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Super Hero Scramble: Real Mudrunfun

Superhero friends
Superhero friends

June 8th 2013.  Superhero Scramble Amesbury Sports Park, Amesbury MA.

 

Amesbury Sports Park currently hosts the big 5 in 5k plus Obstacle Course Races.  The course is always varied even if the terrain is familiar.  Super Hero Scramble has definitely secured its place in delivering a fun, challenging, entertaining race.  It has taken some of the tried and true obstacles from other races, incorporated them as their own, and succeeded without a sense of knock off or copying.  This was my first SHS.  Personally I have done every level of Spartan Race, a Warrior dash and followed along with Run for Your Lives and Tough Mudder.  I have also ran small knock off impostor races and some very well done local benefit/charity OCR’s.

With this in mind I tend to run these races with a slightly critical eye.  Safety, entertainment, wow factor, price value.  Im happy to say SHS did not disappoint.  Especially on the safety and value end.  The obstacles were well built, well planned, well positioned and well staffed (with moderate exceptions) weather of course is always a huge factor and it is understood that some obstacles were abandoned for safety concerns.  A little signage would have gone a long way in this reagard but said obstacle was not entirely dangerous and those who did the climbing wall were perfectly fine.

I don’t write reviews of races on the courses themselves usually.  Many people have better memories than me and like to calculate, compare and contrast.  I live in the moment.  If the race was fun.  I’ll say so and probably do it again.  If its awful I might write about why.  I’ve done so on Rebel Race.  A terrible company by the way.  What I write about is how the race affected me.  Did it inspire me, make me feel good.  Did I enjoy the time I spent at the race.  Was it worth it?  Super Hero Scramble is all of those things.  Its a great race, it delivers on its promises.  It owns its faults and improves every chance it can.  For what its worth I call SHS a must not miss race and I will certainly be looking forward to do it again in 2014 and longer distances as they are established.

Picture 14

So heres my take on how SHS was for me.  This was my wife’s first obstacle course race.  In all fairness she should be writing this.  The above picture is near the end.  So you can see that it all worked out.  She’s still alive and we’re still together.  Running a race with a first timer is not new to me.  I encourage everyone I know to take up the sport.  Or at least the challenge.  Also I’m no elite runner.  So I tend to pick a nice pace and enjoy every dollar I spent on the race.  I’m a more for your money type of guy in that regard.  So after almost 3 seasons of OCRs my wife finally showed an interest in a race.  Thanks to Mudrunfun and to Super Hero Scramble we were able to attend the Amesbury race with our team the NE Spahtens.  I believe we were the largest team they have ever had.  And this is the heart of why I run these races.  Community.  Without the OCR community these would simply be another athletic pursuit.  But the community of OCR is so much bigger than running through mud.  Its life changing.  It allows people to literally overcome obstacles on the course, which leads many to overcome personal obstacles off the course.  Unique to OCR’s is that supportive community.  And that community has everything.  Access to other races, racers, people with other interests.  A network of people with at least one thing in common that you can reach out to and lean on.

Where else can you log on and find a race almost anywhere you are, or are going to be, at any given time.  Not only that you can find teams to join that will cover every ability.  So you are really never alone.  My wife got a taste of the community at the race.  She had been starting a work out and diet routine and now well over a month later she is still at it!  And motivated to continue everyday.  She is looking forward to the up coming Spartan Sprint in Amesbury in August.  My only concern is that I may have created a monster.  She’s a bit more competitive than I am.  So ladies look for her in the elite heats next year.  I know I will be.

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Featured Review: Civilian Military Combine – USS Intrepid

Any time you sign up for a new race, you immediately try and compare it to your previous races. Is it entry level like a Warrior Dash, or tougher like a Spartan, or will be it be as long as the Beast, or short, like a Sprint.

For the Civilian Military Combine on the USS Intrepid – none of that helped. In a sport that is rife with copycats and one up-manship, the CMC is something totally different, and as a result – nothing else out there today can compare to it.

