Spartan Race Dallas Beast 2017


The Weather

There’s no way I can review this race without addressing one of the toughest obstacles of the day: the temperature.  A quick google search shows the average low in the Dallas area for October is about 56°F.  November’s average low is 45°F, but we weren’t even that lucky.  When the first wave went off this day (just before the sun came up), the temperature was at a frigid 29°F with a little bit of wind to top it off!

Everyone that arrived early for the elite and competitive heats stood around shivering in the dark before shedding a couple extra warm layers and making their way into the start chute.  Luckily the sun started to make its way out after the first couple of waves were released.


The Course

The start line emcee told us that we would be running 14 miles while the official map showed about 12.5 for the Beast course.  My watch clocked me at about 13.5 miles, but that includes a couple of burpee stops.  One interesting note is that the Olympus obstacle ( the slanted wall that you navigate horizontally using a variety of handholds) had a penalty loop instead of the typical 30 burpee penalty.  Looks like Spartan might be trying to add a little variety to the penalties they use for failed obstacles.


The course didn’t waste much time before having everyone wade through a waist-deep pool of water which got the bottom half of everybody cold and wet.  Most of the initial miles were broken up by a variety of walls in addition to the first of two sandbag carries – this one up and down a steep, rocky hill.  Next up was the first of two barbwire crawls, another wall, and the only time we were forced to submerge our entire bodies in the cold water: the dunk wall.

Luckily, this occurred just beyond the 5-mile mark and the sun was starting to warm up the air just a little.  (And by “a little,” I mean hardly at all.  It was still freezing!)

The dunk wall was followed by a lot of open ground to cover through the gorgeous Texas landscape.  Rolling hills, open fields, and plenty of cacti made for a scenic view as I tried not to think about the soaking wet clothing pressed up against my body.


Gauntlet of Obstacles

After a few more obstacles and opportunities to wade through waist-deep water, the course really hit its stride with a brutal obstacle gauntlet over the last few miles.  The spear throw was preceded by Monkey Bars, Olympus, and the Rope Climb just to make sure our arms weren’t too fresh for the attempt.  After that was the second sandbag carry of the day followed by the multi-rig consisting of rings, a horizontal bar, and then more rings with a vertical pipe thrown into the mix.

And if that wasn’t enough, we were treated to a solid bucket carry and atlas lift before getting a chance to attempt Twister.  I don’t know about everyone else, by my arms were beat at this point in the race.  A couple more wall climbs in addition to a final Herc Hoist stood between the final Fire Jump and a shiny new Beast finisher medal.

One last item of note is that the course spread over many different parts of the ranch which required navigating mini A-frame ladders to get up and over barb wire fences numerous times.  Unfortunately, each one of these managed to create a backup on the course, even in the early heats, as only 2-3 people could use it at once.  A small suggestion for future years would be to widen these out a bit in each direction to not slow everyone down.  As I was driving out of the venue, I saw a group of about 50 people waiting to get over one of them!


The Venue

Spartan has hosted races at the Rough Creek Lodge and Resort in Glen Rose, Texas for years and it was even the home of the 2011 Spartan World Championship.  Parking was on-site and a short walk from the festival area, which contained a wide variety of vendors and amenities for race day.  The rolling hills were well-utilized by the course which made for some amazing views (if you had a chance to look up while a sandbag rested on your shoulders).

Overall, I had a great time and would definitely return to this venue for another Spartan Race, possibly to attempt my first Ultra Beast.  Although I’ll be crossing my fingers for warmer temperatures next time!


Photo Credit:

  • Becky Bouillon
  • Spartan Race

Check Out Other Recaps By This Author Here


Spartan Race Dallas – A Cold Day in Hell AKA Glen Rose, TX

Texas is apparently about as indecisive with its weather, as I am come dinner time. Labor Day weekend for the US OCR Championships had us succumbing to 95+ degree heat, while this past weekend in Glen Rose (a city outside of Dallas), participants struggled to stay warm, as temperatures dipped under 30 degrees when the first Ultra Beast wave kicked off. Anyone looking for an easy race to finally get their belt buckle was in for a frosty eye-opening.

