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Featured Review: Renegade Playground Challenge NH 2014

Editors Note: Robert Gagnon has ran many OCRs, both local and national, and is owner of Xtreme Fitness in Hampton, NH. He is also a member of the New England Spahtens Elite Team, and placed fifth overall at this event.

renegadeplaygroundlogoParking: Parking was ample, well organized, on site and best of all FREE.

Facilities: The facilities were accommodating and totally adequate.

Check in: Check in was simple, organized and easy. I saw little to no lines and everyone seemed to know what they were doing.

Bag Check: They had a neat type of bag check where they had a mobile locker unit on site that was basically like the paid lockers you would see at ski resorts. Put your stuff in, put coins in, lock the door and take the key with you.

Wash Station: There was an adequate hose station for rinsing of. It was located on a paved area so once you were done hosing off, you were not stepping on muddy ground getting dirty again.

Changing station: There was a changing tent although I did not use it. I heard of no complaints about them. I do know some people used them (Dennis for one).

Bathrooms: There were not a ton of porta-potties, but I saw no lines so it seemed adequate.

Vendors: There did seem to be a couple vendors, but not many. One vendor had a corn hole game going and people seemed to be playing most of the day.

10502115_10202809824306324_5480554316653384364_nSchwag: The medals were upgraded this year and looked MUCH better than they ever have for RPC. The shirts were also upgraded to a nice tech fabric. They also gave a decent RPC pint glass. I saw a few instances of people randomly being given additional shirts, which they seemed to really like. They seemed to be pretty free with schwag so many people had no complaints about this and it was well received.

Race nutrition: Upon completing the race you were able to have bottled water and bananas and there was an ample supply

Beer: They purchased and provided Bud and Bud light, which seemed to not be too much of a hit (I don’t really drink so I didn’t care either way). Everyone was given 1 free beer. If you were on a team of 15 or more people you received 2 free beers and also got a team tent located very close to the beer garden (they called this VIP beer access).

10561738_10202809828746435_1436324409956806403_nKids race: I was not able to check out the kids race but know they had one. I did preview the course and can say that it was designed pretty much EXACTLY as the adults course (style and difficulty level), but just on a small scale.

Volunteers: There seemed to be ample volunteers both on the course and in the “festival” area. Most o f them seemed to know what was going on and were reasonably well informed. The negative, many of them smoked cigarettes and did so while volunteering. In fact, the very first group of volunteers as you entered the event seemed to be smoking so your first impression for a running/fitness event was actually a bit of a turn off. MANY people I spoke to mentioned this and were put off by it.



The course

Distance: The first place finisher told me that his GPS had the race at 3.1 miles.

Terrain: Super flat. Although the race was an appropriate distance, they course designer decided not to take advantage of any of the woods that were part of the property. They elected to keep the entire race on the fairgrounds part of the property itself. The Rochester fair is technically a “state fair” so it has a very large open area that easily accommodated 3.1 miles of running, parking, and festivities area with room to spare. It IS very flat though so the running itself was basically easy which translated into a fast course (winning time was 22:30). Being a native of Rochester, I can say that there is also a fair amount of wooded property available but the course designer decided not to use them. My thoughts on why will be summarized at the end of the review.

Course marking: I found the course to be well marked and organized. I never came close to making a wrong turn and did not see or hear of anyone else having a problem either.

Difficulty: In some regards the course was difficult. It did have things that taxed you physically (soft sand and MANY mini dirt hills). From a technical stand point, the course was VERY simplistic and not difficult at all. Nothing really to mentally challenge or frighten for ANYONE. I saw a very small 7 year old boy complete the course. Shout out to you Calin! You ROCKED that course (finishing the last mile with just 1 shoe. He was so cute)!

