Conquer the Gauntlet: Dallas/Forth Worth

Conquer the Gauntlet: Dallas/Fort Worth

On the hottest day of the summer thus far at the time of this writing, Conquer the Gauntlet kicked off their series with a big bang.  While the Texas heat beamed down, competitors filed in to take on one of the most brutal Obstacle Courses known in America.  Don’t allow the down-home, local feel of the race series to fool you.  Conquer the Gauntlet is as serious (if not more so) than any other OCR series out there.  I’ve run several areas of Texas.  I’ve faced tons of treacherous terrain.  However, I’ve never experienced the type of challenge that Conquer the Gauntlet presented me with.  This review will focus primarily on those obstacles as I feel they deserve the most limelight.  I left physically broken so to speak, but spiritually energized.  I loved every minute of it.

Masters victors

 

The Venue

As far as terrain goes, the Village Creek Motocross Park track didn’t offer any daunting ascents or downhills.  However, Conquer the Gauntlet utilized it to its utmost potential.  Within the first mile or two competitors made many up and down runs on the tracks biggest jumps.  The sandbag carry finished with one of the steeper ascents making it extra draining with the Texas heat already sapping racers’ strength away.  Racers later cooled down in a few water crossings including a beautiful creek offering some great scenery.

The last stretch of obstacles brought competitors back around to the festival area allowing spectators a superb view of Pegatron, Tarzan, Stairway to Heaven and other favorites.  CTG knows what obstacles are fun to watch and they made sure they were front and center.

The Obstacles

CTG’s major strength in its own right as well as against all other series is its obstacles.  Three words that should consistently be used when describing this course are challenge, innovation, and fun.  Strategic placement of these challenging beasts made sure that they took everything they could out of competitors.  This made those well-earned podium spots that much more special.  All of the favorites went off without a hitch and were well manned by volunteers.

As someone who has run many obstacle course races, walls are rarely more than an annoyance in most courses.  This was not so at Conquer the Gauntlet Fort Worth.  Not one.. not two… not three… but FIVE 8 foot walls in a ROW drained more out of me than I expected.  I do not mean in the same vicinity.  I mean immediately after one another.  Stamina killers may have been lacking in hills, but Conquer the Gauntlet knows how to utilize their tools to break you even more efficiently than most terrain can.

Challenge

Cliffhanger brought the next somewhat daunting challenge as they were probably the most challenging set of monkey bars I’ve faced.  Though the bars aren’t fat or necessarily slick,  some aren’t welded in and they WILL spin on you.  On top of that, they ascend and descend adding a bit of extra kick of difficulty.  Technique and grip are key in monkeying your way across these bad boys and they should not be taken lightly.

The Z beam brought forth an unusual challenge as well.  Four very long, very narrow boards are lined up edgewise in a Z pattern. Competitors had to make their way across without falling off.  A simple concept proved to be very difficult and requires a lot of focus especially when placed after a long running portion.  This required racers to lower their heart rate and focus on foot placement and center of gravity at a time when their mind is just screaming “GO!”

Later on came the daunting challenge that has taken the belt and pride of many, and it claimed mine as well.  Pegatron was a large approximately 20-foot long horizontal pegboard that loomed over competitors much like the large evil robots from its namesake.  With a few footholds in the first and last five feet, the most difficult portion was the ten-foot portion in the middle with no footholds.

Never having practiced on a pegboard, I tried my best to develop a nice technique again… again.. and again.. to no avail.  Pegatron offered many different choices of peg sizes.  Offset holes added difficulty.  Some holes were fake.  This allows pegs to go all the way through forcing competitors to use strategy.  If that wasn’t enough, the occasional fake hole could turn a great attempt into failure.

The Mystery

I stayed at Pegatron for an hour.  I made it halfway across and even further, but never fully reached the other footholds. A handful of racers made it through, but even more threw down their belts to continue on.   I tried until my hands, torn and bleeding, gave out. I walked away knowing I had given it my all.

