Leg 7 already. June and July had basically been my own #FastForward, with the #MYTAR17 challenges coming in hard and fast, basically all one weekend after another with a busy week at my day job in between. It was totally insane and completely fucking awesome.
This route info found four of us piled into Rhonda Schmidt, our little Honda Fit, and driving out to somewhere past Joliette, QC (if it’s not in the city, my Quebec geography knowledge is basically nonexistent) to commune with nature and a field full of like-minded crazy people. It was time for the second race in my mud run/obstacle course race/body positivity trifecta, the Dead End Race http://www.deadendraceseries.com/index.php
It didn’t take long to see that this was a different animal than the Rugged Maniac had been. More than just that this one was 1km longer and had 19 more obstacles. In hindsight, the fact that this race was a qualifier for the OCR World Championships and the other wasn’t should have been a clue to this, but so it goes. Whereas the Rugged Maniac had been a big party atmosphere with lots of inflatable obstacles visable from the start line, this one was more industrial, with the hardcore Platinum Rigs and dirt crawls being the first things that catch your eye. This was an obstacle course race, that had been a mud run. And the number of “totally ripped people wearing minimal clothes” on the course was much higher. Like waaaay higher. All these carved from marble tanned Adonises (or whatever the plural of Adonis is. Adonii?) were tearing up the course in their glorified boxer briefs covered in just enough dirt and sweat to make them glorious. And they were really fucking good at this.
But we were game. Bring it, we got this. After the pre-race hype speech, during which I wasn’t paying attention to the French being spoken and indicated I was a man, much to my friends’ delight, the hammer dropped and we were off. This course was much flatter than the first race’s, so at least we didn’t have to start with a sprint up a freaking ski run, and the run over logs and down rocky roads to the first obstacle was much more comfortable.
The obstacles definitely started off basic, with climbs up rock hills and butt slides down cargo-net covered rock chutes and the like. About 5 or 6 in we reached the more classic OCR challenges we were expecting – pull a water-laden tire up a three storey platform, climb into a waist-deep river and carry a 40lb sandbag around a course on the uneven riverbed. It was hot and sunny today, so after like what had to have been about 1km of running, it felt amazing to be in the cool water. However, because I’m still an idiot, I was once again racing without my glasses on. This meant that I just simply couldn’t see the large rocks under the water as I carried my sandbag, so I had to go ridiculously slow and go entirely by feel. I’m like 3/4 of the way around when I hear one of my friends telling the others “wait, hold up, Holly can’t see!” But I muddled through without falling on my ass, which, if you know me at all, know this is nothing short of a miracle.
It had been only 5 weeks since my other race, and while I had done 2 City Chases, most of my free time had been tied up moving from Toronto to Montreal, so I hadn’t really improved on my jogging ability. I was getting through just fine, we all were, but it was a slower go than we all wanted it to be, and it was hard knowing that most of this was my fault. And aside from that one water challenge, I can’t even blame this on my vision, because it was never an issue for the rest of the race. PS – I have been practicing more since. I’m never going to be a runner, those peeps be cray cray, but I want to at least be able to shuffle along a bit faster. I’m a big girl, and I’ve always trained as such, being far more comfortable with the power moves than the speed, so I did make up time on the obstacles.
From there we hauled a giant truck tire through a sand bed, hopped over some fire, climbed up, over and under a 15 foot metal structure, and shot some targets with paint balls. For the first time in a month it was a giant fucking relief to finally not be the target of those, let me tell you. Then we hopped over a few more 5 foot walls, crawled through sand under log bridges (where I hit my head so hard my vision was wobbly for a good 5 seconds while my brain settled back into place), successfully **cough cough** climbed a rope (I have since youtubed how to do this like 100 times) and used some pretty freaking awesome teamwork to hoist us up a 12 foot wall. And then injury struck.
Somehow it wasn’t me, but Sophie who managed to wrench her ankle while jumping from one platform to another about 10 feet up. She was a trooper, and she plugged on. Ride or die as a team, Ohana means no one gets left behind and all that, it meant that we were now moving at a strong walk. Not gonna lie, there was part of me that was happy not to be facing the pressure to run from obstacle to obstacle. Also, I was glad she was ok to continue. In hindsight she probably should have called it a day there, but we were having too much fun for her to stop.
In my mind I refer to the next part of the course as the forest section. We were up, down and a round a wooded section with hills and lakes, and here was where the water really began. We jumped over a wall, attempted to climb from one tree trunk to another like squirrels and slid down a mega waterslide that went so fast it apparently blew my friend’s shirt up. I couldn’t tell, as I was under water. Then we were tight rope walking across a lake. This was awesome. At this middle section of the course, I had hit my groove, as the focus was more on climbing and muscles and balance than running. Next came a tyrolean traverse back across the same lake.
