Tag Archives: mud run

Making Natasha a Spartan

Austin, Texas 5/16/2015 – Spartan Sprint

quote“There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps, for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less.”

~Kurt Hahn

Every once in a great while, you get an opportunity to change someone’s life.  I find most of the time I have no idea if something I did or said has made any impact on anyone’s lives. Sometimes I get emails from people who tell me I did, but I don’t go out trying to be a difference maker, I live my life and if I can be an example then I am happy to hear how I have inspired you in some way.

Last December my friend Natasha was in the ICU unit and posted on facebook she would love some company or someone to visit her and bring movies.  So of course I grabbed some DVD’s and went right up there.  I still get confused as to her illness (I’ll explain in a minute) but I gladly went up to visit. Unfortunately at the time she was under some heavy sedation so we did get a chance to talk in between her naps. I watched her sleep and chilled for a few hours. I don’t know if she really remembers everything, but I am sure she was grateful I was there if just for a short time.

I monitor her status from time to time and she has been living in the hospital basically for the last few years. Well this past week she commented on one of my pictures at how great I was doing at my runs. I privately asked her how she was doing and she said she had been out of the hospital for the past 3 weeks and was feeling great. In jest I mentioned if she ever wanted to run a race I would make her a spartan. Well she took me up on the offer! She decided on a Friday afternoon to up and participate in the Reebok Spartan Race Sprint in Austin, Texas the next day.

 Natasha’s Illness

So what I found out is that Natasha actually suffers from Eosinophilic Disease. What is an Eosinophil? An evil white blood cell that is a type of B cell. It has one job: attack parasites in the body. In her case these cells went rogue. Two (2) in every million people have  EGPA. In her case the Eosinophils are attacking multiple organs. EOS diseases have NO cure & NO FDA approved treatment. Let that sink in. We fight a losing battle daily with band-aid medications that rarely work.

She is currently in Stage 3, this is the last stage of her illness, and the cause of her recently mild heart attack. Yes you read this correct, she had a heart attack in March 2015 and is also on the transplant list for a new heart. Oh yeah and she also undergoes up to 5-hours of experimental Chemotherapy to fight this.

In September of 2014, she received her “death sentence” as she calls it, they told her she had give or take 5-years to live. As she told me “I no longer consider my illness a death sentence because I keep fighting through the tough times. Like I’ve said before, I’m Chronically Fabulous!” These are words of a true fighter.

The Race

Most of what I actually knew of her illness I learned during our race. I had no idea of some of these things when I asked her to do this, like the heart attack or that her cardiologist was probably going to hunt me down and shoot me because she has a strict no exercise policy or lifting anything over 5lbs.

But we started our adventure on the course at her insistence, she told me her illness was not going to determine how she lives her life and jokingly stated this could kill her today but it would be fun.  I guess it is a good thing she signed the Spartan “death waiver” then huh? So she tells me YOLO and off we go towards the start line.

Seriously I am a little worried at this point, but she is all smiles and doesn’t have a care in the world. We are in the starting coral and yelling AROO, AROO, AROO and now I can see it all sinking in, this is about to get real.

Just to review:

  • Heart attack in March (2-months ago)
  • On the heart transplant list
  • No exercise or lifting over 5lbs
  • She forgot her inhaler
  • 6-days post race she goes in for 5-hours of chemo

So armed with her feeding tube (yes still in), oh yeah she can’ eat real food either, her chemo port and the biggest smile ever, we took off on our Reebok Spartan Race adventure.

So off we go, walking our way to glory.

Mile 1

As we start off we instantly start talking about the past 6-months or so. Sometimes I am amazed at how fast time flies by. This is where I learn of her disease in depth, all the restrictions and how we shouldn’t even be walking. But she won’t quit so we keep going. She went up and over the saw horse looking things and then the 6-foot wall, at first it was intimidating, then she went for it and made it!

We hit the 1-mile marker and and she asked me if it was really a mile. Then it gets silent for a second and I can see something going on in there and she tells me, if you had asked her if she would have ever done this, she would have said no. I could tell she was proud of herself and she was ready to keep going.

Miles 2, 3, 4

It seems I did most of the talking, (I know imagine that!) but it was okay because we were working on her breathing and keeping her heart rate low. So I talked and talked and talked some more. I had plenty to say, it has been a busy 6-months!

As we approached the obstacles, she did just about all of them. I stuck the spear throw for her and then let her try, she had obviously never done that before and it did go straight, just not enough arm.  I asked her if she played softball as I was showing her how I throw it and the response was “No, I was a cheerleader!” okay then, cheer for me!

I did the rig pipe thingy because they would not allow me to assist her in any way to even try and she could not hold herself up there, so no big deal I knocked that out.

I carried her sandbag and mine too, can’t break the lifting restrictions and the water was a refreshing break.  This  is where we almost called it a day. You could say she was a bit stubborn and refused to let her illness stop her from at least trying the things that were doable. But her heart rate was going off the charts and we ended up sitting down at the water station to rest.

She wanted the medic and then didn’t want the medic so we sat and we talked and I tried to crack tasteless jokes to lighten the mood. Then I told her about my Houston Battlefrog DNF and how my motto for the Dallas Battlefrog was “Not Today.” So I told her that was her new motto to, not today. You are not dying or quitting this race today. Tomorrow you can, but not today! Then we looked around and I pointed out all of the other people just sitting around, taking breaks, goofing off, not doing anything. You see she felt bad she had to stop and was mad that she couldn’t lower her heart rate a tad. Then I calmly stated the obvious…what was their excuse? They were all healthy people, granted maybe out of shape, but they don’t have a death sentence or chemo therapy this week or a heart attack a couple months back. At this point it was like I turned on a light switch, she looked at me and said “yeah, what is their excuse?” she looked around and mumbled you are all healthy people just sitting around, then she stood up and off we went.

I also ended up doing the sled pull for obvious reasons, but she did do the Z-wall, even after much discussion on if should could, well she could and she did! She also did her own barbwire crawl and did the tunnel crawl.

