Kansas City’s only permanent obstacle course venue, KC Timber Challenge, recently held its final race of the 2020 season. For many brands, COVID has decimated their ability to hold races, but a couple of brands in the Midwest are managing to work through the obstacles. This was KC Timber Challenge’s 4th race of 2020 and its first OCR World Championships Qualifier. Here’s how it went:
Terrain: All races at KC Timber Challenge are held on the same piece of terrain but they manage to change the route, run it in reverse and cut/add sections to the trail to always keep things fresh. The course has a mix of winding trails, technical uphill/downhill and open running sections. Between the route and the obstacles, I rarely even have time to check my watch.
Atmosphere: The XTC is their event with the most obstacles and longest route. This year’s course had around 35 obstacles over the 3.5 mile course. To me, more miles and more obstacles means more fun, like most of you reading this article. I was happy to see some of my usual friends from other Obstacle Course Races (OCR) at this event experiencing the course for the first time. However, the normal KC Timber seemed to show up in lower numbers, possibly nervous about the “Extreme” name of the event. Bottom line, just like any of their other events you could push yourself as hard as you wanted and most obstacles had lanes that could be scaled for a harder/easier challenge. Still it was a fun atmosphere just a little lighter in numbers than usual.
Obstacles: KC Timber Challenge brings the obstacle difficulty for those taking the hardest lane on each obstacle. Being able to complete the hard lanes at KC Timber sets you up for success if you go to OCR World Championships (2021 sign up is now open), for example:
-Rings that go uphill and around a corner mimic the challenge of Valkyrie
-Devil Steps/Stairway to Heaven obstacle is just like Stairway to Heaven
-Low Rig is similar to the Platinum Rig low rig at championship events and/or useful skills for any rig movement or obstacles that require good body control (KC Timber is one of the only events I have seen with a low rig)
-Hanging Tire Traverse and the new Tarzan Swing (vertical hanging ropes) requires grip strength and body control you’ll need for the myriad of upper body obstacles
Plus, add in all the other obstacles that have similarities with things you will face at the championship event such as rope climbs, tire drag with low crawls (similar to Wreck Bag with low crawl), rope ascents/descents on steep terrain, three walls of increasing height, low crawls, quintuple steps and more. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that this is the only OCRWC qualifying event (that I know of) with a zip line in the middle of the course.
OCR World Championships Qualification: Normally the XTC event is competitive but that’s the only one for the year. While they have a ton of experience with OCR events, they have much less experience with competitive racing. The competitive nature of the event went off largely without any issues. The course was well marked and there were obstacle attendants at every fail-able obstacle. The only downside was, as with most volunteers, was some of the attendants didn’t understand all the nuances of the rules (i.e. how many attempts were allowed on obstacles, crossing Tarzan swing length-wise versus width-wise). However, I’m tracking it didn’t affect the results, since everyone was getting the same instructions even if it wasn’t quite what the race designers had in mind. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed but from running the course at their other events, taking the 2nd lap, and talking to the owners I have a little more insight into the backside of things.
Prizes: As a first time OCRWC qualifier, I wasn’t expecting much for prizes but they did an amazing job. Instead of doing a fixed cash prize it fluctuated based on number of competitive athletes, which I love but have rarely seen done. Every athlete had to pay an additional $10 for registration, which went into the prize pool. Top spot received $200 cash and $200 gift certificate to their high adventure zip-line, co-located at the property (see Zip KC for details).
Overall: If you missed the event, you can still sign up for private tours to play on the obstacles with you and a couple of friends or family. A perfect opportunity for locals or those passing through the area on a non-race weekend.
This was my fourth KC Timber Challenge for the year and the more times I run it, the more I enjoy it. With recent changes, KC Timber Challenge is arguably the best permanent OCR venue in the USA now. I can think of one that would give it a run for top spot, but the winner would be close. I strongly suggest you make it out to one of their 2021 events to experience the course. Each one has a unique twist ensuring it will be a memorable experience that is different from the last one.
The experience was a great capstone to their year of stellar events and I’m already looking forward to heading back out there for their EXILED: Haunted Woods Experience (all of October) and my favorite event they put on the wintertime, snowy Yeti 5k occurring on January 30, 2021.
UPCOMING FUTURE EVENTS
Year Round: Private OCR/Ninja Tour for you and a group
Zip KC: Zip lining on over 1 mile of zip lines on their property
OCTOBER: EXILED: Haunted Woods Experience: Haunted houses are old news, have you ever gone through haunted woods at night?
JANUARY: Yeti 5k (my personal favorite event, Snow OCR…snOCR..get it?…I’ll see myself out). (Read the 2019 Mud Run Guide review here.)
APRIL: Original KC Timber Challenge: Classic course including the zip line, great obstacles and good practice for XTC.
MAY: Spring Family Timber Challenge: 2 mile with 25+ obstacles for ages 5+ (Read about me Running with my Five Year Old after running the first lap at race pace)
JUNE: Wild Women’s Timber Challenge: All female event or men in drag, a ton of fun and a reminder not to take yourself too seriously (Read the Mud Run Guide review)
AUGUST: Summer Family Timber Challenge: 2 mile with 25+ obstacles for ages 5+ (Read the Mud Run Guide review of the event)
SEPTEMBER: Extreme Timber Challenge (XTC): ~4 miles and around 40 obstacles. OCRWC Qualifying event (Read the 2019 event review)