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Renegade Run – year three!

This year will see the third rendition of the Renegade Run, put on by Type One LLC. I made it to their first year, and was ice stormed out of the second year (seriously, while you were all running, I was sitting at the side of the road, unable to go forward!).

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I’m hearing already that the wave they’ve set aside for the New England Spahtens is pretty full, and with code NESPAHTENS getting you $10 off the ticket price, why not run with the best OCR community out there?

Where: Wompatuck State Park, Hingham, MA
When: SUNDAY Oct 26th, 10am
How: http://typeonerenegaderun.com/register-now/

– It’s been a busy time for Type One – with the American Heart Association and Mass Mayhem projects – how many of those events are part of your full time calendar?

It has been a fantastic year so far! We are coming off of extremely successful events, Mass Mayhem and The American Heart Association Heart Challenge! The positive feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive, and it energizes us to continue to produce these races, and make each one better than the previous! We are focused on this year’s Renegade Run at this time, and will soon after look to schedule our next events. We have every intention on repeat performances of both Mayhem and the Challenge in the coming years!

– Renegade Run was bigger and more badass last year – how do you plan to top it again this year? What lessons were learned?

Renegade Run 2014 course map
Renegade Run 2014 course map

This years’s Renegade Run will be starting and finishing at the Campgrounds of Wompatuck, which allows us to chart an amazing course that includes some pretty impressive elevations! We have increased the course to 5 miles and it will be taking runners up and down Prospect Hill, which has some very technical wooded trails, with difficult terrain changes, as well as some paved trails. We have a slew of new obstacles and some old favorites that everyone will enjoy. We are always learning how to build upon our last event, both through our experiences and by listening to our participants, and we find room for improvement with each obstacle race we host. We know what makes a good race since we have participated in many, and do our best to incorporate all those elements we find to be outstanding. We strive to constantly evolve and give our runners an amazing and challenging workout, and a overall memorable experience! Complacency holds no place in this business and we have learned to constantly mix things up and creatively push the limits of our events.

– How much money have you raised for you chosen charity to date?

Our company’s mission is to raise money and awareness to cure type 1 diabetes. 25% of our profits are donated directly to the Faustman Lab at MGH to find a cure. The Faustman Lab is leading the way with their clinical trials to regenerate the pancreas in diabetics! While we have donated thousands of dollars to date for this cause, what is equally as important is to raise awareness to the masses, and we can say for sure we have touched upon tens of thousands of them! Many of our followers have also donated directly to Dr. Faustman’s research as well!

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Race spotlight: Run the Gauntlet

Denali_RTG_colorlogo-2014I don’t know why, but Gauntlet Races (Run the Gauntlet and Rock the Gauntlet) hid under my radar until recently, when I had the pleasure of meeting Amy, one of the organizers of the event and I wanted to put a bit more of a spotlight on them – they’re a CT based event, put on and backed by Denali stores. They put on two events a year, and have done for a couple of years now – and September is right on the beach making it something relatively unique in the area!

With a September event on the calendar – on a quiet Sunday, no less, definitely worth checking out!

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2014 mapWhat is the history behind Run the Gauntlet, and it’s involvement with Denali?
Over the past 5 or so years Denali has embarked on a mission to increase our community involvement and support of local non-profit organizations specifically those that promote access and preservation of green space as well as those that teach youth about leading healthy lifestyles and becoming future stewards of our land. To that end we have planned and hosted 10 or more events each year either in our stores or outside that can provide a fun filled or educational experience. Any event we put on is a benefit so its a win-win relationship with our non-profit partners. Run the Gauntlet this fall will be our 4th race in 3 years and we plan on continuing the event for many years to come. It is a great race for a great cause and participants, staff and volunteers alike all have a fun time.

What is the distance, obstacle style – and how competitive is Run the Gauntlet?
Run the Gauntlet is a 5k race with 14 obstacles along the course. Most obstacles are considered family friendly but some are rather challenging such as the 8 foot wall called “Get Over Yourself” and the Hammonasset Hurdles. Another challenge is the location itself with around half the course being in the sand at Hammonasset Beach State Park.