But after the tunnel she saw the hill. She became petrified she would not make it up such a steep incline. She asked the volunteer to call for a medic just in case she died on the way up, no lie her words. The volunteer walked with us, we went slow and steady, up and over the big rocks and when she got to the top, out came a big “I did it!” and a huge smile and a high five! She truly has no idea how inspiring this is right now that she is just beasting this course. I mean, she isn’t even supposed to be walking to the mailbox! I told her the hard stuff is over, we are almost there. Then we took a selfie! 🙂

mountain selfie

Mile 4 Mile Marker was another milestone for us. When she saw the sign, knowing we had roughly a mile left she got really excited and of course we took the gratuitous picture. With her heart racing and struggling to get her breathing under control she looked at me and said “well crap, I’ve come this far, I can’t quit now with a mile left”…no, no you can not, not today.

Mile 4Continuing on we just keep going, I scale the 10-foot wall and then we approach the floating bridge. Without hesitation she gets up on it and starts across. On the last one she jumps off and immediately her arms shoot over her head and starts jumping up and down in the water. What a sight to see, such a huge smile on her face. When I get over to her, she is out of the water and on the shore and crying. I instantly think something is wrong and I ask if she is okay and needs a medic and you know what? It was a happy cry, she got so emotional completing that obstacle she broke down. I told her not to waste her tears on this one, you save them for when you leap over the fire and get that medal!

On we go, walking to the bucket carry she was having issues and we stopped and again I was about to get the medic. But she no, and just said when she got so excited it took its toll. Actually the whole day had now taken its toll on her and every step was a milestone. She marched on to the bucket carry and got some water and rested while I completed it with no problem.

The Last March

You can hear the festival area, I kept telling her we were so close, but the walking was really starting to break her down. I offered to piggy back ride her, but no that was not an option. It took a while but we made it to the slip wall, I knocked it out. I did the Herc hoist, Tarzan swing and I kicked the bell for her on the rope climb. Then we marched to the dunk wall. I could see the terrified look on her face. I told her not to get in but she did, then she started to hyperventilate of the thought of holding her breath and going under. In the end she did it, like a champ! Nothing but smiles as we get out and look to the fire.

The fire took awhile for her to go, but at this point we were not in a rush. I know her breathing was an issue and I think the thought of jumping over fire and into a water pit may have also been somewhat intimidating. She looked like a lioness actually, she was staring it down, pacing back and forth looking at it as if where to attack it. I am just standing off to the side waiting, my plan was to go with her and jump together and get it all on video from the side view. She walked up to me as if to talk to me and then she just took off.

I am so happy she went, but it was the funniest moment of my day. I wasn’t expecting it, I was a step behind trying to catch up to video and she also kinda blocked me and went to the far right. I was behind and now worried about landing on her, but I just pulled up and went in right behind her. Then I heard it. That laugh. That happy laugh I had heard all day every time she accomplished something.  We climbed out of the pit and marched to the finish and she got her medal.

It was hard to not break down. While her little heart was bursting from over use and stress, my was the complete opposite, sure I was getting choked up but my heart was full. I made her a Spartan and now I know no matter what life throws at her, she will always have this moment to reflect on. I hope this makes her stronger when she gets sick again and we end up watching movies together. I guess the next time I can take 300 and the sequel and we can yell our AROO AROO AROO down the ICU hall! Hopefully I don’t have to do that for awhile. For now, I will visit on chemo day and we can laugh about our adventure.

Natasha we may not get 5-years more with you, but I hope we get more. You have a fragile heart, but it is a heart of a warrior and you have one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know. Thank you for allowing me to bring you this special moment. I look forward to more adventures in the future! I am so very proud of you for this accomplishment.

Here is our video of the EPIC day.

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The Day I Actually Quit

The longest 3 – Minutes Ever

quote

When your desires are strong enough you will appear to possess superhuman powers to achieve.

~Napoleon Hill

Have you ever flipped that switch in your head and you become almost obsessed with something? Well that happened to me when I DNF’d at Battlefrog Houston earlier this year. Since then I made the decision I was never going to do that again. So I got off my ass and started working out hard to achieve my goals.  It never stopped, I kept getting more and more into what I was doing and I was driven and on a mission.

Although the Spartan Race has recently lost its luster in my eyes, I was none the less excited about the upcoming Austin Races, 4-races in back to back weekends. Training was going great, my diet had also changed and I was feeling like this was actually going to be a great couple of races for me. For the first time in a long time I went into a race extremely confident and ready to perform at a high level.

I was challenged the night before to not run the OPEN race and upgrade to the ELITE MASTERS race. My camp kept telling me I was ready to take the next step. They believed I could do really well and were pretty convincing. Ultimately I went with the plan I started out with and I remained in the Open heat. Not only to I regret that decision now playing armchair QB, I knew it the moment I watched the elite men take off for the start of the Super.  But nothing you can do now I told myself, just crush the race and try to catch the women elites.

So our heat started and off we went. I always try to control myself and not get caught up in the initial sprint off, I mean it is a 9-mile race, no need to die in the first mile. So I let the knuckleheads take off but I also kept a good pace myself. The beginning was all trail and I train on this, so I felt good. I caught up to the small group who took off and I was passing them. I even yelled out “on your left” as I was going by. Then it happened. I took my eyes off the technical trail with the wet slippery rocks for a second to look ahead at the group I was passing and my left foot came down, the ankle slipped and rolled on a wet rock and I heard a “POP” sound, this was worse than anything I had ever heard before with my ankles. I came down hard too, full force on the foot.  I took a knee, in near tears with the pain.

Time: 3:31

Yes I took a knee, I looked at my watch and I was only three minutes and 31 seconds into the race. My ankle was throbbing and I was not sure what to do. People started to run by now, people asking me if I was okay and each time I responded with “No, I am not.” Reflecting now, this was the first time I ever got hurt and admitted it. I mean like, I was saying, “yes I am hurt and I need help” never in a million years did I ever thing this would happen. I remember I could not put any weight on the ankle, I couldn’t stand, so I just kept kneeling and semi rubbing it. There were offers for people to send back a medic and one guy said he would tell the next water station for me.  I was in a state of bewilderment. All I could think was “why is this happening to me? I was in great shape and I was ready, this was supposed to be my race! I was supposed to kill it and then show them and myself maybe I can run with the elites.” Then I hear a familiar voice. My new friend Darlene came up and started talking me, made me stand up. I told her I was done. I couldn’t race, I needed to just head back towards the start line.  So we started walking back,  back to the start line, back to the festival area, away from the race.

