January 2017 marked the end of an era as the Tough Guy Race in the UK put on its last event. In reading about it and watching videos I began thinking about the idea of “Toughness” and how this notion of being “tough” or at least trying to teach this attribute has actually spawned the entire industry of obstacle racing (OCR). In fact, this belief that an OCR is basically a sport of suffering is eloquently described in detail in Scott Keneally’s documentary Rise of the Sufferfests. Tough Mudder has doubled, actually quadrupled down on this idea with their creation of the Tougher Mudder, Toughest Mudder, and the World’s Toughest Mudder events. The question is what does it really mean to be “tough”?
It was a cool morning on the banks of the Gregorian Bay. However, we expected much worse from Mother Nature in October. We are in Canada! As I stood there in the start corral for the Pro Wave of the 2016 OCRWC, I found myself wondering...
The sport of obstacle course racing (OCR) basically prides itself on the races being sufferfests. Heck Scott Keneally’s new documentary about the sport is even titled Rise of the Sufferfests. Some of the most memorable scenes in this movie are the visuals of the participants battling hypothermia after completing the events.
Coming into the Green Beret Challenge (GBC) the only thing I knew about it was that there were a lot of heavy carries. I read up on it a bit, and it sounded like a fun event where the owner, Mark Ballas, and his band of merry men would try to give you a taste of team building; Special Forces style. This particular race took part deep in the backwoods of south central Missouri just on the outskirts of Ozark mountain country. As with a lot of the OCR event’s these days the venue itself was one of the biggest obstacles for the organizers who ended up spending much more time than planned prepping the trails.
I believe that any OCR held at the King’s Domain site just north of Cincinnati has the potential to be an epic event. It has everything an obstacle race should include; lots of woods, a mix of dirt and rocky trails, crazy steep inclines, and obstacles, oh so many awesome obstacles. BattleFrog utilized this course to put on what many believe, myself included, the toughest regular OCR ever put on in August of 2015.
Pro teamers race hard and inspire us all with their performances but what if their presence at an event meant much more to building a brand and making the race experience that much more memorable for those out there participating?
I have heard a lot about this race company Conquer The Gauntlet (CTG) who puts on races primarily here in the Midwest where I live. Until this weekend, however, I had never actually done one of their events. I had heard about how their obstacles are brutal and how only a select few can actually finish the races with their bands (it’s a belt in CTG). I guess your question could be, “were you nervous?” I am always nervous coming into a race, or more like fired up. Nervous isn’t a good way to explain the way I feel going into a race. Am I nervous about The Cliff at World’s Toughest Mudder? No but it does give me that feeling in my stomach when I look over the edge.
This weekend was my first obstacle race of the 2016 season and I decided to start it with a bang at Battle Frog Greater Kansas City which was actually held in Topeka, KS… Don’t get me started on this practice by obstacle racing companies of naming a race location by its closest major metropolitan area and not the city/ state in which it’s actually located, but I digress. I have been training long and hard on obstacles since my last Battle Frog event and was looking forward to testing my metal after all this training.
Once upon a time, there was a group forward thinking, sadistic Frogs named David, Ryan, and Beard. These crazy dudes came up with an idea that they should invite tadpoles to come to Miami, FL, and run around all night and play for an entire day. They would call this gallivanting BFX24! Who knew that there would be 120 takers for this brand new HooYah Hell Day! I, however, would not be one of these lucky Froggers. While 24-hour obstacle races are not new to me (I have logged 188 miles at such events) I would find that completely “sitting this one out” was not an option for me.
This Hack came on the coldest night of my life. It was my first World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM) in 2012. I had no idea what I was getting into except for the little information that former Navy SEAL, Stew Smith, and ultra runner, Jared Busen, could provide on how to prepare for a 24 hour event that would be in and out of water.