What charity partners do you work with?
Run the Gauntlet is a benefit race for The Shoreline Greenway Trail. This organization is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to building a 25-mile continuous path for bicyclists, walkers and hikers on the Connecticut Shoreline from Lighthouse Point in New Haven through East Haven, Branford, and Guilford to Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison.

gauntlet amy 098As the organizer, tell me more about your OCR background?
JB Sports is the actual race director. They are an event management company that organizes some of New England’s top running events and health walks. They have over 30,000 participants annually, and have raised over $2,000,000 for charity. There are two of us on the race committee that have OCR experience. I have done 4 Tough Mudders, 3 GORUCK Challenges, 1 Merrell Down and Dirty, 1 Warrior Dash, GORUCK Nasty, and 1 GORUCK Light. Andrew has done 2 Tough Mudders, 2 Merrell Down and Dirty, 2 Warrior Dash, 1 Spartan, 1 Zombie Apocalypse, 1 Rugged Maniac, and 1 Super Hero Scramble.

Who do you hope to bring in to run the event, and what are the goals?
Run the Gauntlet is an event with broad appeal. Our goal is to provide a race with enough challenge to entice experienced racers but we also want this to be a family type event that appeals to our local community in support of a good cause. We employ a very experienced RD who has put on hundreds of road races but few obstacle races. Obstacles add a complex element to putting on a race…you have to be creative yet able to handle the logistics. It has been a learning experience for sure but we have grown our race attendance each year and hope to continue that trend. The race course is changed and improved upon year after year with new routes and different or additional obstacles. Our intention is to grow Run the Gauntlet each year by increasing racer registration as well as community involvement in the event through sponsorship and vendor participation.

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Introducing: O2X Summit Challenges

o2xlogoO2X 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.

o2x crew

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.

10397243_573187842802291_7116443297653366470_oHow 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.

o2xteamHow 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.

10344201_566391633481912_756001401887198611_oExplain 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.

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Featured Review: Bold R Dash on the Beach

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Bold r Dash returns to the beach in 2014 – this year part of the New England Spahtens Race Local Series. This year located at the fantastic Scarborough Beach in Narragansett, Rhode Island. If you ever wanted a taste as to why Rhode Island is an awesome place to live, just spend a beautiful Saturday morning here.

 

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9am Wave getting ready to go out!

 

Here is an overall review and some positives and negatives which i will get into more in depth below:

 

Positives

  •  – Free ample parking right at the venue
  •  – Beautiful location
  • – Mix of Beach running and technical rock terrain
  • – The Buoy Walls!
  • – Ample Volunteers
  • – Good Obstacles
  • – On going adjustments during the day

Negatives

  • – insufficient course markings
  • – Not enough buckets!
  • – Sack hop?
  • – Spectators rampant on the course
  • – Poor course direction on the 2nd half of the 5k
  • – fees
  • – long Obstacle back ups.

 

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Straight portion of beach run up and around Black Point

Scarborough is a State Beach – which made for ample space, free parking and being right at the venue. This was a step up to the more difficult and spread out parking at last years Beach race in Misquamicut.  Registration and check in went smoothly for those that did not hit up REI during the week to pick up their packet. Runners each were given a timing chip, bib and colored bracelet which designated the heat they were assigned too.  There was some disorganization when it came to starting off the first wave of the day, runners had to be checked for their color band before getting into the chute. Bold r Dash was strictly enforcing their No Wave jumping policy. Unfortunately that’s about when they stopped enforcing it. We also had to exit the chute to get a rock and get back in. We had to stall a bit before the start so a volunteer could run a cone out for us to run too and back before hitting the beach.

The Race started with the staple of Bold r Dash which is doing the first sprint of the wave with a softball or slightly larger rock in hand, about 200 meters out and back to drop the rock off at the start and then onto a trail and out onto the beach. We had a good half mile run up the beach before we hit the sack hop (personally hate this obstacle) and then onto the the bucket run. You had to grab a bucket, run it down to the water and back up the beach to dump it in a large bucket 3 times. For the Elite wave they immediately ran out of buckets. I assume the thinking is the run up the beach would thin out the wave enough to not cause a bottleneck, however the elite wave ran out of buckets right away and caused a lot of waiting if you were not one of the first 25 there.  This clearly could have been avoided.

Bucket run, backed up several times during the day. Need More Buckets!
Bucket run, backed up several times during the day. Need More Buckets!

