Two weeks ago I had a decision to make regarding races. I had the option of flying to Colorado and doing the Breckenridge Beast in the snow, or staying in California and doing the Gladiator Rock’N’Run.
After putting my dilemma on Facebook I had an overwhelming response from friends telling me to stay and do Gladiator, so that’s exactly what I did. I was promised a fun course and a good after party and I wasn’t disappointed.
The Gladiator Rock’N’Run started in 2010 by Dan ‘Nitro’ Clark who is a former Gladiator from the TV show American Gladiator. I was obsessed with the Australian version when I was a kid so I was excited to see what the course had in store for us.
My friend Mimi and I arrived at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena just after 6:30am and were walking to get our race packs when I realised I’d forgotten to pack my arm sleeves. I always race in arm sleeves to maximise sun protection, but to also protect my elbows from cuts and scrapes that I inevitably get out on course. This is the first time that I’ve forgotten a part of my race kit and I wasn’t too impressed.
Mimi asked if I wanted to buy a pair of sleeves as there were some for sale at the venue. I said no as this was just one small step in becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. In the last three years I have never raced without arm sleeves and this was a chance for me to see how I felt without something that I deemed essential.
We got our race packs, said hello to fellow Weeples and then gathered in the start chute for 10km of fun.
As the course is relatively flat (there was only one hill) they stared us with four flights of stairs in the stadium and ‘box’ jumps before we ran outside the stadium for the obstacles. The first few obstacles involved climbing – into and out of a huge skip bin, over some cargo nets, and over some walls.
I was there to have fun, not to race, so I stayed with my Weeples Eva, Valerie, Fatima, Alisa and her son, and together we meandered along at a very casual pace. We got through some cinderblock burpees before branching off to the extra 5km loop and hopped through some tyres before getting to the first Epic Series obstacle – atlas stone over shoulder. I immediately went for the men’s stone (65lb/30kg) and did a half my reps with that weight before finishing off with the women’s atlas stone. I saw some very strange things as people were trying to do a push press with the stone, or just picking it up and putting it back down instead of throwing it over their shoulder.
We headed along and got to a balance beam before hiking up a hill to the cinderblock carry. As I walked along with my block overhead I heard my name being called. I looked to my left and saw my friend Nader riding past so I called out hello before continuing on.
I put down the block and joined the others as we ran back down the hill and waited for spare tyres to do walking lunges with a car tyre around our necks. The next day my glutes were on fire thanks to all the lunges!
As we got to the end of our additional 5km loop we prepared to get muddy in the tube crawl. Some people were trying hard not to get muddy, only to get to the end and have mud poured over them by the volunteer. Half the fun of these events is getting utterly filthy in the mud so I never understand why people try hard not to get dirty.
Next up was an obstacle I’ve never seen before. This one required us to lie on our backs and pull or push ourselves along, using a low cargo net to help. I’m used to low crawls on my belly but never on my back. So I lay down and tried to pull myself along but as the net was so low at points it was proving to be difficult. Instead I put my feet in the net and pushed myself along, all while trying to avoid getting dirt in my eyes.
After getting through the slide we headed up to the slosh pipe carry, monkey bars and finally the Polar Plunge. As we arrived at the Polar Plunge we noticed friends were just washing themselves in the water so we figured it must not be that cold. Initially it was fine, but as soon as I put my head under it felt incredibly cold. Luckily they hadn’t added any ice as yet so it was still refreshing rather than teeth-chattering cold.
Just when we thought we’d gotten clean we were back crawling in the mud and then climbing over giant inflatable pillows. I had some people help me over as it was too tall and muddy to get over on your own.
The last few obstacles included lumber jacks, keg carry, rope climb and the steepest slip wall I’ve ever seen. The wall and ropes were muddy which meant teamwork was needed to get up the wall. I tried twice but my hands kept slipping on the muddy rope, but then I saw people at the end just running up the wall. I went to the end, ran at the wall, and had two guys pull me up and over the wall.
After all the ladies got over the wall we ran over the finish line holding hands and were presented with our medals. I have no idea how long the course actually was, or how long we took, but I had fun.
I hosed off, got changed and headed over to the awards ceremony. One award was for the Fastest, Baddest Team, which went to the Weeple Army! I accepted the trophy and prize (a Gurilla foam roller) on behalf of the team spent the next hour enjoying the after party and seeing more friends. I tested out the Gurilla roller that night and was really impressed by it.
As Mimi and I were leaving we saw our friend Jose in the mud pit so we stopped to say hello. He took it as an invitation to cover us in mud (again) which we were both so (un)grateful for.
Overall the Gladiator Rock’N’Run was an awesome event, made even more awesome by the people. The obstacles were different and some were still quite challenging. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to see what obstacle racing is all about!
Event: Gladiator Rock’N’Run
Type: Obstacle Race
Distance: 5km1, 10km and 20km
Location: Rose Bowl, Pasadena (California).
Date: 27 August 2016