CMCLogowhite

For those who aren’t familiar, I’ll recap – CMC is both a strength and an endurance test – designed to let each and every competitor push their own limits.  Costumes are explicitly banned. This isn’t a fun run – it’s designed for the kind of person who is genuinely interested in testing what they can do – the same kind of people who tend to find their way into our little community.

It’s a two stage event – The Pit, then The Course.

CMCBoxKB

The Pit is a 7min AMRAP (As Many Repetitions As Possible) – which means for 7 minutes, you cycle through the following movements:

  • 7 * Push Press (45lbs for women, 75lbs for men)
  • 7 * Kettlebell Swing (26lbs for women, 40lbs for men
  • 7 * Burpee Box Jump Overs (do a burpee, jump over a 20″ box)

The weights are accessible, and regardless of your own physical abilities, this is designed to test your strength and leave you exhausted. It really works.

Almost immediately after, you hit The Course (which will differ at each event) – on the USS Intrepid, we had a short, sprint course of approximately 1/2 mile, looping around the pier in the shadow of the ship, and at one point, looping under the amazing wingspan of the British Airways Concord!

Of course, don’t think of this as a 1/2 mile run – in that distance, CMC had managed to cram 30+ obstacles! They had many many 5′ walls. Many many 10′ ladders, four or five cargo net climbs, a sandbag carry, a bucket carry, a tunnel, a horizontal cargo net, monkey bars, an amazing tilting ladder and a weighted prowler push. In Amesbury, we’re expecting a longer, muddier, hillier course 🙂

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Those are the cold, hard facts – but was it any good?

Oh yes. The road trip down from central MA with Nele, Ben and Patrick was much quicker and easier than I expected, and we were at the venue before 10am. For the athletes, check-in was super smooth. We got an envelope with our timing chip, wrist strap and bib. For the spectators, and any time we had to work with venue staff , things were a little less organized – but the CMC side had their act together.

The venue was the entire pier in front of the ship – and they had brought in vendors from local Crossfit boxes, Crossfit suppliers (2pood!), Army and Navy and National Guard booths were onsite too, as well as a well stocked CMC schwag tent selling a range of T’s, hats and hoodies.

Everyone’s packet had a wave number on it – and as the day progressed, they call out your wave, and you have to line up to hit The Pit with the others in your wave. This process was new to me – and worked well – each wave had only four people in it – and the New England Spahtens made up wave 128, 129 and 1/4 of 130 – and it would turn out we’d be some of the last waves of the day, before the top 100 heat.

Lining up in a warm up area that had barbells, kettlebells and boxes to play with, when your wave was called, you would be moved out into a row in the Pit – introduced to your judge (all of who were sourced from local box, Crossfit Revenge – no bored teenage volunteers playing on their phones here!) – The day’s MC, Sean Rogers (who also happens to be one of the minds behind CMC) would count you down, and you’re off!

Now - lets address this here and now - The Pit is a Crossfit style workout. The equipment and standards and judges all come from Crossfit worlds - but don't try and use "I don't do Crossfit" as an excuse - the whole aim here is to push you, challenge you and exhaust you. There are videos released ahead of time showing you how to run through the pit, what standards the judges will use. Nothing here is exclusive to Crossfit, and I think I may have been one of only three or four members of our team who had ever stepped foot in a Crossfit box. Crossfit may help you, but you can still lift a bar, swing a kettlebell and do burpees.

I finished my 7 minutes exhausted, with 105 reps, all told – and I know I can do better next time. Your “wave” was then moved to a water stop, and a start line, and you were lined up – then, with very little rest, we were released onto the course and immediately into the prowler pushes. I did pretty well here, and felt good coming off them, and into a sandbag carry – which went up a couple of flights of stairs, down and back a landing, then downstairs again – it was here that people started passing me :p

After dropping the bag, we hit the wobbly ladder – this was a tall ladder, on a hinge, tied down with a bungee cord – as you went up, and came down, it would move and bounce under you – so awesome. Oh, and monkey bars after this – I made those!

