Rock the Gauntlet in the Sprint, Run the Gauntlet in the fall.
Community Review – Run the Gauntlet / Rock the Gauntlet
Community Review – Rock the Gauntlet
Gauntlet Races are always a fun day. While the obstacles aren’t difficult, they are well built and fun to do. There really is quite a bit of running in the sand, which isn’t my favorite, but I enjoyed the rest of the course.
There are 3 waves and it is completely achievable for most people to get back in time to run every hour. While we were lucky to have a beautiful day, it is very nice to have an indoor festival area to get out of the wind/cold/rain which are likely in October. The free pizza at the end is great, too!
Leading up to the race was average. We received our bib numbers prior and an explanation of where to park.
The reason I docked points here was the communication from volunteers. For one… there were so many who were on their phones either texting or talking and not paying attention to racers. There were a few times I got a bit mixed up because there were other people not participating in the event out on the trails so I would try to ask where to go and would get a flick of the wrist in the direction (If I was lucky). Or there was the volunteer who was radioing in about me to the finish line then blatantly told me that I was about to be ‘lapped’ by the second wave. (Maybe he didn’t realize just HOW he came off… but it was disheartening the way it came off) There were some GREAT volunteers out there too, but sadly the miscommunication or full lack of communication from the majority of them hurt this part.
Venue & Festival:
We all gathered around a tree behind the Denali tent because that was where we’d been so graciously given as a spot for our stuff. Greatly appreciated! There were vendors with contests, that was fun. The pizza and beer was definitely where it was at. They gave us 3 pieces of pizza… awesome pizza!
Course & Obstacles:
There were 13 obstacles quite spread out. It felt more like a hike with the sprinkled obstacles. However, what they did have was fun and the same as what was seen at Run the Gauntlet in October. The view from the top was amazing though and well worth it!
Swag & Awards:
A very nice technical shirt, in royal blue. It has the date and location on it which is a nice touch. This year they also gave out pint glasses so as to go green. That was different and rather cool.
Over all, it was a fun day. The social aspect after while we all hung out and had our victory pizza was the best atmosphere as a team that could be asked for.
Love this race series – Low key, guaranteed fun time. I enjoyed the new beach location!
Pizza is amazing!
This years race took place at a new venue, Lighthouse point park in New Haven. I thought this venue was definitely an improvement over last years race at Hammonasett. It allowed for a little less beach running and some actual trail running.
The venue was easy to find, only a few minutes off of I-95 and there was plenty of free parking. The registration and festival was set up inside the Carousel house which was nice since it was freezing and raining. The venue had public restrooms with plenty of stalls and running water. Registration was pretty easy, racers picked up their timing chip and bib at one table and their shirt at a second table. The shirt is a nice yellow tech shirt. Run the gauntlet was part of #racelocal. Paying for multiple laps was super easy. The race had no bag check but multiple lap runners we able to store their bags behind the Denali table allowing for easy access as needed between laps.
This race is a great beginners race and a great race for people who want to just go out and have fun. If you are looking for the biggest challenge and technical obstacles, this is not a race for you. The race started out on the beach with a quarter mile or so run which served well to spread out the groups. Racers were sent into some trails that thinned down to single track. That part was a little tough if you were trying to go fast because there was no safe way to pass without ending up in the marsh. The first obstacle was scene about 3/4 mile which worked well. There was very few back ups throughout the day. The only places that were issues was the two balance beam sections. There was only one lane and the beams were slick so it was slow going. I would love to see maybe two lanes at each of the beams to prevent some of the back log.
The obstacles were well built and well spaced. The obstacles were fairly typical, walls, ladder a-frame, balance beams, crawls, a very short heavy carry. The course tried to send racers into Long Island Sound but most people skipped it since there was enough room on the beach to avoid it. There was the “Haven Hurdles” which I loved. It uses plastic road barriers (scene all over the place through the city) as hurdles. Other than the lack of multiple lanes for the balance beams the only other improvement I could suggest would be a longer heavy carry. Racers picked up a bag (20-30 lbs maybe) and walked it around the lighthouse and dropped it off. It was probably no more than 20 ft. It would have been nice to have a little longer to add a little challenge. One of my favorite thing that is done at the gauntlet races is that your name is announced as you cross the finish, a nice little touch that you can’t get a the bigger races.
