Green Beret Challenge Operator’s Course Atlanta 2018

I usually stick with Spartan, simply because the obstacles have the  “burpee-if-incomplete” option. I’ve noticed I have been becoming too reliant on it, so I have decided to start looking at more race options. More specifically, trying to work on completing events that scare the absolute shit out of me. So, naturally, when my friend suggested I join her for the Green Beret Challenge in Atlanta, I registered immediately. What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger, right?

For reference, I am five feet tall, weighing in at a pretty gnarly 105 pounds. I’m not great at heavy carries; not because I’m not strong enough, but some of the carries…well, they’re pretty much the same size as I am. Knowing that the GBC is comprised of primarily heavy carries, I went in thinking that I wouldn’t do well. It didn’t matter though. I was still proud of myself for registering in the first place.

One of the first things that caught my attention was the address of the venue. Or, rather, the lack thereof. There was no address. In fact, the address that they provided, was actually the address to the building NEXT DOOR. This venue was literally in the middle of nowhere.

When my friends and I pulled up, what we saw was the most gorgeous house. Which was…well, very different from any venue I’ve seen. The venue was actually BEHIND this house. Parking was easy, check-in was easy…actually, everything was easy. There was no long walk to the venue, pretty much you parked and it was on course. And of course, the very first thing you could see, was Mark f***ing Ballas, standing up, proud, riding on his four-wheeler. I was intimidated but very excited.

I had jumped into the 8:00 heat; the first wave of the competitive division. Standing next to me at the line was none other than Rachel Watters. She was awesome to talk to, and I was very impressed by her modesty. The men and women ran the competitive wave at the same time, which personally, I am a fan of. For me, it seems much more fun with mixed gender seems more fun and laid-back.

Also at the start line, was none other than Mr. Ballas himself. Accompanying him was a man, whose name is currently escaping me (editor’s note: it is none other than Jarian Rich, Mr. Inspiration), covered in glitter. He had an immense amount of glitter in his beard, and gold glitter covering his arms. He wore a shirt that said “no frown zone,” and with that, he wore one of the biggest smiles I’d ever seen. Even though this event is known as being one of the toughest obstacle races in the series, it’s very evident that every person there is excited about it.

When it was time to run, we started running in a flat field. We had been running for maybe two minutes before we hit the first obstacle–that darn yoke carry. I’ve never completed a yoke carry before this, and boy was it humbling. I’m a runner by nature and was one of the first women to the yokes.

Granted, after this obstacle started, I never saw Rachel Watters again. I grabbed one of the first in the line, as the volunteer manning the obstacle suggested. Once I put that thing on my back, I knew that it absolutely could not touch the ground until I was done, no matter how much it hurt. Immediately I was wobbling side to side from the weight. I was getting passed left and right, by men and women alike.

Many people grabbed the string that held their sandbags to keep them from moving, and I wanted to, but I was afraid to let go of my grip from the log. A minute went by and I had already been drenched in sweat. I was starting to get nervous about how my grip would maintain throughout this new adventure but remembered–you know what, Sarah, be proud of yourself for being here, this will make for a cool picture later, and trudged on.

The carry itself felt like at least 300-400 meters, but I confess that my depth perception is not great, and I may be mistaken. Either way, you get the point. It was long. It looped into a square back to the yoke drop-off point. I saw it from a distance and had to keep my eyes on it for the remainder of the carry. My arms were shaking, but eventually, I made it.

After I put the yoke down, there was a short run until the next obstacle, which was a wall. Walls don’t scare me much anymore, but this one made me a little nervous. I jumped to get a grip on the top and struggled to pull myself up. I hardly ever struggle with pull-ups. The yoke had taken its toll; hopefully, some of the runs later could relax my upper body. I will say, even though this wall was hand-made, it did not budge one bit. Mark Ballas does a great job building obstacles.

Following almost immediately was a balance obstacle. Walk up a plank of wood to the top of a hay bale. Next: another carry, but, it was a sled drag. It wasn’t particularly heavy, but it was long. From there, we saw a couple of standard obstacles: inverted wall, barbed wire crawl into a questionable substance, and trail run on a single-track trail.

I was really surprised by the next obstacle. I’m fairly certain it doesn’t have a name, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw it again. Two wooden beams, where, you have to climb over the top one, anyway how. There was a rope there to aid in the transition, and being the short person that I am, was very thankful for the rope.

