Greetings readers! Been a while amirite??? The last time I brought you a race recap, it was February 2020. We were in Jacksonville, Florida for a Spartan Race and COVID-19 was something happening elsewhere in the world. A lot has changed since then, but between the smiling faces, people crushing obstacles, and a sense that everyone was happy to be there. Things felt pretty darn normal.
Pre-Race / Venue
The race was held on Saturday, July 24 at the Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove, Illinois, and is not a new venue for Savage. It’s about 50 miles from O’Hare International Airport; my sister Patti and I flew in on Thursday to hang out before the race and stayed at a hotel close to the venue.
Because of COVID, Savage Race is currently a cashless event. Savage offers the ability to pre-pay online for parking and optional bag check, but both are available the day of. Just make sure to bring a credit/debit card or contactless payment method. This also goes for food, merch, and vendor purchases.
General parking is $10.00, there was a minimal wait, and it was close enough to walk to the venue. There is also VIP parking available for $20.00. Patti and I typically go halves on the VIP parking to get as close to the start as possible because I’m never on time.
Check-in was easy and quick. Start times are enforced via a confirmation email you receive before the race that you must show an always friendly Savage staffer before proceeding to registration. You’re permitted to enter the venue no earlier than one hour before your start time. This wasn’t an issue for me because as I previously mentioned, I’m never on time.
After passing through registration into the festival area we dropped off our prepaid bags to bag check. It was $5.00 for each but our parking was close enough where we could have left our bags in the car. Porta-potties were widely available. Fortunately, all the ones I used were clean and stocked with toilet paper. I saw numerous hand sanitizer stations as well.
I was running in the 8:05am women’s SavagePRO wave. Patti volunteered from 6:00am-2:00pm at registration (racer and spectator), at the Savage Jr. course and at the end of the day did the course sweep. She was busy! A few words about volunteering: if you haven’t volunteered at a Savage Race DO IT! Patti and I volunteer as much as we can. Perks include free VIP parking, a $15 race code that doesn’t expire if not used on race day, tshirt, and lunch. You get to work with rad volunteers and Savage staff while getting a behind-the-scenes look at how an obstacle race operates. Shifts are available for pre-race build, race day, and post-race teardown. You can sign up online.
Race Details / Obstacles
Once in the starting corral MC Jeff Meeks shared some quick words of encouragement to the ladies in the Pro Wave, reminded us of the time cutoff, and we were off!
This was my fifth Savage Race of 2021 and my second time at the venue, so I pretty much knew what to expect. In short, it was hot. There was little to no tree cover and the terrain was a mix of flat open fields and flat open grass. We also ran through a corn maze.
I passed three water stations along the 6 mile-ish course. Savage Race is still giving out bottles of water as opposed to cups, a move which precedes COVID.
So far this year Savage hasn’t included Davy Jones Locker or Shriveled Richard at their races. Personally, I’m not sad about this but I know others are looking forward to their return. That said, the hottest topic at every Savage Race is what Race Director Lee Stowell has masterminded for the Savage Rig. In Chicago, however, there was a second Rig Over Water at the mid-point of the race, which I remembered seeing last year. This course had several opportunities to open up and run and the obstacles were laid out in such a way that you wouldn’t blow out your grip in one shot. Savage Rig was the second to last obstacle, immediately followed by Yank My Chain. The race ended with Barn Doors right before the finish line.
If you’re new to Savage Race you may be wondering what the heck I mean by SavagePRO. It’s Savage’s competitive wave and is a mandatory obstacle completion race. You wear two timing chips and in the event you cannot complete an obstacle, you remove one of the timing chip bands and continue on with your race. The top three male and female overall winners are eligible for cash prizes while the top three male and females in each age group receive special ax medals. If you give up your band you’re not eligible for an overall award and generally not eligible for an age group award unless nobody in your age group has managed to keep their band either. Once the open waves start, Savage Rig is changed into three lanes: beginner, intermediate, and expert (what appears in the PRO wave). In the open waves, there are no penalties for missed obstacles.
With regards to the festival area, it was business as usual. There were tables and chairs where you could relax and watch fellow racers make their way through several obstacles. Cold wash and changing tents were available for when you were done racing, along with food trucks and sponsor/vendor stands. At most Savage Races there’s a tire flip contest in the middle of the festival as well as a Savage trivia contest where you can win a free race. You’ll also find a tent where you can purchase vouchers for future races at a highly discounted price and includes a free t-shirt and wristband. It’s the best deal around besides volunteering.
If you haven’t seen the awesome Savage Syndicate medals, they’re earned by running two or more events within a single calendar year or by running more than one lap at the same race (Savage + Savage or Savage + Blitz) or by completing an in-person event and the Savage Anywhere virtual workouts. You also receive pins indicating the number of races you've completed. You can easily claim your medal at the race from the designated tent where a volunteer or staff just has to look up your name to verify the races you completed.
I really can’t say anything negative about Savage Race. I’ve never had a bad race experience or unpleasant customer service interaction. There’s something for everyone. The Blitz (not reviewed here) is an awesome introduction for anyone wanting to try Savage. The full course is challenging enough for even the most experienced OCR athlete, especially if you run in the PRO wave. Definitely check it out!
What did you think of this race? Do you love Shriveled Richard? Let me know in the comments!
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