During this walk so many emotions started going through my head, “what would people think?” for starters, I know I shouldn’t care but still, that goes through my head. I didn’t want the sympathy, I didn’t want to let down all of the people I trained with, the ones who took time to train me, I was feeling this defeat and I could feel myself getting emotional. I know Darlene was talking to me and I half remember what she was saying over the voices in my head. But then something happened, the foot started feeling a bit better, so I tightened up the laces on my shoe and I stopped walking the wrong way. I looked and Darlene and I said I can’t quit. I just can’t do it. I absolutely had to cross that finish line, even if I was crawling I was going to cross that finish line. She told me to lightly jog and see how it felt, so I did. It felt good, only some sharpe pain here and there. But then I started running a bit faster and then a bit faster and then I just took off.

quoteWhy is this happening to me? I was in great shape and I was ready, this was supposed to be my race! I was supposed to kill it and then show them and myself maybe I can run with the elites.”

I looked at my watch and this whole thing took a little over three minutes. Darlene was running with me and I told her, it was starting to feel good and now I was pissed that I just lost 3-minutes.  Her comment was something like “just run faster then and catch up, its a long race still.” So off I went to cross the finish line.

I was actually very surprised at how I actually was able to keep going. Mile after mile, obstacle after obstacle. I did twist the ankle three more times during the race, two were very slight tweaks and one was a good roll again on a wet rock. It wasn’t until around mile 8 when I hit the wall. Which is odd because I was actually putting down a good pace on mile 7, I was passing female elites and I had not failed an obstacle.  Mile 9 was hell, for some reason as long as I kept running I was good, when we stopped for any reason, I was getting bad. The last barb wire crawl, the tubes, and the sled pull, all actually hurt. Walking was becoming difficult but I motored on, I went slow through the rolling hills and I carefully went over the floating docs, but I couldn’t run as we approached the bucket carry.  I went through the bucket carry and then I tried to run to the festival area, I am glad there was no one there to watch because it was ugly. It was a jog/hobble combo thing. Slip wall was no biggie, up and over the bridge and then the Tarzan swing,  the only thing I failed. I think it as a combo of things why, but I was for sure doing everything off one foot, but I doubt that was why.  So I did my burpees (so easy when you practice them!) The rope climb was no problem and then the fire jump. It was a sad day, I didn’t jump (yes no fire jump pose) I calmly stepped over it and into the water pit, crawled out and crossed the finish line.

I crossed the finish line, mission accomplished. I basically walked right through the finish area without stopping and made a beeline to the medical tent. I got wrapped and ice and called it a day. I was sad I didn’t get to race the Sprint the next day, but the swelling was worse and it hurt to walk so I thought it would be a good idea to just lay low. Of course this did mean that I could be cheerleader to my friends, take pictures and try to take it easy.

So I learned something about myself again this past weekend, I do have a never give up mentality. I could have easily called it a day, but I didn’t, I forged on. What really makes me feel both good about things and somewhat disappointed at the same time is that I ended up with this time:Screenshot 2015-05-13 14.04.11I am pretty pumped about this considering I had a bum ankle and when I compared my times with the elite masters, I would have taken 5th place. So I think I do have the confidence now to try and run the elite class and say goodbye to the Open heats.

One more weekend lies ahead and I am not ever sure at this point if I will be able to compete or not. So for now I am resting this week, staying off the foot and hoping I can feel good enough to at least run the Sprint on Saturday. If not, I will have my camera and video camera, so I can take a ton of pics!

 My name is Travis and I talk to strangers!

Battlefrog Redemption

By: Travis E. Blythe

The Ultimate Transformation Tuesday!

I started writing a blog a couple weeks back about my first experience with Battlefrog and how it “took my soul” away from me at the Houston race.  But now fast forward a couple of week and and instead of reviewing the Dallas race, I thought I would just write down how I felt I transformed myself after both of these races. There really are no before and after pictures or some incredible physical change that took place, no this rather is a transformation of my mind, will and determination.

Houston

So a quick overview of the Houston race, I think I was just a little to over confident. I went into that race thinking I was ready to run in the “elite” wave, even in the Masters division. Competing against the 40 and over crowd seemed doable. I was so sure I was going to get at least 3rd place. I mean I have been training hard, I have been running well at other events and I was all about “chasing the money”.  Then the race started, the most brutal ORC/mudrun I have ever attempted in my life. I know I have done some hard Spartan Races, but the fact we had to do 2-4.8 mile laps with roughly 68 obstacles, was just exhausting.

But this is also a mental game as much as a physical one. Case in point, I lost my bracelet pretty early on (10th obstacle) and after that, I was mentally defeated. I let that defeat creep into my mind and even though I finished my 2-laps and I attempted all of the obstacles, my head was not in it. I barely attempted things and used the I am so tired excuse, but in reality looking back I wanted to finish, get my two laps in and just be done. So It did.

The Takeaway

So what did I learn? I definitely learned a few things about myself, preparing correctly and race strategy. I talked to a lot of the true “elites” in the sport and picked their brains, how they did things, technique and I learned a ton about what I did wrong. I think the biggest mistake was just being to much in “Race mode” and trying to hurry through the obstacles instead of taking my time and doing it right. So I left Houston knowing my deficiencies and what I needed to work on.

The Plan

So if you are running a battlefrog and you want to know what you should spend some extra time training on? Then my answer to you is grip strength! The jerry can carry is no joke and having to do it twice is a beating. So I bought 2 cans, I filled them with water and I weighed them and they are 55lbs each. I simulated the distance of the Houston race and practiced carrying them. I would even do it twice sandwiched between a 4 mile run. Started running with the wreck bag and playing on more monkey bars. I have to admit I was lacking on that. I also put my gripmaster in the car and I drive around all day squeezing it!

