Epic Series LA

Epic Series OCR made their way back to Los Angeles, California on May 6 for their second event at the Los Angeles Police Academy. For those of you not familiar with Epic Series let me give you a little background.

Epic is a Southern California based race series that’s focused primarily on functional movements with a few OCR type obstacles thrown in. They currently don’t venture outside of the SoCal area very often due to the high cost of transporting all their heavy equipment, so you may not have yet heard about them but listen up!

The formula for Epic’s success is pretty simple, but highly addictive. They pack as many obstacles as they can inside a course about the size of a standard 400-meter track. No miles upon miles of endless running here as most of their events have a total distance of between a mile to a mile and a half. The use of the track format breaks up the lines of functional exercises located inside of the track area and allows Epic to put on their events at venues with limited space quite well.

The Epic race format breaks down like this. Run a lap, usually with something awkward and heavy, then perform a series of functional movements with a few OCR type obstacles thrown in before running another lap. There are three different levels of difficulty at most of these stations throughout the race. Competitive men, competitive women, and open with weights and reps adjusted accordingly. I’ll break down the race in a lap by lap format, so it’ll be easy to follow.

Lap 1. All athletes start out the race by running their first lap carrying an Epic Series flag. Epic appropriately calls this the “flag lap” and once the lap is completed flags are dropped off at the starting line and its then time to get physical with the first series of functional movements starting off with the overhead squat for reps.

Athletes are required to pick up a weighted bar for touch and go squats while standing over a bucket. Volunteers are located at every station giving instructions, directions and occasionally calling out athletes for improper form or to repeat a rep. After completing the overhead squats Epic lined up their ladder wall and tri-wall, which each need to be traversed before continuing.

Lap 2. Athletes now were required picked up a medicine ball to carry around the track for their second lap leading up to the Atlas Stones. Atlas Stones of varying weights needed to be picked up and dropped over the shoulder onto a mat. Miss the mat and the rep doesn’t count so be precise! This took a lot of energy leaving athletes very winded, which made the next balance obstacle even harder.

The Epic balance beam was next in line and is truly unique as it’s built with pegs attached to a series of 4×4 boards suspended above the ground. This thing wobbles all over and usually causes me to fall at least once per event.

Lap 3. This is where the going starts to get tough as athletes are required to run this lap with a tough to balance slosh pipe. Immediately upon completion of this lap, it’s time for another Epic Series favorite, the squat wall. Pick a spot on the wall and assume the wall sit position while holding an hourglass with your arms straight out in front of you while you beg for the sand to fall faster! This obstacle is made even more fun as a volunteer constantly yells at you to keep your arms straight or they’ll make you start over.

Now normally this is where Epic sets up their lumberjack station which requires athletes to pick up a metal post on a hinge and flip it to the other side, but because this obstacle rips up the grass in a major way Epic had to substitute an inflatable bouncy house type thing as a replacement. Not nearly as much fun, but still a cardio crusher nonetheless.

The rope climb with a bell tap at the top was the next up in this long line of obstacles followed by the plank station. Another hourglass was used here as you sat in the plank position and watched those small grains of sand moving ever so slowly down. Continuing the fun on this lap was a keg hoist for reps followed by another crossing over a ladder wall.

Burpee box jumps for reps followed with an inverted wall immediately after leading to the last obstacle on this lap, the archer. Bow and arrows tipped with a rubber stopper were shot at a tiny target set up on a net and if you have never done this before it could take you forever. Luckily for me, I am a former bow hunter, so I nailed that sucker on the first try!

Lap 4. The carries started getting harder here as athletes now grabbed two jerry cans for the farmers carry lap testing out that grip strength to the max. After setting the jugs down it was time to get low for a cargo net crawl followed up by another tri-wall traverse. The band challenge was the last obstacle on this lap and it required athletes to put a thick rubber band around their ankles and hop for a set distance.

Lap 5. For the next lap Epic kept it simple, just sprint as fast as you can. Finishing up led you to another inverted wall to traverse before climbing up and over Barnaby’s Beast. This was a vertical rock wall where the hand holds became more spaced out the more with the higher difficulty level that you signed up for.

All of this led up to one final lap which proved to be a make or break lap for most people. The final lap required carrying a keg around the course! Now, these were filled to different levels depending on if you ran competitive or open, but I swear mine was filled with lead!

Now, if you ran Open your day was done. Collect your medal and bad ass Clinch Gear shirt and enjoy a Body Armour drink. But if you ran in the Competitive class you could sign up for the Epic Elite short course.

