Terrain Race Chicago 2016 – Growing Pains?

Terrain Race held their 2016 Chicago race on August 20 at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.  Terrain Race had 3 options to fit racers’ needs: a 5k course, a 10k course, and an option to run unlimited laps.  The 5k and the 10k started off together with men’s competitive first followed by women’s competitive, and open heats followed.  Podium finishers in both of the races received monetary prizes.  There was NOT a master’s division (40 and up) at this race.

Terrain-Race-Chicago-Start

The unique start corrals, were actually pools of water, in which racers awaited the “go” and had to leap out of the pool quickly to start the race.  The majority of the race was flat running through fields around the Chicagoland Speedway.  It was definitely a “runner’s course” for the majority of the first mile.

Mixed up with the running, were trenches of water and mud mounds, crawls under wires, crawls through tunnels, vertical walls, a 25 pound Wreckbag carry, and then mile 2.5 hit.  There was a slight back up at this point because many competitive heat athletes were having difficulty crossing the “Monkey Balls” obstacle.  After several tries, I saw several competitive heat athletes toss in their arm band, which disqualified them from getting on the podium and winning prize money.Terrain-Race-Chicago-Monkey-Balls

Next up was the wall jump that split the 5k course from the 10k course.  The 5k group was led to the final 4 obstacles at the finish line and the 10k was led on another 4 miles of course and obstacles.  10k runners had a rope climb, several shorter walls to hop over, a mini tarzan swing, a teeter totter, and some stadium stair running.

After the stadium run, we were led back outside of the track where we encountered a tractor tire drag, which led to the final 4 obstacles that were spectator friendly.  The next obstacle in line added to much confusion.  Initially, competitive athletes were told to try as many times as you want, but you must complete each obstacle.  However there was some confusion at one of the final obstacles.  The structure was about 20+ feet long and had racers suspended over a pool of water. They had to use total upper body strength to move from climbing rock to climbing rock, legs suspended.  Halfway through the obstacle was a wood support piece that racers had to navigate around without touching.  The confusion came when some competitive female racers were allowed to go halfway and keep their bands, however this rule was not uniformly enforced.  However, after personally questioning the mishap with the competitive women, both the lady in charge of that obstacle and the race director were not very friendly nor clear on what happened, or why the rules were not consistent for all.Terrain-Race-Chicago-Rig

This hand tearing obstacle led to a tunnel crawl, more muddy trenches and more muddy mounds, followed by a suspended cargo net climb about 5 feet from the ground.  This structure gave way and collapsed around noon, when the obstacle had several people on it.  No major injuries were reported.  One racer, Kurt Stremming, was on the structure when it collapsed.  He stated, “It was slow motion for me…I was holding onto the wafer board in the middle, literally felt it sway, start to crack, and collapse.”  He also said, “…one lady had her head struck but is fine and another got his leg pinned but is fine.”  There was also complaints that the staff were more concerned about removing the debris from the course than checking in on the people that fell.  There were approximately 8-10 adults and 2 kids on this obstacle when it gave way.Terrain-Race-Chicago-Cargo-BeforeTerrain-Race-Chicago-Cargo-After

Finally, the kid’s race seemed to be a hit.  The 1-mile course included walls to climb over, a balance beam, muddy mounds, a framed cargo climb, and a sandbag carry.  Kids that raced received the same medal as the adults.  The medals were very nice and larger than I had expected.

Overall, despite the obstacle collapse and the confusion with the competitive women, the race was a lot of bang for the buck.  The MC was awesome, played great music and kept the atmosphere fun and friendly!  5k racers only paid $30 plus insurance and the 10k racers paid just $35.  Parking was $10 and very close to the festival area.  I see a potential future with this race company once they get the kinks figured out and get things running a little more safely and uniformly.

Terrain Race New Jersey – Crash and Burn At Raceway Park

Terrain Race, a west coast based race was to be held to high standards with equally high expectations. That comes with the territory when you host an event at a venue previously used by the top brands in the sport such as Tough Mudder, Rugged Maniac and Battlefrog to name a few. Regardless of how hard you attempt to look at each as a separate entity, you always compare. I’m probably one of the easiest in the sport to please as I race to have fun, and I usually find a way to do so with every event. So, when I say this event was a letdown, the optimist in me wants to reference “you get what you pay for”.

