After hearing so many people talk about Savage Race I put it at the top of my list of OCRs to try. When I realised I could get to the race in Dallas I bought a plane ticket from LA and prepared to sneak my way into Texas so I could surprise my friends at the race.
It was a gloomy morning when I arrived with Adam and Dean at Beaumont Ranch. I was pumped and ready to surprise my friends, but little did I know that I would be the one being surprised. As we were being directed to the parking I looked out my window and thought I saw a familiar face and as we got closer I realised it was Shernard who was part of the Battlefrog crew that I worked with. I waved and yelled hello and promised to find him later in the day for a hug.
As I walked closer to the registration area I spotted Drew from Lone Star Spartans (LSS) sitting in his car so I went up and stood there until he saw me. When he finally realised it was me he got out and gave me a huge hug before taking a photo for FB and officially letting the cat out of the bag.
I saw more friends in the registration area and everyone exclaimed that they had no idea I was in Texas but were happy to see me. Other friends just stared in surprise as they didn’t believe I was standing in front of them.
After all the hello hugs I joined the others in the start chute. Emcee Matty T got everyone pumped up with some jumping, yelling, and old fashioned crowd surfing. Then as the blue smoke started billowing it was time to run! I followed the crowd along the trail, across a small bridge and up a tiny hill that had some people already struggling for breath. I jogged along in the hope of finding some LSS people who were doing the course at my pace.
The first few obstacles were OCR staples – a barbed wire crawl, ladder wall, 7’ wall, slant wall, and a swamp walk. After the swam walk the path took us through some sunflower fields and down to the first water based obstacle – Thor’s Grundle. I overhead people complaining about the smell of horses as they reluctantly got in the muddy water and slid under the wooden blocks that were in their way. I ended up with a muddy goatee and was thankful that somebody pointed it out to me.
I had some water before approaching the Slippery Incline. I assumed it was just your standard slant wall with rope, but as I lost my footing on my first attempt I realised this was going to be more challenging than normal. I watched as some people powered up the wall while others could barely get one foot on the wall without slipping. On my second attempt I ran, grabbed the rope, and planted my feet firmly on the wall to avoid slipping as I walked my way up.
After running past more sunflowers it was time for one of Savage’s featured obstacles – Sawtooth. Savage have reinvented the good old monkey bars and included two inclines and a difficult transition area in the middle. I grabbed hold of the first rung, grabbed the second, but as I grabbed the third I felt my fingers give way and I fell into the water. Not to worry, I could give it another go. I tried desperately to dry my hands on anything dry nearby (fat chance after the night’s rainfall) and I went in for round two. Again, the wet bars meant I lost my grip and fell into the water. I gave up after a third attempt and walked alongside some fellow LSS people.
My spirits were lifted when I approached Pole Cat, my new favourite obstacle. It involves walking your hands and feet sideways along parallel bars to the end. Think of it like you’re doing the downward dog yoga pose, but at the same time you’re moving sideways whilst gripping poles and trying not to fall in water.
Together we all ran on and climbed over more walls and crawled under barbed wire. The short girls complained that I was good at the walls, while I complained that they were good at the crawls. We all have out height advantages and disadvantages.
The rock climbing style traverse wall was not my friend and the 8’ wall was so slippery that I basically just ran into it rather than trying to get over it. The overnight rainfall and the paint on the wall meant people were scrambling to get over.
We all got over the wall and arrived at another of Savage Race’s featured obstacle, Wheel World, which reminded me of something out of American Ninja Warrior. Take monkey bars and put them in 5 pentagons that spin and you have Wheel World. It’s designed to test grip strength and body control as you try and make your way across the bars without spinning uncontrollably in the wrong direction. I’m sure there was a method to the madness but I certainly didn’t manage to figure it out at the time. Just watch the video (at the end of the blog).