After the race, racers were entitled to 3 slices of pizza from the Old Word Pizza truck. The pizza is definitely an awesome perk at the end of the race. Racers were also entitled to 2 beers from Offshore brewing, a local brewery from Branford, CT. There is no medal for this race but since it is a charity event I find that completely acceptable. I didn’t look around at the other tables but there were definitely a few vendors and a live band playing music. The carousel house stayed open throughout the race as a refuge from the rain between laps and after. Carousel rides were given for free as well which was a nice touch.
Overall I really enjoyed this race. I would love to see it come back to Lighthouse Point Park next year.
It was a little confusing for some to figure out exactly where to park and where to go. There were a couple parking lots with signs, but many people just parked on the streets. And if you park in the first lot you come to from the highway, you have a longer walk to the actual venue.
One suggestion might be to add a couple signs directing people where to walk from the parking lots to the park.
VENUE & FESTIVAL
There’s no official bag check. Some of us made our own by leaving our stuff under a tree, and had no issues with anything disappearing.
It was nice having a park building to use as a bathroom rather than port-a-potties.
Bonus points for having a live band playing good music.
COURSE & OBSTACLES
Rock the Gauntlet is almost more of a trail run than a true OCR. Identical to last year, it was also pretty short, at maybe just a little under 3 miles. The main obstacle is the climb up to the top of East Rock State Park. The views at the top are spectacular! Especially on a day like we had. Then you get to fly down. There were a few hurdles and an a-frame climb toward the end.
The cold water dunk tank was a fun (and spectator-friendly) final obstacle.
They also did their best to read off the names of the finishers as they crossed the finish line. One of the little perks of a smaller race, if you have family there watching.
At one point, some of the lead runners of the first heat got off course. An arrow pointed left (onto the mountain road), but two cones marked an entrance to a trail that continued straight ahead, which apparently a number of racers took. I don’t know if that ended up being a shortcut or long cut, or how it impacted the results if you were going for time.
SWAG & AWARDS
Three slices of excellent New Haven pizza, beer (though they stopped serving before the multi-lappers finished), and a tech tshirt.
I know it’s for charity, but I’d gladly pay a few dollars more for a finisher medal.
It’s a short run through a beautiful park with incredible views, with a dunk tank and a few other minor obstacles thrown in. And definitely family friendly – there were many kids out on the course as well. I had a fun time with my team, and would come back.
This was my second Gauntlet race, but first Rock the Gauntlet. I found the onstacles similar to the Run the Gauntlet and easy – which makes it family friend for sure, but not challenging if you are an experienced OCR runner.
No medals here either in lieu of a donation, but I love medals. I will say the shirts are way above average – nice tech shirts.
Easy to find, fun easy race that can help you build some race local miles.
The venue, Hammonassett State Park was easy to find, just a short drive off the highways and there were plenty of signs to get you to the appropriate parking lot. Parking was free and a very short walk to the registration area and festival. Registration was separated out into bib numbers and you picked up your bib at one table, your timing chip at a second table and your t-shirt at a third table. This worked extremely well and I never saw any lines for registration. The shirt is a light blue tech shirt, super comfortable and extremely nice.
From what I have seen, this race has the easiest racelocal extra lap scene. You find the race director, pay your money and your name is checked off on a list with how many laps you intend to run. This race has no bag check but parking is close enough that it is not an issue. Also, the race director had a place for us to store keys so we didn’t have to run with them.
There were some vendors there, including smartwool that was handing out stickers. If you found someone with a matching sticker you would get a free pair of socks. Also present was Trimino Protein infused water, a wine tasting table. Races received 2 free beers from Offshore brewing and 3 slices of pizza off the Old World Pizza truck. The pizza was absolutely delicious. This race does not give medals, which is fine with me since it is racing money for charity.
The venue itself is absolutely beautiful. There were bathrooms with running water and changing stalls which was nice. The view down the beach was absolutely gorgeous and alone made this race worth running.
The start line was a little confusing. No one really knew where exactly the start line was and there were spectators standing in the coral. Overall the obstacles in this race are fairly standard, consisting of balance beams, some ladder walls, a rope wall, crawls and heavy carries. It is a great opportunity for someone who has never run a race to try things, for more experienced runners to go out and just have some fun, and for someone who is injured or out of shape to be able to participate in an event. There were some nice touches like inflatable alligator in the water pit under one of the balance obstacles (alligator alley) and the pool noodle over one of the others which made it more fun than just walking across a balance beam.