The standard open wave registration cost for the race was $25 for the 5K and $30 for the 10k. Currently, their upcoming New York event (it’s at Aviator, worst venue in OCR…you’ve been warned) is priced at $20/$25 for 5k/10k. That’s cheap…. I mean… dirt cheap… You can’t get a Groupon or Living Social Warrior Dash for that price. With that price point, I truly emphasize, “you get what you pay for”.

Parking for all races at the Raceway Park venue is the same: a short walk to registration and the start line. 95% of the time for Raceway Park you don’t need bag check, but if you felt compelled, it was free with registration. Walking up to registration you expect the usual corral of bib number or last name lines along with a paper waiver table. The table with waivers was there, but on this day, I missed the standard registration lines. Terrain’s setup was one line, which led you to 4 tables set up to check-in one person at a time (totaling 4 racers checking in at one time).  Needless to say, the line got backed up.

After checking in, you work your way to the festival area, which was in the same vicinity of the venue for all races held in this location. For previous events the festival area has had bull riding, sand bag toss, rock wall, inflated slides for kids, even inflatable sumo body suits. On this day it was open grass with participants wandering throughout.  Their one engaging attraction was a small rig that was used for spectator area photo ops.  The one event I opt to have my 4 and 6 year old kids run and they’d be stuck waiting for me to complete a quick lap after they ran the kids race, with nothing to do. I never concern myself with festival areas as I normally run, and start my long trek home. On this day I took notice, and it was sorely lacking from what you become accustomed to, not just at this venue but most.

Terrain-Race-New-Jersey-Festival-Area

As I previously stated, I’m very easy to please on overall event satisfaction. I don’t need intense terrain, challenging obstacles,perfect weather, water stations, rule enforcement…. None of that appeals to my interest in the sport. I’m all about fun and that’s fairly easy to provide. Give me mud, water and decent obstacle selection. I don’t differentiate between good and bad, because ultimately most races offer you something unique. Give me something different, that I don’t experience every week, and I’m happy. The race started off with just that.

Terrain-Race-New-Jersey-Start-Line

You enter the start area and immediately choose between two, 4-ft deep pools of water to jump into. Hop out the other side and you’re ready to get started. This was awesome, as it was different. Then came the disappointment, the race itself. The word I got was that the 10k course had an additional 10+ obstacles over what the 5k course contained. Afterwards, I really wished I had run the 10k option. It felt like a race that would’ve been better served placing all obstacles in a 5k course and utilizing 2-5k laps to encompass their 10k option as many races do.

The 5k course followed the path of all other events held at this venue. Off the pavement and onto the motocross dirt path we went. I won’t elaborate on detailed obstacle placement as it would bore you as it did me. To sum it up, you run, crawl a little, climb a wall, crawl again, run, climb a cargo net, run more, find a random set of straight horizontal monkey bars off in a field, run some more, climb another wall, then came what was deemed the best(and only real 5k) obstacle on the course.

Terrain-Race-New-Jersey-Rig

Climb up to the top of the first of two pools of water. Select a lane which each contained a wooden beam that travels the distance of the first tub. The beam had alternating rock climbing grips evenly spaced on each side. After traversing the distance of the first pool, you had to reach for hanging grips of different shapes and sizes. With no foot platforms to assist in transitioning from stationary rock grips to hanging grips, this obstacle proved too much for many including a large percentage of the elite heat. It was odd going from extremely basic obstacles to one as challenging as this, but, it was different nonetheless and a change that I welcomed.

After the rig setup over water, you made your way to the finish line to collect, what is easily one of the top medals in OCR. A large monkey face that spins within a circle, with varying medals signifying 5k and 10k. For a small fee, there was a multi-lap option that provided racers with a pin for each lap completed that could be placed on their medal ribbon. Compared to unfair expectations set by previous brands, this was a major letdown in living up to my generally easily attainable standards.

Terrain-Race-New-Jersey-Medal

Speaking to participants in the festival area many were pleased with the event as a result of running the 10k course and encountering the obstacles that were sorely missed in the 5k portion or didn’t believe they had room to complain because of the small financial cost to them compared to all other race brands. Based solely on the obstacle variety, difficulty, and terrain utilization it was closely equivalent to a Warrior Dash but not nearly as fun. For many, the medal alone was worth the $25/$30 registration fee. If I raced the brand again, I would certainly opt to try the 10k course as the 5k was sorely lacking.

P.S. The kids race was great for $20 and parents run free with paid kids registration.

