Posts Tagged With: race

Earn Your Rank

18402930_10211113874019994_8400291433473830259_nGrains of sand tumbled over each other then took flight, hurling themselves across my legs at speeds enough to shave the skin off my ankles. This was not what I signed up for. At least we were’t racing on the beach.

The Battle Race course, set up ten miles inland, awaited my partner and me. We had run Sid Morris‘ epic first Battle Race in Baton Rouge last year.

This year’s series promised to be even better — 3+ miles and 38 obstacles, complete with extra burpees and penalty laps. Needless to say, we were amped.

Our strategy was nothing new, after half-a-dozen OCRs together, we just looked at each other as the rookies sprintedP4290383 out of the starting gate. We knew we would see them again, gasping for air about 7 obstacles in. Slow and steady is the way to handle a Battle.

Terrain isn’t much of a challenge in Gulfport, MS. The obstacles were the reason we were here, nearly 40 in a 5.5-mile course. And Battle Race did not disappoint.

Cargo nets to crawl under and climb over. Ladders. Inverted ladders. Short walls. Tall walls. Cliffhangers. Rope climbs. Rope swings. Sandbag carries. And that was the
easy stuff.
P4290287I have never seen this much variety, and this many obstacles packed into any OCR anyhere. And as we battled deeper into the course, the obstacles just got better. Barbed wire crawls. A-frames. Tire flips. And a literal mountain of sand. (So much for terrain not  being an obstacle on the Gulf Coast.

You want log carries? Try humping a log down a gentle slope, then crawling under barbed wire while rolling that log up a dried gully.

Tough Mudder has Everest. Spartan has the Bucket Carry. Battle Race has at least three signature obstacles. The first we faced was Limitless. P4290201Imagine Victor Frankenstein as a fitness freak instead of a mad scientist.

This contraption could have come straight from his lab. First you shimmy up an angled pole, swing up and down monkey bars, then back up another angled bar before crossing another set of monkey bars and out of the obstacle. And the best part is, this thing has so many rigs, there can be a different set-up for every race.

Unmovable should be dubbed MissionAlmostImpossible. Grab a 150+ pound sandbag, and schlep it 20 yards. But that, my wheezing sherpa, is just the beginning. 18320595_1718903321740732_5350041093897681042_oDrop that behemoth onto a 24-inch platform then push it over to the other side. Now, jump on top, and cross to the other side. Now, pick up that beast, flip it over the box, jump back, and again hoist the dead weight off the ground and carry at back to where you started.

It’s enough to knock the wind out of the most seasoned OCR strongman. I watched the action at this one for nearly half an hour before our race. No one ran out of this obstacle.

The FF5 Rig, is . . . well . . . words fail me. If Limitless was something from Frankenstein’s lab. FF5 is another dimension. Ropes, balls, and freaky little handlebars all unstable, all dangling from trusses, IMG_6056just daring you to grab one and swing.

Choose wrong, and risk a penalty lap with even more challenges.

Battle Race is the race for obstacle lovers and novices alike. It is a great introduction into what OCRs are all about. Challenging for the individual. Fun to run as a team. On a bigger course, it could easily challenge Spartan as the baddest race in the land. The price is better than any of the big-name races, and the swag aint bad either.

IMG_6035After happy damsels plied us with protein bars and battlefield medals, we retired again to the beach where the winds had intensified. But what’s a sand-blasted ankle when there are beers to be drunk by returning heroes.

If you missed Gulfport, don’t cry in your sports drink. There are two more Battle Races scheduled for New Orleans and Baton Rouge. I’m already signed up.

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There Will Be Mud

DCIM105GOPROFrom the euphoria of conquering Everest to the muck in the bowels of the mud pit, one thing the Tough Mudder course never does is let up. My intrepid team of Mudder’s had barely set our feet on solid ground when the trek to the next challenge began.

My son and I ran point. My sister and cousin trod in our footprints, a half-mile up a gentle incline. But nothing about the Mudder is gentle. This slope was covered in soft, dry sand. Better to muscle through and rest at the top than to break our pace and breathe easy.

