Love them or hate them…The Rig is here to stay. For some that's a joy (we all probably know one of them), for others it's a gut-check challenge. For many, it's a band-stealing, soul-crushing, sleepless-nights demon! But it doesn't have to be that way. And this has nothing to do with the positive thinking and perseverance of the athlete. The difficulty of the apparatus isn't set in stone. The difficulty comes from the particular configuration, which is determined by the promoter…specifically the race director.
Of course, there's a reason not all races are using Rigs. The ones that do, like Spartan Race, BattleFrog Series, Toughest Series and the OCR World Championships (OCRWC)…not to mention the American Ninja Warrior TV series…tend to be the more difficult races (did you miss the part about soul-crusher??!). So whether a particular Rig is something only the best-of-the-best can complete or one that allows for a reasonably competent racer to do as well is entirely by choice of the race.
And this is just one of the factors each race will have to decide going forward into 2016 and beyond. What a market niche (elite, journeyman or average athlete) the race is looking to please and how they want their race image to develop. Garfield Griffiths, Race Director for the 2015 OCRWC, said regarding The Rigs at this year's race, “We do not want just one obstacle that takes everyone out.” However, don't expect any ‘easing' on the OCRWC course…ever…it is a World Championship after all.
The Rig, though, is an obstacle with virtually limitless configurations. Therefore, it can accommodate multiple levels of difficulty during the same race. One of the few obstacles that can be adjusted with relative ease this way. Since there are some lanes on each Rig, the unit can be tailored to varying levels of difficulty. This is something that was noticeable at the recent BattleFrog Miami II to address The Rig's extremely high failure rates at previous events (all races…not just BattleFrog!).
Personally I've always had a love/hate relationship with these Rigs. Maybe a bit of respect and fear mixed in, but in the end it comes down to I-would-burn-it-to-the-ground -and-piss-on-it's-ashes-if-it-were-made-of- -wood thing. Well….I think you get the point, and in the words of Forrest Gump…..”That's all I have to say about that.”
I realize this hate is mostly from the fact that I just haven't reached the level where I have even a remote chance of completing them…..on dry land…..in the sunshine! Forget in rain or covered in mud, which are more typical scenarios at races.
This is another aspect of The Rig that is mostly under the direct control of the race promoter. The placement on the course! Whether The Rig is placed after a relatively dry section, a water obstacle, a difficult climb or a mud crawl has an enormous bearing on the completion rate. Whether it (or…heaven forbid…more than one Rig!!) are placed midway on the course or near the end will also have noticeable effects on success (I have yet to see one placed near the beginning….go figure!).
So in the future, as racers get more sophisticated in evaluating which events to do, obstacles like The Rig, which may limit their ability to complete a course and have that euphoric feeling of accomplishment, could indeed become a factor. Just one more thing races will have to take into account.
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