Although this obstacle wasn’t too intimidating, the number of failures that came with it was a little terrifying. The ropes were completely covered in that questionable substance that we just trudged through, which was leading to many people slipping and swearing. When I approached the obstacle, I was really proud of the support from both the competitors and volunteers. The people who had failed moved over to allow others the opportunity to attempt. Finally, it was my turn…I was slow, EXTREMELY slow on the obstacle. Nobody cared. Everyone who was there cheered. I thought to myself, this, right here, is EXACTLY what OCR is all about.

(sandbag and questionable “mud.” Image by Green Beret Challenge)

After a few more carries and some walls, we were approaching the finish line. I approached a creek, which we were instructed to jump into. I was NOT expecting a swim at all, but it made for such a nice touch. The water was nice and cool, plus, the unexpectedness of the swim made for a fun and unique challenge. The end was approaching. I picked up the pace, and then one of the volunteers shouted at me: “HEY! YOU’RE SECOND PLACE FEMALE RIGHT NOW.” I freaked out. I ran as fast as I could with my final sandbag on my shoulder, not going to adjust it once. I’ve never placed that high before..and I was excited.

I was so excited that it caused me to make some really poor choices. I hit the most intense obstacle of the day: the Happy Ending. It was most certainly not a happy ending. Happy Ending consisted of a low rig, a cargo net, and some ropes to Tarzan your way through before hitting a bell. Easy. Or, it should have been.

I normally take a breather before rigs to let my heart rate calm down. I didn’t this time, so naturally, I failed. Then I failed again. Then I failed again. And then you know what happened? I failed again. And with all of those failures, I became frustrated. I lost my joyful, cool composure that I had carried with me the entire way, and I couldn’t picture myself finishing the obstacle. I made a stupid, stupid choice to give up my band. Again, stupid. But, I managed to complete it and was greeted instantly by friends and the man who was covered in glitter (he called me nick-names the entire time; fun ones like “Tiny Trap Master” and “Mighty Mouse”).

(“Happy Ending” picture by Green Beret Challenge)

After races, I typically grab my stuff from gear drop-offs and then leave. This race was different. In the end, everyone jumped back into the water to wash off, and then everyone just sat in lawn chairs, drinking and having a great time. Nobody there was a stranger. Even Mark Ballas and his lady joined in. I was amazed at how well this event brought people together, even though it was considered individual.

My overall thoughts on this race? It was an amazing experience. It pushed me past my comfort zone, but, it made me realize why I love racing. Although it’s individual, I have never seen so much love and teamwork on a course–not even during endurance events. The volunteers were extremely excited to be there…I feel like very often, people only volunteer in order to get free race codes, but this certainly was not the case.

This event was intended to push your mind, and although I was frustrated at the last obstacle, I smiled the entire time. It made me realize that when you get your mind right, you really can accomplish anything. Mark Ballas is an incredible race director. I loved the small, intimate feel and of course, the obstacles were sturdy and challenging. The “fuck Ballas” attire was a nice little touch as well!

I will definitely be doing this event again, and I hope to see you there with me.

(Mr. Inspiration, Jarian Rich, and me)

 

Savage Race Maryland: A Family Affair

The two weeks leading up to Savage Race Maryland were like any other race for me and my wife. “Who are we asking to babysit, Kel? We aren’t in Virginia anymore so this is a bit more of a drive.” Kelly took her eyes off of Candy Crush looked over at me and asked, “Are they old enough for the kids’ race? We should just take them.” EUREKA! I quickly checked the Savage site and the site simply said “12 and under.” My kids are 5 and 3 so it was game on. The only real question was how would this play out? Were we entering a new phase in our obstacle racing hobby that allowed our kids to enjoy it as well or were we fooling ourselves? Giddy up!

**Time to channel a Grey Beret**

6:30am: This is basically the default wake up time at The Allen Compound and even though we were at a hotel about 45 minutes north of the event the continental breakfast started at 6:30 am so we were up and at ’em. The kids were very excited to be at a hotel and they were excited to participate in their first race. I loaded my KitBrix, Under Armour shorts, Salomon Top, Swiftwick socks and Altra King MT 1.5 shoes into our 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee with my wife and children and dreamed of drinking a Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee on the ride down to the venue.