After the buckets you continued up the beach into the technical rocky terrain. This is where your first and second place finishers of the wave went astray (accidental or not, misdirection by volunteers we have not confirmed).  This again comes down to course markings and Volunteer direction. The technical rock terrain was pretty awesome… however their needed to be more course markings here and several runners started to 2nd guess if they had missed a turn and caused some confusion for us in the 9am. After scaling up the side of a huge rock slab we were turned around and headed back up the beach where we started to hit the larger walls and A-frame scaling obstacles. There was a little concern here for me as we scaled the A frame with chain steps as i watched a chain break from is support and a guy fell strait through the obstacle ( He appeared to be ok ) But i didn’t have the warm and fuzziness knowing we were the first ones to use the obstacle and it was already breaking.

a-frame chain wall @10am
a-frame chain wall @1030am

Back up running over some tires, tire hopes and chain supported balance beams (which made them wobble intentionally ) we were up onto the Beach paved walkways which caused again some more confusion for runners, as spectators were scattered all over the course here. There was no markings preventing Spectators and runners from getting all mixed up with each other here.  Again, another area easily avoided.  However after this section was on to one of Bold r Dashes best beach obstacles. The Buoy walls. It always feels like there is a 1000 walls to go over and under and is my personal favorite at this race.

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Buoy Walls! the Buoys were a heavy weight you had to bring with you over and under the walls

Further up the beach we cut back into the large open fields for some more of Bold r’s bigger a-frame obstacles Tire walls, A-frame ladder walls etc. the Course was marked with buckets, However you did have to think twice about where you were going… they did correct this later in the day with more volunteers in the area to direct runners. Again this could have been easily corrected with some caution tape or something to that effect. There were some big, fun obstacles here for the first waves of the day. As the day went on however these obstacles turned into huge bottleneck for runners.

10 minute wait by the time the 10:10 wave reached the last obstacle
10 minute wait by the time the 10:10 wave reached the last obstacle

Runners were told they would not be allowed to run multiple waves without paying $15 and picking up another bib and chip – no exceptions and would be strictly enforced to prevent bottlenecks, overloaded waves and safety to ensure all runners on the course were accounted for. Unfortunately this did not not prevent huge back ups. I can also speak personally that I watched 4-5 waves go after I had finished from the 10am wave on… and “strictly enforced” was no longer the case as there were no longer volunteers checking bracelets and it was very easy for a runner to hop into another wave or any wave they wanted after the 9am.

Also T-shirts had to be purchased if you registered past a certain date. an additional $5 if you were a late register. So you paid more and got less if you were a couple week register.

 

Overall is was a great location with many issues that could have been avoided. Bold r Dash did make adjustments throughout the day with volunteer placement – some sections became so overloaded with spectators by 11am several runners were lost in the mix – at one point while taking pictures i had to start directing runners in the confusion.

 

Overall Rating:  Average

 

Saving Features:

  • Location, Location, Location!
  • Parking was fantastic
  • beach running and rocky terrain
  • Lots of Obstacles

Turn-offs:

  • lack of course markings
  • add-on fees / costs
  • Disorganization / spectator infiltration
  • long wait times for later morning heats.

.

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Reviver Challenge

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Reviver Challenge has been around a while, running their first event in 2010 and earning a reputation for being truly family friends and raising money for fantastic causes – and they have a 2014 event coming up on June 7th.

What does family friendly mean? How about no minimum age. Worried about being held up? They have three different types of wave – Elite at 10am, Tough Enough at 11am and Just Finish goes out at noon. Price? $40, for all, except kids under 18 who can run for $20.

Oh, and you can run all three heats for the same price too, if you’re quick enough.

Fantastic causes? 100% of your entry fee will go to two different charities – one helping mayan families, the other supporting local kids programs.

Cat, race director for Reviver Challenge and I exchanged emails and a phone conversation recently – read more about them.

Reviver Challenge 2013 Start Line
Reviver Challenge 2013 Start Line

Tell us a bit about Reviver.
Our name says it all:  We are a challenging race designed to “revive” your spirit.  We started the race as a fundraiser and have turned it into an all-out OCR.  Now in our 4th year, we have designed our obstacle course to attract people from all levels of fitness.  It is for all kinds and we welcome first time OCR runners.  We have also opened up our course to children of all ages.  Our youngest contestant was 6 last year and finished strong.  We believe our race is a way to demonstrate the greatness that lives in us all.  

How long is the course?
2.5 miles. The course is very hilly so it’s not an easy run.