Terrain-Race-New-Jersey-Kids-Race

P.S.S. The shitter rating came in at 💩💩 out of a possible 💩💩💩💩💩.
Quantity was the issue with very few shitters for having most waves sold out prior to race day.

P.S.S.S. At the time this was written it’s been 9 days(6 business days) after the event and race photos have yet to be posted.  Most races have photos up around day 4.

*Update- pics were posted today(8/17) same day as their Minnesota event pics were posted for an event that took place 7 days after this one

Terrain Race for Two – Atlanta Race Review

Last fall, I had the unique pleasure of introducing my son to the world of OCR by signing him up for the Savage Jr. It was a smashing success. You can read my account of that awesome experience here. Now, the one criticism he had at the time was that while it was a lot of fun the course was too easy for him. Obviously, on the other end of the spectrum, even if he’d been allowed to run it, the full Savage would’ve been much too difficult for him. Even I still struggle with some of the obstacles at races on that level. At 9 years of age, he’s in that awkward middle ground of being too old for most ‘kid’ stuff, but not quite old enough for those activities geared toward adults, so it was a great surprise to stumble on the Terrain Race and furthermore to read anyone over the age of 7 was allowed to run the full 5k. The race fell on the week of his birthday as well, so the timing was perfect. All he wanted for his birthday was a bib, a shirt, and a medal.
The race was held at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers. This has become quite the popular venue for Atlanta area OCR events. I’d been here for Rugged Maniac and Spartan Sprint within the past year and I know a few other races are held here as well. While my son has never caused me any difficulty whatsoever, it was nice to have that familiarity with the area if only to eliminate the potential stress point of getting lost. My first impression of the festival area was that it looked rather sparse in comparison to that of the other races I’d attended which both had their festival set up in the exact same spot. As previously stated, I found Terrain Race almost by accident just by poking around online and had never heard it come up in conversation. Since it’s not nearly as well known among the general population or perhaps even among some OCR athletes, I assume the sponsors and vendors and their corresponding tents, displays, and samples are naturally fewer and far between. We registered a little late in the game for this one as well which resulted in a later wave time. It could be there was a bigger crowd that had already begun to disperse by the time we arrived just before 1:00 p.m. to run.
terrain race festival area
Let me begin by saying my boy and I had a wonderful time running our first race together. Really, that’s where most of the fun came from for me personally. While we had a great time, overall, the course itself was pretty ‘vanilla’ for lack of a better word. Some obstacles were harder than others but none ridiculously difficult. Additionally, there were there no unique or “signature” obstacles on which some of the most well-known races pride themselves. There wasn’t much here from a skillset standpoint I hadn’t seen before and the actual structures had more of a backyard playset feel about them. It was almost as if the organizers got truckloads of lumber and supplies from the local hardware store and simply emulated obstacles they’d seen at other races. But still, a great time was had by all. As such, I don’t think a play-by-play race review would be terribly useful or interesting. Instead, I’ll highlight some of the highs, lows, and even oddities we encountered that made the Terrain Race experience enjoyable and unique for us.
The first oddity was the starting corral. Each racer climbed into what was essentially an above ground pool and waited for the starter’s signal. When the wave began, we all hopped out and started running. I’m not sure what the specific challenge was here other than to soak us before the race began. I didn’t really understand the purpose, but it wasn’t a big deal. My kid thought it was great.
terrain race starting corral
While he found starting from in a pool amusing, he found the mud absolutely hilarious. Jumping into each one, he couldn’t stop laughing. He’d been talking about the mud for weeks on end leading up to the race. How many mud pits would there be? How deep are they? How many times can I go through them?  He told me the more mud pits the better and fortunately for him, Terrain Race had five good ones spaced pretty evenly throughout.  Because we began so late in the day the mounds bordering each pit were packed down, smooth, and extra slippery. He needed my help to get out of a couple of them. Despite going down hard on one side of his butt coming off one of the pits too quickly, these were by far his favorite parts of Terrain Race.
terrain race last pit
The first real lesson I was able to teach my son during the race was how to properly climb up and over a vertical wall. He quickly mastered the technique of pushing down on the top of the wall to lift your body up, locking your arms before throwing a leg over to bring yourself to a seated position, then carefully lowering yourself down the opposite side.
terrain race second wall
There were a few short walls he was able to negotiate after a few tries, but he wisely opted out of attempting the taller ones even if they had attached climbing ropes or when offered a boost by yours truly. His mom told him not to try anything he didn’t feel comfortable with that morning. He took that warning to heart and so did I. We were glad we did too because only a couple of minutes after passing the tallest wall on the course, we heard a few people behind us screaming and running for a medic to treat a broken leg. We briefly joined the posse hunting for an EMT but someone else reached a race volunteer with a walkie talkie before we did.
terrain race rope wall
Interestingly enough, after seeing my son decide which walls to attempt and which ones to avoid seemingly based on height alone, he shocked me by scooting right up a steep A-frame cargo net obstacle that had to be 12 – 15 feet high. We climbed up side by side so I would be nearby in the event he got scared or needed any support, be it motivational or physical, while up high on the netting. Other than taking a few extra moments to tentatively go over the summit from one side of the obstacle to the other, he managed this one like an elite competitor in my book. When our feet were back on earth, there were high fives all around.
terrain race aframe cargo
 