8:15 am: We got to the venue to park. I still reminisce about the days where when you were early to arrive you got to park right up front. My first mistake of the day was not buying VIP parking with the kids. If you have little ones spend the extra 10 bucks or plan on walking an extra 2 miles back and forth throughout the day to get stuff from your car. Regular parking feels like a punishment for not handing them 10 bucks.

8:36 am: We signed four of the enormous participant waivers and signed in rather quickly (duh!). By 8:40 am my kids had already seen the Kona Shaved Ice Truck and began asking for shaved ices. They also saw the hats at the entrance and began asking for those as well. It was clear I would be spending more money than usual at Savage.

8:46 am: We showed the kids the kids course and they were pumped. “WHY DO THE ADULTS GET TO GO BEFORE THE KIDS?” my Daughter sternly asked. “I don’t know, you have to ask Sam Abbitt, baby.”

8:53 am: The kids had some fun on the kid magnet mini Platinum Rig set up. Kid magnet!

9:04 am: Porta Potty visit 1

9:20 am: Kelly went off in the first open wave as I volunteered to have the first round with the kids. The plan was for Kelly to run first and make it back for the 11:00 am kids’ race. After that, we would trade and I would run once they were done. The most memorable part of the start was when Matty “best emcee in the game” T threw one of the signature savage blue smoke cans and it took an errant bounce and headed right towards my son’s face. My catlike reflexes saw the can’s trajectory and I batted it out of the air and back into the open field. Crisis #1 averted.

9:30 am: Visit #1 to the Kona Shaved Ice Truck. We bought two Chipwiches and a Reese’s peanut butter ice cream bar.

9:32 am: We ran into Sam “Savage Go Ruck Tough Master” Abbitt as we ate our ice cream. Sydney forgot to ask him why the adults got to run first.

9:40 am: We got to see Kelly jump in Shriveled Richard. It was fun hearing Chase say that. Side Note: You will get splashed if you try to get close and take a good picture…

9:50 am: Stop 1 at the car. I think it was for the chapstick that wound up on Chase’s face.

10:15 am: Porta Potty Visit 2

10:20 am: The lifeguard was yelling at me for having the kids too close to Sawtooth. I disagree with her definition of too close. They were sitting in the dirt covering their own legs in dirt. Oh, we got to see Kelly complete Sawtooth. Score!

10:30 am: Stop 2 at the car. This time we grabbed 3 of our chairs so we could sit down in the field. It was almost kids’ race game time.

10:40 am:  I’d like to think that the people by the rings that overheard my kids arguing about who gets to sit in the mustard colored seat prayed for me, as what happened next was what some folks would call a gift from God. As we waited for Kelly to approach the rings and hopefully make it back in time for the 11:00am kids race we saw a Male Cheerleader who has done 100 of some race that I can’t remember the name of. He got to maybe the third ring and fell off. He kept on trucking and said nothing to any of the volunteers at the obstacle. This particular Male Cheerleader was heavily involved in the defending of a habitual line stepping cheater and called me a liar and a bully among other things within the last 8 months. Well, as it turns out he popped up in the “Pro 100% complete” rankings even though I watched him fail the rings. It seems that the two timing chips in the Pro Wave are not cheat proof. Cheaters gonna cheat!

11:00 am: It was finally time. Every moment of both of my children’s lives led them to to this start line. In the event that The OCRWC comes out with a kids’ race division, my kids are qualifying TODAY. I scoped out the other 3-8 year olds (for the first wave of the 12 and under) and quickly did the 50 percent rule math in my head. It was time to DOMINATE.

11:00:30 am: I blacked out for a second, what just happened? Thank goodness the race hasn’t started yet. I am really loving how excited all of these kids at the start line look. I hope they all give it their best. The emcee counted them down and they are off. Chase took off like a man on a mission and I am hanging back with Sydney. Wait, where is Chase? I hope he waits for us at the finish line.

11:01 am: There is Kelly! She slid down Colossus just in time to see the kids take on the kid’s course. What perfect timing. Sydney is 3 going on 4 and she is handling all of the obstacles on her own with the exception of the mini-slip wall.

11:06 am: The A Frame is PERFECT for the kids. If it weren’t for the mud and bubble ending I think that would be the signature kids’ race obstacle, but it is pretty hard to beat Bubbles.

11:10 am: My son finished the race, got his medal and took off his shoes. He then headed back on the course to cheer on and help his sister finish. This was easily the best part of my day. If you have kids in the 6 and under range then you should definitely  sign them up. I’m not saying it isn’t fun for 8-12 year olds, but I am not too sure how the Savage Jr. plays into this mix. I would check out the website, but if you are paying for them to spectate anyway the extra couple of bucks for the kids race will at least make them feel included.

