2.14.19 Obstacle Discourse with Davis and Chace


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A weekly news show with Josh Chace and Matt B. Davis discussing items of the week for Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, and all other OCR related news.

This week’s topics:

Terrain Race first weekend success and exciting buildup to the first Spartan USNS of the season in Jacksonville, Florida.

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Terrain Race: Adding Sundays And Offering Payment Solutions

Yesterday, Obstacle Racing Media was contacted by Terrain Race via our Instagram account by their new head of public relations. It appeared as though whoever was sending the DM’s was not aware of the prior issues with their customers, and we wanted to see if we could get to the bottom of them. We exchanged several messages before agreeing to send an email.

 

Here are the responses from the email :

ORM: How much longer will the free promotional race last?

TR: The length of the free registration promotion is TBD. People are really excited about it, and we’re selling out cities left and right.

ORM: Which cities will now have races on both days?

TR:  Second dates are added after a first date has filled up. Capacity is around 8,000 per day, or around 16,000 for Saturday and Sunday combined.

We have more dates that are near selling out, so news of additional second dates should come out soon. Here’s a current list of weekends where the first date has sold out and we’ve added a second day:

Miami (Feb 9-10) (First event of 2019) Orlando (Feb 16-17) Phoenix (Feb 23-24)
Pensacola (Apr 6-7) Tucson (Apr 6-7) Fort Worth (Apr 13-14) Houston (Apr 20-21)
Maryland (Apr 27-28) San Jose (Jun 8-9) Hartford (Jun 29-30) New York (Jul 27-28)
Portland (Aug 10-11) Boston (Aug 17-18) Minneapolis (Oct 5-6)Jacksonville (Oct 26-27)
Irvine (Nov 16-17)

ORM: When will the 2018 podium athletes be paid?

TR:  The payment problems for competitors is something I just found out about. There’s been a lot of turnover in staff, so I’m going to streamline things going forward. Anyone who is owed money can email me at this address and I’ll get their checks processed. All I need is their name, mailing address, what event they competed in, their place, and division.

We also reached out to Dustin Dorough who we spoke with for the September article to find out if he is still involved with Terrain Race. As of press time, we have not heard back.

Terrain Race New Orleans 2018 – A Lackluster Event

Terrain Race New Orleans

On November 17th, 2018 Terrain Race held their first event in New Orleans, Louisiana at the NOLA Motor Sports Park. The weather was an optimal chilly but not cold temperature. The venue had received some rain making the flat terrain muddy and more challenging. Nature’s conditions were optimal for OCR. Sadly, the race crew themselves didn’t seem to be in the same condition. The obstacles were fun. The course was designed decently. However, poor volunteer direction, attitude, and organization issues drug down what could have been an ideal event considering that Louisiana doesn’t have many these days.

Registration

The volunteers and staff at registration were helpful and nice. They kindly explained that they were having issues with their system so there would be no timing chips. They would simply write down our time by bib number. I understand timing costs money. However, here’s the issue with timing the old fashioned way at an OCR. I nearly lost my flopping paper bib several times and had to take focus off of my race to make sure I didn’t. I suppose had I marked myself this may have helped, but timing chips are just better for all of us.

After registration stepping into the venue itself was not bad. Everything was set up in clear view. They actually had music playing, but morale seemed to be a bit low from the crew. I understand that OCR events are really hard work. However, the main reason people participate is to get excited and pumped. They want to accomplish something and feel great about it. Again, I’ve seen worse morale, but for a company that was once beginning to step into the upper echelon of OCR events, Terrain has got to step up the morale and direction of volunteers.

You Have to Make them Want it

This leads us to our next issue. I know not everyone can afford Coach Payne, but it would be nice to have something more at the take off than “3….2… 1… go…” exactly like that. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by other races, but I feel like getting everyone pumped to go at the starting line is one of the most important aspects of the race. This announcement for the elite men’s wave take off seemed to mirror the attitude of the majority of volunteers. I felt like he should have said “It’s November, can we just get this over with… go.” This is not a commentary on this individual so much as the entire morale of the crew.


Confusion

On that note, the morale of volunteers on the course was a bit lackluster as well. Not only were all of the elites sent down the course backward, but many volunteers seemed unaware of what exactly participants were to do at certain obstacles. They seemed to feel standing at the obstacle sufficed. However, I will say kudos to the guy at the tire drag. He did a very good job instructing participants as well as encouraging them.

This confusion of sending racers the wrong way caused big issues for the women’s elite heat which should not have happened. After the issue was discovered, the staff decided to send the open waves the correct way. Well, if you are an elite female and you see backwards arrows and start to run INTO open wave competitors what would you do? You obviously assume you are lost and end up doubling back unnecessarily.