10456817_723336161062006_1399558203083275112_nObstacles: There was a large A frame cargo net a bunch of 4’ & 5’ wooden walls (10 to 15 ish), 1 manmade wooden balance beam (with varying heights). 1 fixed height balance beam made by laying a telephone pole on the ground (over some dirt trenches) and 1 balance beam made from a log. There was a trench that you went down into that was filled with water and had 3 car tires hanging from ropes that you had to pass through. There were 2 large piles of hay bales that had to be navigated. There was a small wooden bridge that you went over at one part and then under at another time. This was ALL the wooden obstacles, NOTHING challenging, difficult or even really interesting. The A frame was really the best thing I guess. The ENTIRE rest of the course was comprised of MANY, MANY holes/trenches that were dug by a back hoe. The sand from the holes was piled up either at the beginning or end of the hole and required you to navigate over it. Frankly this WAS the course. This was what sucked the energy out of you. 10553569_723833684345587_7490684724615541172_nThe sand/dirt was soft and required you to expend energy in order to get through it. Some of these holes had water that was about knee deep. One of the holes had a dirt pile that was about 15’ high and they put a .003 mil piece of plastic in an attempt to make a slide (with no water). I was the 2nd person going through at that point and when I stepped on the slide I ripped a HUGE hole in it and basically destroyed in immediately. I couldn’t even attempt to slide down it because it was dry and destroyed from the huge hole I put it it. So all in all, to me the course was a bit of a disappointment. I know what goes into building a course and this took very little effort when compared to other races. They could have made some tractor pulls or bucket carries but didn’t. They could have made some muddy barbed crawls but didn’t. 10449532_724137767648512_1290637613575005722_nThey could have used some of the more hilly, wooded terrain but didn’t. My opinion is that they didn’t do this because they didn’t want to put the effort into it as doing so does take effort. I have no doubt that all the holes were dug in about 1-2 days with a back hoe. They stuck out 10-15 pre made wooden walls and set up the A frame cargo net and the obstacles were basically complete. 2-3 days tops would be my guess. 1 day to mark the course and boom, call it good. Again, it was organized, properly staffed and well marked. It just seriously lacked effort. I cant tell you how many people expressed this opinion to me. I literally heard a 1st time OCR female say “I get dirtier running at the beach and found it to be little to no challenge”. She was scared going into this event, oops! :/

I have really mixed feelings about this. I support RPC and want to see them do well. Frankly they did a lot right here. I’ve seen many races do a worse job on many fronts. However the bottom line is that people come to race/run on a cool course and this just wasn’t it. C’mon a 7 year old did it ALONE! Even with all the things they did right, I have to unfortunately give this a below average rating. Sorry RPC!  Put more effort into your course design and build-out.  You are charging average industry prices, you need to put out an average product.  Not a bunch of holes in the ground.

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WOW 7/7/2014

Hello Spahtens!  Today’s WOW is ready, are you?

Grab a towel, some water and print this sheet.    Next, set your interval timer for 30 rounds of 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest.  Now fill in your sheet with the following movements:

  1. Jump Tuck
  2. Mason Twist
  3. 1 Leg Glut Bridge
  4. Alternating Bicycle Press
  5. Mountain Climber
  6. Tricep Dips

After completing this WOW, get outside and hit the trails for 20-30 minutes of medium effort running!  Aroo~!!!

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WOW 6-30-14

This weeks wow will leave you sweaty and feeling accomplished!

Print this sheet and set your timer to 6 sets of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest.  Now fill your sheet in with the following movements:

Round 1

  1. Split jumps
  2. Wide pushup

1 minute rest

Round 2

  1. Ninja Squat
  2. Burpee

1 minute rest

Round 3

  1. Super man
  2. Bear crawl

Done?  Whew!  Great work!  now hit the trails for 20-30 minutes.  Maybe bring your pet rock!

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WOW 6-12-14

Spahtens!  Time to motivate with today’s WOW!  Grab some water, a towel and get ready to sweat!   Set your interval timer on your phone for 30 rounds of 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest.

Print todays sheet and fill it in with the following movements:

  1. Mason Twist
  2. Air Squat
  3. Inch Worm
  4. 1 leg glute bridge
  5. Staggered leg push up
  6. Burpee

Great job!  Now finish this off with a nice walk, bike ride, or jog for 30-60 minutes!  Aroo!

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WOW 5-26-14

After doing joint mobility, set a timer and get ready to WORK! This workout is a “for time” workout meaning you should try to get through it as quickly as possible. You will only go through each exercise one time. Once you are done 50 reps, you are done. Proceed to the next exercise and keep going until you are finished. Keep track of your overall time!