The second phase for me was to attack the course very methodically. I was really nervous about several of the obstacles, but I knew if I took my time and did not rush I could be okay. Knowing the location of the Dallas race, I knew it wasn’t too hilly, so I figured I could make up time on the running after a slow obstacle. The object was just to finish anyway. No stress on trying to get on the podium or win the race, I just wanted to finish with bracelet.

Dallas

One of the greatest parts of being in the sport is that all of the people you meet are really some amazing people. I meet new people every week it seems and my core group of friends are some of the most supportive I have ever met. So here we are at the starting line and it is like the who’s who of racing toeing the line. I always think “what on earth am I doing here?”, but not today, because I am only racing the Masters division, the 40+ guys. I know I belong, I am only getting better with every race, I have a plan.

Lap one

20150415215845The race starts and off we go, with every obstacle my confidence is growing. The wreck bag carries seem so easy now, I run with that 50lb bag like it is nothing. My first major test was the “Bridge over River Cry”, I couldn’t get this one in Houston, but it was real early in the race, so I still had a ton of grip strength. As I approach, I see that Isaiah Vidal failed once and was still in line waiting to go again. No worries though..I got this. Three rings from the top I look away from the task at hand to see where the pole was and I missed grabbing a rung and I slipped and fell. All I could think was, oh hell here we go again. But I got out, got back in line and kept telling myself to be patient and calm. Nailed it on the second attempt!

Then my friend Melissa who was volunteering gave me the mantra of the day “Not Today!” Not today was my new theme, not today will they be taking my bracelet, not today will I fail, not today will this course beat me!

The rest of the obstacles were just flying by, one after another I was pushing through them without any difficulty. Even the dreaded jerry can carry. I stuck to my slow and steady plan, don’t burn out the arms was all I could think of. Then before I knew it I was at 5 miles, I came up on the rope climb, nerves setting in because this is my worst obstacle, nailed it. At this point I am like wow, I can see the finish area, two major obstacles left before lap two. Confidence is growing. I dominated the “Tip of the Spear” and rolled through the “Monkey Bars” on my first try. I think I let out a slight yell and a fist pump as I ran on to the next lap. I am thinking holy shit, I just did the lap and I have my bracelet.

Lap one: 1:18:38

Lap Two

I think the endorphins of doing so well on the first lap were at an all time high and I think it helped me on lap two. I set a goal, just duplicate lap one and I would be happy with that. I knew the course now, where the flat parts were, where I could rest my strength and where I could run just a bit faster. Most of lap two was a blur, I was smoking the course, “Bridge over River Cry” one shot and over! I saw Melissa immediately after and I ran over and gave her a big hug, kissed her cheek and I said “Not Today!” I showed her I still had the bracelet and I ran off!

I was so ecstatic after that, I remember feeling like superman, because I was just crushing these obstacles, one by one, I was 5 min ahead of the first lap when I got to the jerry cans for the second lap. Stick to the plan, don’t get too far ahead of yourself, save your strength.

I was closing in on the end of the race, I was running great, faster on lap two, then the wheels fell off.  I came upon the rope climb. The ropes were horrible, muddy, wet and a ton of people around trying and not succeeding. I ran in to one of my friends who was still on her first lap, had been stuck there for an hour already. Another was on lap two, was in 4th place in the female elite race and she got stuck.  In the end I spent close to an hour trying to climb up the ropes. Panic started to set in, several people started piling up, several elites just looking exhausted and defeated. More kept coming, some made it up real easy and that just made me feel worse. I finally rallied one last time, not today. I got up that rope and punched the bell as I let out a primal scream, jumped down and took off for the finish.

Okay, so I just lost an hour or so, its okay, we are going to finish, there is literally nothing left I can’t do. I am still finishing! I blasted through “tip of the spear” again and headed to the monkey bars.

When people talk about gut checks and never giving up, survival instincts, I am sure mots of us roll our eyes and just say whatever. Well I spent close to 3 hours trying the monkey bars. I suffered through the cold water, shaking uncontrollably until the sun came out and warmed me up. My first run I was 2 bars from the end and I just lost my momentum and just stopped, then I was dead and I fell.  So close, I wouldn’t get that close again for hours. I remember trying to keep calm. Don’t rush it, so I waited 10 min, then 15 min intervals, then 20, then 30. I must have tried easily over 10 times. My last three attempts I gained a blister on my right hand. Worse than a blister, I had the skin ripped off and I was bleeding. My hands would not close, I had no grip strength. I was actually contemplating quitting. One by one my friends would come over and offer support, pep talks, instructions on how to defeat this. They were giving those of us left a time limit and we would be pulled off. I had the mentality that I was going to be pulled off the course before I quit.

Finally I waited 45 min before my next run. I thought my hands had one last attempt. So I went for it and it had to be possibly the ugliest crossing of monkey bars ever attempted. I wish someone would have gotten video of it. After the transition I went from straight on to sideways to backwards and pretty much back around again. I thought I was going to fall, the bar twisted and I started losing my grip, I basically did a pull up to get closer to the bars and just kept moving, Don’t stop, please don’t stop. Well I made it. I will never tell you what I was thinking about that really got me over, my motivation to make someone extremely proud, not fail can be a strong motivator when you are whupped.

I made it, “Tsunami” was a piece of cake, I finished the mud crawl and the rest is kind of a blur. I remember dancing and screaming and jumping up and down. My friend Melissa was the first person there with my medal. I got my medal and a huge hug. There were more friends there clapping and cheering and it made it all that more worth while!

Lap two: 6:04:00

Yes that is correct, over 6-hours on the second lap. I thought I would finish around 2:40:00 which would have been a podium finish and 3rd place, had I been able to get through it and not wait those couple of times. My official time was 7:22:38, that is right over 7-hours to run a 11 mile race and complete every obstacle without failing.