The next obstacle of note was the wreck bag section of the course. It should be noted that this is the point where I saw an epic fail by Terrain Race. The storage bin for the wreck bags was completely empty and a line was forming. Each racer finishing the section handed off their bag to the next person in line rather than returning it to the bin. I hoisted mine onto my shoulders and told my son he may want to skip this part due to the weight. Nope. He wasn’t having any of that nonsense. With a little assistance, he got a decent grip on his wreck bag (albeit underhanded) and started walking leaving me in the dust. If I was proud after watching my son conquer the A-frame, I was absolutely elated during the wreck bag section. So many adult racers who passed us cheered for him for taking this on. I couldn’t help but smile and do the same. 
 terrain race wreck bags
Prior to encountering one of the mud obstacles, we came upon some 4x4s on the ground and it took me a second or two to identify them as an official obstacle. The Terrain Race folks frankly didn’t try real hard with this one. Anyone with basic carpentry skills could have made one of these in minutes. Every balance-oriented obstacle I’ve encountered since I began participating in this sport was over water, up high, and/or involved some sort of distraction to make it a challenge worthy of an OCR athlete. This was literally lumber lying on the ground. I’m not sure why they even bothered including this on the course at all.
terrain race balance beam
In stark contrast to the balance beam, my favorite obstacle at Terrain Race was well done and familiar but like nothing I’d ever tried before. This one was elevated and had a series of beams running overhead with a pool underneath. Each beam was divided into two sections. The first had rock wall grips mounted on either side of the beam. The second had balls hanging from the bottom of the beam. (If I’m not mistaken, Terrain Race refers to them as monkey balls. Yep, they went there.) The objective was to cross the pool while hanging from the apparatus. I use the term familiar because in my college years I worked at a rock climbing wall inside a theme park. To this day, I still have trouble with hanging obstacles like monkey bars (especially metal ones that are a few hundred degrees and too hot to touch much less hang from, which Terrain Race also offered), so it was exciting for me to encounter the rock wall grips and know I’d do well with them. Unfortunately, my son wasn’t tall enough to reach … He ended up jumping in the pool and swimming to the other side which was just fine. I made it across though in making progress along the beam I developed a bit of a side to side swinging motion and began to worry I’d miss the pool entirely if I were to let go on every swing to my right side. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.
terrain race rock wall grip traverse 2
Terrain Race certainly had a few faults. Some could certainly be improved internally in short order while others would require more money, sponsors, name recognition, etc. especially if they want to be compared to the big races. However, the registration fees were very reasonable and aligned with what was offered for the most part. The bottom line is that my kid and I had a blast running together for the first time. I had the opportunity to teach him some things about OCR and more importantly watch him encounter challenges, test himself, overcome fear, problem solve, and revel in his success. He told me mid run about half way through the race it was one of the best birthday presents he’d ever gotten. Imperfect event or not, I have Terrain Race to thank for that. I’ll never forget it.
terrain race finish

Terrain Race Atlanta – 2016

PROLOGUE
6:10 AM, I20 East – Barreling down the road listening to a Police and Led Zeppelin rock block is a fine way to start the race day. Today, Terrain Race Atlanta is on the menu.

6:25 AM, Waffle House, Conyers, GA – Mr. Pink and Dirty meet me at the Grey Berets corporate board room.

7:55 AM, Parking – Instead of going around my ass to get to my elbow, they actually have me entering the parking lot at the end towards the event and stacking back from there. A minor detail but nice nonetheless for us Georgia International Horse Park (GIHP) regulars.

