Last season Hunter McIntyre made a prediction about his time on the Skullbuster course. He met that prediction without barely breaking a sweat or losing any breath. It was a beautiful, effortless run. His time was so good that it remained unbroken the entire season. Now I will make two predictions. He will get a better time on the course to start season five. He will remain unbeaten again this year.

Steve Austin may bust my prediction as he claimed he made his course “double-tough”. He started the challenge with a new obstacle called the Drain. I like BSRC because it matches up young and old, athletes of all types, and week-to-week, outstanding athletes who may be similar in size, but not heart. It makes for great battles. Size appears to matter in the Drain. The bell is quite high. In the first round, Jason the old man took the first pairing.

As I watch this show I keep thinking that we will continue to see more and more physical contact between athletes at the mainstream obstacle course races. We started to see that this year at Tough Mudder X between Hunter, Isaiah Vidal, and Ryan Atkins. Hunter and Isaiah both competed on BSRC. Ryan did not. Perhaps that’s why he got he shoved out of the way by Isaiah at the barbed wire crawl. But Hunter was having none of it. He just elbowed Isaiah and coolly kicked his ass to win TMX.

The athletes quickly assessed the best strategy on the Drain after the first two guys went down. The last three battles were over very quickly. Overall, not a very exciting obstacle.

Death Grip came up next and it was not so much a grip strength obstacle as one’s ability to pick up and carry some really heavy stuff at a fast pace. The second match-up was between the old man and the young guy who says his goal is to beat Hunter. I’ll call him the prey. At the halfway, the old man was well ahead. A slip at the turnaround however cost him that extra second lead and the victory. That brought the prey one step closer to the Sheriff.

The third and final challenge was The Pit. Nothing new here. But to get to it, athletes had to beat the Octagon. This required a combination of brute strength and lungs to endure the push. Momentum was a key to conserving those assets. At the halfway point, the prey was just ahead. But as always, who finishes first here does not necessarily win in The Pit. A hand touch eliminated the final contestant. So the prey got to meet the Sheriff.

The Skullbuster starts with the traditional log carry and rope swing. From there, it’s mostly all new and unseen. The preview of Hunter’s run was just snippets and showed him fall off one obstacle. But his time was faster than last year. A blistering 6:01.

The prey took off on the 1/4-mile log run. I’ve watched Hunter all year long run the hills at his Malibu home. He runs, carries heavy stuff, and does every obstacle in between. The 75-pound log is not much compared to the 120-pound load he carried a few weeks ago up and down a 1/3 mile hill in 3:19. Things were not looking good for the prey.

He was breathing hard as he dropped the log and grabbed the rope swing. The dismount to the cargo net was fugly but he kept going. By the time he was at Rainmaker, two minutes from elimination, I knew he did not have enough time with Heartbreak Hill ahead of him. Even with Hunter’s encouragement, the prey just did not have the time left to win. He had the heart and strength. He never stopped. He never really made any mistakes. He was absolutely a worthy and tough competitor. He flipped the six ribs and climbed the rope using his feet, rung the bell, and waited for the news from Steve.

Michael the prey came in 1:06 too late. Hunter put another $10,000 in his pocket. I’d say he earned his bounty. His challenge to all who come next, “You’ve got to suffer. You’ve got to work hard until your body drops.”

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