtooth during the heaviest part of the brief rainstorm making it extra crispy challenging and slippery. Right into the drink for many.

Hangarang, another new addition and fan favorite seems to have found a nice balance between much too hard and doable. The mud made it extra slippery but it’s a great obstacle that requires some decent balancing skills. It has also been put back over water, YAAAAY!

Another view showing just how muddy and slippery Hangarang was at Savage Boston. I wonder what the dirt to cow pie ratio was in this mud mix.

The Pièce De Résistance of every Savage Race is that wonderful, glorious giant of an obstacle called Colossus. I have had dreams where I am doing this obstacle. It is that good. There is usually some amazing team work involved in this 2 part obstacle. The first part is scaling the 20 foot warped wall with different fitness levels of ropes. You can go sans rope if you have the ninja skills to do so. It’s so impressive to see. There are stairs on the side of Colossus if you feel unsafe going up the warped wall for any reason but still would like to go down the 2nd part, which is their 25 foot slide and the angle seems to get steeper at every race. Awesome!

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As Savage Race likes to say, “You have to earn this slide!”

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Twirly Bird gave the Boston racers a run for their money. Lots of bands are lost on this one (according to every volunteer I have asked at this obstacle at every race this year). It’s one of the toughest rigs in obstacle course racing according to many. I agree, but I just suck at rigs in general, and yes I am working on my grip strength.

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    I can feel her pain.

What do they drink at a Boston Savage race? A nice refreshing craft pale ale by Stone Cow Brewery which is right on the premises. Lots of Savages were happy that it was a pleasant change from the dreaded Coors Lite that many lovingly refer to as “race piss.”

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Many said that Stone Cow was absolutely fantastic, even my friend, the non-beer drinker, called it delicious.

 A nice friendly pour.

The food at every Savage has been good, but the food at the Boston Venue was incredible! They had a food truck selling fusion cuisine for $7 with amazing portions and flavor, a jerky truck selling fresh jerky for $3 a bag, a brick oven pizza stand, and the food stand with your standard festival food.

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 Some of the best quesadillas and smothered tater tots ever.

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They even had a banana and chocolate chip pizza. $10 per pizza pie.

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The food stands if you preferred more traditional festival fare.

As you can see, Savage Race was a huge hit with the New England crowd that likes their races down and dirty!

*Bonus Read below! Not for the squeamish! Graphic Content! May be disturbing to some readers!*

Disclaimer: Obstacle Racing Media, Savage Race, and myself DO NOT condone pinning your bib to your skin ever, or attempting any other dangerous stunts. This is a bit on a very interesting Savage Pro racer, and American Ninja Warrior, Rigel Henry who happens to do this as “his thing.” Attempting this or any of his stunts featured has the very high potential of landing you in the hospital at best, and the morgue at worst. So please don’t do this ever, anywhere.

Rigel Henry first made waves at Savage Maryland when he went skins with his bib attached to his abdomen. I mean Facebook and Instagram blew up big time when his Savage Race pics came out. He’s on this season of ANW where they aired a part of his run last month, but are supposed to be airing the full run in August. He’s becoming better known as “Safety Pins Spicoli” in the OCR world.

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Rigel has run Savage Races in 3 different states now, and he says that he is hell-bent on beating Yuri Force aka, “Mr. Has He Ever Lost a Savage Race?” I personally don’t know the answer to that. Maybe one of you other Savages can educate us in the comments regarding Yuri’s track record. Yuri Force took it all in Boston, including the $1,000 1st place overall prize money by finishing the entire race with 100% obstacle completion in 58 minutes. The second place winner was still  a 1/4 of a mile behind as Yuri Force crossed the finish line.

So how does Rigel keep the bib and his skin from ripping off during the race? Especially during belly crawls and jumping off of Davy Jones’ locker? He holds onto it he says and he places the pins deep. Very simple answer and he plans on making a Youtube video in the future on how he puts the bib on due to the slew of questions that he’s been getting.

Sorry Rigel, but you’re about to get a lot more.

What does he do once the pins are removed to prevent infection? He swears by Neosporin.

Now WHY does he do this? I wish I could tell you an elaborate tale of how he went on a spiritual retreat to India or Tibet and acquired super human abilities to ward off infections, pain, and maybe even death. That’s not it though.

The reason isn’t anything groundbreaking, and some might even call it petty… but he sees it as good old competitive spirit. He says, “If I can’t beat Yuri Force, I’m going to look more badass than him.”

I forgot to ask him if he’ll stop if/when he beats Yuri but I just have a feeling that his answer is going to be, “No.”

Rock on Rigel and it’s awesome that you chose Savage Race as your favorite place to test your ninja skills. If all the stars align properly we might get to see his full run on American Ninja Warrior this season within the first couple of weeks in August. At least that’s the rumor.

Rigel Henry showing off his ninja skills. He made that look too easy btw.

Now let’s play a game, is this Rigel or Spicoli?

 

Photo credits: Savage Race, Poly Poli, Richard Anthony, Surfermagazine.com

 

Savage Race Maryland – Fall 2016

Back in 2014, I, like many who want to give OCR a try, ran a Warrior Dash. Once I crossed the finish line, I knew I had to kick it up a notch. After taking 2015 to adjust to life with our son, I was ready to take the next step in 2016. Not only did I run my first Spartan (Palmerton), but also my first BattleFrog. I had planned to do another BattleFrog this season but, as we all know, they are no more. Luckily after doing some research, I found that Savage Race had an event on the same day I planned to run the BattleFrog. After scoping out their website and seeing the obstacles, I knew I had to try it. I was not disappointed.