Then, the 5″ walls, cargo nets and 10″ ladders started. Really, they didn’t stop – a bit of a break for a bucket of water carry under the wings of a Concorde, and close to the finish line, a tunnel to crawl through – before the final obstacle, a horizontal cargo net to navigate.

A point to note – we’re used to seeing wooden obstacles. At best, made of scaffolding poles. The good races use heavy duty wood and bolts and everything feels sturdy and safe, the worst races use cheap wood and small fixtures, and you know they own’t last more than one event, if that. CMC used solid metal construction EVERYWHERE. The walls, solid metal, with smooth pipes at the top. the cargo nets, solid steel. The ladders the same. Everything was so incredibly high quality, the monkey bars (which were sourced from a well known Crossfit supplier and designed for super heavy duty gym use) looked right at home alongside them all.

Crossing the finish line was a rush – the course was short enough to get your adrenaline pumping, but not long enough to burn it off – without exception, we were all shaking and buzzing afterwards, and it took a while to settle down again!

The schwag was a neat drawstring bag, unique, high quality, CMC Intrepid race T, a silicon bracelet – which I immediately lost 🙁 – and a really nice, lacquered dogtag and chain, also unique to this event.

CMCdogtag

The other huge point to note – the coverage of this event was amazing. They had so many professional photographers from our friends at Nuvision, along with a huge number of people doing video. Access to take our own photos was second to none, and spectator viewing was incredible, thanks to the short nature of the venue and course.

We were excited (well, most of us were) when Spahten Steve DellaCroce qualified in the top 100, and was able to go on to run the course again – I’m not sure he was quite so excited … the end result, we got a Spahten in 49th place 🙂

CMCGroup

In conclusion – CMC Intrepid was a fantastic event. Well run. Super challenging and testing. Great memories and great schwag to let us relive those memories. I would easily rank this as one of my favorite events of all time, and I’m already signed up for Amesbury, MA on June 29th.

Many more photos on Facebook (Thanks to Vince Rhee for these!): https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.451183574969994.1073741833.371692119585807&type=1&l=98b7c88813

 

Code MA100410 for 10% off any event. Join team NE Spahtens if you register for the New England Mountain Assault!

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Today I hit play.

Picture 9

TODAY I HIT PLAY

For those of you who have followed my ridiculous facebook posts and comments over the last few months you know that I haven’t got much sleep, and worse I have not been “hitting it” so to speak in regards to training.  For 2 months 2 weeks and 4 days I have had Insanity disc 2 in my dvd player.  All that time I have made the attempt to connect my index finger to the green triangle.  But something always stopped me.   Child One or Child Two; crying, screaming, hungry, tired. Or overtime, dinner prep, what ever it was  it was always something.  But there was a deeper under lying issue that prevented that little button from being pressed.  Depression.

After the Ultra Beast DNF last year I really just hung it all up.  I got so damn depressed that nothing really motivated me to work out.  And lets be clear I HATE TO WORK OUT.  Why?  Well duh its hard.  It takes effort, dedication, perseverance.  I’m a 70’s born American.  I grew up with video games and hovering parents.  I like easy.

So I signed up for the Goruck Challenge mainly because I always wanted to do one and the price was perfect.  But I continued to give that the same 25% effort towards preparing that I had everything else.  Worse I was trying to motivate people to work hard and overcome their own obstacles, at the same time not following my own advice; Hypocrite comes to mind.  As the GRC grew closer it was high school exam week all over again for me.  Some of you can identify others won’t.  If you were a student like me you let the school year drag you along until exam week.  That’s when hopefully enough information seeped into your head through either osmosis or divine intervention so that you could pass the freakin exams.  No amount of cramming would have been worth it.  Show up and face the music. Or for me a firing squad was more like it.

But I passed the Challenge.  I believe God likes me.  I noticed also the depression began to subside.  Although I didn’t complete the challenge with the Spahtens, I did do it with some Spahtens and some other absolutely unbelievable athletes who put team work first.  I felt better than I had in a long long time.  I finished something.  And I was able to share in the triumphant stories and jokes about the challenge on the team page.