11:15ish am: Kelly finished up her race and she and the kids got to compare their shirts and medals. This is much better than handing them our medals when we get home.

12:00 pm: At this point, I can’t keep track of the time anymore as I am about to race. I haven’t run in a wave this late since my first obstacle race back in 2012. It is kind of a weird feeling considering I have been at the venue since 8:15am. As usual Savage is top notch with their course marking, obstacles, course design, water stations, and attention to detail. In fact, there weren’t really any waits at the obstacles later in the day, which I expected to run into. In all of the reviews I have written on Savage Race I have never described disappointment (unless you count the far walk to the car). I truly believe that Savage has the best obstacles in America and that they actually care about their participants. My entire family had a blast and I would definitely bring them all again because so far it is one of our more memorable days on 2018.

Final Notes: There were at least 2 porta potty visits that I didn’t log and two more trips to the Kona Shaved Ice Truck. Oh, and we bought them hats. Next stop…. Boston! #SAF

Fun for the Entire Family: Kids Obstacle Challenge

This was my first foray into a child-centric OCR. I am used to attending OCRs with kids, but they were all adult courses. Kids Obstacle Challenge was going to be a good test of OCRs geared towards young children. The best part of the race is that a parent can run with each child for free! I’ve run relatively easy OCRs (Warrior Dash) and difficult ones (Spartan). I attended the event with three OCR newbies.

Location:

The event was held at Lake Lanier (Buford), GA. This is in Northeast Georgia. It is little over an hour from Metro Atlanta. This is the same location of the October 2017 Spartan Super/Sprint weekend. The course and the venue are absolutely beautiful. There are great views of the lake along with a challenging terrain. The course has steep hills as well as flat fields. I was a bit concerned as I struggled with those same hills during that weekend. I surely thought that we would be on the flat portion of the course. More on that later.

The weather was a perfect 77 degrees. The cloud cover and breeze from the lake made the whole event that much more fun for everyone.

Kids Obstacle Challenge got early kudos as there was free parking! That is relatively unheard of in OCR world. The parking lot was about an eighth of a mile from the starting line. It was an easy walk.

Registration/Festival:

We were late for our 11:30 am heat and I was not sure how it would be handled. The registration table was well staffed and went quite smoothly. We were promptly put into the noon heat with a smile and “good luck.” I attended the event with my partner as well as our kids, ages 10 and seven, respectively. They were excited to get on the course ASAP. One thing that I noticed that it was a pretty large area.

There was a large water station that was constantly being refilled with cold, fresh water. There were several vendors that sold everything from icees, freshly pressed juices, and Clif bars. The company also had a large information tent that was always staffed with volunteers. I did not see any food vendors, but it wasn’t an issue. The festival booths were pretty spread out. There were no chairs or tents available, but it did not matter.

One side of the festival had the obligatory sponsor backdrop for pictures. It was large enough for several people to take pics and not be squashed in. There was also a cute mural with a bunch of markers for people to write messages on.

The Starting Line was at the end of the festival area. We had a good warm up of squats and jumping jacks to get ready for the race. There was also a nice spray from a few super soakers to keep us cool. It was energetic and fun.

One thing I noticed here and throughout the course was the fact that the festival and course did not seem overcrowded. That was a huge plus when you are navigating with children.


 

Course and Obstacles:

This course was well designed and spread out. It consisted of 15 obstacles within two miles. And yes, we did experience some significant hills. Both kids had no problems with running up the hills as they went from obstacle to obstacle. I had flashbacks to the Spartan Super and took my time. Each obstacle was well manned with a volunteer, sometimes two. They were energetic and also helped kids over the obstacles. There was one water station on the course that provided plenty of water. There were inspirational messages peppered throughout the course to keep everyone energized.

These obstacles were relatively easy for an experienced runner. The obstacles were created with a kid in mind. The footholds and grips were sized for smaller children. That sizing me struggle a little, but not enough to not try the obstacle. This was my partner’s first OCR and he enjoyed it. He was able to maneuver easily.

