Savage Race returned to Hopkins Game Farm on 9/7/2019 for the Fall edition of their semi-annual Savage Race: Maryland. Savages have been racing at this venue for years now, and it has become a fan favorite among mid-Atlantic OCR racers. But with each successive event, Savage Race is faced with a daunting obstacle of their own: Innovation. How do you successfully run the same event year after year and still keep it fresh and exciting? Well, Savage Race had a few tricks up their sleeve!

Venue

Anyone who has raced here before knows exactly what the venue is like and why it’s such a good choice for an OCR event. The parking for the event is always immediately adjacent to the festival area. It’s a very large, flat, open field that provides quick, easy parking and a short walk to the festival area. 

 

The festival area itself is in the same location and the start and finish lines seem to always be in the same spot as well. One might think that this isn’t very innovative, but it’s for that reason it works so well; Logistically, it is the perfect setup. Also, there is a certain nostalgia you feel year after year when you see the familiar setup. It may sound cheesy, but having the same setup makes the event more welcoming and maybe even a little homey. 

The Savage Pro Packet Pickup line

The one issue I saw was with the registration lines for the Pro Wave Athletes. They had one primary line for the first 400 bib numbers and then three other with around 40 bib numbers each. This caused a huge line to develop shortly before the race was to start. When you still need to check your bag, use the restroom, and get warmed up for your race a line this long can be problematic. If they divided the bib numbers up more evenly between the lanes things would have run much more smoothly. 

 

Course

The course was a 6.4-mile course with 28 obstacles. The course had plenty of varied terrain:   Some short and steep inclines, some technical trails, a jaunt through a lake, and even some flat cornfields. All of those aspects were fun, but you can’t talk about this course and not mention one thing: The mud! This race literally put the ‘Mud’ in ‘Mud Run’. And this wasn’t your run of the mill slippery wet dirt, this mud meant business! The portions of the course that had ankle-deep mud were a relief. Other sections of the course had you wading through knee-deep, thigh-deep, or even waist-deep mud pits! For many people, it was a struggle to keep your shoes on. I even saw a couple of people who lost just the sole of their shoe! 

The mud made The Great Wall even more challenging

 

That being said, playing in the mud was a lot of fun. I can’t remember another race where I saw so many people audibly laughing, screaming, and having a good time. Yes, the mud made the course difficult at times, but it also made it a great course. 

 

This was also the first time Savage Race has run both of their race distances on the same day. Participants of the full course and the shorter Blitz race were on the course at the same time. They had numerous split and join sections on the course which were remarkably well marked with signs and netting. Volunteers were even stationed at the splits to ensure there was no confusion. They did an amazing job setting this up considering it was their first attempt.

 

Obstacles

A new obstacle in 2019: Chopsticks!

One of the great things about Savage Race is that they always seem to add to their arsenal of obstacles every year. This year we were introduced to Piece of Queso, Inversion Therapy and Chopsticks. These are three very unique obstacles and require different techniques to complete. The obstacles were all well balanced; Evey obstacle wasn’t a heavy carry or rig or anything like that. They had an obstacle for everyone. They even changed up a few traditional obstacles. One example is the super steep uphill Backscratcher barbed wire crawl. Another was the combination of the Lumberjack Lane and Mud N Guts, which required you carry a piece of wood through a long and muddy low crawl. 

 

The course was a little back heavy on the obstacles with 10 of the 28 making their appearance in the last 1.5 miles. Luckily, they gave us a good assortment of obstacles to play on and it didn't turn into a grip strength gauntlet. The number of obstacles did not detract from the fun and they never seemed too daunting.

A new obstacle in 2019: Piece of Queso

Final Thoughts

Savage Race always seems to put on a good event and this race was no different. Impressively they made a familiar venue into a really fun and unique race. They mastered the art of the split course on their first try. They made a really fun, challenging, and muddy course that is sure to provide many fond memories for years to come. Every event is bound to have a few hiccups, but Savage Race handled everything gracefully and delivered an outstanding event. 

Rating: 4.5/5

 

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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.