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Tall Walls, 2013

What kind of obstacles should we expect to see?
We have a lot of the same obstacles you will see in most OCR’s – the walls, tires, tube crawls and Wreck Bags.  BUT we also have some that are original to us.  We pride ourselves in our “Gauntlet” where you will turn the corner and be attacked by our Kids in the Canyon and their backpacks.  Try and make it through without getting knocked out!  We have a Mud Pit and “the Mountain.”  This is the equalizer and is not for the faint of heart. 

Do you have competitive heats and timing?
We have divided our race into 3 categories.  
10am  “Elite Runners”
11am  “Tough Enough”
12pm  “Just Finish”

What makes us different is that you can run in all three heats if you wish – at no extra cost.

Our 1st Run is designed for those warriors who really don’t want to get stuck behind a bunch of people trying to get over a wall.  The front runners will have full access to all the obstacles and won’t be held back.  Prizes will be determined in this race.  We will take the top male and female times in all age categories. 

The 2nd Run is for those who want to push themselves but don’t want to be left in the dust by all the elite runners. They are mostly runners just going out to do their personal best without worrying about other competitors.

The 3rd Run is mostly Families and Teams.  These runners are racing for the pure fun of it and are just trying to have a great time.  Team Prizes will be given for the Best Costume and the Most Enthusiastic.  Time will not matter.

If you are a seasoned OCR runner, we suggest you run in the Elite race, and then jump into our 3rd race for the fun of it.  Perhaps bring your kids along and run it with them.  Same course, but different level of competition.  You will be timed on only the first race you run.

Family friendly obstacles! Reviver 2013
Family friendly obstacles! Reviver 2013

Who do you raise funds for?
Reviver has a rich history of fundraising. The Reviver Challenge was created to support two charities that we pride ourselves in helping out.  Proceeds are donated to Mayan Families and Kids in the Canyon.  These are two groups who are in the business of helping others break through the real obstacles in their lives. Please see our “Why Run?” Page on our site: http://reviverchallenge.com/why-run/
100% of the proceeds go to helping these two groups. 
We also offer Service Vacations to anyone wishing to visit the beautiful, but poverty stricken country of Guatemala. Over 50 people have joined us in Guatemala to help distribute the funds raised through Reviver Challenge.  

How much has been raised to date?
In the three years that Reviver has been run, we have given over $26,300 to Charity. Amazing!

Reviver is very family friendly.
We want this to be a rich family experience and welcome children of all ages.  After all, the kids are the ones with all the energy and I’m sure they are sick of watching you run the event.  Now is their chance to join you along the course, and perhaps even beat you!  Crossing the finish line with my 7 year old last year, hand in hand, was one of the most bonding experiences.  We hope that you will run together.  We really are all kids at heart anyways. 

What is your course age limit?
 You just need to be young at heart!  If you’re 80 and can complete the course, bring it on!!!

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Reviver is one of those races that New England is lucky to have on the calendar – locally owned and operated, raising significant money for great causes, and able to give your family a great day out. If you aren’t already booked that weekend, definitely check them out – the price is right, the atmosphere promises to be fun, and yes, we already have a team going 🙂 Check the Event page in our Facebook group for more information.

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Teaser: F.I.T. Challenge 2014

http://www.fitchallenge.org/
Had a fantastic morning at World War I Park in North Attleboro with Robb McCoy (the mastermind behind F.I.T. Challenge) and my son, Alex. We got to run/ jog the adult course and drumroll…. kids course! From what I understand, the kids race will be open for registration very soon, we of course will make an announcement on the page when it is!

The adult course is going to be absolutely amazing and will test your endurance. It is a great mix of running and will have plenty of obstacles, both man-made and provided by Mother Nature. Expect at times to be completely drained, yet continually pushed to tap into your energy reserves. There are hills, and more hills. But there are also great stretches for the runners to gain some speed. Don’t become complacent though, because as promised, there will be obstacles. Right when you think you’re gaining some great speed, there will be something to slow you down. That said, the course will be enjoyable by athletes of all experience levels.

The kids course will be equally amazing! There are already two parks inside the venue, and one of them will have a couple things brought into the kids course. They will face hills, smaller one’s of course, stairs, slides, mud, walls… The kids are going to love this! I brought along Alex to maybe chime in from time to time and give Robb an idea or two. At the end of our session Robb named Alex the official Kids Race Director, haha! Made his day to say the least. Robb really wanted to reach out to kids on this race. There will not only be a race for them but he has plans for some cool things in one of the parks by the festival area that is friendly for kids of all ages. Did I mention they have a zoo on site?