The Takeaway

20150415220048I bet you might be wondering WTF is with this guy and why would anyone care that I just wrote this blog. Well honestly, I find it a huge accomplishment for me. I’m a 43 year old guy who is not elite by any means, but I am not the open weekend warrior either. I am somewhere in between. I love the challenge this gave me. How it crushed my soul in Houston and I had sweet redemption in Dallas. Now I can see where I can improve. I can continue to get better and stronger by working on the things I already was working on as well as learning the techniques which would have given me a higher finish.

I can find solace in knowing that I still have a long way to go and that honestly drives me to get better. Who knew at my age I would feel this alive doing something so brutal but yet so much fun!

I found I have some of the best friends ever, we share a bond, even if we just met to days before, have been Facebook friends and never met until we spoke on the course or have bled together the last year to be better. The comradery  I have with these people is truly amazing. I can’t mention everyone who I bonded with this day, but if you helped me, I thank you. If I somehow gave you motivation to keep going, then you are welcome, but that is me, I will always be a coach at heart and a motivator.

Until the next event! See you on the flip side!

Best Kept Secret in Texas – The Patriot Games

Patriot Games – Oklahoma 2014

The Patriot Games have been at this OCR/mudrun world for 4 years now.  This being their 4th year, they usually put on one event a year. 2014 has definitely started off right for them. Usually putting on runs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, they have changed locations twice in the past couple years. But 2014 appears to already to be another new year and plenty of changes are in store. Already boasting two events for 2014, The Patriot Games or PG as they are known around here expanded into Oklahoma, just over the Texas/Oklahoma state line and the Red River.

For the last few years the owner of PG has been working with the guys over at Reebok Spartan Race building their courses. Last years run definitely showed and the obstacles for the event were excellent. This year was no exception, what appeared to be mostly all newly built obstacles, this was definitely a mini-me version of the Spartan. I definitely do not want to take anything away from PG and demean them by calling them a mini-me, they only seem to be smaller in terms of production and festival.

So what about this race? I will be the first to admit, the first couple of races were nothing to write home about, but this one puts them back in the hunt for the best race in DFW outside of a national company. Many of them don’t exactly blow this away either. This course had to be the best course in this area in a long time. Instead of going over every obstacle in detail, lets just go with some of the basics in the likes and dislikes.

What I liked:

  1. The terrain. This course was excellent! Like I said, the only course I have been on that was more challenging was Reebok Spartan in Austin in 2013 and the Glen Rose Beast.  PG had a better terrain than 2013 Savage Race, Run the Jailbreak, Gladiator Rock-N-Run and Merrill Down and Dirty. Why I liked it so much was the elevation. The first 1/2 mile was brutal up and down switchbacks and we constantly weaved in and out and up and down in the ravines. I ran this course twice and it measured 4.38 & 4.40 on my Garmin. So is it was an excellent length also.
  2. The Obstacles. A majority of them were complete Reebok Spartan Race copies, but that is okay, they really didn’t have many of the harder ones so the mix was perfect for both the competitive runners and the fun runners.  The ending with the 1/2 pipe wall was awesome! This is the now the PG staple which I have only seen at a couple of national races and some local Florida races. The obstacles are my favorite part, so when I get to climb over, swim across or jump off, I am in heaven. They had plenty of water/mud obstacles to crawl through so it wasn’t just a dry run.
  3. Registration. I know right! But I have to say that compared to last year at the Irving event, they had a better handle on the process of getting your bib. I never saw long lines and I didn’t have to wait, so all is good!
  4. Festival Area/Spectators. There was a great way to get around the festival area and watch your favorite runners as they weaved in and out of the course that went through this spot. Numerous obstacles to get photos on.
  5. Course Markings. We all learn from our previous races and this course was marked very well. Even in the “we just decided to run this way” part of the course, nice having arrows to follow.

What I disliked:

  1. The Start. Nothing to bad here, I just think that there is a better way to start a race other than, ready, set, go! I mean they own a timing company for crying out loud so an air horn is not even too far-fetched. Personally, going with the theme of the race, I would have air cannons or a real cannon blasting every wave!
  2. Water. They only had two water stations on the course which for a 5k would probably not be an issue, but this was 4.5 miles. The water stations were at 1.5 Miles and 2.6 miles and obviously at the finish line. I personally didn’t have any issues as I don’t really drink water during a run, but I did hear it afterwards with some of the other runners.
  3. Timing. Only because the timing results were somewhat confusing to read once they came out. Still not sure where I finished because everyone was mixed in so if you sorted by time, you would have to go through each one to see if they were in the competitive wave or not. I think I was top 10 for overall males.
  4. Race Photos. I don’t think they took bad photos, in fact I was pleasantly surprised with how many were taken and the quality. My only complaint is that I can’t afford to buy them! With so many races opting for free race photos, I hope more events adopt this avenue. Because $80 for 10 digital downloads is a bit extreme.
  5. Medals. Bummed I didn’t my hands on the new bigger medal. Instead I have another blue one, all three look the same. But maybe at the next one!

So I just have to wrap up by saying I loved the event, I hope they add some more new and different obstacles at the next race. I think PG might just surpass the local giant Jailbreak as the best homegrown race in 2014. We shall see, that run is in September!

Things I Think Thursday – Go Pound Gravel

Stop Drinking the Spartan Kool-aid!

I was going to let this go, just sit here with my thoughts and let the Spartan Cult spew on each other how much they love their almost but not yet an Olympic sport.  Which is kind of funny within itself, because if it ever does, which I seriously doubt, all of the people who commented on that post, will be watching from the sidelines, with the ability to say “That’s so cool, I can tell my friends I kind of did an Olympic sport!”

I don’t want to hijack another blog or draw more attention to it, but here is the ORM Post – “Go Pound Gravel”  Below is the infamous picture which drew all of the slander and ire from the Spartan faithful.

 

spartan-cheater-2014I know speaking my mind on this will only make you cult members dislike me, it will hurt my business, but that is okay, really. Every once and a while a person needs to be able to speak their mind right? I mean all of you Kool-aid drinkers did, so why can’t I?