My son (10) loved climbing the obstacles. He was able to finish each obstacle with minimal help. He excelled at the Clif climb and scurried across with no problem. My daughter (7) was a bit cautious but was able to try at least 12 obstacles. Her favorite was the ball pit because there was a fair amount of water. There were several obstacles that we were able to try several times before going to the next. The obstacles were challenging for kids, but not to the point where they couldn’t try them. The course did not seem like it was 2 miles and that was a good thing. The terrain kept it interesting and had a great flow.

 

As a mom, I appreciated that the mud was towards the end of the course. The kids asked throughout the course “Where is the mud?” “When are we getting muddy?” That made me a bit nervous because I was afraid it would have been mud city towards the end. They did get the mud that they asked for. The mud slide was a big hit for my son. Both kids loved the mud pit. It was a crawl through a fair amount of mud.

You can also gauge a race by their volunteers. The volunteers were encouraging and had fun with us. They also helped kids, and adults, on obstacles. We encountered two race photographers on the course and they made sure they got great shots of each family. They made the course that much more fun.

Merchandise

One difference with this race was that there wasn’t the obligatory t-shirt provided at the end of the race. They were sold in the merch tent. There wasn’t a lot of merchandise to purchase. The merch consisted of t-shirts, water bottles, and blackout for your face. At the finish line, the kids received their obligatory medal and banana. As a medal lover, I didn’t get one, which bummed me out a bit. I think it would be wrong if I stole the kid’s medal.

One difference was that you were able to “build” your own goodie bag. The kids got a vinyl backpack and load it with several items. They could choose a nut butter Clif bar, a Luna Bar, stickers, temporary tattoos, a race flyer and coupon for Razor products (the race sponsor).

Rinse off:

This is a bone of contention for me at most races. Either it is a few hoses with weak water pressure or in an area way off from the festival. The rinse-off section was not far from the finish line. It was off to the side and had over 10 hoses. All had great pressure and the area was never crowded.

Conclusion:

My family and I loved the race. The kids were challenged but also had a lot of fun. I think that Kids Obstacle Race is a good OCR for both newbies and experienced OCR runners alike. What makes this race attractive is the price point, the ability for parents to race for free, good obstacles/distance, and free parking. My only qualm is the lack of finisher t-shirts. But that is not enough for me to not run this again. I cannot wait to attend next year.

 

North Florida Spartan Sprint

spartan_race_sprint

The North Florida Spartan Super and Sprint weekend was hosted at the Diamond D. Ranch in Jacksonville, Florida.

North Florida did not disappoint on the amount of mud and obstacles for the Super on Saturday, April 28th. I had originally signed up for the Super but due to a family emergency had to cancel it. I was able to switch my registration for the Sprint on Sunday with no issues once I arrived. Great first impression, Spartan. Customer service is a top priority of mine when it comes to racing at such large events. Nevertheless, I had a great, fast-paced 4-mile sprint to kick off my first Spartan of the 2018 season!

Spartan-Flag

Super on Saturday took racers through a mile of waist-high mud.

Video Credit: Jessica and Corey Carter, Palmetto, Florida

Florida-Course-Map-2018

Course Map – Super and Sprint presented by Jax Sports

Obstacles

In typical Spartan fashion, obstacles really have not changed much over the years. We’ve got some carries (sandbag, buckets, and logs), a spear throw, walls, burpees, and monkey bars. I’m not sure if the monkey bars were a tad bit closer together, or if I’m just getting better. We’ll go with the latter. They seemed very easy to swing across so much that even the photographer screamed: “WHOA, you flew by”!

Spartan_JessikaPoppe_Sprint

Bucket carries were VERY efficient this year. I’m going to be 100% transparent with you, ORM. I, Jessika Poppe, slack so hard at the bucket carry. 7 times out of 10 I am that person that will fill my bucket halfway to make the carry easier. The other 3 times are when I am running competitive age group and will always fill it up cause “I ain’t no cheater.” Regardless, I was pleasantly surprised how well the lids stayed on top of the buckets and kept the rocks inside. So much, that racers flipped the buckets upside down in order to get a better grip and the lids never faltered.

New-Spartan-Buckets

Photo Credit: Spartan Race Facebook
North- Florida-Spartan-Buckets

Photo Credit: Kellie Murphy

One obstacle did seem to falter, however. The cargo net A-Frame typically found right before the fire jump and finish was placed very early in the race. When I was climbing up it I can honestly say I felt unsafe. It was so loose that I was shaking the entire way waiting for my body to just fall right through. I expressed my concern to two nearby chatty volunteers and they shook off my request to call to have the directors tighten it. They claimed “Spartan wants it this way,” but when I asked Jessica Carter who completed the super the day before, she claims it was so tight she could “walk up without hands.” Hmmm, some confusion in the communication here, Spartan.