Ultra Beast numbers continue to surge, as competitors continuously push themselves to achieve new heights – a perfect opportunity for Spartan Race to inflict creative new punishment on a fresh group of willing participants. While certain aspects of this course were punishing, we’re also starting to see a softer side of Spartan emerge as well – A “burpee free” penalty? We saw it in Atlanta, and it popped up again in Texas this weekend.

Something Old, Something New

The irony of asking if you remember the Memory Test, is not lost on me – but do you remember your first time? Echo 430-6620, Killington 2013. It’s seared into my brain, it’s not going anywhere. While the Memory Test obstacle has mostly disappeared at events the last few years, Ultra Beast runners saw it utilized in a whole new way – on an added 1-mile loop, they were told to memorize a token Spartan code: [Army Alphabet Letter] + [7-digit number]. Except for this time, they were required to recite their number to enter the transition area, before starting lap two. A nice touch, as opposed to planting arbitrary volunteers in a dead space on the course.

During the start line speech, participants were told that if they were to fail Olympus, no burpees were to be rendered. In fact, you were unable to even opt-in to burpees if you wanted to! There was a penalty loop added, where failures meant you were adding a half-mile to your Beast distance. A significant addition for the Ultra Beasters, should they miss the obstacle twice. After being dunked in water 3 times before Olympus, failure was a very real possibility for some.

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

The local Dallas Wal-Mart had no idea what hit them. Based on the number of discarded articles of clothing I saw on the course, I can only guess that racers stopped at their nearest big box retailer and grabbed the cheapest throwaway clothing they could find, to help ward off icy-cold temperatures in, what is supposed to be, a warm Texas! Added clothing may have helped for a short period of time, but once racers were dipped into a wading pond, followed by Rolling Mud & a Dunk Wall that required racers to push aside chunks of ice in order to complete, there were more than a few blue lips in the crowd of green-pinny adorned racers.

Out With The Old

There are only a handful of races left on the Spartan calendar for 2017, and with next weekend packed with a Beast, Super, and Sprint happening simultaneously up and down the east coast, racers are stretching their travel and wallets thin for a chance to podium in what is seemingly the last breath for Spartan’s Competitive Wave. Also unknown is what will truly become of the Spartan Ultra Beast belt buckle, with the announcement of the new Spartan Ultra events. 2018 looks to bring a new look Spartan Race, and hopefully, some warmer weather to Glen Rose in 2018! I know I am looking forward to seeing new obstacles from Spartan Race – more than just an Atlas Ball with a handle on it (womp womp).

Savage Race Dallas

Getting Savage Again

Every Savage is a unique experience.  On a hot day in October at the Beaumont Guest Ranch in Grandview, Savage Race Dallas began in great weather. Everyone was having a great time with a smile on their face.  Savage brings a unique feeling to the OCR community which allows serious athletes to compete and test one another, but to joke and share a hug at the same time.

Savage Race Venue

The Beaumont Ranch is a quintessential Texas venue.  I enjoyed the “Texas” feeling this venue offered more than anything.  Savage did a great job utilizing what little elevation and technical terrain they had access to on the ranch to provide some challenge.  Occasional hills, dried creek beds, and patches of brambly grass provided a technical challenge in a state not known for running elevation.

The scenery in the creek beds and the occasional tight spot through some trees was a sight to behold.  These routes gave me the feeling of fleeing outlaws in the old west. The winding path of the race course was well thought out and utilized every natural obstacle around.  Despite its lack of extreme elevation, the scenic Texas venue made up the difficulty with a good bit of heat.   The lack of any foliage to block the sun can take its toll on runners and hydration was a must.  Savage did a great job providing a total of three water stations spaced out quite well and before key obstacles.

Beaumont Ranch Savage Race Dallas 2017 venue

Beaumont Ranch Facebook

Volunteer Performance

Well-informed volunteers did a great job of being sure the pros were aware of all the rules.  They were also quick to call out any pro who did not follow them.  The volunteers also did a superb job of being sure to repeat safety concerns to competitors at each obstacle such as Davy Jones Locker and Sawtooth.


