New Race, New Questions of Why I do This?
A new month means a new race. This month I decided to step out of my Tough Mudder box and tried Savage Race for the first time. The race was every bit as savage as its name. While the 5-mile distance itself is not the hardest or the furthest I’ve done, the race was not easy. Savage Race served as an eye opener to my flaws in training for obstacle course races.
Some things to note, my review of this race is the hardest review I’ve had to write yet. This was the first time I’ve experienced a race day delay. The start was pushed back 3-hours. The pro wave went from a scheduled 9 am start to around 12 pm. The delay was caused by mother nature. While we can't control the weather, it did make for a tough day for both the race organizers and racers. Packet pickup was delayed, some spectator roots were unclear, and a complete change in the schedule for the event made for an interesting experience.
With all that said, I was impressed by how quickly the Savage Race team responded to the weather, and made the decisions they did, despite how inconvenient it made everything for the racers. The only feedback I give for the future is Facebook live videos (or videos in general) when you are out in the countryside probably aren’t the best way to communicate out information about the delay on race day. Considering we’re out in the countryside, internet service can be spotty.
With that said, let’s talk about the race in general. I participated in two races! Well, ok, let’s be honest, one was the Savage Junior, and I ran that with my son and a friend of his, but it still counts, right? The Savage Junior is an excellent introduction for kids to get into obstacle racing. My son, Brennan, loved running the race, and he couldn’t have been happier. I was overall glad to get to share this kind of moment with my kiddo and to see his sense of accomplishment for doing the half-mile race.
Now, for the real race at hand. The Savage Race itself, from the “Village” to the pre-race pit, to everything reminded me of what a Tough Mudder is like, and I couldn’t have been happier. They too emphasize the idea of helping others out on the course and based on what I saw on the course they live and breathe it.
Overall, I was in love with the layout and many aspects of the course. The only pieces of feedback I have for the course is how there were still quite a few stumps on the course, and a lot of the course was single track, making it hard to pass people. I found myself in lines on the single track even deep in the woods. Which made it annoying at times as I am always trying to push myself. Everyone was great about it but it would be great to see this worked on in the future.
Many of the obstacles were fun and challenging. It felt like most of the obstacles required upper body strength. Two that stood out were Sawtooth and Wheel World. I quickly discovered that grip strength is something I need to work on before my next Savage Race.
I was able to complete obstacles like the Great Wall (think your standard 8-foot wall, vault over obstacle), Sawtooth, nearly completed Wheel World, and could barely get anywhere in Twirly Bird (think gymnast ring to ropes, back to rings) and Holy Sheet. As I stated earlier, a lot of these obstacles made myself realize, grip strength, grip strength, grip strength. While I might not have completed all the obstacles, I also won't want to see any of them changed. Each obstacle felt it was placed in the right spot to make you challenge yourself, drop yourself, doubt yourself, and see if you have the courage to keep going.
Holy Sheet and Battering Ram were two new obstacles that I thought were amazing. Check out the video for Battering Ram. Holy sheet, imagine a sheet being twisted and then draped like a rope between two points, which you shimmy down only to then grab and swing between hanging grip balls. This was the first time I've done something quite like this obstacle, and it was a great challenge to try and even get to the grip balls.
As for Battering Ram, think of grabbing onto something connected to a pole, and then having to shove your body weight down the pole while hanging, then to only reach out to another connector and do the same thing for another half. I found this one to be challenging, especially cause the distance between the two connecting points is far enough that you had to reach. If you were already thrashed from the earlier upper body obstacles, it made this one even harder to do. I may have failed on Battering Ram, but my son loved watching me try it. I only wish the spectator routes were a little more planned out to give my kiddo more of an opportunity to see more obstacles with me attempting them.
Another memorable obstacle was Wheel World. The obstacle itself was challenging and reminded me of Funky Monkey from Tough Mudder, but a lot harder. I failed it because I couldn’t lift myself to the rope at the end because once again, upper body strength was nearly gone by this point in the race.
Then there was Shriveled Richard. A future warning to everyone else who ever runs this, don’t taunt the volunteers. I wish I hadn’t, but in my usual way of being a troll, I did and I paid the price. Not only did they put ice into it right before I jumped in, but they also added an extra bag on each side of the obstacle just to make sure it was extra chilly. Needless to say, I regretted those life choices.
Chuck Talks About the Race, Weather, and Overall Final Thoughts
Another race down, and my next one will be Toughest Mudder in May. This race opened my eyes to how challenging the obstacles were and the diversity of the obstacle racing industry. Overall, as a race, I’d say it’s a 4/5. Time to get back to training!
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