What immediately followed was a super fun new “mystery obstacle.”  Much like other CTG staples, this new obstacle brought in some of the best elements of Ninja Warrior like obstacles to the OCR series.  The obstacle began with a quick set of widely spaced quintuple steps.  A series of walls with bars lining the top followed.  Competitors had to jump from wall to wall grasping to the bar to keep them up.  However, the next to the last wall brought a surprise.

Instead of a bar, this wall had a nun-chuck, a ball grip, and a rope hanging from the top.  This made shimmying and leaping to the last bar wall extra difficult.  Not only was this a great challenge, it was a lot of fun and I hope to see it in future races.

More Grip and Upper Body Destruction

As if Pegatron and the “mystery” obstacle didn’t kill our grip enough, later competitors faced Tarzan.  It was not a particularly long rig, but that did not matter.  With bloody and battered hands I attempted it, but of course to no avail.  The rig began with a nunchuck.  There is no grip on this nunchuck.  These nunchucks were metal and SLICK.  Competitors must get a big swing going.  That sweet little ring on the next hold appears to be 15 feet away.  IF you even make it to that ring you are forced to grab hold of some little bungee cords. Hold on for dear life and attempting to keep your swing going until you can reach the final hold.  Needless to say, even for those who made it through Pegatron, their elite journey ended here.

IF THAT WASN’T ENOUGH for your grip and upper body to be screaming, next came stairway to heaven.  Don’t let the heavenly counterpart of a name to Ninja Warrior’s devil steps fool you.  These wooden bad boys are steeper and higher than almost any set of devil steps I’ve encountered.  Bloody and battered I clawed my way to the top and even made the transition only to have my screaming, throbbing hands give out on me as I plummeted into the water below.  A nice little tube slide ended my journey to one of the most difficultly obtained medals and shirts I’ve ever earned.

A Fun Learning Experience with Truly Elite Athletes

Many have often described OCR as a mixture of Ninja Warrior and trail running.  In fact, I often use it to describe OCR to those who have never heard of it as it makes the concept easier to grasp.  Conquer the Gauntlet is the truest example of that definition.  To every Ninja who reads this: sign up.  To every OCR racer ready to test themselves in a new way and ready to push limits they may not have known they had: sign up.  Even to those who love to run with friends and just take it easy: sign up!  This challenge will bring you either closer to those you run with, closer to yourself, or closer to the OCR community as a whole.

As someone who became addicted to OCR because I kept learning that I could achieve feats I never thought possible, Conquer the Gauntlet awakened that feeling in me once again.  I was beaten, badly by a greater obstacle challenge than I’ve ever experienced, but I walked out with my head held high.  I hadn’t only had a lot of fun, I was inspired. In my heart… that’s what the number one goal of all OCR companies and racers is… to inspire.  Thank you Conquer the Gauntlet for a wonderful experience.  I will be back.

I give it 5 torn callouses out of 5.

https://conquerthegauntlet.com/

Goliathon Obstacle Challenge – Evolve With A Cause

Everybody who’s ever ran an obstacle race has gone through a progression. The final phase in each persons cycle will lead them to their end game in OCR. Be it..

  • competitive racing with a goal of a podium
  • reaching out to every brand with a ™ symbol seeking an ambassador deal so you can promote yourself as “sponsored” on your athlete page that’s followed by the same people on your personal page friend list(they accepted the invite because they didn’t want to be rude than immediately “unfollowed” the page hoping you wouldn’t notice.
  • having a bad experience with one brand canceling a race and not offering a refund before you had a chance to experience some of the truly great brands out there(chances are if you’re reading this article, and know what ORM is, you haven’t ended on this path)
  • making an event a family fun time involving your kids whether as spectators or participants in one of the many kids race options

Or…..you’ve been lead to the final path that I have, by testing the waters of many brands, to find the brands that produce a race you truly find to be a blast.
I enjoy doing a Muckfest because the obstacles are just plain old fun.
I enjoy doing a Tough Mudder because the obstacles are fun and physically/mentally challenging
I enjoy Savage Race because the obstacles are fun, physically/mentally challenging and the “Pro Wave” mandatory completion option motivates you to try a little harder, push a little harder.. And in many cases with their obstacles.. Stay dry.