For a few dollars, more men and women could choose from either the Strength or Endurance challenge course for a chance to win even more bling! This course was a great mixture of obstacles, Crossfit, and strength and drew some great crowds to watch the athletes grunt and throw heavy shit around. The list of exercises was the same for both classes with only the weight and reps changing, plus the Endurance class had an added 5 burpees between each station.

  1. Truck pull for distance
  2. Deadlift for reps
  3. Clean and Press for reps.
  4. Atlas Stone up and over a wall for reps
  5. Atlas Stone shrugs for reps
  6. Farmer Carry
  7. Kettlebell step ups
  8. Weighted Lunge
  9. Tire flip for reps
  10. Sprint to the finish.

 

 

Now there were a few obstacles that happened to be missing from this event that are normally present at every Epic Series due to lack of space on the Police Academy grounds.

The Russian twists and the over under a suspended piece of tubing for a million reps each were gone but not missed by me personally! I found Epic to be an excellent test of one’s overall fitness and that the event offered something for everyone from a fitness newbie to a king of CrossFit.

A kid’s race was also located on-site making this a family-friendly event. Parking and photos were free as was the awesome Southern California scenery. I personally love this series and try to make it out West whenever I can, so maybe it’s time for you to do the same? It’ll be worth the trip I guarantee it and with future events in August in Huntington Beach and a September event in San Diego you still have time to test out how fit you are!

 

Savage Georgia Spring 2018 Review

Moonlight stables in Dallas, Georgia set a majestic scene for truly one of the most Savage courses I have ever done. While racers froze in ice baths and freezing cold water and challenging their frozen limbs on insanely difficult obstacles, the rest of the crowd enjoyed the vendors and festivities.

The parking was orchestrated incredibly well and they even offered a VIP parking area to be closer to the event. Score! I had no idea how huge this race was going to be.  There were over eight thousand people at the Savage Race that windy day, but the event was so well done that you couldn’t even tell until you got out on the course. If you happened to get a later morning start time like I did, you were met with some pretty long lines on obstacles like Teeter Tube, Sawtooth, and several walls. If you plan to run for time, make sure you register early for your next Savage Race to get the earliest wave time possible.

Obstacles 

Savage Race Wheel World

Savage Race Wheel World

Oh man. There’s something for everyone here. Savage throws you right in the mud out of the gate with Thor’s Grundle. Your fitness was the first thing to be tested during the first three miles as Savage sends you along with your muddy, weighed down shoes through hilly trails with steep inclines with only a few obstacles. If you can keep up on the trails, you’re met with some pretty difficult obstacles after the third mile. Still catching your breath from the hilly run, you’re tested with two new obstacles back to back, the Battering Ram and Pedal For The Medal.

Savage Race Battering Ram

Savage Race Battering Ram

First, you expend upper body energy making your way across the ram, then you pedal as fast as you can to reel in a tire attached a spindle. My legs were jello as soon as I stood up. Then there was the Savage Race staple, Sawtooth, whose transition from the 15th rung proved to be problematic for even some of the most athletic racers.  And man was that water cold!

As if that wasn’t difficult enough the rig was right behind Sawtooth, really testing your upper body. Aside from testing your grip strength, the Savage is a great way to get over your fear of heights, with obstacles like Davey Jones’ locker room, a 15ft jump into the bone-chilling water. Speaking of cold, Shriveled Richard tests your mental kahunas as well, containing 60,000 lbs. of ice.

Savage Race Shriveled Richard Ice

Savage Race Shriveled Richard Ice

It was hard to think when I got out of that one. Luckily a volunteer told me which direction to go and I snapped out of it. It just so happened to be a nice windy spring day with a little chill in the air so I felt a tad bit frozen the rest of the race.

Savage Race Shriveled Richard

Savage Race Shriveled Richard

The latter half of the race had more demanding grip obstacles such as Twirly Bird, Wheel World, and Holy Sheet. The toughest part of the Wheel World was the horizontal rope at the end. Without the ability to use your feet to get there, it proved especially difficult. Holy Sheet is new to Savage and a lot of racers had a problem staying on the sheet, let alone moving from the sheet to each new grip.

