Chances are, you crossed the finish line, had a free beer, bought some expensive festival food and high tailed it from the venue, covered in mud or dripping wet from the cold shower and ran to your kids soccer practice, or home to switch out your irritated spouse, who watched the kids while you did “that thing in the mud with those people” again. Or some variation on that, anyway.
Not me. I was at Sunny Hill, taking part in the Viking Challenge.
Showing up on Friday evening, we missed the evening dinner, but still had plenty of time to check in, park up behind our block and find our room. A huge room, with two Queen beds, full bath and empty fridge I promptly filled up with beer. The balcony at the front of the room had views over much of the property, with four of the nine kiddie play parks within shouting distance. Tennis, basket ball, shuttle court, shuffleboard and more outdoor activities for the kids and adults were right there.
For those not familiar – Sunny Hill is an all inclusive holiday resort. Their primary business is golf, and they have two 18 hole courses right there. Everything is included (barring alcohol and some sundry sales) – from three good meals a day, comfortable lodging, as much entertainment as you can shake a stick at and childcare. Oh, and if you stay on a race weekend, that includes two adult entries to the Viking Race, which is a Rob Butler designed, 5 mile obstacle course set in some amazing scenery – winding through golf courses and forest trails of upstate New York – truly one of the most scenic races I’ve ever run.
Waking up on Saturday morning for the earlier than usual breakfast at 7:30am, the whole family spent time with Rob, Jill, Vince, Sandy before throwing on the race gear, and taking our mini down to the child care.
Oh, child care is included for resort guests. Thats right, they’ll want the kids for you when you’re running. Nothing extra to pay.
Our 9:20am wave was heading out when we arrived, so we hopped in the 9:40am wave with the larger group of Spahtens. This year, Sunny Hill had a fantastic turn out, with over 200 people – perfect for the venue’s size – and many of those were hitting up the elite waves to try to qualify for OCRWC – mandatory obstacle completion for them!
The goal for this event was to have fun – I wasn’t interested in setting a course record, I was simply there to walk, jog and enjoy the experience. Hooking up with Mama Hen, and Vince in one of his rare outings actually RUNNING the course, and Beth who was sans timing chip and there for the miles only, we took up the back of the bus position, and helped anyone and everyone who needed it.
Being a fixed venue course, and having been on it twice before, I knew what to expect and when – Odin’s Tables continue to be one of my favorites (and I nearly walked right back down the first table!), and the 20’ rope late in the race continues to be my nemesis – I normally am totally fine with ropes, but this one being so late, and so tall … I’ve yet to hit it up.
Some small modifications, like the water bucket carry are excellent uses of the space, and the super slick balance to tyrolean obstacle was a game changer for the elites – but those of us with the OLX treaded Icebugs had little problem for the most part.
With a great blend of climbing, crawling, traversing – open trail (even golf courses) and boggy marshy swamp to wade, Sunny Hill has everything an OCR enthusiast of any level needs – elites were having a tough time with challenges like the monkey bars – many losing their band there – and us open wave, every day folks were just plain having fun!
Viking Race had a new wave concept in play that several teams took part in – teams of four, with a team flag on a three foot pole – they had to start and finish together, with the flag never touching down. A competitive wave, they looked like they were enjoying the twist immensely as they ran by!
And when we finished our run?
Free beer. GREAT BBQ. As much time as you wanted to socialize, before wandering back to your room to clean up, pick up the kids from child watch, and crack another cold one – because it didn’t have to end there.
Viking Race – if you have kids, put this on your calendar. Save your pennies. Don’t miss this one next time.