7:15 AM, Registration Tent – I wind my way through the zig zagging metal barriers to reach the registration tables. This is made somewhat difficult as I am pulling the official Grey Berets beer and gear wagon (shhhh, don’t tell anyone about the beer). I get to the tent and she scans the bar code of the Terrain email on my phone. Very cool tech. I hand her my waiver and she rewards me with my packet and timing chip. <pointing to some very cool sweat bands with the monkey logo> “hey what are those?” I say. “They are for mumble mumble mumble”…..I leave not asking anything further and understanding less.

7:17 AM, Grey Berets Command Tent – We have sent up next to the largest team (which is naturally, my fellow GORMRs) tent provided by Terrain. <pointing to some very cool sweat bands with the monkey logo being WORN on the wrists of my teammates>. “Hey what are those for?” I ask. “they’re the bands for mandatory obstacle completion (MOC). Well ain’t that some shit! I hightail it back to the registration tent.

7:18 AM, Registration Tent – I take advantage of an opening and dash to the same volunteer. “Hey I was supposed to get a sweatband, I’m in the competitive wave. You know, you gave me a timing chip.” She looks at me as if I have two lobsters growing out of my head. I gently but firmly prod her into action. She starts punching some keys on the laptop. “what’s your name again?” She’s not finding anything and I left my phone at the tent. Breath deep. At this point I hear a keening like sound coming from someone who is obviously a volunteer coordinator. “I want to cry right now! You are supposed to give timing chips to only those people who are in the competitive waves or who have paid for them. NOT everyone!” Doh!  Shit’s about to hit the fan. My girl (who is probably part of the problem) finds my name just in time and I get the hell out of dodge with my band.

7:59 AM, Starting Corral–The starting corral was dominated by two soft sided, steel frame supported, above ground pools, pregnant with thousands of gallons of water. These fourteen-yard dumpster sized sacs of H2O are 25’ feet before the starting line inflatable. What manner of fuckery is this?Terrain Race starting corral

8:00 AM, Starting Corral– Competitive men’s 5k is called to the starting corral. We are a bit confused as it seems the 5k competitive waves are scheduled to go off at the same time as those of us in the competitive 10k ones. What the hell are they doing, everyone is climbing into the pools?! Is this some sort of new starting ritual; an OCR baptismal? The emcee keeps the words blissfully short and yells “go!” Everyone clambers out of the pools in a pell-mell rush of legs and feet and water. Well that is the most awkward, messed up way to start a race I’ve seen to date. BUT, considering it’s going to be hotter than two rats fucking in a wool sack today, and it already feels like I’m on a bus tour in Malaysia, perhaps it’s not such a bad thing. (writer’s note: This race originated in Arizona, so this starting line gimmick just may be a way to keep racers from melting in the desert heat)

8:10 AM, Starting Corral– I climb into the pool, and for the first time in the 2016 race season, Chubby Conquistador and his two bulldogs aren’t inclined to go scrambling for the safety and warmth of my body cavity. It’s quite refreshing standing there, but it is a bit awkward. The spectators are lined up along the crowd barriers and I kind of feel like it’s SeaWorld and we’re the seals. I can see the timing mats at the start inflatable, and with Yuri Force in the very back of the adjacent pool, I am confident I will be ahead of him in a race for the first time in recorded history. Well, at least until the timing mats.

