Why my savage experience was definitely savage, but not one am I proud of.
I have been mud running now since 2010 and I love it. I am so addicted to running all these events that I was doing 15-20 a year. I was excited when I heard that Savage Race was coming to Dallas, I had heard so many positive things and their obstacles looked very cool and challenging. Well, I completed my first Savage Race and I have to say, I am so disappointed in my effort and the performance I gave. Here is a brief synopsis of what transpired on Saturday and my thoughts.
First thing first, I want to be clear I am not bashing Savage Race or saying that their event was bad in any way. I think the circumstances revolving around it could have been better, but you can not predict what mother nature will do. As this event became known as “The Coldest Savage Race Ever”, at some point I have to wonder when does the event cancel for the safety of the participants. I am not on my soapbox, I have run races and organized races which were in the 40’s and 50’s before, but his just felt different than those and as a participant I was miserable.
I know what you are thinking, I paid for this, I should suck it up. I agree. Which is why I am my own toughest critic and why when my friends tell me that I am a “stud” or I am so awesome for completing this, I just want to punch them. I think this was the dumbest thing I have ever done and I am going to tell you why. Here I am going to break down my thoughts as I was running and at the obstacles I remember.
Let’s start with the wake-up. 5:03 AM, (why :03, I was lazy and didn’t set alarm correctly) and I am getting dressed, I see the temperature outside is is cold, for me, it is real cold, I hate cold weather. It is low 30’s, not quite freezing but 33-35 degrees. In the back of my mind I am thinking, this is going to be a hard race, am I positive I want to do this? My conscience is on both of my shoulders like the angel and devil. Once saying “go for it”, it will be fun, the other saying “seriously, the first obstacle is shriveled Richard with ice water, lets go back to sleep”. Well I make the decision, I paid for this and I will not let my money go to waste. So I prepare the best I can for the torture that lies ahead.
9:00 AM, I arrive there and the temperature is a lovely 36 degrees and a misty rain has started to fall. Perfect, I just can not wait!! Kidding I am, I start dreading this more and more. Oh well, I know there are some friends here and Savage told us not to run alone. So I know if a couple of guys who I can go with. But the decision of the day is, do I run for fun and to just complete this and go at the pace of these friends or will my uber competitive side take over and I end up running alone for 6 miles in this bitter cold weather.
As I am killing time, I see some of the guys I was going run with in the 10:20 wave. I didn’t pay extra for the competitive wave, which was going to start at 10am, so I didn’t notice they were lined up and ready to go. They said they wanted to get it over with, so I agreed and joined these knuckleheads in the first wave of the day. Stripping down to race clothes really sucked, it was cold and my coat was warm!
So the race starts and we are off, I don’t start in the front like I usually would, I actually started in the back of the pack at a nice jog pace. You can see the first obstacle and I am dreading it. Some of the people around me have already declared they are skipping all water obstacles including the first one filled with ice. All I can think of is “wow, you paid for this run, why would you skip anything?”
1. Shriveled Richard – jump into a chest deep box of water filled with ice cubes, then you have to go under water to get out. Basically under a wall, come out the other side and climb out. My running buddies decided to “skip” this obstacle as did many people, I was on the fence, listening to the screams was making me change my mind, but when a couple of women jumped in, I said what the hell! OMG this has to have been the coldest thing ever. Who on earth thinks that having people jump in ice water, dunk in it when it is 36 degrees outside is a good idea? I took off my wool hat in an attempt to keep it dry. My face froze! I had a mini brain freeze…I am already dreading running 6 miles like this.
2. Thors Grundle – at first I was thinking, this won’t be that bad, it was just a ditch with some water in it, had to crawl though, no biggie. Well, welcome to another cruel obstacle. You have to dive under a wall again, and this time two of them! I am still feeling the effects of the ice bath, but I go in, with the lets do this mentality! Again a group of smart people go around, they want no part of this water, one guy holds my hat for me because again I didn’t want it to get wet. I come out and I had an even worse brain freeze then the last obstacle. It was so bad, it felt like a migraine. But I put my hat on and took off running. Oh yeah, and now it has started to really rain.
