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- Quick Glance:
- Host: Gladiator Rock’n Run
- Shoes: Vibram FiveFingers TrekSports
- Venue:Nice! San Antonio National Shooting Complex
- Would I Run It Again: Yes! 4 Runs in 3 events and I am still loving this event!
- Muddy Toes Rating: 8 out of 10 – still an awesome event, but starting to lean too far toward team participation for complete and total solo runner enjoyment
Well…..as if I wasn’t already insane, I have decided to end 2013 by doing a few back to back event weekends, the first of which just passed! With success! Without further ado, the Gladiator Rock n’ Part 3!
The above picture took some planning and hunting to get … Since I no longer have the action figure I mentioned in my first Gladiator Rock N’ Run Review, a while back I asked my buddy Al, from Imagination Toys (creator of the MuddyJ Action figure) to find me a Nitro action figure… it took some doing, but he managed to find one in the package for me:
So… with the action figure found, registration complete, give-away hosted, and training already underway, there was little for me to do except to keep on doin’….
I did get a chance to talk with the event planners, and Dan “Nitro” Clark himself before hand. I loved the venue the race was held at the last time they were in town, but due to some contractual issues, a decision was made to move it back to the San Antonio National Shooting Complex. While I mourned the fact I would need to wear shoes of any sort, I still liked the San Antonio National Shooting Complex well enough to know I would thoroughly enjoy taking it down a second time.
Packet pick-up was simple enough, at the Helotes Soler’s Sports location, with Dan absent when I made it over there, as he was attending to the final details of the course. I got my packet and tee-shirt, (sadly, it was no longer an Affliction branded shirt, but IT IS still comfy none-the-less) checked my chip on the computer (again, kudos for this) and I headed home to get a good night’s sleep in before I put myself through a weekend of hell.
The morning’s light came at its usually scheduled time-way too early, and I headed out the door into the brisk morning air with my race bag on my shoulder…by brisk I mean around 50 degrees… plenty cold to be wet and covered in mud to produce a shiver…especially since all I was planning to race in was my Sugio tri-shorts.…
I got to the venue with ease, and parking was well-coordinated and well-executed. I found a parking spot and decided to have a look around before my 0830 ‘elite’ heat kicked off.
A slight drizzle picked up as I walked around, and it started to set a chill into me, so I sought shelter and conversation under the canopy of a young member of Team RWB about all things triathlon and obstacle racing related…something I know a little bit about….
I spotted Dan as he was walking around, walked over and said “Welcome back to San Antonio!”
…to which he replied:
“Hey man! good to see you again….but wait, how come you’re wearing shoes? Did you upgrade?”
I explained that I recalled a lot of clay pigeon shards being present on the course at this venue, so I had to have a little something to keep my feet from becoming ribbons of torn flesh from being under the constant assault of tiny clay shards, and he shook his head in agreement…then I produced the Nitro action figure from my backpack and almost fell over laughing!
“Dude! I remember these! This is by far the best part of my day so far…seriously, you made my day!”
We chatted for a few more minutes, mainly about the success of races like his depending on the venues chosen, and how the Run for Your Lives had shut down and cancelled its remaining races….soon, of course he had to head out into the fray (so to speak) to , well, to be Dan “Nitro” Clark….but I finally managed to get a picture with him….
With my action figure mission accomplished and the wave start approaching, I made my way to the bag-drop off, doffed my shirt and headed to the starting chute… swinging my arms to warm up and stretch a little as I made my way.
I gathered at the front of the chute, and other racers joined me shortly thereafter. I looked around at the guys and gals to my right and to my left, and I felt an odd sense of deja-vu…so I said something…after a few minutes of the usual “where have I seen you before” conversation, we discovered that a few of us had been in the same place, at the same time, the last time the GRNR had been at the San Antonio National Shooting Complex.
Dan took to the stage next to the starting chute, and announced that all of the elites would be headed out at the same time, as opposed to in mini-waves every few minutes. He explained the nuances of the beloved cinderblock burpees, and that-since we were egotistical enough to call ourselves elite, we would be expected to knock out 30 of the little fuc–rs! ouch!
The countdown commenced, and the starting horn sounded and we all shot forward down the course. I was sprinting hard out of the gate, and I hit the first obstacle, the oh-so-originally named “Terrible Tires”. I haven’t run in a lot of obstacle races this year, and it showed as soon as I face-planted a few tires in! I recovered quickly, and continued on, slowing my pace from an all out sprint to a much more manageable trot.
Next came “The Pit” -although ominously named, it was pretty simple and consisted of a deep hole filled with water with the removed earth piled high on the entrance and exit… I completely disregarded common sense and safety by launching myself from the top of the first hill into the icy, muddy pit and I barely lost momentum as I scrambled up the hill on the other side using all four limbs…
Straight down the other side I hopped, and plunged into the next creek crossing, which turned out to be a double crossing on really slick ground… since I can use my toes though, I rarely have any traction issues! The water was high enough to sap strength, and cold enough to lock down my legs if I pushed too hard, so I slowed a little to preserve some energy-its always easier to empty the gas tank then it is to fill it!