OBSERVATIONS ON THE RUN

  1. And we’re off, in one of the most ungainly starts in OCR.
  2. If I had a dollar for every time the start of a race at the GIHP went this direction, why I’d have two Powerball tickets and junior jumbo bucks scratcher. It’s like seeing an old friend, but a friend with dried mounds of earth and rock, ready to snap an ankle.
  3. The 4-foot wall is wobblier than a newborn giraffe.
  4. It’s flat/downhill and fast.
  5. I come out of the woods to a 10-foot roped wall in the firebreak. The ropes are ultra-skinny! The five horizontal 2Xs make for easy work of the climb.Terrain Race Rope Wall
  6. Still flat and fast.
  7. I come out of the woods and jump into the cool mud pits of Mud Moguls. The water is waist deep and the loose dirt mounds loom overhead on the opposite side. A guy is struggling to get out so I give him a boost. He makes the distinct wow-i-did-not-expect-a-hand-on-my-ass-today sound. Hey, I’m a Grey Beret, we help out where we can, when we can. I was not rewarded with a thank you. I follow the spirit of the obstacle and do not go to the edges where it’s clearly lower and easier to get out. It’s a fucking struggle to get out of that first pit. The next two I get a helping hand under my right foot.
  8. “5k to the left, 10k to the right”, yells the volunteer.
  9. Going to the right, I am rewarded with a 6-foot wall.
  10. It’s a nice bit of wooded trail running (I’m sure I’ve never been to these parts before) that leads me to a tire flip.
  11. The entirety of my tire flipping history can be counted on one hand with one finger, and it was a miserable fucking failure. But these tires prove to be smaller and thankfully devoid of water. 2x up and 2x back.
  12. My lack of tire flipping skill and etiquette are laid bare as I flip right into the path of another racer. I apologize profusely as I drag the tire off his toes. (Terrain; COME ON! You placed this obstacle in a clearing not much bigger than my kitchen. It was a wee bit tight for an obstacle that requires some elbow room.)
  13. I come out of the woods and find myself coming alongside the mud moguls, the course tape merging me with the previously seen 5k split. As I run past the pits I shout out to friend and fellow GORMR Michelle.
  14. It’s still fast and flat (or even downhill), but I am not going fast enough for the circumstances. The fitness just isn’t there.
  15. The Monkey Bars sit out in the open of the firebreak, not a volunteer in sight. So much for MOC.
  16. There is no step up bar so I am able to not break stride and just jump up and grab the bars. It’s flat and the bars are nice and thick, but whoa!, they are widely spaced. I use the momentum from the jumping swing to carry me through. I’ m not sure how my more “vertically deficient” friends will manage to even get to the bars.
  17. We immediately drop into the woods for some bushwacking and just like that I am flying through the air.
  18. Fuck!
  19. I hit the ground with my arms back and shoulder rounded. Luckily it’s all pine needles where I land and no one is directly behind me. I slide to an ignominious stop.
  20. First water station finally shows up! As the set-up has its back to me I assume I will see this one again.
  21. It’s getting fucking hot and it’s not even 9AM. The later waves are going to spontaneously combust. That starting line idea ain’t such a stupid fucking idea now, is it Tretsch?! “Yeah whatever, voices inside my head!”
  22. A 4-foot wall (just as fucking wobbly as the first), 6-foot wall, and an 8-foot wall (with a very energetic volunteer willing a struggling racer over), and we are headed back towards the festival area.
  23. I’m following the tried and true path of every Rugged Maniac race at GIHP as I head towards the open field of the festival area on my way to Monkey Balls.
  24. There is a backup despite the five lanes this giant rig has. Chock that up to the combined 5k men’s/women’s and 10k men’s/women’s waves overlapping and no dedicated retry lanes. (Terrain, if you’re going to do MOC, you need to learn how to do it efficiently). The whole thing is suspended over a larger version of the starting corral pools, so even if I fall I’m still winning.
  25. It’s fucking hot, there isn’t a lick of shade out here in the open, and I’m sweating worse than a group of nuns at a cucumber farm.
  26. It starts off with a 15-foot horizontal 2×10 studded with 7 alternating climbing holds. The holds are juggy so pose no issue, but it still takes a concerted effort to keep the body from swinging wildly from side to side as I make my way forward monkey bar style. The deep center girder holding up the 2x10s makes for a challenging transition to the next 15-foot section; 7 suspended beast balls (think baseballs and softballs, but with the texture of a climbing hold) proceeded by a suspended cone.Terrain Race Monkey Balls
  27. Three tries and 9 fucking minutes later I’m back at it with my soggy Monkey sweatband intact. I loathe MOC. I love MOC. MOC is the only way to play.
  28. Thankfully I’m soon back in the woods protected from that blazing orb in the sky.
  29. I spy a large crate with the telltale orange straps of Wreck Bags peeking out. Carry time!
  30. What the fuck?! THIS is all they have? This isn’t enough for one heat let alone the inevitable stack up when the open waves start to merge. Terrain, you are going to have some pissed off people when they have to wait for a bag!
  31. I heave the bag onto my shoulder only to almost throw it behind me. I was expecting the usual 50# and got 25#. And lo! They are ALL 25#. I won’t complain.
  32. As I head up the hill (of course! It’s always a fucking hill) I hear the volunteer bellowing; “Remember the code word and whisper it to me when you return!”. What?! This is an awesome tweak to this ubiquitous obstacle, plus I get to whisper sweet nothings into a stranger’s ear.
  33. This is the first major hill of the day.
  34. It’s shaping up to be a long carry. This would be really sucky with a 50# bag. I finally get to the turn and there on the course arrow sign is a single word. It appears to have been written by a crack addled tweaker with access to a bag full of sharpies, but it is just legible enough to read the word: Monkey. “Well that makes sense”, I think to myself. Or did I say it out loud? I don’t know, it’s fucking hot; my brain is melting.
  35. I run back down at a good clip, afraid somehow I’ll forget a single word only six letters long.
  36. I think I leaned in a little closer than the volunteer would have liked. Perhaps he didn’t care for my husky sexy-time voice as I whispered, “monkey”.
  37. The trail opens up a bit and leads me to a series of corrugated culvert pipes leading down into a mud pit. Yes! I need to be wet….and muddy. A controlled descent head first and splashdown occurs. Oh that glorious water feels so good! All manner of body parts singing the praises of this dirty, disgusting, muddy, but oh so refreshing water. A crawl under some netting, through another set of tubes, more mud and water and I’m feeling refreshed.Terrain Race Spider Web Tubes
