5k, 5k obstacle race, 5k race, 6k trail run, A-roo, American Gladiator, awesome, AWFUL, barefoot, brutal, challenge, fitness, Five Fingers, Gladiator, healthy-living, Muddy Mayhem, muddyj, Obstacle Course, Spartan Race, Spartan Sprint, trail run, training
- Quick Glance:
- Shoes: Vibram Five Fingers (KSO Treksport) / Barefoot
- Venue: Rocky Hill Ranch, Smithville, TX
- Would I Run It Again: Most Assuredly YES!
- Muddy Toes Rating: 10 out of 10!
A little while back, January to be specific, I was contacted and invited out to preview the course for an upcoming OCR, Trails ‘N’ Tribulations. I accepted the invite, showed up and was blown away by the UNCOMPLETED course that I previewed…The race founder, Jason, was full of vision and inspiration…. to say he was enthusiastic would be a gross understatement. I ran the course with him and a group of OCR fans at a decent pace, and offered some insight on what I thought could make things a little better…but that advice was mostly unneeded… this guy just seems to have an inate ability to put together a rockin course that challenges participants by putting new and exciting twists (read:difficultly level;expert) on some industry favorites.
WAY BACK in 2012, Thing #1, Thing #2 and Thing #3 got a chance to run a Spartan Junior. They loved that, and they have been hounding me to try out a real OCR… Being that this was to be a smaller event, and the course I previewed was tough, but fell well within my beastly children’s abilities, I decided that we would leave Mrs MuddyJ at home to have a mini stay-cation day, and the Things and I would have a
family Muddy day out.
…the course on Race Day can only be described accurately as the Best Home Grown OCR in the Great State of Texas!….
We piled into the car early in the morning and took the 90 minute drive out to Smithville, feasting on convenience store Donuts and Hot Cocoa. We were bundled against the brisk morning air, but also prepared for a predicted jump in mid-morning and afternoon temps.
Arriving at the venue, we found the race crew was hard at work with last minute preparations… and the sun was already warming the forest…setting up a perfect day for a race… and an even better one for an OBSTACLE RACE.
Upon arriving on site, I found Jason, the race director in good spirits, and with a glint of mischief in his eye. He was busy tackling some previously unforeseen race morning issues, but exuded an air of confidence that everything was well in hand…
The Things and I helped with a few minor details, trying out the Spartan Spear Toss that Mylo (from Mylo’s Obstacle Fitness in Austin) had set up. Just a slight segway for a second here and I’ll get back to the review: Ever wanted to try an Obstacle Course, but not into the whole “race-day ” vibe? Just want to get a little dirty or practice on obstacles that have tackled you? Then Mylo’s Obstacle fitness is the place for you-seriously…you need to check it out!..now back to the review!
After puttering around for a bit, The Things and I lined up to take on our own wave. Since we were trying not to get in the way of racers that would start later than us, we took off early, with me thinking that we would be back in plenty of time to volunteer for the later heats….and if it was a 5k course, then we would have! Apparently, the course designer here uses the same measuring implements that make a Spartan Race 5k into a 6+ mile distance, or the Beast’s 13 miles into 16.5…..
Things got interesting right from the start line, with the first four obstacles making an appearance in the first 1/4 mile…mini-walls and a-frames…if I were hauling ass and competetive, I would have been rather shocked to encounter this from the get-go…I am not complaining, but usually you have the first mile to go before an obstacle, allowing the pack to thin out before getting to choke points. To solve the choke point issue, these obstacles were double or triple the usual width you might encounter at a shorter/smaller OCR…. KUDOS! The only races I have seen do this for small momentum breakers have been the Spartan Race and the Gladiator Rock’n Run
The Things and I settled into an easy stride, with me holding them back a bit (as to not get burned out too early) I was carrying a small backpack (swag from the 2014 NBC Half-Marathon!) with water, first aid, and a space blanket-just in case! Next we encountered a tire pit, and the Thing’s blasted right through as I high stepped along…
Then it was on to some of the challenging trails I love this venue so much for before we encountered the first slap in the face this course offered… a DOUBLE ROPE CLIMB…A 15 foot climb, then a low-crawl, then an 18 foot climb… I am proud, and slightly embarrassed to say that The Things had a significantly easier time of this than I did, scampering up and down the ropes like they were on wires!
Again came more trail running, and the Things had an easier transition settling into a maintainable pace… until we hit the bottom of a craggy hill that seemed to go straight up forever! We paused at the bottom for a photo op before continuing upward. Finally we crested the and Thing #1 and #2 let fly down the other side, only to encounter….. a few more hills….