3. Prairie Dog – I don’t remember what this even was, but I think it was a tunnel we went through with some wood over the entrance. No biggie, bear crawled through it, dirt was so hard still, it hurt to try to go on hands and knees.
4. Big ASS Cargo net – This was a good obstacle to do, no problem here, passed a bunch of people, but I was starting to have issues with my fingers. I couldn’t ring out the water in my gloves and my fingers were starting to go numb. But I pressed onward.
5. Pig Pen – I believe this was an annoying little pond that we had to wade though. I skirted the edge about knee deep and several people skipped this altogether.
6. Nutt Smasher – This was the balance beam, as I approach it all I can see are people falling the water right and left. Splash, splash…many go around as they see no one completing it. I get a big grin on my face, I love balance beams, I think I have great balance almost ninja like!! But I got over 1/2 way across and these guys made the beam so long that is starts swaying the further you go, mix that with the cold and it was harder than I expected. Splash I went into chest deep water, I made it almost to the end about 3 steps short.
7. Low Crawl – I can’t remember what this was, but I think it was the first barbed wire crawl. I rolled the whole way and was super dizzy running side ways for a few steps…
8. Barn Doors – I have no idea why they call it this, it was like a ladder, up and over, no problemo. I can say at this point my hands were really starting to hurt. The ends of my fingers hurt really bad and griping anything was becoming difficult.
9. Slippery Incline Wall – Approaching this one, it didn’t look at that difficult. In reality, it was not that difficult of a obstacle, but the weather conditions made it hard. My first attempt I grabbed the rope and lost my grip and failed. So I backed up, and went again, I remember I grabbed with my left hand and held on to the knot at the bottom of the rope. I had the most intense pain in my hand that I have felt in a very long time. I had an issue grabbing the rope with my right hand, by the time I got it, I was struggling, gripping the rope was so difficult because my fingers were on fire and not working. I managed to get up and over. My left hand was toast. I was chatting with the guy next to me and we went over the wall together and he had the same issue. My hands hurt so bad due to the cold, it was difficult to hold anything.
10. 96″ Stiffie – I don’t remember what this was, but I think it was the climb over the Colon Blow. No issues here.
11. Swam Ass – I do not know what this one was
12. Colon Blow 5000 – This was the first obstacle I skipped. I know what you are thinking, but I am disappointed as well. This was not a hard obstacle, it was just crawling through tubes, going up an incline and then down the other side. The problem was, as we approached, (I was running with the same guy since the slip wall) there was a body in each tube. They were all slipping and sliding and could not get up the entrance of the tubes. They were all taken, we waited for like 30 seconds and then decided to keep running, it was too cold to stand and wait for these bozos to get through it. Plus I couldn’t feel my hands.
13. Sawtooth – running and talking I learned a couple of things, I was not the only one having issues with my hands. As I approached this one, which was the one obstacle I was so looking forward to, the crazy ridiculous adult monkey bars, I was defeated before I stopped running up to it. I knew I couldn’t grip anything, my left hand was gone, I couldn’t feel my fingers. I actually remember thinking and wondering if I was getting frostbite like symptoms. I look across to the other side and I see a guy wrapped in one of those tinfoil looking blankets which I know is for hypothermia, of course he is not wearing a shirt and I am thinking, what a dummy. Everyone attempting this is failing and falling in the water, some people are just saying screw it and jumping in the water and not trying and others just walking around. I tried to grip the first bar. I knew it was bad, and it was, I could not hold on with my right hand. I knew I would fall immediately and I honestly didn’t want to get wet. It kills me to say it, I walked around and just started running.
I want to say this was about the 3-mile mark. Other than my hands hurting extremely bad I was physically fine and my mental toughness was the only thing pushing me on. I seriously though about tapping out and just trying to find a way back to the start. But my mind said no, I told myself I was doing great, my feet were not cold at all, in fact they were warm with the wool socks I was wearing. So I thought if I could warm up the hands, I’d be okay. So I pressed on.