Still internal issues were mounting.  Mostly lack of sleep. What began as waking every four hours turned into every two.  Then every hour.  This week we have just given up on sleep entirely.  Its the price of being a parent.  The self inflicted “hostage crisis”.  If your unfamiliar with prolonged sleep deprivation click here its scary.  If you have never suffered from a prolonged lack of sleep, I mean weeks of  less than 3 consecutive hours without interruption a night, it affects everything.  There is nothing left in the tank to do extra.  You don’t even have enough energy to do what you need to.

So I would walk by my DVD and want to press play but there was always something; internal or external that would prevent me.  Many of the NE Spahtens are Beachbody Coaches and they knew I was trying to get back with a program.  Dan Campolieta and Eric Matta only to name a few, both worked with me.  But depression, lack of self motivation and exhaustion would always get the better of me.

It wasn’t until last night that I got a good nights sleep.  The sleep of the dead.  My body had given up.  I was in a place where I had no external factors to disturb me. (children, dogs) and my body just gave up.  I wasn’t refreshed when I awoke but was rested.  I had the energy to focus a little more.  My day was not a crushing avalanche of tasks.  I wasn’t trying to keep all the plates spinning.  I was able to press play.  It felt good.  Good enough to blog about it.

I got through the disc.  It sucked.  I sucked.  Just like the first couple of times I did it.  The freaking warm-up wears me out.  But I hung on, I bargained, I wanted to give up.  I wanted to say “that’s good enough” but it wasn’t, it wasn’t enough till it was done.  I did it not so much for myself but because I belong to a team.  A team of people who don’t give up.  No matter how long it takes, no matter how much it hurts, no matter how many lies they tell themselves they don’t give up.  That’s why.  It didn’t have to be pretty or fast or anything.  It just had to get done.

I would also really like to thank Nick Tzannos, another of the Beach Body Coaches, as well as Dan and Eric.  Nick would periodically pop in on my fb page and ask me how I was doing.  Nothing more than that,  Just to check in.  Those little things kept training in my mind.  The inspiration from the team as a whole kept training on my mind.  I don’t really do these things; races and challenges because I like them.  The only thing I like about running is stopping.  But I like the challenge and I love the team work.  So that’s me.   “Non-athlete of the week”.  Pressing Play one day at a time…

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The Great Bull Run

 

 

 

 

 

The minds behind Rugged Maniac (http://www.ruggedmaniac.com/) announced a new event series – and it’s causing quite the stir.

The Great Bull Run

 

The Great Bull Run (http://www.thegreatbullrun.com/) is modeled after the famous run in Pamplona, Spain – the one where thousands of people line the streets, and angry, aggressive bulls stampede and run through them – participants have to run, climb, hide or otherwise avoid being gored and stamped to the dirt.

The bulls are then put into a bull fight to their death, and participants throw tomatoes at each other.

The Great Bull Run wants to emulate this, but with a decidedly “American” flavor.

  • The 12 bulls they plan on using are actually fairly gentled, non – aggressive animals.
  • The course is planned, lined with fences to go under or over, and little alcoves to hide in, and participants are walked the length of the course first.
  • The bulls are not put to the death afterwards (phew).
  • You’ll be killing a small rainforest with the wavers you’ll have to sign.

As you can imagine (and as is the original series) this has already proven controversial. On my little slice of Facebook alone, I’ve seen people sign up for this, and I’ve seen people pull out of all Rugged Maniac events entirely. Quite the polarizing reaction to something I’m sure Rugged Maniac thought would be a fun, niche event.

On a personal level, I equate this with the deplorable act of dancing circus animals, and don’t plan on supporting it beyond this simple blog post.

But how does this sit with you? Do you think Rugged Maniac has dropped the ball on this, or will they find an undeveloped niche event, and tap into a new market? Drop us a comment.

 

— update 3/28/13

Rugged Maniac have since updated their status to say they are not associated with or owned by (or own) the company putting on The Great Bull Run – they were simply trying to get work out about a new race series put on by “some good people”