 

Guess what… There’s a race brand that caters to every phase of your OCR life cycle, in one event, not forcing you to engage in the aspects that turn you off on a brand. It’s the equal opportunity OCR life span event that gains popularity by word of mouth and social media with every event they put on…… If you haven’t heard the name(did you just get internet access?) I’ll introduce you to Goliathon Obstacle Challenge.

Recently they sold out an event at 1k racers. They could’ve had many more registered athletes but in the best interest of the overall athlete experience they opted to cap the event to minimize obstacle backups(which is an OCR athletes biggest pet peeve). Some were upset they didn’t get to experience this new form of OCR. So the amazing team at Goliathon revamped some obstacles(as they do every event) but this time added additional lanes to backup prone obstacles. By doing this it allowed everyone’s run to flow smoother from obstacle to obstacle while permitting more registrations….
It worked.

Their most recent event had 1,200 registrations. I was admittedly doubtful of solid numbers being that the always popular Tuxedo Spartan Race was on the same day. Next time I won’t question the ever growing following this brand is gaining with every event they produce.

Sounds like they’re doing pretty well… They are
Sounds like they’re very profitable(I  mean they’re selling out events and not sponsoring college football games)…
They’re not.
Normally that would be cause for concern… Not in this case .. Let me explain.

One of the most amazing things that draws me to this brand is the people behind it. Goliathon Obstacle Challenge is a 100% non-profit event.

OUR CAUSE
Our goal at Goliathon is to bring aid to those in need around the world. All of our proceeds to date have been sent to another non-profit organization called charity: water to bring clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries. We have completed one water project in Bangladesh and have six other projects currently underway in Ethiopia, Nepal and Cambodia.

Taken directly from Goliathons website.

Ok, not everybody is moved by such a compassionate gesture in today’s society. I’m sure the growing number of registrations for each event isn’t because people want to do good in this world(im sure many are). So in order to continue on their mission of providing clean drinking water, the team at Goliathon must produce an event that will continue to grow, which brings me back to my original point.

Goliathon produces an event that caters directly to the elite athlete, that trains and honed their obstacle proficiency skills.

Goliathon produces an event that caters to the fun loving athlete that enjoys testing himself on obstacles their confident in completing

Goliathon produces an event for a family(ages 10+) to do together, laugh, have fun and bond.
Goliathon is not for the speed racer as an untimed event(use a local 5k for that) which is great as the sport seems to be veering towards the obstacle side of OCR with more brands adopting mandatory completion.

Goliathon has 3 tiered difficulties for each obstacle. If you pass, you collect a color coordinating wrist band with a point value. If you fail, you continue on to the next obstacle. These are not your standard obstacles. Yes, many brands have a rope traverse, but how many throw in random wooden poles and sliding pvc piping to navigate?

Everyone loves hanging rings… Rugged maniac has those, but Goliathons version leads you to a rope swing over water with a small landing platform required for completion.


Balance beam? Been there, done that.
Balance beam with random objects to navigate over, under without touching to be disqualified.. Followed by an angled leap to an incline board all over water?  Yes please.

Rope climb? Everyone has one.
Rope climb with a 40lbs chain around your neck that must be used to touch the bell for completion at the top?
Only Goliathon has that.

Don’t be scared… These are G2 and G3 variations.. There’s the fun for all warrior dash level variations of all obstacles for G1 difficulty.
As more athletes catch wind of this amazing, one of a kind event, the team registrations grow, the training specific for this event increases, and the team at Goliathon is continually evolving with the athletes, adding new tweaks and preparing new surprises for every event.

This event draws out the top Ninjas, Parkour athletes, and families looking to have fun. If you like obstacles, hate running, want to have fun, and support a good cause.. You need to try a Goliathon today.

Photo Credit: Goliathon