The race made great use of the venue. It started out with a mile + run down the beach with some obstacles and part of it walking in Long Island Sound. After the beach it took you into a field with a few obstacles and then onto a hard packed trail with some crushed stone. Obstacles were evenly spaced and you never went too long without encountering something. The race finished up back on the beach and going over some rocky terrain. As runners crossed the finish line the announcer read off their name which I think is a nice touch.
Overall, this was a fun race, a great day and it races money for charity which is always a plus. I would like to see the start line a little more organized and maybe a couple more obstacles added in but I will definitely be looking for this race again next year!
The second race that Denali New Haven put on this year for charity was Run the Gauntlet at Hammonasett Beach in Madison, Ct. All proceeds from the race goes directly to charity, this race supporting the local YMCA.
Finding Hammonasett Beach was a breeze. Right off of I-95, and clearly signed. There was not a lot of signs for the race once you got into the park, but when you made it to the first rotary, signs were clear and plentiful. Parking was free! It was also within walking distance to the start line. There was no bag check, however, the race director was willing to stash bags for the Spahtens, and with reasonable time management, you could easily go drop off extra gear back at the car.
From the parking lot, you head to a pavilion where you had check-in. This was a bit messy as there was not any signage or a simple move-through process. A bunch of picnic tables made an L to make the registration. As you walk in, the conjunction of the L was in front of you, and that was where you could look up your bib number. Then you had to proceed to your left to check-in table to get your bib. From there you were to go get your timing chip, so you had to go back to your right, past the bib number table to the other side of the L to get your timing chip. You were given the chip only, told how to put it on, and then sent to a table behind you to get the straps for the chips. However, next to the chip table, on the opposite end of the L from the bib table, is the table to pick up your race shirt. I got a little side tracked here and headed to get my strap for my timing chip and almost forgot my shirt. There were no long lines at any table, but it could have been more streamlined.
From the pavilion, you headed to the beach where the festival was, as well as the start/finish line. The festival was hopping. A live (and good) band playing all day. An emcee getting runners excited. Plenty of vendors for the size of the race. It was a very well done festival. Spectators were free and were enjoying all the festival had to offer. The pizza truck started their wood ovens early and it smelled amazing!
This timing company is a bit different than what you’re used to. There is no clear starting line, and you lined up next to the finish line (which had mats), and I wasn’t really sure where exactly the start line was. The emcee counts down and when he sounded the starting horn, that is when they turn the heat’s time on. It is not a very competitive event (although there are prizes for placing), so the exact time of when you cross this start line is not important, but I’m not used to the system and I’m not sure I like it. Even if they’re going to start the clock with the horn, I would still like a clear starting line.
From the start line, we headed straight down the beach for just over 1 mile. Running on the sand is hands down the hardest part of this race. The sand was loose, the wet sand became loose, the sand in the water ate your feet. There was no easy place to run, but with a race like this, the challenge of the sand makes the race worth it to a veteran like me. For all the challenge the sand gave, the obstacles were the exact opposite. This is a family friendly race, and meant to have obstacles that can be completed by kids as young as 8. There was not a single man-made obstacle that I found to be even mildly difficult. It is also very obstacle light. For this reason, I’ll give a quick recap of the obstacles present:
-Charlottes’ Web aka a low net crawl (about 15′ long with thick netting keeping you down)
-The Black Hole aka a wide hole in the sand lined and covered with a black liner and partially filled with water, which is to be crawled through
-Alligator Alley aka a balance beam over a hole filled with water with blow-up alligator floats in the water (I found this obstacle incredibly amusing)
-Hammonesett Hurdles aka 3 plastic (road) water-filled barrier walls
-Into the Drink aka go into the ocean to about hip/waste level for 15-20′
-(Not listed) roped slip wall, but with climbing kick boards
– The First Ascent aka cargo A-frame
– (Not listed) Tire jump, which was simply jump onto a large truck tire and jump off the other side
– Prairie Dog aka crawl through plastic sewer tube
– Tired? aka run through tires (football style), with a need to climb over a stack of tires in the middle
– (Not listed) a lifted 4′ wall with kickboards
– Get Over Yourself aka 2 5′ ladder walls to a 4′ platform, and a jump down.