Designers placed “warm-up” obstacles over the first mile of the course quite well.  A good mix of crawls, under overs, and climbing walls lead you into the second mile which also upped the ante in the terrain.

In the extreme heat Shriveled Richard (Savage’s always super cold ice bath) was almost a welcome sight.  Shriveled Richard immediately led into Squeeze Play which wasn’t under water this time around.  After a bit more running and a water break, we moved through Back Scratcher, Big Cheese, and Big Ass Cargo before hitting the third mile-marker.

Savage did a superb job at keeping rhythm with the obstacles. There were about three obstacles per mile.  All of the difficult obstacles were not placed at the end of the course.  Savages “spectators are allowed anywhere on the course” stance can benefit in the course design in this way.


Savage Dallas Anthem

Summon your Inner Savage

Next came the upper-body grinder with three obstacles in succession: Tree Hugger, Wheel World, and Kiss My Walls.  These well thought out designs can annoy, challenge, and push competitors to the brink.  We train even harder to be ready for the challenge the next time around.

Each bit of terrain traversal leading to well-placed obstacles felt like a pleasant progression in difficulty to the finish line rather than a slog.  Nearing the end of the 6.5 miles, competitors encountered the new obstacle: Hang-a-rang.  This balance obstacle consisting of two logs suspended from chains is a welcome break up to the usual OCR fare.  Competitors were not allowed to touch the chains but only the tiny rope midway through each log.

Savage Hang-a-rang Savage Facebook

Savage Hang-a-rang

The adventure ended with Davy Jone’s Locker, the time consuming Mad Ladders, the infamous Twirly Bird, and Blazed.  Many competitors speed through until the end: shoulders worn out, forearms burning only to see Twirly Bird standing between them and the finish.  Nothing compares to seeing the smile on racers’ faces as they conquer a well-designed, just difficult enough obstacle like Twirly Bird.  They then jump over the flames with gusto to the cheers of a crowd able to comfortably witness it all from the festival area.

Final Thoughts

Other than one skimmed-over piece of stray barbed wire in a creek bed that could have caused an injury, Savage Race Dallas had no other detriments.  Designers utilized the venue to their utmost and created a hella good experience for racers and spectators alike.  Savage Race Dallas succeeded in cementing my love for the race series and showing me that they continue to improve as a company in providing both challenge and experience for the money.  I would also like to note that upgrading to Pro from Open on-site was quick and simple.  I have never had such an easy time with a company in modifying a registration.


I will say the new syndicate medals and state pins are a welcome adage to my collection.  These medals are high quality.  You don’t have to buy something extra to put them on OR pay extra money to get one.  Savage seems to have continued to grow and excel while still maintaining that care for their customers and appreciating what they do. Just like the words from amazingly talented Emcee Matty T, “Savages are a family.”  We are all there for one another, and that sense of family is something that is truly felt from the festival area to the course, to the finish.


Savage Race Syndicate Medal

My second Savage Race Syndicate Medal

Tough Mudder Dallas – Where’s the mud?

It’s 7am on a chilly Saturday morning in Dallas and the sun is just rising behind the distant clouds. While some lay asleep in their beds, several thousand excited people descend on a residential estate in Arlington, Texas, ready to get down and dirty. This can only mean one thing – it’s Tough Mudder time!

After a two-year hiatus from Tough Mudder, it was time for me to return and see how the American Tough Mudders compare to Australia’s.


The energy was electric as 500 people followed Coach’s warm up routine in the warm up zone before climbing the walls to get into the start corral. I was disappointed at the lack of Tough Mudder pledge but Sean (Tough Mudder Emcee) still managed to get us all pumped up and ready for 5 or 12 miles of fun.

As a Tough Mudder I pledge that:

          I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge.

          I put teamwork and comradery before my course time.

          I do not whine. Kids whine.

          I help my fellow Mudders complete the course.

          I overcome all fears.

On Sean’s “Go” everyone ran along the banks of Lake Viridian towards the first of 20 obstacles (10 obstacles for the Tough Mudder Half folks). The first few obstacles were old Tough Mudder staples – an inverted wall, cargo crawl, kiss of mud (barbed wire mud crawl), berlin walls and hero carry.