 

Final Thoughts 

Savage Race Colossus

Savage Race Colossus

It’s obvious why this race is so popular. It is well-organized and caters to everyone from your group fun runners to elites. Hands down, Savage proved to be one of the most fun, yet toughest grip races out there with its mix of brutal obstacles to test your grit with an epic finale, Colossus. As the name suggested, Colossus is a giant ramp with the giant slip and slide on the other side that dumps you right into a final pool of water before stepping out into the finish. Once the race concluded, participants enjoyed their beer and OCR comradery. I truly enjoyed this race and look forward to getting that syndicate medal.

Photos: Savage Race

Bonefrog Talladega 2018 Review

Bonefrog Talladega Superspeedway

Bonefrog Talladega Superspeedway

The setting for the Bonefrog, which is touted as a unique obstacle course created by Navy Seals, was none other than the famous Talladega Superspeedway. While I’m admittedly not a racing fan, I can attest to the uniqueness and ambiance of the surroundings. It was definitely one of the most unique locations I have ever raced in and provided Bonefrog an opportunity to utilize the stadium for obstacles, as well as the infield. As soon as I entered the gates and went through the tunnels, I got a little too excited feeling like Ricky Bobby while childishly uttering, “Shake and Bake.”

The parking could not have been better. Most races require you to park a distance from the actual race, so you’re stuck carting gear back and forth. This proved to be even more favorable after completing the race when you’re exhausted and wiped, and a quick walk back to the car afterward can make all the difference. The icing on the cake was the flow of the traffic, or in his case, the lack of the traffic due to the top-notch parking and guidance from traffic directors. Hands down best parking I’ve seen at a race event. The registration moved quickly as well, even as they were training volunteers on scene. I was quickly checked in, given my race packet, and sent on my way with a smile.

Obstacles

Bonefrog Get a Grip

Bonefrog Get a Grip

The obstacles at Bonefrog were definitely challenging, namely Get a Grip, the Chopper, the Brute Force Carry up the Talladega stadium stairs, and the Stronghold. I was prepared for a lot of water and mud on this course but it was dry as a bone, which made obstacles like the Siege Wall, all the phase walls, and rope climb much easier. All of the obstacles were sturdy and well built with water stations interspersed throughout the course.

Once I got back on track, I realized the twisted (ahem, genius) minds of the Bonefrog creators saved the most difficult obstacles for last. The last leg of the Challenge was the ultimate grip test as the Strong Hold and Chopper were among the most difficult of the obstacles and were positioned in the last mile or so with only little reprieve and quickly followed up with Dirty Name and the Cargo Net. Pure evil genius. The course ended with Black Ops, an elevated monkey bar with a rope climb to the platform, followed up by a descent to run to the finish line.

Bonefrog Chopper

Bonefrog Chopper

Bonefrog Black Ops

Bonefrog Black Ops

Staff

The staff at Bonefrog was the best. We were greeted with smiles, and the founder and race director were all over the course, talking to participants and spectators, handing out medals and shirts at the finish, really showing a concerted interest in participants’ race experience.

I even had a chance to chat with Brian Carney and Josh Rich after the event about my disappointment in getting misdirected. Shockingly, Brian and Josh listened to my newbie grumbles. There are many races where you can’t actually walk right up to the race director with feedback or if you do, it falls on deaf ears. To add to that, I think those who have had similar experiences, only share with friends and on social media instead of having a chat with the race directors themselves in an effort to help make the races better. The Bonefrog team seemed to genuinely care about my feedback.

Overall Impression

The obstacles presented a challenging course where you definitely had to bring your A-game. While I would love to see additional signage to clearly indicate the course route, the whole event is organized by a very small, grassroots team, so the fact that this was the only small glitch, shows how well the event was organized in retrospect. Kudos to Bonefrog for a top-notch event. I will definitely be back to this event!

 

Photo Credits: Jen Wade, Bonefrog

Rehband Partners With Spartan To Bring Injury Prevention To OCR

Press Release

Official Injury Prevention Partner of Spartan Race US

Rehband Establishes Two-Year Partnership with Spartan

Providing the World’s Largest Obstacle Racing and Endurance Brand with Market Leading Products for Injury Prevention and Increased Performance

NEW YORK, NY (March 19th, 2018) – Rehband, the trusted leader in sport braces and supports, has entered a multi-year partnership with Spartan, the world’s largest obstacle race (OCR) and endurance brand, becoming the “Official Injury Prevention Partner of Spartan U.S.” To celebrate the Spartan community and the Spartan athletes’ quest to master the obstacles and cross the finish line, Rehband will launch a licensed Spartan Edition knee sleeve, elbow sleeve, and kinesiology tape.


