There’s only one permanent Obstacle Course Racing facility in the Kansas City area and it is KC Timber Challenge. It’s a permanent obstacle course that holds about half a dozen events a year plus is the home to Zip KC, Exiled, and private OCR/ninja/training tours.
I’ve been to the venue about half a dozen times between 2016 and 2019. If you asked me in 2016 if you should come to one of their events, I would have said, “only if you live local”. In 2017, they improved to “it is a good course…for a local event.” In 2018, I changed my answer to “it’s a great local event.” In 2019, we are now at “it is a great event regardless of how far away you live.” Here is what has changed and why I now recommend traveling for KC Timber Challenge.
Parking is always easy at their venue coming in at $10 and is a short walk to the start line. Unlike other OCR venues the site is right on the edge of Kansas City. You don’t need to drive 45 minutes into the middle of nowhere to get to the race venue.
Over the half dozen events I’ve been to for KC Timber, their festival is always great and ever-changing. They have anywhere between half a dozen to a dozen vendors offering free samples, free drinks (occasionally free ice cream) and selling products. Add in the local OCR group KCOCR’s “Feats of Strength” (usually a burpee contest or wall climbs in a minute) and you have the opportunity to win prizes which sometimes include a free race entry. Plus, music over the loudspeakers and a great emcee sending athletes off on waves while also keeping the crowd entertained.
The terrain is a good mix of trail running on technical and well-groomed trail with the occasional steep climb/descent and even a section of running across rocks. It provides a good mix allowing for fast running but also technical portions.
At the end of the day, this is an OCR, so if there is one thing I care about above everything else it is their obstacles. Every single time I come back to KC Timber, they improve their obstacles. The two new obstacles at this event were the addition of a low rig (featuring Atomik Climbing Holds) and the hay roll.
The low rig was just phenomenal. I consider myself very proficient at technical obstacles, but I found the low rig kind of awkward to cross. Since I don’t practice that type of movement very often I actually thought it was the most challenging obstacle I’ve done all year. I’ve done ones that are physically harder this year but I was just not used to moving in that manner. It provided a good challenge for everyone and the lack of penalties meant that people had a good time just attempting it to see how far they could go.
The hay bale roll was super heavy and I was thankful to have another athlete next to me for assistance. Most of the later waves teamed up in groups of 2-4 to get the heavy bales moving.
This was in addition to their normal lineup of obstacles. Many of which help you prepare for an event like North American OCR Championships including a ring traverse (it goes uphill like Valkyrie), Stairway To Heaven, floating walls, a traverse wall, a rope climb and a log carry which included going under and over obstacles. Add in some obstacles you’ll see at other venues like a cargo net, a large A-frame wooden structure, a low crawl through a tunnel that takes a turn, a stair climb up a large tower, high wire/low wire obstacle on slacklines and a tire flip. Finally, if this wasn’t enough top it all off with some of their signature obstacles like the Vertigo buses (three “crashed” buses that you run through that appear to be precariously perched on the side of hills), several obstacles featuring bouncy balls and my favorite obstacle of all…the zip-line.
KC Timber Challenge continues to get better every event. I don’t know exactly what the future holds but after having some conversations with the owners/race directors I know they are working on continuing to make it a better event. I foresee more great things happening at KC Timber Challenge.
If you don’t believe me, just ask the local OCR group KCOCR. Many of them came back to KC Timber Challenge after not having raced it for several years and are now all about racing their future events. I hope to see some of you there at local course that I’m now proud to call “my home course” for one of their half a dozen events each year.
Next Upcoming Events:
Family Timber Challenge: September 22, 2019
The Yeti “There is No Off-Season”: January 26, 2020
Wild Women Timber Challenge: June 7, 2020 (female only event OR males in female clothing allowed to run)
Want to read more about KC Timber Challenge? Pick up a copy of Mud Run Guide's Ultimate OCR Bucket List Book, now available from Strength & Speed. If you need help preparing for their obstacles at KC Timber Challenge or any other OCR, don't forget to grab a copy of Strength & Speed's Guide to Elite OCR.
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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.