The first wave of the day is often the least muddy as thousands of people haven’t yet had a chance to turn the dirt into epic amounts of sludge. After Kiss of Mud, we were all still clean, but that all changed as people approached the mud mile. Teamwork was key as we pulled and pushed our fellow Mudders up and over the mounds before rinsing off in the lake.

Pyramid Scheme turned Mudders into human chains as people leaned against the slip wall and others climbed over their backs to get to the top. Some people got up successfully the first time while others slid back down into the water. Shawshank saw people crawl through mud and under barbed wire before pulling themselves up a tube and finally dropping down into water below.


The Blockness Monster (a new obstacle for 2016) required plenty of teamwork as two people held on to the block while their fellow Mudders pushed and pulled them over. The volunteers were offering advice on how to complete the obstacle along with yelling support at all the muddy people.


Those who went through the middle of Birth Canal found it challenging to crawl through dry dirt with the weight of hundreds of litres of water pushing on their back, but eventually everyone made it through. After conquering Tough Mudder’s oldest obstacle, Everest, the full Mudders said farewell to the Half Mudders as we continued on for another seven miles of fun.


King of Swingers was the first obstacle that only the full Mudders got to conquer. I watched as people stood atop a 15’ platform and jumped onto a swinging bar and attempted to hit a bell before dropping into the water below. I may have been a bit chicken initially, but after doing it once I wanted to go again and again.


The first half of the course had taken us around Lake Viridian and involved running along footpaths, wide trails and grass before getting back to the festival area. The second half of the course led us past new houses which were being built, then along the back of the housing development area before going into the bush and along some fun trails.

We were all thankful for the sunlight after sliding into the coldest Arctic Enema I’ve ever encountered. Luckily there were no kids around as there were some profanities coming from people’s mouths at that obstacle!

Legionnaires (those who have run a Tough Mudder before) were in for a treat when arriving at the Backstabber and Rain Man. Both obstacles had two similar lanes, one with an easier version of the obstacle for first time Mudders, and one for Legionnaires. The Backstabber was a peg board and required some assistance from the ground, whilst Rain Man sprayed water in your face as you dragged yourself backwards through muddy water.


I was glad to see the monkey bars changed up at Funky Monkey 2.0. First Mudders had to go up ascending monkey bars, reach for a bar and swing to a long pole which would take them safely to the other side of the water.

After receiving a new Legionnaire’s headband, we were directed to High Flyers Club whilst first-time Mudders were directed to Electroshock therapy. High Flyers club involves jumping off a high platform, hitting a bar that matches the colour of your headband, and landing on an inflatable pillow. I could hear the zaps from Electroshock therapy as I jumped off Frequent Flyers Club and was thankful that I no longer have to get zapped!


The location was definitely an odd choice for Tough Mudder as it was at a residential development. This meant that a lot of muddy obstacles were followed closely by a water-based obstacle to get people clean again. They hit the nail on the head with the toughness, but there was a distinct lack of the ‘mudder’. I was happy to see so many water stations and bananas available out on course. Overall it was a great event and the sunny weather meant everyone stayed back and enjoyed a cold Shocktop beer after the event.

Photo credit: Vanessa Letts

Savage Race Dallas

Since my first OCR four years ago, I have completed over 75 obstacle races, faced about 1500 obstacles, and covered around 560 miles (900km) of terrain. I’ve done everything from the Spartan Ultra Beast, to small 5km mud runs in my hometown of Perth, Western Australia, and everything else in between. But there was one race that was still top of my list of races to try – Savage Race.

I’d heard only positive stories about Savage and the promise of the best obstacles and the perfect distance certainly had me interested. A quick look at the Savage website cemented my decision to try the race as I laughed at the list of what was included:

  • A BEER

Any race that promises mud in your undies is a race that I can support! So I checked my calendar, penciled in the Dallas race, booked a plane ticket from LA and before long, I was on my way.

