Savage Race Review - Texas 2014

       This past weekend, Saturday, September 13th, I ran the Savage Race for the first time. The following is my unfiltered review of all things Savage.

       The weather was the biggest surprise of the weekend. We had trained in and had anticipated temperatures in the 90's. We ended up racing in 50 degree rainy wind gusts which made the ice water obstacle a whole lot more fun.

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       I'd like to first review the "competitive" heat and what that means at a Savage Race. I've been looking forward to this race for months and preparing like I was going to win it. I found out quickly (within the first mile) that Hobbie Call is right when he says if you want to win at Obstacle Racing you've got to be the fastest runner, after all it's a race! Right out the gate there were a few speed demons I just knew I probably wouldn't catch. So with reality setting in I quickly traded my 1st place goal for a top five finish. I knew I stood a chance of gaining some ground on the obstacles and was looking forward to that. I'm on mile 2 and the realization that I haven't seen a single volunteer or Savage Race staff hits me. There is no one watching these obstacles. My first concern was the integrity of the competition and then with later review there is a safety issue at hand. The first real obstacle I arrived at was "kiss my walls" which is essentially a traverse wall. The layout of the 2X4's was insane and made the obstacle extremely difficult. Which is most likely why the 3 guys I was closely trailing attempted the wall fell off and darted off. No penalty burpees, no try again, just gone. The Savage Race website clearly states that all obstacles must be completed in the competitive heat and that 30 burpees is the penalty for not completing an obstacle. So I begin to arrive at water hazards that are clearly intended to be trodden through and notice the 2 guys I'm most closely trailing at this point hug the bank and barely get their feet wet. Not cool.  Still no one watching obstacles. Most of the volunteers and staff I noticed while racing the competitive heat were at the water stations where they were offering up 16.9oz plastic water bottles, which  I thought was kind of weird. And they had at least 3 volunteers at each water station. The only 4 obstacles that had any staff at them that I recall were the tall cargo net, saw tooth(monkey bars), Colossus, and the electroshock obstacle. When I arrived at Colossus, which I had rehearsed scaling in my mind over and over again I hesitated. This obstacle got the best of me and affected my ranking severely. I was at this obstacle for at least 10 minutes, no joke, and I did not complete it during this heat. Looking back I realize some of the mistakes I made with my approach.

 This was me trying hopelessly to reach the top.

This was me trying hopelessly to reach the top.

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       I did complete the obstacle the second time through the course on my fist attempt at it, but that doesn't move me up in the rankings  on the competitive heat. At least a dozen or so athletes passed me here. Half of which likely just attempted the obstacle, failed it, and moved on, no burpees. I did notice one guy do 10 or so burpees, not 30. I did my 30 and took off. I honestly don't remember much after colossus. It really messed with my mind spending that much time on an obstacle I knew I should have dominated. The last obstacle before the finish line was the electroshock. I do remember that one. It zapped me good a few times as I covered my face and rolled through it. It's hard to forget getting shocked. Then there was the finish line! I took 17th place overall and 10th in my age group. I'm disappointed at the way Savage Race handles their competitive heat. However, I'm more disappointed with my performance at the Savage Race. All things considered I wouldn't change a thing. I can look back and learn from others mistakes and my own. I will use what I learn to improve myself and others. I have lost nothing but have learned some valuable lessons that, if all had went as planned, I would not have. I actually met a guy that may be joining my team for the OCR World Championships that is my next race on the calendar.

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       If you're still with me, thank you for letting me vent. Now on to the open heat that I ran with my team, Team Roughouse OCR. I can't tell you how awesome it was to take so many people to an Obstacle Race for their first time. Their were about 20 of us in all. With over half having never run any kind of race at all. This part of the event was pretty awesome. Everyone had a blast on the obstacles and were able to accomplish things they didn't know they could do. They played in the mud for the fist time since child hood.

This right here is why I love training and encouraging people to step out and try new things. Don't wait for the right time. Just do it. Seriously, just do it. 
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The monkey bar obstacle, Sawtooth was one of our favorites with some of our team members conquering it and some vowing to come back and dominate it next year. That's what I love about these races, they show you what you need to work on. The other favorite of ours was Colossus. We came up with some pretty inventive techniques for getting everyone up the 15ft wall. And then the slide, which was by far my favorite part of the open heat. That slide was so fast and so fun.

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       I'm glad everyone on our team had such a good time. Spartan Race has just set the bar so high. Having done several of them over the past year it's hard to settle for less than the best. Would I do Savage Race again, YES! Competitively, NO! Not unless they up they're standards and hold all racers accountable.

So let's look at the pros and cons for Savage Race:

Pros:

1. Great location & use of terrain for the race.
2. Excellent parking
3. Quick and easy Bib/packet pick up.
4. Nice festival area & overall atmosphere
5. awesome food choices(by local vendors)
6. Awesome medical response team! (Hi David)
7. Fun & challenging obstacles
8. Adequate water stations on course
9. Well marked course

Cons:

1. Gates open later than I'm used to and apparently the other 500 people waiting in line at 7am felt the same. They wouldn't let us in till 8am.
2. No integrity or accountability for competitive heat.
3. Not enough volunteers or staff on course during competitive heat.

Well that's it for my Savage Race review. I hope you find it helpful. It's definitely no Spartan Race but overall a fun time. Looking forward to taking a team again next year.