- Quick Glance:
- Host: Rebel Race
- Shoes: Vibram FiveFingers KSO’s
- Venue: Beautiful! Rocky Hill Ranch, Smithville TX
- Would I Run It Again: NEVER, NOPE, UH-UH, NOT SNOWBALL’S CHANCE IN HELL
- Muddy Sneakers Rating: 1 out of 5 (it would be a zero, but the trails were awesome)
I would NOT RECOMMEND the Rebel Race Series to anyone, ever! I enjoy challenges, but this series has the potential to kill someone. SERIOUSLY! Don’t do it….
This is just a placeholder until I do a proper write up…..
I found this race online while searching for events in and around San Antonio. It was advertised as an Austin/San Antonio Race, but was far away from both in Smithville Texas.
My father-in-law, (to be referred to as Opa, )Sire of Mrs. MuddyJ, decided to accompany me to this event, as Mrs MuddyJ had to attend the Dress Rehearsal of The Things Three’s Dance Recital. (Side note: THEY WERE AWESOME IN IT)
We departed my home in San Antonio around 1030, as I was registered for the 15k wave..Which was set to depart @ 1430…hindsight being 20/20, this should have been my first clue that this race series would have problems…. the longest run of the day was slated to leave the starting corral at the hottest point in the day…
The drive up was uneventful, and much faster then expected. We rolled into the Smithville area at 1115 with 5 miles left to travel.
Opa says, “Let’s get some lunch”
So we stop at a little BBQ place in Smithville called Zimmerhanzels, which is apparently the place to get lunch on a Saturday in this town! The restaurant had been open for 15 minutes when we walked in the door, and the line was already wrapping around the inside of the store…we decided to wait, as we had plenty of time and we were uncertain of what else could be in the area (it was a little …errrr..backwoodsy) We got our food, finally after a 45 minute wait, and I made the mistake of wolfing mine down WAY TOO QUICKLY….NOTE: NEVER EAT BBQ BEFORE AN ENDURANCE RACE
We finish eating and continue down the road, our hunger slaked for now. The race grounds are easy to find, and I pay the parking fee (10$) and find parking easily. I feel that I need to mention that this was not the average experience, as many people complained about long lines and not enough parking. Getting there late in the day may have had its advantages…
We walk up to the race area and locate the packet pickup area. I get my packet with no problem…(note: they never checked my ID) and though I brought a signed copy of my race waiver, they didn’t ask for it, or even take it when offered!!!
I got my “Rebel Sack Pack” (a rather cheap looking bag) and my racing bib (w/ attached timing device) I had ordered eye-black during the registration process, and assumed it would be in the bag, it wasn’t. Opa and I wandered off in search of shade to wait out the hour or so before my race.
I removed my Gladiator Rock’n Run T-shirt and started marking myself up with my bib # (3531) and chatting with other runners around me. I had chatted with some people on the way in, and everyone I had met so far was set to run the 15k. It looked like it would be a decent turn-out.
It’s worth noting @ this point, that everyone coming off the 5k course at this point looked thoroughly beaten, which was yet another IGNORED omen.
I found a bunch of other runners sharing the shade of some trees near the finish line. I struck up a conversation with everyone around me while we were waiting and it helped to pass the time. The topics of conversation varied from training to other events we had run.
At 1415, I made my way to the starting area, more willing to stand in the heat then be left trying to pass much of the pack on the trails. I looked around for my “Tough Mudder” buddy David and his muddy buddy Nayeli, as he had told me they were running the 15k but didn’t spot them. I later found out they showed up as we left and they started out late
I did manage to spot one Mr. Danny Cruz, who I had been talking with a bit online after finding him on the Rebel Race Facebook page and checking out some of his claimed times online @ www.athlinks.com. I walked over to introduce myself and we struck up an easygoing conversation while waiting.