The trail wound around, making great use of terrain features like elevation shifts, and it was a challenge to settle into a comfy pace…
Next we came upon the first major roadblock, the Cinderblock Burpee Challenge. The burpee is a painful exercise to begin with, a cinderblock burpee even worse- but the good folks at GRNR decided to up the ante by SPLITTING THE BLOCKS IN TWO PIECES. The end result, you wound up doing the push-up portion of the burpee on an unstable platform, taxing your supporting balance muscles immensely, the you had to do a curl to press with a 15 pound rock in each hand before executing a jump and repeating it…29 more times… I couldn’t help but notice some folks were clearing out way faster then it was possible for them to have completed 30 reps, but hey, they only cheated themselves…
Next up came the Wall of Fame, which I treated with disgust by making the top in one leap, cresting it quickly and dropping to the other side without so much as a second thought… although the GRNR builds its obstacles well and solid, the Wall of Fame is more like a ladder then it is a wall…. just sayin…then came the “Trenches of Torment” which were dug deep enough that I could ‘run’ through the darkness on all fours-yes I still make QM’s part of my workout routine.
There was a fair bit of trail running until I came to the next major speedbump- “Tired Out” a short loop off the main course where you were expected to carry a tire while executing knee-touches-the-ground-each-time lunges…. I didn’t cheat myself, and my quads were on fire after a few strides, and set to quivering by the time I was done. Several people passed me here, and I am happy to report that I was not too proud to cheer them on!
The Gladiator Rock’N Run has a few staple obstacles, and one of those is “Skid Marks” , which was next. I have had the fortune each time to run in a heat in which the obstacle has been fully functioning, but I have heard there tends to be issues with the pump that sprays the water down the tarp… It was working when I got there, but the course marshall was yelling for people to go feet first… so I went feet first this time… unlike the last three times…Again, the ante was upped by the addition of a large hill on the exit side, making you scramble up a hill on all fours before sliding/scrambling/falling down the opposite face to get out.
The next part was the ‘Zig-Zag’, a zig-zagging ascent and descent of a hill, or, at least, it was supposed to be… but that had been replaced by a belly-crawl under a cargo net in which we were instructed to keep our butts down, or face a serious burpee penalty. Kudos on mixing it up, and kudos on a new challenge…. Because the hill was steep, this was actually very taxing…
“Buddha’s Burden”, “Tube Steak” and the “Dumpster Dive” came and went over the next mile or so, and I dispatched each one in short order while trying to gain ground on the race leaders.
Somewhere in this area was the Fireman’s Carry, one of the “team only” obstacles in which team mates picked each other up and ran a short distance before switching places and doing it again. As the elites were more of a ‘solo’ crowd, we were all instructed to continue past…
The “Cargo Climb” came and went… and again the course made excellent use of the terrain, winding through some elevation shifts and down into and icy pond before headed up and over some small hills that were presumably backstops for the shooting ranges.
The next section was a series of 3-4 foot tall bunkers that were about 10-12 feet across… just tall enough that jumping up was tough, and long enough that even my best kong vault wouldn’t clear it… I tried a few different techniques to conquer these, and I finally settled on a shoulder roll mounted with a hand touch drop to dismount each time….and there were a lot of these things! I spotted a familiar face in the crowd and waved to my friend’s wife, Sam, and she told me her wife and friend were out on the course already…
Next up was the “Ring My Bell Rope Climb”… The first time I ran the GRNR, this obstacle got the best of me… since then, no rope climb has ever bested me again…I made short easy work of it, pulling a “Hobie” at the top by turning upside down and KICKING the bell instead of hitting it with my hands….and next I passed another team only obstacle- the Log Carry… seriously guys, you could have cut one of the logs up and let us solo runner’s in on the fun!—again, just sayin-….
The Final Three Obstacles remained, the barbed wire topped mud crawl, The Beast, and the Gladiator Barbeque were all that stood betwixt me and the glory of the finish line.
I wasted no time entering my basic training-honed low-crawl under the wire, and quickly realized the wire was SO low and the water SO deep- I would need to completely submerge my head to complete it in some places. I did managed to snag my butt on a really low barb, drawing a thin line of blood from my left cheek and forever retiring the tri-shorts I was wearing!
I came up quick and faced “The Beast” As had been the standard for the day, the good folks at GRNR upped the ante once again…this time by placing the base of The Beast at the lip of a mud pit… ensuring that no one would make it up this without serious strength, or copious amounts of help…or both…
I made it 2/3 up and fell, my strength failing, and as I rose for my second attempt, I heard Nitro behind me yelling “You better get up that wall MUDDYJ!”
I dug deep, and shamelessly used my toes to climb the rope as well as my arms.
…and this time, I made it…
A quick jump over the smoky flames of the “Gladiator BBQ” and I crossed the finish line 12th overall for my wave and one spot short of an age group podium finish in 4th:
I collected my finisher’s medal, which was really nice! They have forsaken the beer top puller medals for a nice two-piece medal that spins, with the ‘Gladiator Dude’ on one side, and “COMMIT. CRUSH. CONQUER.” on the flip side:
I was getting colder by the moment, and since I was to compete in the Enchanted Rock 25k the very next day, I decided it wasn’t really a good idea for me to consider running it three times as I had previously planned. So I collected my bag from the bag-drop and headed to the changing tent to get out of my wet clothes and into my kilt and tire sandals.
With that accomplished, I called Sam to find out where she was so I could come and cheer my friends on. I caught up to them as they were finishing the rope climb, and they headed back out of view, only to emerge a few short moments later and set about conquering the bunker busters I mentioned before… and in short order, they were finished as well!
I caught up to them as they were cleaning off in the showers, and congratulated them on their finish before I headed to the car to call Mrs. MuddyJ and let her know I was homeward bound, so she could start to get the Things Three ready for us to head to Fredricksburg, TX, where I was set to run a 25k trail race in the morning at the “Enchanted Rock 25K Trail Runs”….
………….TO BE CONTINUED……….
Stay Muddy My Friends….