For som,e this may not seem like a big issue, but when you have trained hard and want to test yourself it is. Even if you don’t plan on making top ten, showing yourself how far you’ve come is VERY important to people who have worked hard day in and day out for this chance. To have it scrapped because of simple poor direction by a misinformed volunteer is quite tragic. I’ve seen worse, but this severely detracted from the race experience for many competitors.

Monkey See, Monkey Swing, Monkey Climb

One of the highlights of this race was the obstacles themselves. I have to say the crew did a great job keeping with the monkey theme of the race which I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed. The obstacles made a step up from last year in difficulty and in fun. Terrain did not create anything wholly original. What they did though was take OCR staples and mold them to fit their brand and theme. The course featured a nice big cargo. Competitors tackled a decent, short force 5 rig that only had two detrimental features. The second half of the rig had foot rings. I believe these were added to decrease difficulty and allow open runners more stability. They just caused more chaos.

Lanes were so close that stepping in these rings would just cause you to swing into the competitor next to you. This just made things awkward. Starting the rig with the ball grip was an interesting choice that threw off many. My main issue again with this obstacle though was volunteer direction. After many of the lead elites came through, others racers were being allowed to grab the top rail and shimmy across rather than utilizing the awkward foot rings. Plain and simple: this just isn’t fair.

Other Monkey swinging obstacles included a well put together Tarzan swing rig with large ropes and rings and very well done monkey bars over water. Monkey strength obstacles included a tire flip, tire drag, a concrete block drag, and a short, light sandbag carry. The most interesting addition to the strength aspect of the race was a sledgehammer obstacle where competitors had to hit a tire to a specified point and back. This was fun, but pretty awkward with piles of grass in certain lanes and wet sledges. I feel like a certain race company does this obstacle far better, but I won’t name any names. You know who you are.

The rest of the course was full of mud which taxed the running of many competitors. This was nice considering there is absolutely zero elevation in New Orleans. The finishing obstacle was well placed and well put together. Competitors first had to work their way up an angled balance board onto a horizontal cargo net. They then got to twirl elegantly (or plop down not so gracefully) from a fireman’s pole and cross the finish line to be greeted and congratulated by fellow competitors. All in all, I would give the obstacle portion of the race the highest point in this review.

 

Post Race

I would love to say the awards ceremony went perfectly. I would love to say the crew’s morale pepped up. I would love to say there was so much to do in the festival area afterwards. However: it didn’t, they weren’t, and there wasn’t.  There was an issue of who actually came in as the third female. The woman listed as third admitted she did NOT complete an obstacle, This contributed to the bad organization and direction issue. I would like to congratulate those top finishers pictured below.

The kids race was the highlight after the other heats. The kids had a great time. I will admit it was one of the better kids races I have seen. However, afterwards, there were no vendors, no activities, no food trucks. There was simply nothing to do. It honestly felt like Terrain was sort of like, “Ok, you came and raced now leave so we can too.”

Granted some could argue the festival isn’t important, but for those who drive a good distance the least you could do is have actual hoses. Racers were using the valve of a water truck to clean up.

There is Potential

I feel that if Terrain comes under better management next year they can be a competing race company again. The theme, the obstacles, and the venues they have accessed all have potential. The main issue they seem to have is organization.  I would hate to see such good obstacles and a good brand go down the drain because of a lack of organization and direction. So here’s to hoping Terrain can work out the kinks in their company and come back for 2019 stronger and more fun than ever!

Chicago Terrain Race

 

Terrain Race Chicago

The Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois played host to the second annual Terrain Race on September 30th. After the collapse of a rig the previous year at this same location I was curious to check out the event again and was pleased to see the craftsmanship of the obstacles was significantly upgraded. All the obstacles felt solid and safe which allowed athletes to really push themselves without worry on the flat and fast course.

The choice of 5k or 10k was offered during registration with a higher fee charged for the 10k, but only the 5k was timed slightly upsetting those who signed up for the competitive 10k. Racers who paid for the 10k could run a second untimed lap if they chose to do so and an unlimited lay option was offered.

Registration took a little time as only two lines check-in lanes were open, one for elite and one for open class. Terrain positioned a volunteer at each obstacle but the knowledge of the rules at some of the more difficult obstacles left some elite racers shaking their heads in frustration. Personally, I feel that all races should identify where their tougher or more confusing obstacles are located and spend extra time making sure that the volunteer at that location knows exactly what’s required for obstacle completion as this would make for a much smoother race.