I’m going to get away from the usual banter for a moment here to talk about my impression of Danny. This guy is nothing short of pure awesome. While the rest of us mere mortals went out to this hot, dirty 15k with no aspirations larger then to challenge ourselves and SURVIVE, he came to WIN…and he did, finishing first and posting an impressive finish time of 1:22:52…
The MC sounded the siren to release us all and off we went… sprinting a few hundred yards to the wood line…. which was really just a couple of trees masking a really steep hill… and at the top of the hill, a Marine hosing us down with a firehose… but before that (I think) were the “hay dude jr” and the larger “hay dude” (piles of hay bales) to go over, and we barely slowed as a pack (off to the side, I thought I saw the monkey bars, maybe they had been broken during the day)we turned downhill to our next obstacle, the Slide for Life. This was a huge disappointment and it kind of set the tone for almost everything that was to come afterwards.It consisted of some plastic sheeting (think drop cloth for house painters) and a garden hose…I saw some runners try to use it as a slide unsuccessfully, and we all just ran down the hill.
Into the woods we went, the trails narrowing and becoming more technical… Worth mentioning: I would definitely run these trails again they were beautiful and challenging, it was the race organizers who failed in the execution of this race. Soon we came up on the next obstacle, The Spiders Web: again, they failed in the execution. It was a clothesline like yellow nylon rope criss-crossed between a few trees several times, not difficult to navigate at all, more of a momentum breaker then anything else.
The trails wound up and down, really taxing my legs and making a maintainable pace nearly impossible. Cresting a hill I saw a thing of beauty, a water point! or so I thought. Upon getting closer I saw a nearly empty lidless water cooler with empty used cups everywhere. With brief consideration given to dysentery, I decided that I could probably treat anything I got from a dirty cup with antibiotics later, while death from dehydration would be a more permanent issue. A swallow of dirty-foul tasting hot water and I was back on course, running uphill again.
The trail continued a while before it broke into another clearing, and there was the cargo climb…..
oh no, not another cargo climb i gasped (not really) so up and over I went… there was another (HOT) five gallon jug of water (NO CUPS AGAIN) I lifted it and poured into my open mouth, saturating myself in the process… I continued onward, being directed to the left where a sign said 15k only.
HAVE I MENTIONED THE HEAT INDEX WAS 104 DEGREES???
Now was the challenge…
The course was laid out on-line as 1/2 of the 5k course, then a 10k trail run, followed by the rest of the 5k course. There were portions you were supposed to shuttle-run and run backwards, but no signs on the course or staff to tell you when you were supposed to do so. I would feel like maybe I cheated by not doing this, but getting water wasn’t listed as an obstacle.
The 10k portion of the trail was a BRUTAL challenge… It was constantly changing in elevation and terrain, dipping and weaving and doubling back upon itself… It was GLORIOUS…
HAVE I MENTIONED THE HEAT INDEX WAS 104 DEGREES???
There was water at the points as I passed, again in five gallon jugs and HOT, but at least the 10k portion had cups…. David reported to me that by the time he and Nayeli made it to the water points in the rear of the pack, there was little or none.
My favorite portion of this challenging trail was near the middle, where we wound through some coniferous forest, the path shaded by the trees around it as well as smoothed and softened with a bed of pine needles…it was like running on carpet…
Then it turned into hell… loose gravel, fist size stones, more elevation shifts then I can remember…dusty sand, and portions that were open to the sky had me thinking of Arrakis, Fremen and Giant Sandworms (sorry for the geek humor there)
HAVE I MENTIONED THE HEAT INDEX WAS 104 DEGREES???
I tried to check out and run on auto-pilot, but the trails kept bringing me back to the moment, so I had to hang with myself as I ran…. I think I may have actually sung some cadence to myself to keep pace in the final third….
The Natural Bridge Caverns 10k trails must have gone to school and studied with these trails, but I’m pretty sure these trails had a higher GPA….
The trails opened into a clearing, and we were back at the cargo climb where we had split from the 5k course… almost home… I vaguely recall sarcastically thinking,”wonderful, there goes the water points” up ahead, the great wall of Rebel Race, …after the Spartan Race series, this thing was more like a ladder…but I did it anyway…this is what I paid to do, right?