I had received several emails leading up to the race with my bib number, wave confirmation, course map and waivers. Because of this, check-in was pretty quick. I didn’t notice much of a line for the later heats either. The festival area was on the smaller side, consisting of a merchandise tent, a stage, photo area, food and porta potties. The hoses and changing tents were actually outside the festival area near the general parking area. Because of this, I didn’t see a need to use the bag check, so that saved me $5.00. 

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The SavagePRO heat, which is their competitive heat, began at 9:00 a.m. Since the course was just over two hours away, I was glad to hear I didn’t have to get there by 7:30 a.m. like a few other races do. About fifteen minutes before the start, the corral was open for racers to enter. Five or ten minutes before, we got a run down of the rules. Savage has an entire page on their website with the competitive rules, but the pre-race meeting cleared a few more things up. After some pre-race chants, the National Anthem, and a bit of blue smoke, we were off.

This was the first I had ever run in a competitive heat, so I was excited to get first crack at the obstacles. The course map Savage sent out was very accurate. The only obstacle I don’t remember seeing was Barn Doors. I did see a video with it, though, so maybe I’m just forgetting. Like many other races, the first couple miles had few obstacles. I always like this because it gives the quicker runners a chance to spread out a little. And most of the first few obstacles consisted of either going under or over something.

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The first challenge came around the end of mile two, when one of Savage’s new obstacles came into view: On The Fence. I thought I knew what to expect when trying to conquer this unique obstacle, but after the first couple miles my shoes were already a bit muddy, so I couldn’t always get a good footing on the fence. That made it more taxing on my grip. After finishing the obstacle, I decided to file it under the “harder than it looks” category. On I went.

After Squeeze Play, which had racers crawl through mud under large barrels, I came upon Savage’s only weighted carry, Lumberjack Lane. As I approached, several racers in front of me were carrying two pieces of wood. The volunteers made it clear that only one was needed, but I let my ego get the best of me and picked up two anyway. I remember regretting that decision afterwards.

As I completed mile three, one of Savage’s featured obstacles was next: Davy Jones’ Locker. The course designers were nice enough to put this right before Sawtooth, another featured obstacle. Sawtooth is one of the most unique monkey bar obstacles in OCR so I wanted to make sure my hands were dry. After a little grass-rubbing, I climbed up and down with little issue. This was a confidence booster.

This confidence helped me get through the next couple obstacles, Big Cheese and Venus Guy Trap, pretty quickly. Savage makes sure your confidence doesn’t last long, though, because then I reached Kiss My Walls. Fitting name, as it consists of small climbing holds across a long wall. I had done some traverse obstacles similar to this, so I didn’t think much of it as I approached. After falling off about halfway through my first attempt, I had another member of the “harder than it looks” club.

Remember that ego I had mentioned before? Well, it wasn’t letting me give up that little blue band that SavagePRO racers lose if they don’t complete an obstacle. Finally, on the third attempt I rang the bell and moved on.

After finishing mile four, I had to deal with Great Wall, an eight-foot wall, and Slippery Incline, which was surprisingly dry. I have a feeling this changed as rain moved in later in the day and more racers traipsed their muddy shoes up the obstacle. Next up was another new one for 2016, Pole Cat. This time, racers must navigate sideways along two parallel bars, one higher than the other. At the halfway point, you switch so that if your hands were higher, they’re now lower and visa versa. This one wasn’t too difficult and the damp bar actually made sliding my feet easier.

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The final mile began with a wake up call. Shriveled Richard requires racers to submerge in, what I can only assume is the coldest water ever recorded on the planet. As I continued on, trying to shake out my arms and keep the legs churning so nothing cramped, I was met with a Big Ass Cargo Net, then Back Scratcher. The first is pretty self-explanatory, while the second consisted of going over a shorter wall, then under some barbed wire.

Grip strength then became a common theme. Another one of Savage’s unique obstacles is Wheel World. It requires racers to navigate across water by grabbing five rotating wheels above them. I had watched Savage’s video breakdown of the obstacle, along with their Facebook Live videos of past SavagePRO racers conquering it so I came prepared. I would definitely recommend watching those videos if you want to get across quickly.

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In between Wedgie, a twist on the incline wall, and Blaze, Savage’s fire obstacle, was one of their biggest hits: Colossus. I heard as the rain rolled in later in the day, this one became ridiculously difficult. Luckily I avoided the rain, but still needed a couple knots of the rope to make it up this giant warped wall. The slide back down was a nice flashback to childhood. As I climbed out of the water, I realized my hands were now wet again as I approached more grip tests. Thanks again course designer.

Just before the finish line was the Savage Rig followed immediately by Tree Hugger. The rig, like Kiss My Walls, took me until my third try. Good old ego wasn’t giving up that band, so I was prepared to try thirty if I had to. Rigs are always tough, so there was a sizable group of SavagePRO runners giving it multiple attempts. Unlike a couple other obstacles, the rig looked difficult and I knew it would, so it’s not a member of that club.

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Tree Hugger, on the other hand, is the VP of Operations in the “harder than it looks” club. I could be wrong, but it looked twice as long as Tree Hugger at other races I’ve seen. Maybe it just felt that way because of how taxing it is on your body. Luckily I made it through on the first try. If I didn’t I would’ve needed a few minutes to rest before giving it another go.

Side Note: The second place female would’ve finished first, but she forgot to ring the bell at the end of Tree Hugger, so if you’re in the competitive heat, pay attention to all obstacle instructions!

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Overall, the fall Savage Race in Maryland was very well managed and provided, like they say, the best obstacles and the perfect distance (6 miles / 25 obstacles). The rain held out for most of the SavagePRO heat, but later heats got some extra water for their race! Savage is a great way to take the next step in OCR if you’re looking for a challenge. I definitely plan on racing again when they come to my area in Pennsylvania in June of 2017!

Photo Credit: Savage Race and the author