With a strong foothold in CrossFit®, Rehband now expands its support to the sport and community of Obstacle Course Racing. The demand for premium protection gear at OCR is large. Rehband’s products, developed in the highest durability and function, help to prevent injuries, increase performance and speed up recovery and rehabilitation. Encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle is core to Rehband’s mission and the partnership with Spartan further solidifies Rehband’s strong connection to athletic performance.

“When we came across Obstacle Course Racing we were inspired by the athletes’ aim to excel in every type of mental and physical challenge, always pushing their limits,” says Jerry Manderhjelm, CEO at Rehband. “Partnering with Spartan is a great way for Rehband to enter the world of OCR. Spartan athletes are driven, competitive and they strive to enable their full potential, both on and off the course.


“The athletes face tough challenges and we’re proud to support their quest to cross the finish line. The Official Knee and Elbow Sleeves designed for Spartan Race US are patented and classified as medical devices. They are designed to provide support and protection for the broad and varied exercises OCR athletes face,” Jerry Manderhjelm continued.


“Spartan athletes push their bodies to the limit seeking to achieve higher performance and we’re proud to partner with market leader Rehband, whose products will protect racers’ bodies while giving them the confidence to reach the next level,” said Spartan Vice President of Global Partnerships Ian
Lawson. “We look forward to the partnership and are excited to see more global brands entering the sport and industry, creating products and media specifically for our athlete and fan community.”

Rehband is proud to present the RX Knee Sleeve Spartan™ Edition, RX Elbow Sleeve Spartan™ Edition and the RX Kinesiology Tape Spartan ™ Edition. The RX Knee and Elbow Sleeve Spartan™ Edition will be available in 5mm thicknesses ranging in size from XS-XL and designed with functionality, quality, and style in mind. They are produced based on Rehband’s renowned patented anatomic fit and combine the key benefits of stability, compression, and warmth. With a range of activities and activations at 10 US and 5 European Spartan races, Rehband will offer their products and knowledge to Spartan athletes of all skill levels from beginners up to the elite.


The products are scheduled to launch in selected stores, Spartan.com, Rehband.com and at select Spartan events worldwide on May 14th, 2018.

ABOUT REHBAND:
Rehband has provided athletes at all levels with medically classed and patented premium supports and braces since 1955. At Rehband, we believe that no matter your situation, you can always reach a little bit higher. If you have the will to enable your full potential, there is a way. With 60+ years of medical experience, a fully owned European factory, and revolutionary R&D, you can expect the highest durability and function from all our products.

ABOUT SPARTAN RACE, INC.:
Spartan Race is the world’s largest obstacle race and endurance brand, and the first in-sport to feature timing and global rankings. With more than 200 events across more than 30 countries in 2018, Spartan will attract more than one million global participants offering open heats for all fitness levels, along with competitive and elite heats. The Spartan Race lifestyle boasts a community of more than five million passionate social media followers, health and wellness products, training and nutrition programs, and a popular NBC television series, which has made obstacle racing one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Spartan Race events feature races at three distances, 3+Mile/20+ Obstacle “Sprint,” 8+ Mile/25+ Obstacle “Super” and 12+ Mile/30+ Obstacle “Beast,” culminating in the Reebok Spartan Race World Championship in North Lake Tahoe, Calif. Visit http://www.spartan.com for more information and registration.

Media Contacts:
REHBAND Katarina Bennich +46 70 946 68 01 katarina.bennich@rehband.com
SPARTAN Jonathan Fine + 1 781.248.3963 jonathanf@spartan.com.

Winter Has Come – Greek Peak Spartan Sprint

Spartan’s 2018 season thus far has consisted of races in SoCal, Arizona, Miami and Las Vegas, so it only makes sense that next in line was the snowcapped mountains of western New York – namely Greek Peak Resort, for the 2nd annual Winter Spartan Sprint this past weekend. Both racers and weather alike descended upon the mountain on Saturday, ensuring there was plenty of snow pelted tracks to traverse, as frosty obstacles to navigate.

The day started inside the ski lodge for registration and packet pickup – a welcome change from last year, where the cold weather outside brought registration proceedings to a literal standstill as the electronics succumbed to the weather. Racers were huddled inside staying warm, comparing layers, and questioning whether they actually wanted to go outside and pin themselves between the trials of Spartan, and the tribulations of Mother Nature.

