Thursday, December 27, 2012

Epic Adventure Racing

Hello again, superfans!  We know you missed us and have been wondering what we've been up to.  Well, I'm here to tell ya:  All kinds of zany antics!

There are a few things I feel I should blog about, including a recent Missouri Christmas trip, but I think I will go in chronological order starting with my recent (Dec. 9) obstacle race.

Most anyone who knows me knows that I am all into this mud-racing thing.  However, this last one went far beyond crawling through the mud.  Most mud races are 5 kilometers, or about 3.1 miles, which is great for the casual mud-walker who wants to play in the dirt and get the free t-shirt and medal.  But for those of us who want a real challenge, there are a few elite courses offered, including the Tough Mudder and the one I did, the Spartan Beast.

In the world of what is becoming known as OCR (Obstacle Course Racing), there are a few big-name brands.  Warrior Dash claims to be the biggest and most popular worldwide, but until 2013 they have only offered 5k-length races.  Tough Mudder has been the gold standard for longer-distance obstacle races.  Tough Mudder races are usually half-marathon length or 13.1 miles.  They vary by location, but the obstacles are always much tougher than you find on a shorter distance race.  The Spartan Race brand has a number of different distances: the Spartan Sprint is the 3-miler, Super Spartan is 6-8 miles, and the Spartan Beast is 13 miles.  For the extra-crazy folks there is also the Ultra Beast (26 miles) or the Spartan Death Race, a 48-hour race with no set distance.

It took me 4 hours and 21 minutes to complete the Beast.  This course was in Glen Rose, Texas.  Glen Rose was chosen because of it's rugged, mountainous terrain.  Do you think I'm playing around?  This was a seriously intense race.  Here's some photos:

Crawling under barbed wire through mud is a staple of obstacle races.  Mind you, that's real barbed wire.  I got snagged!  The barbed wire crawl here was the longest I've ever done.  Hurts your knees and elbows.  Try rolling under.  Also, they had a fire hose spraying the coldest water ever across our path.  Did I mention the temperature?  A cold and windy front moved in on us right before our race started.  It was in the 50's and bloody windy.  The worst obstacle was the 100-yard "swim."  Really, it was more like dragging yourself along a rope in the coldest-ever water with a life vest.  The water was so cold I couldn't breathe.  Whew.

Here I am hauling a fifty-pound bucket of gravel up a mountain.  A small and rocky mountain.

The tyrolean traverse was one of the more challenging and interesting obstacles. Just get from one side of a pond to the bell hanging in the middle via a rope.  This was certainly the most painful obstacle on the course.  There are two preffered methods for the traverse, I have pictured them below.

Here you see me, your old pal Steven Long crossing on top of the rope.  I call this the squirrel style.  Rope burn on your belly and chest.  Ouchies.  Balance plays a key role and this method often turns upside down on you as pictured below:

Here's Cameron.  He is trying the sloth-style method.  It seems slower and harder.  Rope burn for your legs.  Also a lot of blood in your head.  I didn't care for this method, and you can see that Cameron wasn't feeling much love for it either.
This unassuming-looking slippery wall was one of the very last obstacles. It should have been pretty easy, but after 13 frigid miles, everyone had a tough time getting over.
Fire-jumping is another staple of obstacle races.  I think they do this mostly to sell pictures.  Pretty dramatic, eh?

This was not the mountain we climbed.  Our mountain was much wider and covered with forest and rocky outcroppings.  I almost broke my face on it.

We finished.  Here we are with our Beast medals.  Did I mention it was cold?  And I only brought flip flops to change in to.  Las chanclas!

After the race you get a free beer.  By the time we finished, there was no 'good' beer left to be found, so I settled on a Coor's Light.  Mmmm, Coor's-y!  Cameron also found some kind of sandwich.  Here we see him enjoying it by the bonfire.  Delicious!
So I know I've gone on and on here, but I don't think it's possible to fully explain how difficult this course was.  It was a true test of awesomeness.  Also it was fun.  Well, maybe fun isn't the word for it.  It was tough.  But the race wasn't meant to be fun.  The little 5K mud runs are fun.  This is something you do just for bragging rights, which I have pretty much all used up now.
Till next time, super fans!