DCIM105GOPROAnother mile and three more obstacles down the winding trail, we saw it. The Mudder’s namesake. The Mud Mile. All this time we had been gradually ascending. Now the Mudder would throw us into a pit of Hell. Down another winding trail with no place to stand but loose, red dirt.

We kept our feet moving. To rest was to tumble through the legs of the Mudders ahead of us. Up one pile of freshly dug dirt, and down another until we reached the canyon floor.

DCIM106GOPROIf the Mud Mile were simply mud, what would be the challenge? Water, thick as pancake batter met us first. First to our ankles, then above our knees, but that is for kids. The batter reached our chests as our legs sank past our knees in soft, squishy muck. Then it was over slick clay walls nearly as tall as we were. Not one, but three per mud pit.

Then out of the pit and across more loose dirt and sand. It clung to our clothes and caked inside our shoes. We repeated this ritual for a mile, maybe more with nothing but belly-crawls through loose sand as an interlude.

DCIM106GOPROWhen it came to an end, we had to leave the pit, but not on the same winding trail we had entered. No, Mudders climb out, on ropes. We scaled the walls, many pounds heavier than when we entered the pit thanks to the red clay, mud, and sand in our shoes, shorts, and hair.

We had survived the toughest, nastiest obstacles the Mudder could throw at us. We simply had a mile sprint to the finish. Our months of training paid off. DSC_0307While other teams gasped for air, we trotted past them grinning ear to ear. The finish line lay just ahead, and so did the bright orange headbands that would crown us as official Tough Mudders.

We’ve had a month to bask in the glow of our accomplishments. Now, it is on to The Spartan Trifecta.

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Conquering Everest

DCIM103GOPROThe crisp morning air crackled with anticipation. We had watched the forecast for two weeks and prayed the storms forecast for the morning of our ascent would pass us by. Now, under the mid-morning sun, my team chatted with nearly 200 other hopefuls waiting to begin our journey from base camp up the face of Everest.

The only thing standing in our way, an eight-foot wall of lumber painted black and emblazoned with the Tough Mudder logo. Everest is one of the Mudder’s signature obstacles — a twenty-foot quarter pipe sheathed in aluminum and coated with water and glycol just to keep things interesting.

But the monster lay in wait more than five miles down the course. race_702_photo_15314523Before we would get a chance to even view her, we would have to maneuver our team across and over obstacles designed to test our strength, stamina, agility, comraderie, and grit.

The Tough Mudder eats other obstacle courses for breakfast and barely burps. My son, cousin, baby sister, and I had trained for four months with our only goal to survive obstacles with names like Funky Monkey, Cry Baby, Pole Dancer, Beached Whale, and Arctic Enema.

Between each obstacle, a grueling tromp through soft sand, up hills, and across lakes of water and mud. The plan was simple. My son and I would set the pace for the run, and we would work together with our team and others to make it past anything else the Mudder would throw at us.

DCIM103GOPROThe Funky Monkey, Pole Dancer, and Beached Whale tested our strength. We blasted the Arctic Enema (imagine the The Ice Bucket Challenge on crack) by sheer will-power. Then we saw her, the orange and white megalith we had come to conquer. Amped on adrenaline, my son was the first to test Everest. A running start, a leap of faith, and the flying grip of the Mudder before him helped land Brock safely on the summit.

DSC_0195Then it was my turn. Stamina was no problem. My training had served me well. My legs felt fresh as they churned up the slope. One fourth. One third. One half the way up. Then, when if felt like I was losing steam, one giant leap. I was airborne. Time seemed to stand still as I soared above mere mortal sherpas. (It felt more graceful than it actually was.) I was going to conquer Everest.

Then, reality set in. My chest crashed on Everest’s peak. Air drained from my lungs, and gravity began to snatch my victory.DSC_0249 A hand clenched my elbow. My feet kicked and scrambled for grip on the slick surface. Two great heaves later, I stood atop my nemisis with no time to reflect. We still had two team members to help over the top.

Once we were all safe atop the peak, we paused for one triumphant moment, the sun smiling on our accomplishment. Then, like all who scale Everest, we headed back down. We were only half-way through our trek and still had a Mile of Mud to vanquish.

Categories: Fun, Life Or Something Like It | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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