The festival area was ready for the 2000 participants, and the music was pumping as OCR fanatics got ready to race, and their friends looked around nervously as they wondered what they were getting themselves into.  There were no fancy speeches at the start line, just Emcee Matty T encouraging everyone to jump, yell and crowd surf. He yelled ‘SAVAGE’, we yelled ‘RACE’ and as the blue smoke was let off, we started to run.


The first section included tried and tested OCR obstacles – barbed wire crawl, ladder wall, 7’ wall, slant wall and a muddy swamp walk. The first proper water-based obstacle was Thor’s Grundle which resulted in some hilarious faces as people realised what they smelt like after immersing themselves in the brown water.

After meandering through the sunflower fields, we were met with Slippery Incline (incline wall) which is another OCR staple, except this one was damp from the previous night’s rainfall, which actually made it a challenge.

Next up was one of Savage Race’s featured obstacles – Sawtooth. Take your normal monkey bars, put them on an upwards and downwards incline, then chuck in a few different height bars in the middle and you’ve got Sawtooth. It proved to be challenging with many falling at the peak of the obstacle, but it seemed to be one of people’s favourites.


Pole Cat is a new obstacle for 2016 and involves walking your hands and feet across parallel bars whilst holding a downward dog yoga position. Normally in OCR being tall can be disadvantageous, but in this instance, height was a major advantage.

There were more walls (5’ and 8’) and a traverse wall with rock climbing grips, before grip was put to the test at Wheel World. It’s good to see OCRs like Savage Race are taking a leaf out of American Ninja Warrior’s book and creating some awesome new obstacles. Here they’ve taken monkey bars, but put them into 5 spinning pentagons, and called it Wheel World. It’s designed to test grip strength and body control as you try and make your way across the bars without spinning uncontrollably in the wrong direction. The failure rate was high but everyone had a smile on their faces whilst attempting it.

There were more OCR staples including a log carry, muddy crawl, and the coldest ice bath ever – Shrivelled Richard. To anyone who has been in an ice bath and thought it was cold, I dare you to try Shrivelled Richard! I don’t know what would have been warmer – jumping into that ice bath or going swimming in Antarctica. There was also a short but sweet mudslide that helped us get mud in our undies!


Davey Jones’ Locker made even the bravest go weak at the knees as they were faced with a 15’ drop into the water below. Some people did flips, whilst others simply shook their heads and walked past it. It may not be a physically challenging obstacle, but for some it was a mentally challenging one.


Everyone turned into inch worms at the Teeter Tuber, which required you to enter a diagonal tube and climb upwards until you hit the tipping point and then slide out the other side. It was much more fun than just crawling through a horizontal tube, but anyone with claustrophobia may disagree.

After another wall called the Big Cheese (it’s a wall that looks like a huge block of holey cheese) came Savage Race’s most famous obstacle – Colossus. This thing was like a quarter pipe on steroids! The people at the top were cheering and waiting to hoist others up and over the edge. All you needed to do was to get a good run up and then trust a stranger to help pull you over the ledge. The reward? A huge waterslide! It’s obstacles like this where you see the true spirit of OCR come to life.

Two new obstacles were then put to the test towards the end. On The Fence saw people attempt to scale a fence sideways and really tested grip strength, whilst Tree Hugger allowed people to accidentally practice their pole dancing skills. I saw some people spinning uncontrollably around the poles while others tried to move forward without realising that there was a pole in their way. The key is to get your body on one side of all the poles in order to avoid crashing straight into a pole! Both were awesome and innovative obstacles and ones that I’d be keen to do again.


Last but not least was the Savage Race Multi-Rig. Those who still had grip strength left got through, whilst everyone else tried their best.

The festival area was still pumping as they handed out awards to the top three male and female finishers in each age category and to the biggest three teams.

I have to take my hat off to Savage Race. Their signature obstacles are innovative and challenging, and they squeezed in 25 obstacles over a 6-mile course. They certainly lived up to their tagline of ‘The Best Obstacles. The Perfect Distance’! I will definitely return to do a Savage Race in the future, and would encourage anyone looking for a great challenge to sign up and experience it for themselves!


Savage Race Dallas 2016: Is it too soon for this Battler?