Plenty of restrooms were available in the lots surrounding the speedway and in the festival area. Parking in those lots set you back 10 dollars and was an easy walking distance of the registration tent.

The Course

Terrain starts their race in a unique and chilly way. Three swimming pools were filled up waist deep with freezing water. This served as the starting corral and proved to be a great way to start off a race as athletes were already subjected to the mental and physical punishment of the cold before the race even started!

After emcee Lashay Marks released us from the Pit of Despair athletes were led through the speedway grounds and over a 4 and 6-foot wall to thin out the herd some before hitting a tall wall with a rope to assist you up and over. This was the first location I noticed a racer backup as athletes had to wait their turn for an opportunity to grab a rope to conquer the wall.

Back now on the mowed grass field, Terrain led racers to a rope climb with a bell tap at the top provided the first grip strength test. This led to the lone muddy area along the course as terrain used a series of tubes, water pits, and mud mounds to get racers dirty.

A very short jog away was a yoke with a car tire attached to each side which athletes placed across their shoulders for a short distance. I’m not sure where this obstacle was supposed to start and stop.  There was a flag a short distance away for athletes to go around but there was no apparent start/stop point given. Since there were not enough yokes to go around an athlete had to wait for someone to finish and pass their yoke to the next person in line. This was another obstacle backup which frustrated those worried about their time and was one of the few obstacles with no volunteer guidance.

Obstacles

Making our way now to the speedway stadium Terrain set up a twice up and back tractor tire flip where athletes once again had to wait their turn for a chance to complete the obstacle. A few more tires located here in the future and the issue would be solved.

Terrain next used the speedway stairs to their advantage with two climbs to the top. One with a Wreckbag, and one without separated by a 5-gallon bucket carry with maybe 3 gallons of water inside each bucket. Heading back out from the parking lot to the grass a tire slam with a sledgehammer for ten yards was set up along a path leading to a ladder climb and cargo net crossing.

The trail now led us on an extended looped back around towards the festival area where the obstacle difficulty increased starting with an 8-foot wall climb immediately followed up by a tractor tire drag down and pull back.

Making our way now to the festival grounds Terrain set up the first of their two rigs. This rig proved to be the easier of the two as the first half included 3 suspended ball holds leading to a high handle followed by 4 low rings which required an athlete to use their feet to make the final transitions where a bell tap signaled fulfillment of the task.

Rigs

A short distance away the second rig was set up. This proved to be the more difficult of the two as the configuration was a repeat of ropes to single high rings. The Tarzan Swing was an appropriate name for this rig and this obstacle caused the greatest bottleneck.

The volunteer situated to explain the finish guideline was less than stellar which left some very confused as to what the finish qualifications were. Once the last rig was completed the last grip intensive obstacle was waiting in the form of a unique set of monkey bars. Situated over a pool of water this traverse led racers on a slight incline to the apex where a set of wooden beams needed to be negotiated past before the trip down the bars which was on a slight decline. These bars were tougher than they looked because some of the metal rods spun while others did not which kept athletes guessing the whole way through. The last obstacle before the finish was a combination of a balance beam leading athletes up to a cargo net crossing finally finishing with a slide down a pole where the finish line was located.

These bars were tougher than they looked because some of the metal rods spun while others did not which kept athletes guessing the whole way through. The last obstacle before the finish was a combination of a balance beam leading athletes up to a cargo net crossing finally finishing with a slide down a pole where the finish line was located.

Overall Thoughts

Despite the above-mentioned hiccups in the event, I found the Terrain Race challenging and would race it again in the future. Terrain clearly made an effort to improve the quality of their obstacles over last year and the low cost helps make this a worthwhile race.

The Chicago Speedway is a cool location to visit. Perhaps spreading out some of the obstacles would help with the racer congestion and spending a little more time instructing the volunteers on the rules couldn’t hurt.

I didn’t notice an area where you could check your finish stats and as of the Tuesday after the race, I still can’t find one online. The medals were not as big as in previous years and the finishers tee shirts were very basic but like I mentioned before, the low cost and challenging course make this a race I would run again.

Terrain Racing Removes 3 Races

Terrain Racing Cancels 3 Races

We have a significant update from yesterday’s Terrain Racing story.  In yesterday’s article, we pointed out that 4 of Terrain’s planned races for the year had closed registration without warning. Also, that some customers had been asking questions about these events, with no response back from Terrain.

I reached Jerry Foreman, co-owner of Terrain Racing this afternoon by phone. Here is how that conversation went.

MD: Can you answer the question about these 4 races being cancelled or rescheduled?