We continued running up and down these beautiful trails…encountering a few more obstacles… an 8 foot wall, a sandbag carry, in which I carried Thing #1 and Thing #3, and another 8 foot wall before the trails suddenly opened up to wide area with several obstacles in full view.
It was here that it became rather apparent that, though they might not be genetically mine, the “nuture” aspect of their lives with me has encumbered them with an overwhelming love of mud, freezing water and physically punishing obstacles:
Some of these obstacles topped fifteen feet tall, and I had to hold them back from scaling them… but they were undaunted by muck and cold! The first of the obstacles we encountered, a simple a-frame type: climb up with a rope to aid you, then descend into a muddy pit. Remember what I said about the course designer being the Emeril of obstacle racing- after you navigated the muddy pit-which had a few submerged logs to trip you up- you then had to haul your wet muddy self UP a 45 degree incline…INSIDE A FREAKING TUBE! This made the Tough Mudder’s Boa Constrictor obstacle look like child’s play….oh yeah, and the children had a great time of it, completing it with ease!
After that, the trail went up a giant fill hill… loose sand and gravel piled 20 feet high…. IT WAS AWESOME! Next up was “No Man’s Land” Climb a 14 foot wall, descend the opposite side, pick your way across a tire filled mud pit, and complete the previous climb/descent on an IDENTICAL WALL…
And finally, we met with Conundrum- a series of very tall peaks to go up and down… or in my case… leap from one peak to the next….
Following Conundrum, which I didn’t allow the Things to attempt past a few feet up, we hit another tire field and set of mini walls (where I managed to step in a pile of fire ants, which got into my VFF’s- forcing me to take them off and go Barefoot!)…and settled into tackle some natural obstacles (IE: REALLY-REALLY-REALLY-TOUGH-TRAILS) We settled into a good pace, but despite their excitement and tough nature, the cold started to get the best of them, and The Things needed to take a break and huddle together for warmth under my Mylar Blanket.
After that break, we ran on… I distinctly recall at this point thinking ” we have definitely run at LEAST 5k”
Thing #3 got to relax a little during the Uphill Tire Drag, and Thing #2 took her spot on the way back down… Thing # 1 decided to just do the tire drag on her own…
We met with more small walls, and the Chimney Chute…
Before encountering the Longest Rope Traverse …ever…. for obvious safety concerns, I didn’t let the kids attempt this, but they understood…and Yes, I made it… but it was HARD!
…and A BIG THANK YOU TO THE COURSE PHOTOGRAPHER FOR TAKING THE MOST EMBARRASSING PHOTO OF MUDDYJ EVER TAKEN… and there have been MANY! (PS: I wasn’t about to fall off, I was resting!)
A 1/3 mile of mud
…and Normandy Beach caltrops…
…and the HARDEST TRAVERSE WALL EVER BUILT…
Seriously… as if a traverse wall in a mudpit wasn’t tough enough, Jason went ahead and made an 8 foot wall for you to climb up… then descend ONTO the traverse wall. After that, if you managed to successfully navigate the climb across without grabbing onto the top, you were faced with the task of scaling another wall to get over and OUT…. I was so impressed and challenged by this, I actually forgot to take a picture on race day, but here is a photo of it after it was constructed…
…but walls are easy right?…yeah, maybe with momentum….but this is some serious American Ninja Warrior style shit here… only wet and muddy as well!
Then a 12+ foot A-frame, lovingly referred to as Olympus…
A heavy bag Carry/Drag …. in which I asked..”how much do they weigh?” -about 80 pounds was the reply…so I scooped up Thing #1 and Thing#3 again and ran the course!
A final set of mini walls, followed by a 12 foot vertical wall… before we finally met with the
Dreaded slip and slide!
…and then we were done with the course…The Things Three and I beaming with pride as we recieved our finisher’s Medals. We headed over to the “HOT SHOWERS” —seriously…what a luxury after an OCR…usually you just stand there and shiver as you rinse the mud of with icy water, but we got cleaned up properly and soon resembled real-honest-to-god people!
We stuck around for the after-party, where the first and second over-all runners recieved a substantial cash prize for being bad-asses and ate some well deserved burgers and Hot Dogs!
This race producer has decided not to deal with this venue again, but I have every confidence that future events will be just as great as this one regardless of where they occur. The course alone was on par with the big boys of OCR Racing, so keep an eye peeled for upcoming events from these guys! (I’ll be certain to promote them)….
…are you keeping your eyes peeled?….
…good… cause they’re doing it again with the upcoming Pride Rush:
Well…that’s all I have for now… stay tuned in the near future for another Gladiator Rock ‘N Run event Giveaway, as well as an announcement of wonderful SPARTAN-THE-FECK-UPPEDNESS!
Now I have to go train for a short little 50k….again!
Stay Muddy My Friends!