The Power of Numbers

The power of numbers at Goliathon XII was immediately noticeable upon arrival–in this case in relation to course support.  Volunteers and staff in orange shirts were everywhere.  The parking attendant waved us to our spot and reminded us to please bring our ID to the registration tent.  That volunteer helped set the tone for the day and this recap because that little detail is something I have seen many, myself included, forget.

Circus Maximus G2 with a vigilant volunteer

The Course

The orange shirts really caught my attention however at the first obstacle.  I counted seven very active volunteers.  Three helped athletes with the particulars of each of the tiered obstacles.  Two recorded results.  Two helped keep the heavy carry items orderly and ready for the next athletes.  I stopped, counted, and then commented to one volunteer.

“There are seven of you here.  That’s fantastic.  Thank you for volunteering.  Do you know how many volunteers there are at Spartan races?  Sometimes one.  Maybe none,” I said.

“What’s a Spartan?” he replied.

‘Nuff said.

Those kinds of numbers repeated at each of the twelve obstacles on the course.  Photographers in oranges shirts were everywhere too.  Longtime Goliathon favorite Brian Motzenbecker and his Simply Photography team including Mathew Renk were there.

John always smiles right before he puts the moves on you

The core of the former ABF Mud Run crew was out in force today.  It was a very happy reunion, completely unplanned, but wonderful to run into these guys and gals after so many years gone by.  Aaron Friedman and his son were there.  Of course, Larry and Ginger Cooper were there (he brings us the delightful Destroyer).  But then there was Marshall Breit!  It’s been six years since he and I battled it out on a course.  With him were Franklin Newby and his wife.

John on the G2 Destroyer

Aaron on the G2 Destroyer

My team, The Instructors (named by my nineteen-year-old son Aaron, who doesn’t like my monicker or team name, The OCRMudmasters) numbered four strong including my son, my high school bud John, and newcomer to OCR Darius. Actually, John started using the Instructors name about two years ago when we both got hooked on the show “The Selection.”  Today at Goliathon, my son and I were the Instructors.  We helped John not to overdo it while coming back from nasty injuries back in the summer, and we helped Darius learn techniques as a new OCR athlete.

Darius executing the S-hook for the first time

The night before the event, Aaron and I calculated our numbers and event strategies.  This was something I had never done before.  I don’t read course maps, analyze elevations or stuff like that.  But this time, because Goliathon is not a race, but rather a series of twelve tiered obstacles spread across four miles of terrain, which would be fantastic if they ever decided to add running as an element to truly make this a tiered obstacle race.  For those of you not familiar with Goliathon or my previous coverage thereof, the numbers work like this:

John and Darius make a great Balancing Act

There were twelve obstacles.  Each obstacle had three tiers.  G1 was easy, G2 was intermediate, and G3 was hard.  Many of these obstacles were designed and built by American Ninja Warriors.  So G3 hard was, to me, like darn near impossible.  G2 was no joke either.  G1 was a great challenge for the kids, newcomers, and those who want to test the waters.  Successful completion of an obstacle earned you points: G1 = 1, G2 = 3, and G3 = 5.  The object was to earn as many points as possible.  Goliathon is one of, if not the only, non-running OCR competition where you can qualify for NORAM and OCRWC.

Eighty pounds of wobbly waterjugs for 200 yards

Achievement of the maximum 60 points earns you the title of a “David.”  This is so difficult that only three competitors earned it at this race.  Since the inception of Goliathon over 12,000 entrants have taken on the challenge, but fewer than 20 unique individuals have ever earned the coveted title.  Zach Kane was the first of three today.  I’ve watched this ninja come up for years.  He started when he was twelve.  Five years, tons of training, and of course his natural growth into a strong teenage guy finally put him over the top as the youngest ever achiever of the David status.

Aaron chasing the David status on the G3 Sky Climb

Jamie Rahn (Captain NBC of ANW) took the redeye in from St. Louis to help emcee the starting line as well as to compete in the final wave of the day.  Jamie took the time to chat with the Instructors and gave us some extremely helpful tips for slacklining.  A six-time David, Jamie came up short for number seven by taking a dunk at Leap of Faith.  Yes, it’s that hard.  But this course does not discourage.  Instead, its difficulty encourages athletes to come back twice a year to try harder.

No hands allowed on Leap of Faith

So Aaron and I figured out our point strategy for each obstacle.  I was going for my first attempt at getting more than thirty.  Aaron just wanted to beat me and set a goal for thirty-six.  We did not factor in any failures.  Instead, I played it very conservative and went for the sure thing on each obstacle – except one.  I’ve gone 50-50 on Slippery Wall Monkey.  The odds were not in my favor however and so once again, Brian Motzenbecker was there to record my splash.  That zero cost me my goal.  Aaron, however, nailed every one of his obstacles.  On the ride home, he calculated what he has to do to get a 44 at Goliathon XIII in June 2020.  I did likewise.  This weekend I will draw up the training plan to help us earn those numbers.

My only G3 of the day – more in June 2020


In addition to the course volunteers, the finish line was well attended by two young ladies who gave us our medals and ensured that our final score tallies were accurate.  In the finish tent, we picked up water, bananas, t-shirts, and real-time results.  As always, the entire Goliathon event, held at the 4-H compound in Mullica Hill, was clean, well-marked, and extremely well-manned.  Five stars to Goliathon for successfully leveraging the power of numbers.

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