Speaking of festival areas, he is doing things completely right. It will be accommodating not only for runners but for family and spectators. There will be vendors galore. You can, and it is highly recommended, bring your own food. All around the park there are grills and stuff. Make a day out of it, pack a picnic and enjoy time with an ever-growing OCR community.

If for some reason you are on the fence about it, this is one of the local races you HAVE to do! I am extremely excited about it and cannot wait, 35 MORE DAYS!!

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Renegade Playground Challenge 2014 opens it’s calendar

Renegade Playground Challenge logoRenegade Playground Challenge – a race traditionally held at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and with a relatively poor history just announced their 2014 calendar, and ambitiously, they’ve opened up multiple new venues and dates.

June 21st – RPC Boston at the Marshfield Fairgrounds. A venue recently vacated by Ruckus. Sadly, they now collide with the dramatically better Civilian Military Combine, the new comer friendly 5k Foam Fest and our good friends in VT, ORTC at Shale Hill Adventure’s Benson Bear.

July 21st – RPC NH at the Rochester Fairgrounds. New venue, not at the Speedway. Also collides with the new Tri-Obstaclon at Shale Hill.

They have three more dates / venues on the list, but they aren’t allowing for registration yet – the Cape in August, RI in September and Boston again in the fall.

It doesn’t sound like the Speedway is involved again this year, which would be a crying shame – it’s widely considered the only reason they were so much better in 2013 than in 2012 was due to their involvement.

So – would you register for this event?

Read the 2013 Featured Review here

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New Race – Thunder Run NH

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Thunder Run NH is a new event, held at the New England Dragway Grounds, in Epping NH on May 17th 2014.

I had the chance to have a phone conversation with the team behind the event – and I think they may be one worth keeping your eyes on, and if you aren’t already scheduled to be at Tuff Scramblers, Bonefrog or CMC that day, check them out.

It’s not uncommon to talk to Race Directors when they are early in the planning for their events – but what is uncommon is for them to be so open to input. The team behind Thunder Run have read all the community and featured reviews and clearly are absorbing what it takes to put on a good event.

With plans for running this annually, they were very interested in hearing what they would need to do at every level. From how many volunteers they will need, where they should put their water stops, how important medals and schwag are to the finishers and more.

They had some great ideas for their obstacles – the venue is a motor speedway, so natural terrain will be used heavily, and they had some interesting ideas about scaling different sizes of obstacles.

So – while they have a lot of work to do – May isn’t very far away after all – they do show promise at this early stage. If you run the event, be sure to leave a review!

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Crewing for a Death Racer

So, you’ve seen the Death Race, and you want to experience it in some way. Maybe you watched, as Spahtens won the 2013 winter Death Race, or you saw the skulls from the finishers of the summer Death Race, or got to run alongside them on Killington during the team Death Race – and you were inspired.

But, running the Death Race itself is far out of the reach of many of our physical or mental endurance limits (or perceived limits), and fortunately, many of us know this and don’t intend to actually sign up and run the damn thing.

Countless miles of walking ...
Countless miles of walking …

We’re still inspired though – and want to participate, or be around those people – maybe by watching normal humans go through this experience, we’ll come out better ourselves.

That leaves crewing for a racer, or volunteering. Both are essential roles in VT during Death Race weekend – and wether you are parking cars in a field, or helping a hypothermic racer warm up enough to go back out and continue – the event couldn’t happen without your participation too.

Crewing seems to be the most involved way to be at a Death Race without actually racing. You are assigned to an athlete, and your job seems simple – help the athlete finish the Death Race.

Easy, right?

Patrick helps Keith carry his axe
Patrick helps Keith carry his axe

Not even slightly. As crew, you signing up for one of the most grueling, taxing and frustrating weekends this side of actually racing. You are frequently the last to know anything, and you need to be able to respond to your athlete at a moments notice. When they come in at 3am, sleep deprived, beyond hungry and ready to quit – it’s your job to give them the sandwich you were saving for later, hand them a thermos – and give them that pep talk you know will motivate them to go back out and endure whatever else the Peak Races crew have in store for them.

Still interested? I reached out to two experienced Death Race crew – Sandy and Patrick, and a Death Race finisher, who has frequently attributed his skull to the support and care he received from his crew.

Patricks advice is right down to basics.