  38. Back on to a wide open trail I get to a suspended cargo net thingy spanning the course. It appears the course crosses over itself. I love when they do this during races! Allows me to see people I wouldn’t normally see after the gun goes off. I run under it (no one over my head at this point) and keep on keeping on.
  39. Hey! There’s my friend and fellow GORMR Rachel, heading towards the cargo net thingy and running like she stole something. Like I said, you get to see people you normally don’t get to see.
  40. I am now on the wide road/trail that anyone who has raced at GIHP has been on, at least partially, 100% of the time EVERY time. However, at this point on the road I’m usually going the opposite direction.
  41. Still flat and fast, except my “fast” is slowing down.
  42. I come around a bend and there’s everyone’s favorite hill (anyone? BattleFrog wreck bag carry? Spartan bucket carry? Good times.) with a very tall and steeply inclined cargo net guarding the approach.
  43. The Flip & Crab ™ technique goes off with just a slight sphincter puckering hitch; my hands come away from the net when it bounces under my feet.
  44. The long uphill slog is made more tolerable, power(ish) walking with friend and fellow GORMR Joe. The shit is shot, and laughs are had.
  45. There’s the first water station, which is now the second water station. I’m about 4 miles in.
  46. I’m fucking hot and moist.
  47. A sweet downhill carries me back to the cargo net thing.
  48. It’s a spindly, square metal tubed affair. Widely spaced horizontal bars to climb, a horizontal cargo net to negotiate, and a flaccid angled cargo net for the downclimb.
  49. I have a new horizontal cargo net technique spontaneously created at Panther Run (review forthcoming. Yeah, yeah, I know! It’s been three and half weeks! So sue me. I have my notes and the review is kind of started). I dive out from the approach edge of the net as far as I can, and just before impact I turn sideways to land in a roll. I take the momentum into a couple of rolls and transition onto my hands and knees for a smooth and quick traverse. It works in my head. (do not do this with people around! Obviously)
  50. Back on the wide road/trail and I should be able to kick up the speed several notches. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be fucking flying down this flat road, but my brain just won’t tell my legs to go faster. I need to work on my mental game.
  51. I almost trip over tsome zig zagged 4x4s hugging the ground. I traverse these with great trepidation, as the 4” height from the ground is somewhat daunting.
  52. A mud pit immediately following the balance beam of doom is another fantastic cooling off opportunity. A quick mud crawl under some rope and boards and it’s back to hacking my way through the humidity.
  53. And in the same spot as so many other races, I drop into the woods. Some bushy, woodsy running gets me to the base of a short and very steep hill. Other races have used this location but with a rope. The Icebug lugs prove their worth.
  54. Back out at the very periphery of the festival field brings me to another diverging of the 5k and 10k courses. I take the 10k to the right and have to heave over a 6-foot wall for my troubles.
  55. It’s a 100 yard flat run to the Tarzan swing. I see two ropes hanging in sequence and the volunteer tells me to get to the other side without touching the ground. “no problem”, I’ll just tap into my inner Johnny Weissmuller. Damn if my toe doesn’t scrape the ground, and volunteer Johnny-on the spot makes me do it again. Second attempt I make it to the other side but can’t commit and go swinging back to the beginning. What the hell is my problem?! I said Johnny Weismuller not Johnny Depp (wait for it……). Third times a charm and I’m off and running.Terrain Race Tarzan Swing
  56. I groan as I see which direction the course tape is taking me. it’s to be some exposed granite face running for me today. I fucking hate running on that shite.
  57. The tunnel under the road is especially dark today since the eyes are so wasted from the bright sunlight. I run slowly with high steps.
  58. And just like Spartan we have to run through a concrete culvert. I just love how that feels wearing big lugs.
  59. Annnnnd there’s the exposed granite, radiating a billion fucking degrees of heat straight up my shorts. If this race doesn’t end soon Imma gonna be getting grass stains on my gentlemen’s briefcase back at the festival area.
  60. Will this rock ever end?!
  61. Finally! A water station! Most of the water goes on my melon. I swear I hear a sizzle.
  62. And it just keeps going up. Fuck!
  63. A lone girl, a sad little pile of 40(ish)# sand bags, a 25-yard loop carry (unless your Yuri Force. Ask him about it sometime. It’s a gem of a story.) and it’s downhill granite running time. Downhill is only slightly less sucky. I fucking hate running on granite.
  64. At this point, given the burden of event site knowledge, I could go on autopilot. Yet, somehow I still manage to almost impale my head on a tree branch.
  65. Back under the road, back up the hill and I’m running alongside the VIP parking lot again, looking at the incoming people looking at me. They’re all full of excitement and wonder and naiveté for their upcoming wave, and here I am, about to make a fucking phase change.
  66. The rope climb is 12-feet max. no bell, I need only tap the metal truss holding up the collection of knotless ropes.
  67. I can see the finish line across the festival area and yet the legs still won’t cooperate. Stupid appendages with their need for oxygen.
  68. As the course tape takes me in an out swinging arc, I can see the last two obstacles: a long mud pit and a huge elevated cargo net.
  69. I greedily jump into the mud pit/pool as if it was a marble tub full of Cristal. The finish line is 50 yards away and I’m lingering in this thing like it’s the baths of Caracalla. I finally climb out and “dash” to the last obstacle.
  70. It takes two attempts to walk up the angled, slippery, muddy 4×4 that leads to the edge of the massive cargo net crawl. The Dive & Roll ™ is executed with the grace of a flying rock.Terrain Race Cargo Net
  71. NO!!! a firemen’s pole to get down! Last time I had to do something like this I jammed up my knee but good. I give it a death grip with both hands and feet and slowly slide down.
  72. And just like that I’m across the finish line. My friend and fellow GORMR Gwenn drapes the sweetest piece of bling (apologies to UB belt buckles) in all of OCR around my neck. Seriously a huge heavy spinning monkey head. Best medal to date……from an aesthetic point of view. What can i say, I love the monkey logo.Terrain Race Medal