Don’t get me wrong, I like Spartan Race as much as the next guy, in fact I have run all of the Texas races over the last 3 years except one. But guys come on; there are other races/runs whatever you want to call them other than Spartan. So I am going to defend this guy, I’ll play our devil’s advocate and you should all be ashamed of yourself for the harsh statements you have been saying about these people.

Fault one:

Bucket dumping. You say this guy is dumping his bucket, how do you know that from one picture? He could have been carrying it on his shoulder and adjusting it and it fell. That happened to me last year at the Glen Rose beast, except I was carrying it in the correct position and it slipped as I was adjusting my grip and fell over. I had to pick up my gravel, when returned my bucket, it was full of grass and sticks and crap. How do we know that this man did not? No one has mentioned it that I have seen. Maybe he did have some integrity and put it back and finished.  Now as for the girl with the empty bucket, yeah I am assuming she was happy just to finish.

Fault Two:

So you Kool-aid drinkers really do crack me up. Who really cares? You have made such a big deal out of doing an obstacle right, doing the burpees, etc., etc. Except for the elite runners in the first wave, no one else is running for time. If you are and if you are actually worried that this guy is going to finish ahead of you and steal your precious Spartan points, then you are a sad, sad person. I mean, come on really? This guy is not going to beat anyone, if you are all that and a bag of chips, then you certainly do not have to worry about this guy, more than likely at this point in the race you are way ahead of him. If Spartan really cared about the general population completing obstacles and doing burpees, then they would hire course officials to marshal this activity and not have volunteers at the obstacles. People skipping obstacles and not doing burpees would have their bib numbers written down and be accessed a timed penalty at the end of the race. Spartan does not care!

Most of you people commenting on this are volunteers and you just want your free race anyway. You can’t enforce this or make them do this, hell Spartan can’t even decide from race to race what their own “Elite” rules are because someone is always trying to get an edge and doing an obstacle in a “different” way than you and I perceive it. Ever listen in on a pre-race discussion on the “proper” technique to complete an obstacle by these elites with Spartan HQ…it is kind of hilarious.

I won’t call anyone out, but I do know of several people in these “Spartan” groups who are so AROO AROO into Spartan and yet at Glen Rose Beast last year, while I am struggling to stay warm, doing my burpees for falling off the Tyrolean traverse rope, just skipped the obstacle, skipped burpees. Some didn’t even try. Some tried, failed, and moved on or did a token 5-10 burpees and moved on. Do I care? Yes and no. At the end of the day, people who skip and don’t do it have their own moral dilemma. I am not going to judge. They tried, failed and felt satisfied to move on. They paid their money, so I don’t think it is fair for you to be the judge, jury and executioner on these people. At the end of the day don’t we just want people out being active and enjoying life? I know what you must think, “But Travis you hypocrite! You totally skipped obstacles at Savage Race in Dallas last year!!” Hell yes I did, I even wrote a blog about how I am not proud of it, but I refused to quit so I just kept running, 32 degrees and hands going numb means I’m not getting in the water, it was about my health. So judge me if you want, but I will pick my life and health over your stupid judgments.

Fault Three:

Let’s face it, there is no OCR world. Oh Snap! Yes I said it. Other than Spartan who does not want to be called a mudrun, there really are no other events that are labeling themselves OCR. Oh wait there is Extreme Nation, but didn’t that have an epic fail because they only wanted elite runners instead of everyone? Why would anyone else choose that label? A mudrun is what attracts the people. You elite runners make up 10% if that of the registration. The general couch surfer is who is buying and paying for these events. Hell, I am pretty sure every RD will back me up, but 60% of all these runs are females. These females are usually first timers who gather up the girls, put on an outfit and go “do it”.  Once you digest and understand that, you kool-aid drinkers, then you will know why the races don’t care if you complete an obstacle or not. Everyone gets a participation medal whether earned or not. Spartan Race just happens to be one of the better companies out there branding their race. So everyone wants to do it once. It is sad to say, but I will assume in that picture above, those people had no idea what they were getting into. Maybe they did do a Warrior Dash or another local event and figured this was the same thing. Who knows, I certainly don’t care and I doubt that Spartan does, they got their money. They don’t care if you run or no show.

In Conclusion:

I can’t resist, I love debate, so here are my thoughts on this wrap up from another blog:

A simple concept:

It makes me crazy that this is such a difficult concept for some in our community to grasp, and especially when you consider the roots of OCR, and the strong influence of police, fire and military conduct. The roots of OCR? Are you talking Spartan? Because I tend to think that the majority of the RD’s who put on these events have nothing to do with Military, Police or Fire. I am pretty sure that 3/4 OCR’s or Mudruns are actually put on by people not in the military. If you mean the participants, then you need to do more research, because again 60% women 25-35. Even in your precious Spartan Elite, I would think very few of them fall into this category.

Do the task or stay home. Why do you care? They are paying for this event, they want the experience, and theirs is going to be different than yours. Let them take home whatever sense of pride and accomplishment they want from the event. If you specifically mean Spartan, then why not ask Spartan to let the people know what obstacles they will have to do? Why does it have to be such a big secret? You know why, 1/2 of the people can’t do them; it would kill registration if they told you how hard it really was going to be.

Can’t do the task? Do your burpees. Take your lumps. Go home, learn the task, and come back to fight another day. Really dude? Learn the task and comeback? Most of these people barely run much less want to go home and start carrying buckets around. Be realistic. These guys are not elite athletes, they are weekend warriors at best. Why are you all comparing this guy to you? If you run for time and are trying to win prize money, then critique some of your elite buddies, not the average Joe.

It’s that simple.

That’s not just a lesson in OCR, that’s the basic premise of living a successful life. I thought it was okay to fail? Don’t you elite guys all have a motto of what doesn’t kill you… or failure is the way to be a champion? I would venture many of these people are successful just not very athletic.

Cheating is universally unacceptable in sport. Finally something we agree on, but is this really cheating? I don’t see a rulebook anywhere; I don’t see any enforcement going on to hold everyone accountable equally. Hold on, I have some pine tar on my neck.