JF: If anything is changed , if anything is cancelled, the athletes will be taken care of. We’re moving forward as a strong and powerful company. The races are still happening.

MD: Is RunSignUp not telling us the truth?

JF: No they are not, they are not our business and don’t know our business plan, I sent them a message when I saw that screenshot you took and they haven’t responded.

MD: If I had a friend who wanted to race next weekend, how would a they register for this race?

JF:   On our website.

MD: So I can register now?

JF: I would hope so, I haven’t looked today.

MD: Do you plan to answer all the people who are asking questions on your Facebook page?

JF: I’m not the one who uses our social media platforms, but Terrain Racing has every plan to answer them.

We then spoke with Bob Bickel, the owner of RunSignUp by phone. He told us:

RunSignUp is up and running, we have taken thousands of transactions today. Each race has control over their own race and how they take registrations and manage their own participants. We can not talk on their behalf, but nothing is wrong with our website.

The Terrain Racing website has been updated since yesterday’s article. As of yesterday’s article’s posting time the events URL (https://terrainracing.com/events) looked like this:

Terrain Racing Miami Cancel

After getting off our call with Bob Bickel, we went to see if registering for the 4 events in question were possible (CT,NY,FL, and TX).

That same page now looks like this:

Terrain Race New York Cancel

It appears that the New York, Florida, and Texas events have been removed from the website. If you attempt to register for those races by going through Terrain’s Facebook page of events, you receive the same error, we got last night, which prohibits you from registering.

Cancel NY Terrain

Obstacle Racing Media’s conclusion is that the Connecticut race is set to take place next weekend on September 10th. It also appears that the New York, Florida, and Texas events are currently without a date or venue.

 

 

 

 

Terrain Racing Canceling Races?

Terrain Race Cancel Races?It has come to our attention that Terrain Racing may be canceling and/or rescheduling some of their 2016 race calendar. This would come as sad news for the OCR world, as it has been only 7 days since BattleFrog cancelled all future races.

We spoke with one of Terrain’s co-owners, Jerry Foreman at the Georgia event in June. Foreman told us at that time that Terrain had been a regional race until this year. He went on to let us know that there were 22 races on the calendar for 2016.

As of this posting, you are currently no longer able to register for the following markets previously listed on Terrain Race’s website and social media pages:

September 10   New England   Thompson Speedway   *This race is currently open, see updated story.

September 17    New York   Aviator Sports and Events Center

November 5      Miami      Amelia Earhart Park

November 12    Houston    Bel Ray Action Sports Park

If attempting to register, you will see this error message:

Cancel NY Terrain

After seeing posts on Terrain’s Facebook page from concerned participants, we reached out to some of the scheduled venues directly. We heard back from all of the venues except Bel Ray Sports Park in Houston.

Terrain Race New York Cancel

We spoke with Brenda from Amelia Earhart Park who said “There is nothing on the schedule for a race on that date.” When asked if there was ever an event scheduled, she told us “No, this is the first that I am hearing of it.”A gentlemen at Aviator Sports and Events Center wasn’t exactly clear to ORM with his answers. He told us “It is currently still on the schedule, but we are waiting to hear what Terrain Racing tell their racers.”

Terrain Racing New England Cancels

We reached out to the site of the proposed New England race, and were told by General Manager Josh Vanada that “Despite reports to the contrary, the Terrain event scheduled for September 10 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park is on as scheduled.” We then asked why participants can not register for the race and were told we need to speak to Terrain Racing about that.

ORM reached Jerry Foreman this afternoon. He told us “Our business and races are healthy and we are happy with our number for our first year with this large growth”.

He was then asked directly “Are you denying races are cancelled?”, to which he replied “That decision has not been made”.

When specifically asked why you can not register for The New England race, he said “I’m not sure”.

We are working feverishly to get you the most accurate information and will post more information as soon as we receive it.

Update  8.31.16  11:15am EST

Last night we heard from Jerry Foreman via text.

We are driven to provide an awesome experience with the money the athletes trust us with. We haven’t failed to do that and we’ve received a lot of support after you posted this article. We want to make the community better and we would love your help doing so.

We responded that we were happy to help. Also, that we would correct/update any information that was incorrect in this article. We then asked for clarity on the registration situation with the 4 races in question.

While we were awaiting Jerry’s response, we also reached out to RunSignUp, the registration site responsible for all of Terrain’s 2016 events, via Facebook.  They responded with the following.

RunSignUp Response

We made Jerry Foreman aware of this communication, and as of this posting, are waiting for his response.

***There has been a significant update to this story concerning official race closings. Read here.