  • Keep them feed and hydrated. They will be tired and stressed so they forget to do these things.
  • Keep their gear organized clean and dry as you can.
  • Keep there head in the game. When they get tired they will make bad decisions.

These might sound really simple, but without the reminders to eat and drink, the racers will simply forget …

Sandy (as always!) is very practical and detail orientated – which make her a fantastic crew member.

  • First, dress warmly. You’ll have the barn at Amee Farm so you can be inside as much as you’d like, but it isn’t really heated very well and you’ll need warmth for yourself. Then, if you plan to be outside to watch some of the action, bring extra warm gear.
  • Second, be sure to bring some of your own nutrition. I ate like crap for the time I was there and paid for it for the week after. And by crap, I mean not much at all. There aren’t a whole lot of resources near the farm, so I would plan to bring some of your own stuff. There is a gas station with a small store and the general store that serves sandwiches and soups and such, but you have to get there.
  • Plan to try to get some sleep. I stayed awake the entire weekend and had a rough drive home. Over the summer, I took some time for myself and got some sleep each night. That was much better.
  • I brought a little portable heater and found a place to plug it in. That turned out to have been a good idea. I used it some and also used it to try to dry out shoes and socks and such for some of the racers.
  • Bring a chair with you – don’t count on being able to find one if you don’t have one.
  • If you are crewing and getting there after the racers start, have them take pictures of their stuff and where they have it in the barn so you can find it when you get there. It is insane in that limited amount of space when everyone is there. It gets better once people start dropping out and leave.
  • There are coin operated driers available at a hotel about 4-6 miles away from the farm (2640 VT 100, Pittsfield, VT). We used it quite a bit to try to provide dry clothes for the racers. Bring quarters and DO NOT dry shoes in the drier!

And then I asked James, who finished with a skull at this summers Death Race for his perspective.

James and Sandy celebrate his Death Race finish
James and Sandy celebrate his Death Race finish
  • Have a plan. Don’t go up there thinking you’re just going to help someone. Don, Joe and Andy don’t like crews…actually they detest them. So your good intended charity may become additional misery for a racer. That being said go! Go and spectate, it is a spectacle after all. Be there when racer get some sort of reprieve. Offer them encouragement, a sandwich, a soda, band-aid or shoulder. For me some of the best “crewed help” I got was from “mystery” people. Spahtens who just happened to be at the right place for me at the right time. I called them Death Race Angels and that’s exactly what they were. So go to Pittsfield, get with the Volunteer Coordinator, give some of your time. FInd out where and when racers will be at “rally points” and cheer on your teammates and friends. That is all it takes for some to get off their ass and back in the race, because racers are quitting in their head most of the time, but they won’t quit in front of you.
  • Know your racer. You better know your racer better then they know themselves. After 24 hours those remaining will be tapped into primordial parts of the brain. They will have forgone most higher social brain functions. Their mind is in survival mode. They are in fight or flight. So it’s safe to say that if they are still going they are in fight mode. You have to be able to think for them. Identify what they need. Food, water, clothing off, clothing on, foot care, dry socks. If you haven’t established a high level bond with your racer, you are just as likely to get yelled at or even hit by the frantic chaotic trapped animal they have become.

So, when you decide you want to head up to Vermont to crew for the Death Race – be aware of what you’re getting yourself into. In many ways, it can be one of the toughest roles of the event – and if you decide crewing isn’t for you, choose to volunteer instead. You’ll have an essential role, meet amazing people and get a lot more flexibility in your weekend.

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Shining stars

MuckfestMS 2013 was one of our favorite events of the year. The difficulty level of the event was accessible to all, but the obstacles were anything but cheesy or home built – cranes with giant hanging balls, carousels with ropes to hang off, water jumps and human swings – check out our featured review to see how much fun we had, and what you missed if you didn’t come.

Muckfestms group photo

It was also one of our first big team showings for the year, with over 40 people – and since then, thanks to the wonderful Kandice keeping communication open with the New England chapter of the National MS Society, we’ve maintained a good relationship with them.

MFMS_BostonStrong-1We just learned that they have awarded us their Shining Star Award for 2013!

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This is a huge honor for us! We’re just a little (ok ok, not so little) obstacle community, with a running problem – but with our enthusiasm and experience, we make a difference.

The entire team is invited to the awards ceremony in Norwood, MA on Nov 21st – see the event in our community page for full details if you would like to attend 🙂

Thank you to the National MS Society! What an honor! We will be seeing you again in 2014!