Regardless of losing some time on the A-frame, I managed to complete this sprint fast enough to qualify for OCR World Championships (yet again). London here I come! To end on a good note, I must say, the t-shirts for 2018 are AMAZING! The quality is almost like a polyester dri-fit material and they are very comfortable and fitted. Maybe parting ways from Reebok was a good move. I did have to get a size bigger when receiving my finisher shirt because they do come in Male and Female sizes.

Spartan-Sprint-Shirt-2018

This one sells on Ebay for a starting bid of $30. HAHA. Get yours today, without completing a race. 

A big thank you to ORM and Spartan Race for a kick ass event!

Stay Muddy my friends!

Check me out on Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook !

Jessika_Poppe_signature

Spartan Citi Field Stadium Sprint 2018

Citi-Field-Home-Plate-View

Citi Field is no Killington. But this concrete mountain provides plenty of challenges of its own for Spartans looking to push their bodies to the limit. Though this year’s race didn’t have the torrential rain like last year, the early morning racers faced chilly April temperatures and a brisk bay breeze.

 

Getting In

One thing to keep in mind when selecting your heat is travel time. Usually, Spartan recommends arriving 60-90 minutes before your start time. If you’re in a later heat, traveling into Queens, NY, you’ll hit traffic. Also, the registration line may be a bit longer. The benefit of running in the earlier heats means less traffic and less wait time on-site. Parking was run by Citi Field, which meant $12, instead of the usual $10. The benefit, though, was that credit cards were accepted for us non-cash carriers.

Outside-Citi-Field-Spartan

Stadium vs. Trail

This was only the second stadium race I’ve ever done. To me, a normal Spartan is a trail run with obstacles spread throughout. A stadium race, however, is more like a 40-plus minute circuit workout. It completely challenges you in ways that a normal Spartan doesn’t. Sure, it’s shorter. There’s no Twister. There’s no “Death March.” There’s no Bucket Carry. But it still requires very specific training. Completely different from your average race.

Spartan-Citi-Field-Assault-Bike

Obstacles

Perhaps the toughest obstacle for most, is the one that isn’t on the course map list: the stairs. I’m not sure the exact number of flights climbed and descended, but if you weren’t tackling an obstacle or exercise, you were most likely going up or down steps. Some obstacles, like the Jerry Can Carry and Sandbag Carry, wouldn’t even give you a break from those climbs.

 

Some obstacles you’ll see out on the mountains and trails, you’ll also run into at a stadium race. Included at Citi Field were the rope climb, Z-Walls, and Hercules Hoist, to name a few. There are a few that are the same as trail races, with a minor twist. The Spear Throw target is a bit different. Rather than a bail of hay, it’s a foam block. It seems a bit smaller than the usual target. Citi Field also included the Atlas Carry, however, the stone at a stadium race is considerably smaller than the other races. The rings are almost identical, with one small difference: two hanging baseballs at the end before the bell.

One new obstacle to the stadium series this year is the Assault Bike, where racers need to burn 15 calories as quickly as possible. For reference, this took me about 90 seconds.

Spartan-Citi-Field-Awards

Less Is More?

In October 2017, I competed at the Citizens Bank Park Stadium Sprint. That was my first and only previous stadium race before Citi Field. One thing that changed between then and now is the number of reps Spartan enforces. Last year, exercises/obstacles such as Hand-Release Pushups and Slam Balls, required 25 reps. At Citi Field, those and others like the Box Jumps and Jump Rope only required 15 reps.

 

Perhaps the biggest surprise to Spartans was the burpees for this race. Spartan decided to try reducing the number of penalty burpees. That’s right, reducing! Instead of 30 burpees for a failed obstacle, the penalty was down to 15. This was definitely a help for anyone who may have failed an obstacle or two, though perhaps seemed like a punishment for competitors who ran clean races. These rep reductions seem to be Spartans way of keeping stadium races challenging, but quick.

Citi-Field-Spartan-Race

Stadium races are a great way to try something new, especially if you enjoy obstacle races but want to try something a bit faster paced. Citi Field is an excellent venue and it’s easy to see why Spartan comes back each year.

Photo Credit: Spartan Race, The Author

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