– Dodging Ramen aka another balance beam with a frame above holding tied-on pool noodles, which you have to move through
– Trek to Base Camp aka grab a ruck and do a 50′ ruck
– (Not listed) A 50ft log hop
Just before 1.5mi we came off the beach to our one and only water stop (between the slip wall and the A-frame) to a packed dirt bike path. Around 2.25mi we crossed a driveway, to a sidewalk, crossed the road, jumped a guard rail, which put us on a short dirt trail that brought us to a very shelly beach where the ruck was. Just after the completion of the ruck, you go back to dirt trail, which was much like the typical OCR trail, rocky and a little hilly. We hit up another foot path, where we climbed some stairs, headed back down to the beach to the log hop, and then the finish line was back on the sandy beach within a 100′ of the last log.
This race does not offer a finishers medal in lieu of donating that money to charity. We do, however, get 3 well sized slices of some amazing pizza from Old World Pizza, and 2 beers, a red ale, from a local brewery. There is also a wine sampling table for those who don’t care for beer. The pizza is phenomenal and the beer was good. Also at the finish line was plenty of water and a free baguette of olive oil ciabatta bread from a local bakery. A free bottle of a protein water was also available to all finishers by visiting their tent.
Overall, I enjoyed this race. The obstacles are all as beginner as you can get, but the terrain will challenge even the most hardy racer. The t-shirt is a nice light blue tech t-shirt, but it is as far from my style as it can get, being a sleeved men’s style shirt. It fits my small frame incredibly poorly. It’s easily an above average race, and I recommend it for all fitness levels. Plus, the pizza is amazing! And it’s all for charity.
My mother’s birthday is this Monday and as a result, I took the opportunity to travel down to my hometown in Connecticut and visit with her this weekend. I knew that while I’d be down in Connecticut the NE Spahtens #racelocal race, Run the Gauntlet, was going to be taking place at Hammonasset Beach State Park. Hammonasset is in Madison, Connecticut, on the shoreline and about 45 minutes away from my hometown of Bethany. Why not check it out?
I arrived at Hammonasset at around 9:10 a.m. for the 10:00 a.m. NE Spahtens team heat. The last time I had been to Hammonasset was when my two best friends, Molly and Clela, and I made a trip there during high school. When asked that classic question, “The beach or the mountains?” I tend to vote for the mountains — I like to be surrounded and hemmed in by the trees; however, all these years living in Western Massachusetts, I had kind of forgotten the nice contrast of the lovely openness of the beach. Being at Hammonasset was a real treat!
The Run the Gauntlet group did a really excellent job of directing us to parking. This was good since the Hammonasset is a big park, and I didn’t want to get lost. Parking, like everything else was free. This was a local race supporting the YMCA and had a nice fun small race feel.
After parking, I went to register. Registration was very well organized and had zero wait time. You got a chip for timing that you had to wear around your ankle and picked up your bib along with your tech t-shirt. For a small local race of around 200 participants or so, Run the Gauntlet has some really top-notch sponsors including SmartWool, GoPro, and North Face.
After registration, I headed down to the beach. There wasn’t an official bag check, but when I chatted with the person at the information tent, she told me I was welcome to leave my bag with her, especially since I was a Spahten. This is the sort of nice touch that you only get at a local race, and it’s really appreciated!
I had some time to kill before my wave went off since the registration had been so seamless and the free parking so close. I headed out to the beach to enjoy some scenery. Soon, the other Spahtens started to arrive. A lot of them had come early to run the 9:00 a.m. wave and then also do a second lap at 10:00 a.m. I found myself chatting and socializing with a bunch of the other #racelocal regulars. We snapped a quick team picture before lining up to run.
Run the Gauntlet is a beginner-friendly 5K obstacle course race. It’s most definitely a race with some simple obstacles, but they are kind of cute and fun. Sure this isn’t Shale Hill, and I wasn’t challenged, but, overall, I had a good time. Key to this, was the location: Hammonasset. The beach is really lovely and doing a beach race was a departure for me. I am not a huge fan of climbing mountains, and it seems like every third race I do is at a ski resort. It was nice to have a change of scenery and not have to deal with anything other than running on the flat ground.
That being said, from the moment we crossed the starting line, it was clear that the running portion of Run the Gauntlet would be the challenge. The entire first mile of the race was run entirely on the sandy beach. Let’s be clear: Running on the sand is hard work! This was probably the biggest challenge of the day. I was pleased to be able to run the entire time. All that trail running I’ve been doing is definitely paying off because I was able to handle the unstable surface of the sand better than I anticipated.