OCR should be no different. I still raise the question, what is this OCR you speak of? What makes up this world of OCR? Is it just Spartan Race and Extreme Nation? I know everyone wants Obstacle Course Racing to be something, but for the most part isn’t it just really a mudrun world we live in that is made to be easy for people to have fun?

Okay so all in all, did this really cheat anyone or just himself? How does this really affect all of the Spartan elites who seemed to get so upset over this? Let it go already, you people are making yourselves look bad. Who are you to really call anyone out? Would you like it if we pulled a picture of you and made a fuss over your technique? People are human not superhuman. If this guy in the photo ever wants to run another race, I will run with him. Hell I know a whole group of people who will also. Doesn’t have to be Spartan, but it can be, or it can be a Superhero, Savage, Armageddon, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash (you get the idea) and I can get a group of people to run/walk, stop pose for pictures do whatever, because that is the beautiful thing about this sport, we can go as fast as we want.

My name is Travis and I talk to strangers.

Savage Race Disappointement

Why my savage experience was definitely savage, but not one am I proud of.

The PointI 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.Mud Crawl

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.Tazed

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.

Timed-graphic

Twas the Night before the BEAST…

by: Travis “Blydawg” Blythe

Spartan Beast

…and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even my spouse.
My bag was packed, by the door with care.
Filled with gels & protein bars, in hopes that the BEAST would soon be here.

The Family was sleeping all snuggled in their beds,
Dreading the alarm I’m sure, it was said.
I lay here awake, in thought of what to come,
Was I ready?, was I prepared?, could I make this run?

The BEAST it is said, is one bad mother,
It claims to be TOUGHER than that other mudder,
I survived the Super Spartan, in 2011,
Barely at that, I only finished on adrenaline.

But 2012 will be different I’m sure,
For this is why I trained consistently all year.
I met the Spartan Elite, who reside only in Dallas,
They trained me, prepared me, now is up to Travis.

As I prepare for the grueling run ahead,
I know I can do it, so let it be said,
My goal is 2 1/2 hours to finish this Beast,
My body is rested, now it’s up to my heart and my feet.

So on Feiock, on Mauk, on Vennerholm, Taylor and Luck,
For I will be following you through the mud and muck.
This is the BEAST and you I will chase,
The Lord knows I can’t run at your pace.

But watch out Call, Moat, Rutz and McKay,
You are now in Texas, which is the home in which we play.
Everything is bigger, and badder, and money is at stake,
Don’t Mess with TEXAS! The Lonestar State!

So come on BEAST give us your all,
We are Texans and will answer the call,
When we finish, we will thank the heavens,
and they will songs about us and we will be legends!

Good luck to everyone running in the 2012 Spartan Beast!

Run the Jailbreak Austin – 2011 – Race Recap

Burnet, TX – May 7, 2011

I have to say that it is a bit difficult remaining objective when you actually have friends that organize the race and you also work with/for the same race on a business level. Trying to leave the favoritism behind, we (DFW Mudcrew) traveled down to Burnet, TX to tackle the “Run the Jailbreak” breakin free hill country escape. This was already nothing like any of the previous races I had attended, which included The Spartan Sprint, DFW Mudrun, The Survival Race and Warrior Dash.

Yes it is true, this was better than Warrior Dash! Granted, lets keep it in context, while WD has close to 15k people attend, there were no where near that many, I think the approximate head count was close to 3000, it was the setting at Reveille Peak Ranch that made the difference. The setting was amazing, the pavilion overlooking the lake was perfect. When we arrived, it looked as if I was walking into the “Buffalo Chip” campgrounds (biker reference, if you don’t know look it up) and there was obviously a nice party the night before. I am guessing the camping was a hit!

DFW Mud Crew

So here we are, out in the middle of Nowhere, Texas and it appears as though this has a lot of potential. The band starts playing, the food is being served, corn-hole boards are ready to go (bean bag toss), the vendors are lined up, Monster Energy drinks in hand, this is going to be a great day. One of the perks of working with the event organizers is the ability to volunteer (free run!). So I did, and I was lucky to handle the fire hose with the Directors son. Together our job was to hose down the runners right after the start. All I can say, is yes I reverted to the 13 year old kid like my compadre in crime. While I was trying to be nice, my counter part was going for head shots on everyone, I went for the ground, then tried to move them into the slippery slope section. The best part…if you fell down, you were done, we totally kept the hose on…unti you got up and ran away. Every half hour a new batch arrived and the footing just got worse every time!

I know you are waiting for my review, well I can say that this was an AWESOME course. It had monster hills, challenging terrain, a cool slide and some great obstacles. The only draw back was that they didn’t have it chip timed, so trying to remember or find your time was difficult if that matters to you. I finished 3rd in my heat with a time of 32:02 with it being right around 2.86 miles according to my buddies GPS.

Course: This Course was way more than I expected, the big hill alone was a killer, but I can’t say enough how great this course was. I thought the Spartan course in Smithville was hard because of the three consecutive hills, but this was a little bit more challenging, because most of the front of the course was uphill at a slow incline. Not until you really went down the long water slide did you come back down. I loved it so much, I actually ran it twice. The second time, the last wave of the day, I ran with a friends son, my 13 year old buddy, who was no slouch finishing in 38 minutes. We ran the entire course together, at his pace and it was awesome!

Registration: Despite the small area near the entrance, they had the packet pickup pretty much under control and we were in and out without any hiccups. I was even able to snag one of the “white” shirts!

Atmosphere: Beside the run, the location was phenomenal, no wonder Spartan Race snatched up this location for its 2012 Sprint race location. The lodge are overlooking the lake is awesome, enough shade for everyone, we played corn-hole, jammed out to some awesome tunes and it wasn’t a beating like at Warrior Dash with a million people. One of the obstacles the A-frame was right in front so people were cheering others over the obstacle. By far the best after party of the year. I hated that we had to leave and drive back to Dallas!

If Jailbreak 2012 can live up to the 2011 race, then they definitely have a fan in me, it is going to be hard to get over that already established bar, but I think they can do it, I have faith! If you want a code to get a discount, here is your discount code!

