O2X Summit Challenge recently hit our radars after an Outside Magazine article describing their all natural approach to mountain running.
What the heck is it? Isn’t that just running up a mountain? Can’t I do that on my own?
After talking to the race directors, it’s pretty clear. O2X Summit Challenge is to “running up a ski slope”, as running 26.2 from your door step is to running the Boston Marathon – meaning, two very different experiences for very different people. They don’t have any plans to use trails, or ski slopes – this will be a unique take on every location that you’ll be hard pressed to duplicate.
They won’t be building walls – they won’t have barbed wire, but if you’re the kind of person who finds races like the 7 Sisters trail race, or the Peak Ultra’s attractive, this is going to be right up your alley.
With some great charity partners, a commitment to “leave no trace” and races measured by their elevation gain instead of their actual distance covered (single, double and triple black diamond events) – fresh off a trip to the GoPro Games, we got on the phone for a chat, and exchanged some emails. These guys are in it for the long haul and the base camp sounds like a mix of a fitness expo and a fantastic camping experience with your buddies – followed by a great, well supported race up amazing mountains. Check them out at their opening race, held at Sugar Bush, VT on Sept 13th and 14th, where both a single and double black diamond event will be happening. You can volunteer too.
Explain the O2X concept?
As Outside Magazine put it, “Obstacle Racing Goes au Naturel.” O2X Summit Challenges are a new and different evolution of obstacle racing – base to peak races with all of the obstacles Mother Nature can provide. The constructed obstacles you’ll find in the current OCRs – high walls, cargo nets, monkey bars – are popular, but our race gives Spahtens a completely natural way to test themselves. Our company has a strong commitment to the environment as well, and promises to leave our host mountains better than we found them. Signing on with 1% For The Planet, we are willingly committed to these stewardship principles.
How did the idea for the race series come about? Who is behind it?
The founders are three former Navy SEALs, and an attorney thrown in for good measure. Two of the SEALs spent 11+ years deployed together and spent most of their time in the mountains of Afghanistan. For them, summiting peaks was one of the most exhilarating part of their experience there. The four of us are: Gabriel Gomez, former Navy SEAL and air-craft carrier pilot, 2013 United States Senate candidate, and husband & father; Paul McCullough, former Navy SEAL, and a husband & father; Adam La Reau, former Navy SEAL and recent Harvard Kennedy School graduate; and Craig Coffey, a recovering attorney, and husband & father.
The first decision the four of us made was that we want to work together. We then realized that because we are marathoners, SEALs, and fitness enthusiasts – like your members – we are all passionate about outdoor challenges and human performance. When we looked at the OCR market, we realized there was an opportunity to create a interesting new format – an all natural, authentic race.
Whats included in the price?
Almost everything – the race, insurance, registration, bag check, high quality schwag like our soft race T’s and parking are ALL included in the price. The only thing you’d get charged for is food, and camping.
How is it different than just going up the mountain for a hike on a weekend?
Way different, for a few reasons. First, our off-trail courses are carefully designed to take advantage of the mountains’ awesome terrain challenges. Combining extensive worldwide experience planning mountain routes, local mountain ops experience and US Forest Service guidelines, our eco-friendly course takes racers to challenging routes and terrain they may not have experienced before. Secondly, an important part of O2X is BaseCamp, a festival-like experience including environmental, organic we offer racers and their guests an opportunity to camp out the night before.
Explain the course layout – what should we expect, how long/high, how technical?
The course layout is designed around mother nature’s obstacles. The course has three different levels with net elevation gain in mind. A single diamond is over 1000 feet in elevation gain over a distance of 4-6 miles, double diamond with over 2000 feet in elevation gain over a distance of 6-8 miles and triple diamonds with over 3000 feet in elevation gain over a distance of 9-12 miles. All courses are eco friendly taking into account vegetation plans, environmental principles, and combining expert local knowledge with worldwide experience planning mountain routes. These routes will take you over natural occurring obstacles challenging you in stamina, core strength, balance, and will. No technical expertise needed, just keep focused and push through the leg and lung burn.
Do we need specialist gear for any of it?
Nope. Trail or running shoes, that’s it. Running/hiking/trekking – and a bunch of sweat – will get you through!
What will be going on at base camp?
Overnight pre-race camping, fun, music and a friendly, communal atmosphere. There will be farmer’s market-like food vendors, locally sourced environmental groups, human performance vendors, apparel makers and a speaker discussing a topic related to our corporate ethos: human performance, environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Did I mention fun? We want people to gather, relax, enjoy the mountains and experience Mother Nature.