Goliathon XI was an event of many firsts.
It was the first race, to my knowledge, without co-founder Doug Horton, though remains very active in faith-based sports through Faith on the Field. Meanwhile, back at the 4-H Fairgrounds of Mullica Hill, NJ where the permanent Goliathon course resides, the rest of the team was there, strong as ever.
This was the first Goliathon to have a six-time champion, a David, a contender who completes every obstacle at the hardest level. Captain NBC, Jamie Rahn, continued his reign of domination on a course that saw a few firsts of its own.
Arachnophobia was a new obstacle that most contenders saw for the first time unless they attended TTOD last month. The hardest part of this obstacle was the slack line at the end. Because of this obstacle, I will buy my first slackline and start to train. But it didn’t stop Jamie or two other repeat Davids from going all the way.
Goliathon XI had two new firsts for rules as well. Instead of three chances on the warped wall, contenders only had one shot. The other new rule change first was a 30-second pause time limit.
Over at Circus Maximus, two more firsts happened. The ninjas designed a whole new G3 approach made up of a combination of saber chucks mounted on a spinner, followed by a bar lache, followed by another row of saber chucks. This drew a lot of attention for its novelty as well as the fact that it looked darn near impossible.
On a personal note, this was also my son’s first OCR ever. He was not supposed to join me until later this season at the CBP Stadion Sprint, but he went to TTOD with me. That was enough to convince both of us that he was ready for the big time.
He accomplished a lot more firsts of his own this day. First time repeating the G3 warped wall (16 feet!), where he did it the first time in his life just a month prior at TTOD. Earlier in the race, he accomplished the G3 rope climb. Just that morning before we left home, I set up a practice rope in our backyard. I taught him how to S-hook and J-hook so that if he decided to do the G3 climb that included the 40-pound chain around his neck, the feet hook techniques would keep him locked on the rope. He nailed it.
It was the first time I ran OCR with a team. My son, John, and I were the OCRMudmasters. My wife, ever faithful and understanding, followed us around the course as the official photographer for the day and for this article. Can you tell she’s had some lessons?
As always, we had a blast a Goliathon. They have a huge volunteer corps and I’d love to know their secret for how they manage, year after year, to recruit so many helpers. Goliathon is consistently flawless with its volunteers, course layout, mapping, and directions. Parking, just $10, is right next to the course. They bought new changing tents this year and, another first, these had the brilliant design feature of large skylights. No more changing in the pitch black. They had course photographers all over the place, some who even roamed the course following teams and individuals.
But there was one minor issue. The last wave of the day took off at 2 pm. I started just prior at 1:45. Since this is not a race, we knew there was no rush. It was a hot day, so we did not run. We knew about the other new rule change, another first, of a four-hour time limit for scoring. Each wave was told that they could stay on the course as long as they wanted. But with the electronic scoring set up, they would have four hours max to complete the course for points. After that, they could still stay out there and do the obstacles, just no more points.
Well, about two hours into the course, we were at obstacle seven of twelve. And right behind us, the cleanup crew came up fast and with a purpose. The course was coming down right on our heels. I get it. The hour is late. Folks are tired. They want to go home. As a race director, I totally understand why you want to get moving. But it makes the contenders feel rushed. It drains the momentum and positive vibe of the day. While we knew we weren’t getting swept off the course, it still felt like it.
Ironically, Jamie Rahn was in the 2 pm wave and we were pretty much following along with him the whole afternoon. It was a true pleasure to watch the master in action. But seriously, it’s just bad form to sweep up right behind the Captain.
And that leads to my final first, a ding on Goliathon. 4.5 stars out of 5.
I want to leave you on a positive note, however. Remember, as advertised, this is not a race. It’s a mission. This year, net proceeds go to bringing fresh water to a village in Malawi. To date, Goliathon has raised well over $250,000 to make projects like this possible. When I arrived at the race, I noted the new finisher medal and thought to myself that it was very unique because it was shaped like a teardrop. But at the end of the race, everything clicked. I saw Kim again, the girl who registered me a few hours earlier. I thanked her again, gave her an MRG sticker, and told her how cool the medal was. She asked me what I thought of the finisher shirt color, a teal hue. And then I knew. On the back of the shirt was a picture of the continent of Africa. Over the country of Malawi was a small teardrop. But it wasn’t a teardrop. It was a drop of water, just like the medal. Brilliant. I told Kim that I loved the theme and how it all came together. She was so pleased because I was one of the few that figured it out. She designed it all and really felt passionate about not just the race, the medal, the shirt, and the theme, but the mission. Precious water for the precious lives of God’s creation.
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This author is part of the Mud Run Crew and received a free race entry in return for an independent review. All opinions are those of the author and were not influenced by the race sponsor or Mud Run Guide.