After BattleFrog cancelled their weekend races (and after going through some serious grieving), I went in pursuit of a new favorite OCR series.  With Savage Race high on my bucket list, I snagged cheap airline tickets and registered for last Saturday’s Dallas event (Sept 10, 2016).  I have to admit, a lot of cheesy relationship rebound analogies were going through my head.  Would Savage Race be the one?  Was it too soon to move on?  Would I be thinking about BattleFrog while I was with Savage?!?  The intent of this article is to provide a recap of this race as well as to share my opinion – if Savage Race will become the new favorite series for the rebounding Battlers.

In the early morning hours, wind and rain whipped through the event area.  This rainstorm and the “cool” 60°F morning were quite the contrast to the 90°F sunny weather that had been the Dallas area norm.  Fortunately, the OCR gods were smiling on us, and the rain passed shortly before the 9am SavagePro (i.e. elite) wave start time.  Although the terrain was muddy, most of the obstacles were not overly slippery.


The course was just shy of 6 miles and consisted of 26 obstacles. The terrain was mainly flat with small rolling hills.  Obstacles were sparse for the first 2 miles and were a variety of walls and mud pits.  With this being my first Savage Race, I appreciated “easing” into the agility-based obstacles that I knew were ahead.  At mile 3, the tides turned and many of Savage’s challenging obstacles made an appearance.  These obstacles were Sawtooth, Pole Cat, Kiss My Walls, Great Wall, and Wheel World (pictured in order below).  Although these obstacles slowed some of the elite runners down, none of these obstacles were a severe threat to claiming bands.  A bottleneck did form at Kiss My Walls as the footholds became muddy and slippery due to the earlier rain.  Additionally, Great Wall (an 8′ wall) was a challenge to several elite women since the use of kick-plates was not an option.





Mile 4’s obstacles gave a reprieve to the grip strength.  Davy Jones Locker and Shriveled Richard (an ice bath) gave this portion of the course a “Tough Mudder” feel.


Teeter Tube marked the beginning of mile 5.  This obstacle was a significant challenge to many racers because the moisture from the earlier rain made the tube extremely slippery.  Even the most versed elite athletes had to inch their way up the tub at a painfully slow pace.


The final mile had an influx of agility/grip obstacles and included Colossus, On the Fence, Tree Hugger, and the Savage Rig.  The Savage Rig consisted of rings, ropes, t-bars, nunchucks, and stirrup-type holds.  Although the rig didn’t appear to be a significant challenge to the elite racers, many of the open racers did seem to struggle.





Will Savage Race become the new favorite for the BattleFrog following?

As preface to my opinion on this question, here are the aspects of Savage Race that I loved.

  1. Fun and camaraderie was the resounding theme. The design of the obstacles, the starting line vibe, the general feeling throughout this race, and the awards ceremony were all about bringing the racers together and making sure they had fun.
  2. The course design was superb!  The distance of the course, the spacing of the obstacles, and creativity of the course layout were extremely well done.
  3. A+ on obstacle creativity!  Savage has done an excellent job in striking a balance of fun and challenging.  Additionally, by introducing new obstacles every year, they keep their races fresh and are progressing the sport of OCR.

Savage Race is a worthy contender as a new favorite for the BattleFrog following.  I think, however, that Savage will need to make a few changes to completely steal our hearts.

  1. Make several of their grip and agility obstacles more challenging:  For example, lengthening Wheel World, On the Fence, Tree Hugger, and the Savage Rig would make these obstacles more taxing without sacrificing the fun factor.  Elite-specific lanes could be added to these obstacles to keep them doable for the open wave.
  2. Add a second lap:  Anyone who has run elite in a BattleFrog event knows that the 2nd lap can be a total game changer as endurance and fatigue enter the mix.  Being tested on both endurance and speed is something that many elite racers seek.  Another option is for Savage to offer two event distances – a single lap or double lap (similar to Terrain Racing).
  3. Payouts to the master’s podium holders:  The master’s category (40+) comprises a significant number of athletes.  During this event in particular, 18% of the elite males that finished with their bands where in the master’s category.  Savage will need to include a payout as part of the podium awards to gain a loyal masters following.