In OCR, there is nothing like the fall race at The Battlegrounds. The reason for this is there is not another venue with a winery onsite! This puts a certain buzz in the atmosphere for the events especially since the winery caters the race with food, beer and wine. Also, prior to this event, they added about five obstacles plus a wreck bag series that was about 200 yards long.
This venue is extremely well planned out. There is a covered “bunker” area the food is located, and spectators can take shelter should the rains come. They also have a concrete shower area with changing rooms. Did I mention parking? Oh yeah, the parking is on site and FREE. The festival area is also FREE and is out in the middle of the obstacle arena. This is pretty much what the larger event companies have tried to create as well.
The Battlegrounds is a very flat course; offering about only 80 ft of elevation change over five miles; slightly less on their 5k course with moderately difficult obstacles in places. However, since this location is a permanent course, many of the obstacles are quite elaborate.
These include their Torpedo Launcher, which is a 100 ft long and 25 ft high water slide, an 11 ft high jump into a pool, as well as their signature obstacle The Gauntlet which has six unique lanes from which to choose. A kind of “pick your poison” ending to your race.
The morning of the event was cool by any standard for early October the St. Louis area. It was about 46 degrees at the start. While it did warm up, a bit as the day progressed the wind also picked up making seem just as cold. Oh, I guess I forgot to mention the shtick about this course, you are wet almost the entire race.
You hit a trench, creek, pond, pool, or water hole a total of 15 times during the five-mile race. The longest stretch you are dry is right at the start, so they brought in a water truck to spray us down 100 yards from the start before we even really got warm. You then head through two 30 yard long barb wire crawls before weaving through the vineyard and then on to the Lilly Pads. These are foam mats that are strung across Cedar Lake for about 50 yards of high stepping… That is unless you fall in! J
Wet or dry doesn’t matter because you will eventually hit the Torpedo Launcher water slide. This is an awesome ride followed by a 15 yd swim out of the pool. Following this, you hit the 5k/5 mile split and head into the woods for some wall climbing, creek running, and a few more bogs filled with murky water. You do run into one of their new obstacles out there though. A 10 ft sixty degree incline wall with a vertical section to climb over and down. Since you exit a water obstacle 50 yds before this wall, they were nice enough to hang ropes down the wall to make it easier to tackle this wall.
Once you exit the woods and re-enter the obstacle arena, you have covered about three miles. Here you are met by a second cargo net and then the eleven foot high dive into a pool. The whole centrally located obstacle arena/ festival area is a perfect design for spectators as you travel through this area three times throughout the race. You then have to attempt to tackle two new walls they added, one of them being about nine ft high (with a kickboard if necessary). You then head back into the woods for a bit before another time through the arena up and over their version of Tough Mudder’s Everest. This halfpipe wall is only about 12 ft high but proved to be tough for the unseasoned competitors. You then head back to the woods for creek running and then to the Wreck Bag course. I must say that the 40 lbs bag was not impossible at all to take this course, but it does wear you out, and more importantly, on this day, it warms your body quite nicely. Also, the fact that it’s less than a mile from the end it can make the difference in placements due to the strength component.
You then head back to the arena and are faced with their last real battle of the course. The Gauntlet! You get to choose your lane that takes a bit of a strategy. There are easier options, but these take longer to complete and often have a bit of a line. You can then take you changes with the harder options, but you better be careful because once slip up, and you are going for a swim. The great thing about this obstacle is that you can change it up whenever you like. Many participants try multiple lanes prior to crossing the finish line.
This event was smaller in scale with only about 1,500 participants, but it made for a great day of racing. After the event, there were plenty of vendors to check out in the festival area. The Battlegrounds offered something new to spectators for this event, and it could make the post party as exciting as the race itself.
They debuted their new Obstacle Short Course, which is set up OCR Warrior style. Any adult in attendance was allowed to run the course and the male and female with the fastest times received a free pair of Icebug shoes. In my opinion, this “O” course needs to be renamed “Balven’s Challenge” after the initial event winner, Chris Balven, who set the blistering course record, but whatever they call these short races they are an exciting addition to the festival area.
It was a fun day at The Battlegrounds. I’m looking forward to their next race on May 14, 2016.
Have you done a The Battlegrounds? Leave your own Battlegrounds review and feedback…