As I mentioned before, Run the Gauntlet was a beginner-friendly 5K. The obstacle were not large, but they were cute. I was able to finish the entire race in 38:15 and most of the time was spent running on the sand. Was the race epic? No. Was it a challenge? Not really. Did I have fun? Sure. Everything was well organized, the volunteers were fantastic, and the course along the beach was pleasing. If I had tackled these obstacles on a ski slope (again) I don’t think I’d have had nearly the enjoyment I did. Having the race at Hammonasset was key for me. It was the slightly exotic nature of running along the beach that won me over here. The race did a good job of utilizing the area. The obstacles were not the star, and, for me, not a real challenge, but I had a good day anyway.
Here’s a run down of the race’s obstacles:
Charlotte’s Web: A very short crawl on sand underneath a net that was spread over a wooden frame.
Into the Drink: While the entire first mile to mile and a half of the race had us running along the sandy beach, we had the option of running higher up in the dry sand or lower, close to the water, for most of the time. For the Into the Drink obstacles, we had to wade into the water a little bit. I was surprised to find that the water was actually really pleasant. I am, shall we say, sensitive to the cold, but this water felt fine.
Black Hole: This was a crawl under a tarp though a pit of water. The water was a bit cool but overall not too bad. That being said, I couldn’t feel my finger too well for about five minutes after this obstacle.
Alligator Alley: I am, perhaps, not the most whimsical person that ever lived. That being said, this obstacle was adorable even to me. There was a pool of water that we had to traverse on a beam. In the pit of water there were three or four inflatable alligators. I had to laugh — fantastic!
Hammonasset Hurdles: The Hurdles were a pair of orange barriers like you’d see on a road that you had to go up and over. Lately, I’ve been using the technique I learned at the Shale Hill Weekend Training Camp and more or less rolling over the wall. This is efficient and worked well here.
The First Ascent: This obstacle was a short rope wall with a ladder on the back side. At this point, we were just past the one mile marker and had been running on the sand the entire time. As my post eluded to before; I am not a beach person by result of geography. The last time I ran on sand was for a half marathon a couple of years back, in which the organizers had us do the final quarter mile or so on the sand — what kind of crazy people are these! — and I had no desire to repeat the experience. I was happy to see the course head off the sand after this obstacle and move towards other parts of the park.
Prairie Dog: After leaving the beach, we headed off to the grassy area next to the beach. There, we tackled an A-frame ladder wall and some tires before hitting Prairie Dog, a short tube that we had to crawl through. From there, it was onward to another set of tires that we had to run high-knees through before jogging off along the road towards the beach.
Get Over Yourself: Along the road that we took to get to the event, there were a set of obstacle. The first was a short wall of around 4′, which I rolled over. Next was a short ladder that we had to climb and then jump down after crossing a platform to the other side. I actually almost fell off the platform, alarming the poor volunteer who was at that obstacle. Fortunately, I was able to correct myself as I jumped down. Oops!
Dodging Ramen: This was another cute obstacle. (I legitimately cannot believe the number of times I have used the word “cute” in this post…) This obstacle featured a balance beam that ran through a set of hanging pool noodles that one had to swat out of the way while traversing the beam. It was entertaining. The pool noodles were dense but very manageable.
Trek to Basecamp: We headed back to the beach for the next obstacle, Trek to Basecamp. I believe this was a North Face sponsored obstacle. We had to grab a pack of either 20 or 30 pounds and bring it along a small flat out and back loop. I’m not a fantastic athlete at carries, and I lost a little time here, but all in all, this was not too terrible.
Log Hop: After Trek to Basecamp, we were very close to the finish. The course took us up and over a set of very small hills with rocks along the shore. From there, the finish line was in sight. The last obstacle was a set of logs set in the sand. We had to jump from one to the other before making a run through the sand to the finish line.
I finished the race with a clock time of 38:15. This was a small, easy, but enjoyable race. I might not trek all the way to the Connecticut shoreline for this race next year, but if I’m in the area, I would definitely hit it up again. As you all know by now, I am more a fan of the races that challenge me with a lot of technical obstacles. (I’ve said time and again that racing at Shale Hill is so amazing it’s almost ruined me for other races!) That beings said, Run the Gauntlet was well organized and had a nice turn-out from the NE Spahtens, which made the day fun. The weather was great, the venue was stellar, and the race was a fun diversion. If you’re a new obstacle course racer or looking for a race to introduce friend or family to the sport, Run the Gauntlet is a nice way to get started.
(More on my blog: http://www.perseid85.blogspot.com.)
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