A climb up a muddy path left Tracy stuck nearly up to her knee – all there was was a sucking sound and then she had stopped moving. She had to dig herself out of that one, and it could not have been a pleasant experience. Then on to a second sandbag carry, this one over an uneven woodland course, and a rope climb. Now that we were extra muddy and wet, the rope climb was not gonna happen. The superhumans who can do this get all of my mad props.
Curving back towards the sandy area that held the start/finish – oh, we weren’t close to done, this was just a tease – we got to crawl under a beer truck, hoist a keg 20 feet in the air with nothing but our epic brute strength, and climb a 20 foot wall with nothing but a thick chain to hold on to. This was the killer on the hands. I had the upper body strength to get myself all the way to the top, I just couldn’t manage to hook my foot over… I struggled up there for what felt like 5 minutes, but was probably closer to 1, until my grip gave out completely and I slid down. Sliding down that rough wood was dramatically worse than getting up there, as the majority of my cuts and scrapes the next day were from that drop.
The last third of the course I refer to as the “country club” portion, as we were in an area that may have been a golf course once long ago. There were lots of water hazards, the grass was better manicured and adorable little white bridges crossed streams here and there. So, naturally, we tracked mud all over it. We also spent a good amount of our time from here on out in and out of these brown lakes, basically alternating between a land challenge and a water one. It felt good to be in the water, as we hauled ourselves up onto a floating platform and walked the plank, threw javelins, swam under submerged fencing, traversed a horizontal rock wall, climbed a wet platinum rig and did a spot of archery. My inner Katniss is a rock star.
Love this pic. It totally looks like Tracy is telling me about some drama while I’m just trying to not fall, while Karine looks super focused beside us.
Sophie gives good face. Also, shirtless guy.
Right next to that rig you had to sit on on a bit of a swing and pull your own body up and out of the water about 15 feet. The first tug sends that rope right up main street, and ended up with Tracy reflexively yelling “Vagina!”, which the guys in charge of the obstacle found incredibly entertaining.
By now our grip had gone to shit, so of course they give you a 10 foot bar to hang off as work your way from one end to another. The shirtless guy running this one offered to help us out, and we totally thought he was kidding until I felt warm arms wrap around my dangling thighs and give me a slight boost across. I honestly thought I had been doing pretty well crossing the bar up until that point, but I am not going to say no to handsome shirtless pressing his face basically right into my butt.
Home stretch. We were getting so close we could taste it, just a few more obstacles and we woud be sipping our free beers. Here we encountered the first real MUD of the day, a 50-foot pit that seemed unasumming, only about 2 feet deep in most places, but we were warned that it had a few random holes in it. Of the 4 of us, I was the only one lucky enough to find one – we were all walking in a line, and suddenly the ground was gone and I started to sink. They were not kidding about holes, I’m 5’10 and I had to swim my way out, as I couldn’t touch the soggy bottom. Apparently I also made a “being murdered in a horror movie” screaming sound as I sank.
Once we had survived that, all we had to do was hop over a row of tall concrete barriers, which Karine was the total BOSS of, climb the fabled warped wall (or slide down it, as was this experience), crawl through some sand trenches, do one last dry platinum rig, and climb up and over a 2-story tower with nothing but a wide cargo net keeping you up there. This was where the dancing began, we had done it, and it was freaking fantastic. It was time to party. As we reached the ground, we hit the finish line and received our medals.
Phew! My hair dye survived! High five!
There is nothing better than that feeling of “I did it!” And honestly, it wasn’t bad. Exhausting and empowering and fabulous. There are a lot of things about OCR racing that have a learning curve – it’s not necessarily sheer power, but a lot of technique and footwork – and compared to the first one I saw definite improvement. There’s also a brand new list of things I need to work on before the next race in August. But that’s what brings you back for more. If it was easy you would do it once, get bored and move on. With the wide variety of skills and obstacles, there’s always something there that you’re going to struggle with and then feel like a freaking superhero when you conquer it. All four of us will be reassembling in a few weeks to take on another one, and to put our newfound super powers to good use.
We totally earned our free beers, which we enjoyed while watching hot guys try to master the giant warped wall. Come on, buddy, shirts are pointless. Take it off, take it off!
#SuperTeam And fun random camera guy!
Pit stop: Third. There was room for improvement, and certain tasks took longer than needed, but it was so much freaking fun, it didn’t matter. We felt accomplished when we checked in at the mat, and that made the day worth it.
Eliminated: The whiny sibling team who kept giving up on obstacles when they got too hard. Whine all you want, but don’t freaking stop moving at any time or you’re toast.