1 Table Top Push Up x50

2 Hip bridge x50

3 Squat Thrust x50

4 Super Plank x50

5 Side Press x50 ea side

6 Split Jumps x50 ea side


If you feel you want added challenge, GREAT! do this routine 2x through!  Aroo!

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Featured Review: Thunder Run, May 2014



Thunder Run

In a time of exploding growth of the OCR community, a little rotary club in NH decided to throw it’s hat into the ring in an effort to raise community awareness and funds for its club.  They immediately went to work utilizing their network of resources as well as reaching outside to the OCR community for various suggestions, which I believe really paid off.

The day of the race was surrounded by uncertainty.  A pretty large weather pattern was racing through the area from the day and night before threatening to make it a pretty messy day, if not a total wash out.  We literally had a pretty large thunder storm which seemed to be appropriate, given the name of the race.  It looked like the rain may not stop in time and although the race would happen, the festivities would certainly be dampened and basically ruined.

Parking and the festivities

Arrival at the race was basic.  It was certainly easy to find since it was a very large and well known race track.  On the back part of the property was a motocross track, which was to be the site of the race.  The problem was that once you pulled into the main parking lot it was not 100% obvious where to go to find the Thunder Run.  However, this was not a super huge problem, just an inconvenience.  Once we made our way to the rear of the property you were greeted by one of many parking attendants who guided you to the parking area.  Parking was ample and free!  Once you parked you made your way to registration where you picked up your race packet and T-shirt.  I arrived early so there was no line, but throughout the day, I did not notice any issues with check in, nor did I hear of any complaints about problems with it.  They seems relatively organized and timely with respect to handing out packets.  From there you were directed to the changing tent located in the vendor area.  There was no bag check which is something most people are used to having however you were able to park so close that it wasn’t really a problem and I didn’t hear of any complaints from anyone regarding this matter.  The vendor area was pretty close to the starting line and from there you could oversee the entire 1st mile of the race.  There was a booth with a good local restaurant offering free beef chili.  The next tent over was the beer tent where they served Seria Nevada beer (a pretty decent micro brew).  Like most races you received a free beer and each beer after was only $2!  The next tent over had free Yogurt, poweraid, O.J. And water.  The next tent had Access Sports Medicine who was giving away T-shirts for their company as advertising.  Next to the changing tent was a firetruck that was available to rinse the mud off the racers.  Nearest the starting line was a DJ tent that also included a live band, which was entertaining and good.  This was basically the extent of the festival area. it was adequate but not extensive.  In the years to come, there will certainly be room to expand upon this to include more vendors and activities creating a better festival area.

Thunder Run Band

Thunder Run Beer Tent

Thunder Run Changing Tent

 Thunder Run Finish Line

The race:

The first mile of the race actually took place on the motocross track, which was unique and difficult at the same time.  The worst part of the motocross track was that before the race they graded the track in an effort to smooth out the ruts made by the motorcycles.  The problem was that the dirt was pretty loose and with all the rain it made it VERY sloppy running.  Mostly stepping in ankle deep mud for about one mile straight!  This was a very challenging aspect to the race and that is generally welcome.  The not so great part was the uneven footing from the motorcycle ruts under the mud.  After running a half mile on the track you jumped over a jersey barrier and went off the track where you proceeded to a short cinder block carry.  The block carry was pretty easy and could have been slightly longer since it was on flat ground but it was not the end of the world.  You dropped your block off and continued out away from the race track for about 1/10 of a mile where you did a 180 turn and came back toward the track.  Along the way you went through a 3′ culvert crawl, then over another jersey barrier and back onto the course for another ½ mile of the muddy motocross track.  As you were about to leave the motocross track you were greeted by a mud crawl that was basically a water crawl because of all of the rain we had it created a large puddle of standing water, where many interesting belly flops could be witnessed!  Out of the mud crawl you were directed into a large ditch filled with chest deep cold water where you came upon a series of 5 telephone poles blocking the way.  You had the choice to go over or under the poles.  If you went under, you went completely under water.  Once you came out of the water, you had to run atop 5 more telephone poles like balance beams in a serpentine fashion.  From there you ran into the middle of a dirt lot where you ran around a barrel and headed out to the rear of the property past a water station and over to the next obstacle.  The next was a series of 4 ditches that were wide enough to jump over that had dirt piles on the back side of them that you had to climb over. The next obstacle was certainly one of the most talked about and was borrowed from Tough Mudder (I may or may not have had influence on this).  🙂  This obstacle was a zig zag trench dug into the ground and covered with plywood.   You had to crawl through the tunnel, but because it was a zig zag you could not see through it and it was totally dark.  The unexpected thing was that due to all the rain, the tunnel filled up with water and when crawling through you were chest deep in water making it pretty scary and unpleasant.  This along with a rope climb was the most skipped obstacle.  🙂  From there  you ran about 1/10 of a mile through a cleared area into the woods along a man made trail.  There were a couple spots with downed trees that crossed the trail that had to be navigated, a mini river that had to be crossed, then a couple man made ditches to cross before coming to a 15′ rope climb with 3 ropes (1 with knots, 2 without).  After the rope climb you went through more man made trails that led you through an approximate 100 yard section of swampy area.  In this area you had to either go over or under 2 downed trees.  After coming out of the swamp and woods you were making your way back to the starting line, at this point there was about one mile left.  Making your way back you came upon a series of 5 or 6 jersey barriers then another that had a steel fence panel that was like a ramp going up and then down the barrier.  After navigating the barriers you came upon a bunch of over and unders, I believe there were about 5 overs and 5 unders, although it seemed like about 50.  From there you had a short run to bringing you to some mini hills then a 5′ wall and then an 8′ wall with a cargo net on the back side that was stretched out away from the top of the wall to the ground.  The easiest way to navigate it was basically to roll down the net onto the ground.  From there a short run to another 3′ culvert crawl and onto a mini ¼ mile motocross track that you had to again follow.  This track was not muddy (thank God)!  After this track you had the largest hill climb of the race where you ran a mini loop at the top of the hill and made your way to the finish line which was completed with a fire jump.  You were greeted with a pretty decent finishers medal and finish line photographer.  All in all it was a fairly challenging run.  It was flat but challenging.  It was harder than say a Foam Fest but easier than a Spartan Race.

  Thunder Run Race Track 3Thunder Run Race Track 2Thunder Run Race Track

The race was pretty well marked and had a good amount of volunteers.  Just about every obstacle was manned with volunteers accept jersey barriers, the 5′ wall and 3′ culvert crawl, which was really not needed.  All in all, for a brand new race, this went pretty smoothly and was an over all hit.  The sun did end up coming out at about 10am and it made for a pretty nice morning and afternoon of fun.  Everyone who attended the race seemed to have a good time and was challenged.  There is room for improvement in the festival area and ticket sales (they had 105 participants).  However, I believe they really want to do this again next year and will start promoting and selling earlier next year.  They seemed to deliver pretty well and I’d say this race was at least average, if not slightly above especially given that it’s a 1st year effort.  Nicely done Epping Rotary Club!  

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WOW 5-19-2014

This workout is Tabata (20s work / 10s rest). You will do 2 groups of exercises, one after the other 8 times each (as a super set). Do the first exercise in Round 1 for 20s, then rest 10s. While resting you are getting ready to start the 2nd exercise of that round. You will promptly start exercise 2 after your 10s of rest. Once you have done exercise 2 for 20s you will rest 10s and get ready to start all over again with the first exercise. Once you have done each exercise 8 times, Round 1 is completed. This will take 8 minutes to complete round 1. You will then repeat this exact process for round 2 with the next group of exercises. Once completed 8 minutes of round 2, proceed to round 3. 

Try to maintain the same number of reps you get the first time through each round throughout the round. 

For your best experience, print or write down the movements and have them handy so you know what to do next



Mountain Climbers

Knee Up Sit Up



Lunge w/Leg raise

Push Up



Box Jump

Scissor Kick


Great job!  Now go out and enjoy the weather!  Do something cardiovascular like biking,  joging, walking the dog or even playing with the kids!  AROO!