POSTSCRIPT
9:30 AM, Festival Area – The Grey Berets Start to come across the finish line and we hang out to cheer as each additional one shows up.

10:15 AM, Festival Area – The beer and gear wagon is assaulted and the first beer is cracked. Don’t judge me. It’s Noon somewhere.

11:35 AM, Festival Area – The heat finally gets to me. So, the race shorts go back on and it’s shenanigans at the Monkey Balls. Again it takes me 3 tries. Glad I didn’t keep my street clothes on.

11:45 AM, Festival Area – The biggest team swag from Terrain is truly impressive: aluminum water bottles in Terrain orange with the monkey logo, Terrain coozies, Terrain squeeze water bottles, and Terrain stickers. However, the Aluminum bottles came with the screw-on tops loose (while the bottle itself was sealed in plastic) in the box and the squeeze bottles came with no tops. A true OCR mystery there.

12:15 PM, Festival Area – I can’t take it! I’m out of water, and the beer isn’t cutting it. I MUST have a Coke. Luckily my free beer tab also works for sodas and water at the beer tent. Good move Terrain. The fizzy burn is sooo good.

The rest of the day is spent enjoying the company of my fellow Grey Berets, chatting with fellow GORMRS, cheering on the podium winners, being lightly seared to a medium rare perfection, and general all around foolishness. The walk back to the car is never easy after a day of racing but this time I took a different route and it was fine.

Writer’s note: Terrain race only recognizes top three in men’s/women’s 5k and 10k. With that, they have MOC for the competitive waves BUT within the results they do not parse out those who keep their bands and those who don’t.  Therefore, there is no real way to truly know one’s final results. Caveat Emptor if that kind of thing matters. My personal opinion is if they are bothering with MOC then they need to take it to its obvious extent and make that a data point in the results. 

Photo Credits (in order of appearance): Hilery Stillions Wilson. Jeremy Wisotsky, Terrain Race, Laura Vanella Hawkins, Jennifer Hess Foster