14. Rubbers – These were monster truck tires and not that hard to get over. Went over easily.
15. Kiss my Walls – Running up to this one, I was like sweet, I nail this one at spartan! It is like rock climbing walls, I got this. No unfortunately I didn’t, I failed again. I couldn’t hold myself up on the wall, my fingers hurt so bad I had no strength at all to hold myself up. I didn’t even get off the first block. So disappointing, I just walked to end and started running…running was the only thing working for me at this point.
16. Me so Thorny – this was just another version of a barbed wire crawl, just they had specific rows you had to go into. I crawled through most of this on my hands and knees, I ended up tearing my shorts with my butt up the air…that sucked, time to get new race shorts. BTW the event photo guys were not here when we went though, so no photos of anyone in the top 30 or so people.
17. Lumberjack Lane – more like lumberjack lame. They had these little blocks of wood, which we had to carry down and up a hill. I carried it like a football and didn’t get off pace.
18. Colossus – This was the 2nd obstacle I was looking forward to. I was defeated before I got to it. As I approached, there were several guys standing round a fire warming their hands. I watched several people trying and giving up because they could not get up the rope. I knew I could not hold on to a rope much less be able to pull myself up. My hands were toast and I still did not have feeling my left hand. I saw the huge water pit on the other side and I walked away and started running. I wish I was at full strength so I could have attempted it, but I knew it was no use. I put my head down in shame, I knew I couldn’t get up the wall and I didn’t want to get wet if I did.
19. Mud N Guts – this was one long ass crawl. Did the army crawl for part and the log roll for part. Nice and muddy.
20. Missionary Impossible – At this point the only thing keeping me warm is running. So yes I winced when we had to lay on our backs on a piece of rubber and crawl up hill using a cargo net to pull us up. Oh yeah, they were nice enough to have cold running water going down the hill. It was actually a fun obstacle until you get to the end and have water spraying you in the face.
21. Davy Jones Locker – approaching this I just thought why? watching people climb up the platform and voluntarily jump off in water which is over your head and swim out using a cargo net. Yeah. I pussed out and said no thanks. I knew we were close to being done, and I wanted no part in getting in any water, much less getting dunked again.
22. Back Scratcher – these were a series of 6-foot walls to go over and then roll under the next wall. I really struggled with this, jumping was next to impossible for me, my fingers were numb and useless, I could barely pull myself up, I didn’t feel this spent, I felt like I was running well and still catching and passing people on the run portion. I pulled something in my shoulder at this obstacle and I wouldn’t know it until I got home and couldn’t lift my arm.
23. Tazed – As I approached this one I thought it was just another rolling on the ground obstacle, then I saw it was electricity, which I thought to myself, self, this could be ugly. It is raining and I am soaking wet and they want to electrocute me? The people at the obstacle said it wasn’t that bad and in fact they were correct, I could not even feel it. Went through and on to the finish.
24. Blazed – I was disappointed they didn’t have this one. I guess they thought due to the rain that a fire obstacle was a bad idea.
25. Finish – So I finished, I say big deal. I am mad at myself for not completing or even trying several of the obstacles, but my better judgment told me it was not a good idea. Sometimes you have to go with your gut feeling. I tried to change, I finally got out of my clothes and put on warmer clothes and I was shivering uncontrollably. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Heated seats and a blanket all the way home.
So all in all, I wish they would come back to Texas in July or August of next year. I would run this race in the extreme heat, the water portions of this race would be great if it was not near freezing temperatures. I think the times are so skewed, the competitive wave had people finishing in 5o minutes and the next few people were are 1:01. I think they skipped more obstacles than I did! But if you look at the results, I placed #1 in my age group in the non-competitive people, I would have been 1st as well in the competitive group. I finished 10th overall out of 1075 people in the non-competitive group. Add both groups together and I am 27th out of the 1165 timed people. Whoop-D-Doo. I only take comfort in knowing I was not the only one skipping obstacles so in my mind the results are skewed. Great learning experience.
I do want to thank my sponsor, Bswarms Athletics for making this event possible.