Jailbreak Austin 2011

First Run

Time: 32:00

Distance: 3.36

Finish: 3rd in wave

Second Run:

Time: 38:03

Distance: 3.36

Finish: no clue

Run The Jailbreak DFW 2011 – Race Recap

Roanoke, Texas  – September 18, 2011

During the course of writing the reviews for the races I participate in, I have definitely changed the way I write them up, some have been what is going through my mind obstacle by obstacle, some have been a detailed review of the race, and still others just a brief overview of the event. This being my third Run the Jailbreak event, all I can say is that they are slowing becoming a better and better event to participate in.  Each one out does the other and depending on what you are looking for, they pretty much have it for you.

The Mud Crew I run with often, has a lot of competitive people, so some will disagree with my thoughts, but hey that is why I am entitled to my opinion right? While I am more on the competitive side, meaning I like to run for time, how fast I can get through the course, how fast over the obstacles, and what place I can finish in.  It is just my competitive nature. But the reason I like the Jailbreak events is not because of the difficulty of the race, but the whole experience.  This is a 5k run, it is not the competitive Spartan Series or Tough Mudder type of event.  While they have obstacles which are challenging, the focus on this race is to break free.  That is their motto, “breaking free” it means different things for different people, from what is holding you down, what is binding you, to what is troubling you.  Some people strive to just complete the event, some want to just have fun with a group of friends and others want to prove to themselves that they can just do it.

With all that being said, and writing this post well after the 2011 race year is complete, this was by far the best race I competed in all year. Not only was the whole experience just plain awesome, the run was perfect. With Texas being in a drought for the entire summer, many other mudruns were canceling the races because the lands they selected had no water and they couldn’t get water to make the mud.  Luckily the DFW Adventure Park has it’s own well system and plenty of water.  The day before the event is was like the mudrun Gods knew how to ensure the success of this event, they opened up the skies and we had a whole day of Texas sized rain.  In one day the dry creek bed turned into waist to chest deep water, the whole trail was a mud clump and my shoes never felt so heavy. If you didn’t find mud on this run, you didn’t run it.

With sunny skies the day of the event, this turned out to be an awesome run.  I also have to give a big Kudos to a new friend of mine Mac.  Mac a friend of Jailbreak, and he is on a quest to lose weight. When he started his journey he weighted close to 400 lbs. He has been slowly shedding weight and has lost a whole person to date.  He still has a goal and pounds to lose, but I was inspired by him.  You see, Mac ran the Jailbreak and he finished. He completed the course, completed the obstacles and is looking forward to more. My hat is off to you Mac, job well done.

Course: They ran the course in reverse of the previous year, and since Warrior Dash also used this location this year, they had to change up some things.  Even though the course is relatively flat, they did a great job of using the creeks and ravines, creating obstacles to challenge and the mouse like maze at the finish with an uphill finish line was great.  I think the fact that the ground was 2 inches of mud during the entire race definitely made it more challenging.

Registration: As any event grows, so does the packet pickup pains.  But the day before pickup was ran pretty smoothly and the day of was laid out very easy and I didn’t notice much waiting.

Atmosphere: I really enjoyed the after party, the bands they had along with the jumbo-tron TV screen made the infield a cool place to sit on your blanket and relax.  The food was decent and the beer was cold!

I am definetly looking forward to 2012, not only are they returning to DFW & Austin, but they added Houston and South Padre Island.  South Padre Island is going to be a beach race, meaning sand! Should be interesting running in sand and going over obstacles.  Should make for a great road trip! Oh yeah, and if you want a code to use on registration for the races. HERE IS YOUR STUPID CODE!

Rick and I

Results:

Time: 33:02

Distance: 3.1

Finish – 31 of 5241

The Survival Race – Race Recap 2011

Forney, TX – April 30, 2011

This was an interesting race.  Added to the schedule because I basically wanted to run every race in DFW, I was excited that this one was at the same place as Warrior Dash 2010. As the mud run phenomenon continues to grow, everyone is putting on a run it seems.  The guys who let WD come in and use their property last year obviously saw the close to 15k people come and decided there was some money to be made so they created their own race: The Survival Race.

I am pretty sure this was the first ever race organized by these guys and it showed.  At the time of the run, they appeared to have several more events planned in other parts of the country later in the year. But this was definitely the first.

Okay to the nitty gritty, my review. I ran the first wave as our DFW Mud Crew pledged we would do from now on, so being in the first wave, 8:00 am, it always comes with its consequences I have learned. The biggest being that no one was even on the course. My big critiques are, there was no one manning the obstacles for safety, the water stations were not ready when we came through (if we wanted water we had to stop and get it ourselves) and the professional photographers were not on the course except for the finish line.  For this race I think I will just go through some of the basics as compared to some of the other events.

Mud Crawling!

Course: I was expecting an awesome course since they were basically copy catting the WD, but to no avail. Some of the course was not marked or mowed down and I think we actually ran through some poison ivy, there was barely any mud, and I think except for the water crossing and the finish, barely any mud.  To me this was just a cross-country track meet with a few cheaply designed obstacles thrown in. At one point we actually had to run single file through two lines of oil drums in an S-pattern. Course was really easy.

Registration: I expect some hiccups due to the fact that it was the first race or them, but they told us to arrive an hour before hand for packet pickup, and they were not even set up. Since I was early, it was no big deal, but for those of you who were late, people missed the first wave due to standing in long lines waiting to pick up their packets.

Atmosphere: The after run event was okay, they played some music and had food, but the setting was not in the open field like WD and I think because of the rain, it put a damper on hanging out too long.  I stayed only a short time after to catch up with some of the crew from other waves.

So my overall impression of the Survival Race? It needs a lot of work, it wasn’t very difficult and the obstacles were nothing to write home about. It will be interesting to see if they improve on the other races or become a fly by night one and done event. Hopefully year two will come with improvements because the property itself is awesome!

Here are my results:

The Finish!
 
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Time: 26:14    

Distance: 2.96    

Finish: 19th of 741

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Catch you down the road ~ Blydawg