At the end of the day, over 3,000 Spartans took on the challenge of the Winter Sprint in Courtland, NY – with well over 400 Age Group competitors vying for precious podium spots, while the Elite field dwindled down to only a hundred entrants. It seems that Spartan has found what drives competitors, and that’s their desire to compete, but not against everyone, more specifically against individuals in their same age groups, and fitness level. The Age Group category has consistently sold registrations quicker than Elite in 2018, and the chance for a podium presentation and shot at social media fame continues to pay dividends for Spartan.

Course Notes

The course at Greek Peak has turned up a notch from last year. We traversed roughly 4.5 miles up, down and across the resort, including a 400-meter uphill trudge straight out of the Start Line. Running uphill is a standard in any Spartan event, but running uphill in 16″ of fresh snow is a new kind of frosty hell most have not been exposed to in prior events.

Spartan showed no quarter in their lineup of obstacles, just because this was a Winter race. The usual pain points like the Sandbag Carry, Herc Hoist, and newly capped Bucket Carry were all there to punish racers as they navigated the mountain. Particularly difficult in the snow, was Olympus – positioned in a wide open field where wind and snow added to the difficulty. Monkey Bars, a Rig made up of just rings, and the Rope Climb were all there to punish competitors grips in the bitter cold. The Spear Throw seemed like it was positioned further away than in past years, although that may have been because my contacts were frozen over by the time we reached the last few stretches of course.

The course finished over the A-frame, with a short climb, before heading down to a true to name “Slip” Wall, and a “Dunk Wall”, sans water – thankfully, and the Fire Jump, which comically, dropped about 2 feet into the snow as the fire melted the base it rested on.

Summary

Winter Spartan Race events are few and far between. So few and far between that there’s only a single event out there – Greek Peak. Spartan had attempted to elicit interest in events in both New Hampshire and Utah, proving unsuccessful, so they were abandoned. Whether you live in warmer weather or inhabit the Great White North, you’ll most certainly enjoy a Winter Sprint. Some obstacles like the Barbed Wire Crawl are tamed by the snow, where others are made more intense. It’s a welcome difference from the muddy sweat fests we’ve become so familiar with throughout the race year.

Unlike 2017, we didn’t have an event unique finisher shirt, but the new Spartan tech shirts were available in both short and long-sleeved versions and accompanied an event-specific winter-themed medal.

Gear Note: The Inov8 X-Talon 230’s that I recently reviewed here on ORM performed absolutely amazing in the snow and mud. As others were sliding down trails on their behinds, I was confidently upright, with each step. Bravo to the Inov8 team for what will most likely be my main shoe for the 2018 season.

I’ll be bringing you coverage from all of the major players (and maybe a few you haven’t yet heard of)  in the OCR industry all year long, so be sure to follow me on Instagram here, and be sure to check out Obstacle Racing Media’s OCR Recap, now on CBS Interactive’s Sports Live website.

Tough Mudder Introduces Their 2018 Pro Team/Competitive Series

12:20pm Update – Here is the podcast interview.

In September of 2017, TMHQ announced the first ever Tough Mudder Pro Team. Ryan Atkins, Lindsay Webster, Hunter McIntyre and Stef Bishop had already been featured on most of TM’s online content, so few were surprised.  Today, the 2018 team is being announced much sooner in the year. TMHQ revealed this morning that Ryan, Lindsay, and Hunter are all coming back, and they have added two more women. The first is Corinna Coffin. Corinna had been mostly dormant in OCR since BattleFrog folded in the fall of 2016. She came back last July to win the first ever Tough Mudder X.

The second woman is Allison Tai. Along with being the favorite guest of The World’s Toughest Podcast, Allison won last year’s Holy Grail Leaderboard (Total competitive miles) with 305 total miles. Stef Bishop is not returning to the team. Stef won World’s Toughest Mudder in 2016, then had a relatively disappointing 2017 Tough Mudder season.

Matt B. Davis spoke to TMHQ’s Eli Hutchison and Corinna Coffin to discuss some of the news. The podcast episode will be released later today, so be sure to download it so you can listen to it on your next run.

Matt and Eli will be talking about the evolution of the competitive series. Many Mudders enjoyed the Tougher and Toughest events in 2017, as well as Tough Mudder X and World’s Toughest Mudder. Tough Mudder is now calling these events, Fittest, Fastest, and Toughest, with the culmination being World’s Toughest Mudder on November 10th and 11th in Atlanta, Georgia.

Check out the video introducing the different championship series here!

Photo Credits: Tough Mudder