(3/26/16 Update: Pictures are up! There aren’t a ton of me, but still excellent photos by the photographers of Gameface Media.)
Once again, I was lucky enough to take on the mighty Savage Race, this my second time taking on the course. This spring event was met with all kinds of ups and downs, but overall, it was definitely a great weekend. Here are my key takeaways from the event:
- First encounter with weather problems. I was scheduled to run in the 12:00pm wave on Saturday, March 19th, when something unexpected happens: a potential weather problem was brewing. Now, to be clear, there are certain elements that OCR athletes choose to brave, such as some rain. However, when a storm system coming in from the Gulf of Mexico showed a serious lightning threat, Savage Race folks made the right call and suspended racing for a few hours. It may have been a major inconvenience, but we already take a big risk when entering these races (which is why we sign waivers).The people at Savage Race know that they take a certain degree of our safety in their hands, so when the weather showed signs of being a problem, they erred on the side of caution. They also offered several contingencies for those who were delayed: 1) wait it out and see if the course would be reopened; 2) come back the next day and try again; or 3) send an email via the website for a voucher for a future event. All good options, which gave Savages a chance to decide what would work best for them. I chose to wait for the next day, which brings me to my next takeaway:
- Sunday is great for non-competitors to up their own game. Not ready (or not considering maybe) hopping in a competitive wave any time soon but still want to push yourself to improve? Sunday may be a better option. Not all OCR’s run a full weekend, but if they do, Sunday is a great day to try and improve on your previous race performance. In my first Savage Race, it took me about 3 and a half hours to finish the course. (And no, I’m not going competitive any time soon.) One thing that helped increase that time was waiting for certain obstacles like Davy Jones’ Locker, which usually has a huge line just to climb the thing, let alone waiting for your turn to jump. On Sunday, there were no waits on any obstacles, so it was much easier to set your own pace and stick with it. In the end, my unofficial time was about 3 hours, half an hour shorter than last time. So if you can handle a luxury like running on a Sunday, this is definitely a good way to improve on your time. (Also, I feel the need to clarify: it still took me 3 hours because I hadn’t trained the way I needed to, and found myself walking most of the time. This will actually be the subject of another blog later.)
- The new obstacles were great fun. One challenge for any OCR company is finding a way to reinvent itself without losing what made people go for it the first time. There are two easy ways this can be done: rearranging the course and adding new obstacles. On the first front, the course was certainly different than October. Some were quite surprising and enjoyable, like putting Shriveled Richard (the giant ice bath) and their signature Sawtooth in the middle of the course instead of the beginning of the course. Others were, in my view, oddly placed. The big one here was putting Davy Jones’ Locker (a huge leap into a giant pool) right before Colossus (a huge slide into a giant pool). I’ve mentioned previously that good variety is important in OCR’s, and while Savage Race has no shortage of variety, putting two obstacles with similar outcomes back to back throws it off a little.On the new obstacles, these were definitely a good time. For those who haven’t run the race yet, here’s a quick breakdown of them:
- Squeeze Play was the first new obstacle encountered. Taking the low crawl to another level, Squeeze Play requires participants to push plastic barrels on swivels out of the way to get through. While the barrels are empty (which we’re all grateful for), it’s not something one can stay on hands and knees to get under; it pushes you down into the mud.
- On The Fence falls under the “chasm crossing” obstacle category. Taking the place of notably absent Pipe Dreams, this obstacle involves crossing a chasm of water on two pieces of hanging chain-link fence. Sounds simple enough, but I found that getting a foothold in those links that are too small for your feet (and after a gentle stroll through ankle-deep mud) was incredibly tricky. And, for the first time in my short lifetime as an OCR athlete, I was unable to defeat a chasm crossing. I’ve beaten Sawtooth, Pipe Dreams, and Wheel World, but this one took me down. You’ve bested me this time, but I’ll be back…
- Pole Cat is the next in line for crossing chasms. Taking the place of Nut Smasher, this one involves balancing with your hands and feet on two poles of different heights. Then, in the middle, your feet go up and your hands go down. A challenge for sure, but with a Savage guide talking everyone through it, getting across was done without too much peril. Well…there was a little peril. At least for me.
- The Mystery Obstacle (for real, I still don’t know the name of it), there was a half-dome with strategic holes for climbing up and over. That part was easy, but for an acrophobic like myself (fear of heights), the tough part was getting over the edge for the straight-down climb. It was a simple obstacle except for my own little fear, but that’s for me to deal with.
- And finally, the course ended with the Platinum Rig. For this, Savages were challenged with crossing a set of rings, a rope, a metal rack, then another rope, then some grips, and then ring the bell. This proved to be tricky for me, but others didn’t have much of a hard time with it. Guess that’s something else to work on.
- The Savage Team is as on point as you can get. As you mentioned in a previous point, there was a major weather delay on Saturday. And the Savage Team definitely pushed through. Whether it was the paid staff members giving updates while wearing raincoats to volunteers who continued to check people into the parking area, they did not skip a beat. Plus with updates being made via Facebook during the delay, I don’t feel like there was ever a point where a racer was unaware of the circumstances. Plus throw in the awesome people on the course, like the gentleman talking us through Pole Cat, or the paramedics who responded immediately at Davy Jones’ Locker when one competitor hit the water too hard, to the friendly guys refilling Shriveled Richard with fresh ice right before I jumped in (gee, thanks), the Savage Team is, without a doubt, absolutely exceptional.
To close out, Savage Race has once again made me very excited for running the course again. Possibly in October? Good chance. Thank you for yet another awesome event!