The trails finally opened again and ahead I saw ….race officials?…staff…. nope, just some spectators that had gathered to see us tackle the next obstacle, listed as “unleashed endurance” an “over/under” obstacle in which you slogged through some mud and then jumped over, then crawled under some PVC pipes. I helped a runner who was having trouble getting over one of the tubes by offering my knee as a stepping platform, the I jumped and went over myself… sliding head first into the muck…
More trail running brought us to some 5-6 foot walls, and up I went… Worth mentioning, these were very poorly constructed… While I was at the top, the next runner behind me hit it, and the subsequent movement of the wall almost toppled me off. Next was an over under… followed by…more trails…
There were two runners on my heels, and I asked them if they wanted to pass…They declined and said, nah, this is a good pace… so naturally I had to punch it! I did, however, make sure to mention pitfalls, roots, and serious drops in the trail as we went… neither of them fell behind me, so I guess they were listening, (or they didn’t need it in the first place)
It was during this point we went through the EXTREMELY LAUGHABLE “cross the ditch, bitch” obstacle. It was a four inch pvc pipe with a sheet of plywood over it! WTF… the were much worse ditches on the 10k trails, and there were no signs for those….
After the “ditch” (lol) we went through the “ninja turtle sewer” a series of drainage tubes set in the muck to crawl through…. again, getting wet felt good… HAVE I MENTIONED THE HEAT INDEX WAS 104 DEGREES???
Next up was another stack of hay bales and the end in sight (almost) had me feeling frisky, so a speed vault it was…which I immediately regretted when I landed in between some bales, my foot sinking in the hole there with my momentum still carrying me onward. Lady luck was with me though, and I escaped injury.
Up a slight grade and the next obstacle, ropes over a pond, was apparent. The sign instructed us to use the ropes to get across without getting wet, but as I saw the ropes were HANGING INTO THE WATER… I simply charged in… I started to swim, but decided to conserve some energy and use the ropes to pull my body through the water…
Out of the pond and onto the other side was the dreaded “drop and give me 10” …10 sit-ups, 10 leg lifts, 10 push ups….there was no one around, so we were on the honor system… I knocked out the exercises with no problem, HOO-FREAKING-AHHH, and ran to the fast-twitch tires….making short work of them as well.
A short sprint across the field and I was presented with the NIGHTMARE mystery obstacle, a four foot tall forty-eight foot long series of boxes that you had to move through in relative darkness…. ahhhh shade….
Emerging from the other side of the NMO… I was greeted with cheers and encouragement from all sides, people who were partying saw us coming in from the 15k and were honking their car horns, a whopping and hollering and cheering us all on…
To them I say thank you!!!
The final obstacle, the “military mud crawl” was more of a drag your sorry aching body through a 90 degree
bacterial bath pond under some barbed wire. Some people did it standing up, I just decided to pull myself under the whole of it without standing up.
I stood up, sprinted the final distance to the finish line and looked around…
The “finisher’s medal’s” were sitting in a bag (plastic) on a folding chair near the finish line… the race organizers seemed to have not even cared enough to even HAND them to us….
WORTH MENTIONING: I SAY “FINISHER’S MEDAL” IN QUOTATIONS BECAUSE IT IS THE CHEAPEST TRINKET I HAVE EVER GOTTEN FROM A RACE…. it was literally the size of a dime…ok, maybe a nickel….
Opa met me on the other side of the finish line and handed me a gatorade, which lasted all of 30 seconds in my hands… I handed him my “medal” and hit the “showers” …. this poor setup had me missing the “Muddy Mayhem’s” garden hoses….there was little to no pressure, I did the best I could and walked away. I don’t expect a real shower, but I do think I should have enough water pressure to get the bulk of the mud off of me.
I walked back to the car, and changed beneath a towel in the parking lot… then I went of in search of management…
When I finally did locate a manager to tell him about the issues I had with the execution of this race, he was actually very attentive and apologetic.I collected the eye-black i had paid for during registration from him as well.
I signed up for a challenging race, and I paid handsomely to run this with the expectation that I would be able to give it my all, knowing that the race organizers would have my back should anything go wrong… I never felt that way during this race.
Here’s a summary:
- Easy to find site
- Beautiful Trails
- … I got nothing else…
- Lack of adequate staff
- lack of water
- laughable and/or poorly constructed obstacles
- shitty finisher’s medal
- longest run held at hottest portion of the day
- no aid stations on long and very difficult technical trails
- beer was flat
- no one at finish line
- no cups at water points
- HAVE I MENTIONED THE HEAT INDEX WAS 104 DEGREES???
I do these races for the challenge, and this one left me feeling lucky to have survived.
I finished somewhere in the neighborhood of 01:54:30, judging by the time stamps on the photos Opa took of me starting and finishing…. I am not listed in the final results, though that is a faster time then any runner my age that is listed…I have emailed the timing company, but heard nothing back yet….