We left Wheel World behind and enjoyed a short run, interrupted by some horizontal log hop-overs. Having long legs meant I could just put my leg over and hoist myself up, while one girl almost gave herself a concussion by running into the log. As Andrew ‘Level Ground’ kept encouraging us to run we turned a corner and ended in the festival area with barrel crawls and Shriveled Richard.
I’ve lost count as to how many ice baths I’ve been in but none were as cold as this one! I realised just how cold it was when I watched my GoPro footage and noticed me mouthing some profanities as I emerged from under the freezing water. But it didn’t stop me from going back a second time in an attempt to get a good photo.
Just as we got clean it was time to get muddy again with mud-n-guts, a barbed wire crawl through mud, but then Savage let us rinse off yet again with another featured obstacle – Davey Jones’ Locker.
Despite not being afraid of heights I still need a moment before jumping into water off anything high. Davey Jones’ Locker is attempting to recreate the good old pirate days with a walk off a 15’ high platform into water. Someone asked how deep the water was and a lifeguard assured that they wouldn’t hit the bottom. After a minute of staring down I finally stepped off the edge and as I hit the water I felt myself sinking to the point where I was sitting on the bottom of the pit. So much for not touching the bottom. I resurfaced, climbed out of the water and continued running along the flat terrain towards more fun obstacles.
The Teeter Tuber was something I’d never seen before. Savage have turned a plastic pipe into a see-saw and the aim is to climb inside and crawl up the pipe until it hits the tipping point resulting in you sliding out the other end. It was much more fun than just crawling through a horizontal tube, but anyone with claustrophobia may disagree.
We climbed up another wall called the Big Cheese (it’s a wall that looks like a huge block of holey cheese) before arriving at Savage Race’s most famous obstacle – Colossus. This thing was like a quarter pipe on steroids. It was higher than any quarter pipe I’ve seen before and the paint combined with the dampness from the rain meant it was slippery too. On my first attempt I was so close to the top but as I reached for the strangers hand I lost my footing and went sliding back to the bottom. On my second attempt I couldn’t even grip the rope, so I tried the other side.
All the other Lone Star Spartans were at the top and yelling at me to get up. So I took a huge run up and powered up the wall. I grabbed the rope and hoisted my way up, wrapping my legs around the rope like I was doing a rope climb. I had one person pulling my left arm, another person on my right arm, and someone else pulling my left foot as they heaved me over the edge. It may have taken several people but I made it.
The reward of reaching the top was getting to go down the steep waterslide on the other side of Colossus. I was pinching my nose as I went down the slide but at the very last second decided to Strike a Messner. Forgetting to breathe out meant I ended up with a nose full of muddy water and I spent the next few minutes coughing my lungs up. It wasn’t exactly the smartest time to unpinch my nose.
We all ran on to the cargo net and wood carry and avoided twisting any ankles in the pitted terrain. Having an event at a ranch means there’s no giant hills to conquer, but the downside is that the terrain can be uneven meaning you’ve always got to watch where you step.
After the cargo net climb and wood carry it was time for two more new and innovative obstacles – On The Fence and Tree Hugger. On The Fence was good practice for anyone who wants to try and scale a fence sideways, and Tree Hugger was great for some people to practice their pole dancing skills. Half of us kept falling off On The Fence but some of the girls made it. I almost made the tree hugger on my second attempt but lost my footing as I reached for the bell. I’m determined to make it next time!
We all gave up at the multi-rig as it was the last obstacle, and instead just ran across the finish line together. I saw even more friendly faces and the two hours after I finished were filled with hugs.
Overall I was very impressed with Savage Race. Their signature obstacles are innovative and challenging and they squeezed in 25 obstacles over a 5.9 mile (9.6km) course. They certainly lived up to their tagline of ‘The Best Obstacles. The Perfect Distance’! I will definitely return to do a Savage Race in the future, and would encourage anyone looking for a great challenge to sign up and experience it for themselves!
Event: Savage Race
Type: Obstacle Race
Distance: 10-12km. GPS showed 9.2km
Location: Beaumont Ranch, Grandview, Texas (USA)
Date: 10 September 2016