BoldrDash is a favorite in Rhode Island – and recently held their September race. Michael Carr attended and wrote a review, which I have to apologize to both him and Boldrdash for not getting it posted in a timely manner! But it’s here now! Thank you!
Super simple, RaceWire managed. Easy to create or join a team. People reported it being easy to change teams after the fact.
Web page updates, email notifications, Facebook updates. Expectations and policies were standard, fair, and made very clear up front and early.
I raced in the 9am Saturday heat, so there were hardly any other racers there yet. I took advantage of free on-street parking on Mill Pond Rd., about a 5-minute walk to the registration table at the base lodge. My family arrived later (for the 12:15 heat), and parked in the lot up the street, about ¼-mile away. Free shuttle, no waiting, on the way to the lodge, or from the lodge at the end of the day. Parking was $5 for cars with three or more, $10 otherwise. Or free if all you only had was a twenty and the guy had no change. Either way, you still got free BoldrDash air fresheners!
Racer support: A-
Three or four water stations, smartly placed on sections of trail that could be accessed in either direction, so it was really like having 6-8 water stations. Well played BoldrDash. Lots of free apples and water at the finish. Protein drink samples at a vendor tent (shamelessly beg and grovel with the pretty vendors and you were rewarded with one or two full bottles). Food tent where grilled items could be purchased. One free beer per runner, additional beer and frozen adult beverages could be purchased. Plenty of staff, volunteers, safety and emergency crew. And above all, there were Rhode Island National Guard members staffing almost every obstacle, for support, “encouragement”, and assistance when needed.
This is where BoldrDash shines above the rest, especially the big box, name brand races. This race is designed to be achievable by just about anyone. The challenge level is really what you make of it. Wherever there was a difficult obstacle, right alongside it would be a “medium” and “easy” variant. For example, the 10’ high climbing wall station had an easy variant that was a simple but sturdy ladder-structure, over-and-down, with 2x4s every 18”. The “medium” option was a 10’ plywood wall, with 2×4 cleats secured every 3’ or so, requiring much more grip strength and confidence than the easier option. Finally, the “hard” option was a 10’ plywood wall, with a single 2×4 cleat, secured at a height of about 8’. You had to jump up and grab the cleat with your fingertips, pull yourself up, and quickly reach up and grasp the top of the wall, pull yourself up and over. Very few people were able to achieve that without the help of the Guardsman manning the station. There were many challenging obstacles that I have never seen at any other race (no spoiler here – but think ‘American Ninja Warrior’). Obstacles were very well constructed and sturdy, and I’m pretty sure even sanded to minimize splinters. Overall, there were 3 natural obstacles, and 25 man-made obstacles. Or more accurately, I should say 25 obstacle “stations”, because one such station had 6 climbing walls that count as one obstacle! Unlike one race I was at last year, that I will not name (but advertises themselves as “The Toughest 5k You’ll Ever Do!”), that had 11 obstacles, 2 of which were 2 10’ logs that someone dragged out of the woods nearby, lying flat on the ground that you were supposed to balance along. Please. BoldrDash also featured a few obstacles that required above-average strength and stamina. These involved aircraft chain and tractor tires. Kicked most peoples’ butts. That is all I will say.
Yawgoo Valley ain’t no Killington or Gunstock. There was no ¼-mile death march to the top. But they made very good use of the natural terrain by weaving the course in and out, up and down several times, sometimes on man-made ski slopes, and other times on single-track trails in the woods. Loose, rough terrain was as common as grassy slope. Not a lot of flat to be had – you were either going up or coming down the majority of the time. There were several areas where hand-and-foot climbing was required. Plenty of mud, muddy water, and a stream march. You will get wet. And very, very dirty.
Overall challenge: A
Again, this race is really what you make of it. You can hit it hard and fast, you can try the hardest obstacles, you can run every hill, or you can go at an easier pace, mixing the running and walking, and be thrilled at being able to succeed at the easier obstacle options. I usually rate the difficulty/challenge of a race by how I feel the next day, and especially two days later. I ran this race three laps (see the web site for the $15 additional lap details), nearly back-to-back, for 9.6 miles, and 84 obstacles total. And I was WRECKED the next two days. Way worse than the either Tough Mudder I did this summer. Do I feel like I got my money’s worth? Hell yeah.
Professional photographers at 4 or 5 different stations. Very high quality pics, reasonable rates ($20 for a digital download). Of my family of 7, we have 103 shots we need to choose from. Photographer is happy to work out a volume discount for us, thank goodness.
Spectator experience: A-
Spectators were charged $5, which gave them plenty of places to watch the racers, and access to the after party and vendor area. From the base, they could see 2-3 obstacles, or for a short 200 yard walk, they could see a huge multi-slope area with more than a dozen obstacles and cheer on their friends and family.
After party: B
I’m gonna give this one a B, only because the band was tucked away in a side-tent, with a few picnic tables, and nto many people even realized they were there. Last year, the band was on a stage next to the finish and it seemed like more of a “thing”. But I don’t think people sign up for these races for the support band. Still, a ‘B’.
Lots of local gyms, massage outfits, REI, trainers, etc. Would have liked to see more healthy, fitness-oriented food vendors. The last thing I want after a tough race is a burger. I’m looking for a protein bar and some carbs to replenish my glycogen stores. I usually bring my own, because most races get this wrong. Tough Mudder and Spartan both do this right.
Awesome finisher’s medal, and a bright orange t-shirt with the BoldrDash logo on the front and back. Oh yeah, the BoldrDash air freshener and stickers too.
I paid $80.50 each for 6 of my family members, and got a code from the uber-friendly RD for my own free registration. Definite bang-for-your-buck at this event.
Overall rating: A
Literally, the only two things I would have added, are 1) male/female changing tents near the showers, and 2) an early-bird registration table right at the finish for 2014 BoldrDash. Well done BoldrDash!!!