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ORTC VT – Polar Bear Challenge

In just a few short weeks, several of the New England Spahtens will be heading to Vermont to compete in the Polar Bear Challenge at Shale Hill Adventure.

This unique event is an 8 hour endurance challenge … a 5 mile loop, repeated for 8 hours. The winner is the athlete who does the most laps. It’s also the first big event that ORTC have put on, and we haven’t had much detail around what to expect.

Until this weekend. Rob, the owner, posted a descriptive, detailed (but still damned teasing) walk through of his course.

If you are interested in joining us – we’ve got a deal on a local hotel, and a team discount in effect. We have many folks heading up on Friday and staying the night, so it is going to be a really good time. Join us!

Full details on the event right here:

Registration link:

Robs teaser …


For those of you competing in the Benson Polar Bear Obstacle Challenge, here is a not so brief description of what you can expect to see on the course. Enjoy!

I thought that a quick verbal walkthrough of the ORTC course at Shale Hill might be interesting for those of you coming to compete in the Polar Bear Obstacle Challenge in January! Please pardon the wordiness, but here is a brief description of the course, the obstacles and what to do at the obstacles. Any questions, please contact me.

Your race starts out on the front straightaway of our ½ mile grass running track. You run the straight away and ½ the turn before exiting to the right into a ditch with logs suspended over it. You are to go over the logs and then turn right up a small hill looping around to a couple of large round bales. Go over the bales and enter “the island” (a small grouping of trees in the middle of the field.) In the Island you will encounter a 7’ tall plywood wall that you go over, a horizontal ladder that you go over, and then a 4” plywood wall that you go over before exiting the island. A short field run is then followed by a climb up a short and steep rock outcropping. Turning slightly left , you will follow the path through the woods and encounter a short section of “tripwires”. You high step over these. Another short run and you will come to our pond/sand bag loop area. As you enter the area, you will select a sand bag (men must take 60lb bags on left and women can chose a 60 or any other weight bag that you feel challenged with). You will turn to your left and head toward a woods trail with some boards suspended about 2-3 feet off the ground. You and your sandbag must go over the boards. You will experience three of these in this wooded section. Continuing along, you will proceed on the sand bag which is about 3/8 of a mile long. It goes up and down shale hills, through some mud and finishes with a muddy stream bed ascent back to the pond. You drop off your sand bag where you found it and turn left and cross the pond (for the winter race we will not be submerged, if pond is not frozen, we will be running around the pond). At this point you will have traveled about 1 1/8 miles.
Leaving the pond area you will go down a short steep hill and go through 2 deep pits filled with water and covered in barbed wire. (once again, no submersion in winter race, so go around!). You will enter back into the field that you started in and follow the trail along the edge of the field to a rope climb tower. The object of this tower is to climb the rope and get your body up onto the platform and then get down the ramp. You will continue along to a large culvert pipe that has a cargo net attached to the far end. Go through culvert pipe and under net. Now comes a nice trail run section, downhill over some trees and then down a STEEP hill to “The Jungle” ! The Jungle section give you 7 obstacles in ½ mile!! Be prepare for this section as it will burn you out if your not careful! You come down the steep hill into the jungle and turn to your right, go through a ravine and up a small hill toward a large “Death Ladder” rope obstacle climb. You go up and over this!! Next on your list is an up and over a small pile of stacked logs, then you will cross the ravine on some 60 foot trees that we place from bank to bank over the ravine! DO NOT ATTEMPT TO CROSS THIS IF YOU ARE UNCOMFORTABLE! I have found that some people find this easy and others just freeze up. We want you to be safe, so go with your comfort level, don’t be afraid to take a penalty chip (I will explain the penalty chip in a minute!). After crossing the ravine, you will come to another climbing obstacle, go up ring the bell and come back down. (I don’t want to give away all the secrets, so I will just call the next couple of items climbing obstacles!!) You will then head up a steep hill, make a loop an come back down the steep hill and be greeted by another “climbing obstacle”. Then off toward a swampy area with a stream crossing a 7’ tall ladder wall, back into the swampy area (should be frozen for January race??) You will turn left back into the jungle and be assaulted by a 130 foot long traverse wall! This wall winds its way through the woods. Please note: If you start on the left side of this wall, stay on the left side, if you start on the right, stay on the right all the way to the end! The wall is broken up into section , you have a 16’section of blocks on a wall then you will transfer to a balance beam, back to another traverse wall with blocks to an overhead beam (you need to transfer from the wall to the overhead beam. The overhead beam can be crossed in a similar manner to monkey bars or side shuffle your hands along one beam, It will become self explanatory when you get there!) This series of challenges continues for 130’ , no touching the ground. You can take as many attempts as you want, but you must start over each time. After completing the traverse wall, you head back up a steep hill back down a steep hill and are faced with yet another climbing obstacle! Now you head out of the woods through a stream bed with barbed wire! Crawl under!! Up a small hill to a balance beam section. Choose any path you want to get from one end to the other.
Now you enter an open field section of the course, try to make up some time here, but don’t total burn yourself as you have some pretty hard cardio obstacles coming up. Down a hill, over three sets of haybales, Go over three 4’ tall vaults. Another hay bale or two, down into a creek and back up toward the Firemans Pole tower. Up the pole, across the cargo net and down the ramp! Over a small shaky tire bridge and then under 100’ long barbed wire crawl. You then encounter the Log carry loop. Choose a log that you can handle and bear off to the right following the marked loop. Put your log back where you found it and head off to the left and down toward a stream bed. Up through a scrubb section, and then you arrive at the Haybales from Hell! Over 100 Bales make up this obstacle. It is an uphill run up and over the haybales. Sounds easy, right!?! Then you are approached with a 10’ wall, go over (this has ropes to assist you in getting over if you need them). The next challenge is the stone bucket loop. Pick a bucket and fill it to the orange line painted inside. Turn to your left and carry the bucket around the loop. Come back and dump stones back on top of pile and replace bucket. Head slightly to your right following the signs that will point you to a skinny trail to the left. At the end of this trail is our Funky Monkey bar section. You will encounter three different sets of monkey bars, the first set is a moving set, the second set is fixed and the third set is uphill, and when I say uphill I mean twice as steep as tough mudders. These bars are tough, they are spaced wide and they SPIN!! Good Luck! After you collect your penalty chips from the monkey bar section (hehehe) , you will then run up Shale Hill, through the woods, climb over top the large culvert that you went through earlier, and up hill toward the Tarzan Ropes (or the swingy thingy as some people refer it!) . The object here is to Grap a hold of the first rope and swing from rope to rope all the way to the end of this 60’ foot long cage! No touching the ground! You can attempt this as many times as you want, but must start over at the beginning each time. You then head toward our small training tower in the middle of the running track. This tower has a rope climb, a 7’ wall, a weighted pulley and a large tire. You chose any one challenge. If you chose to flip the tire, it is only one flip. You then jump off a 4’ tall dirt bank over a fire tube and then enter the ANACONDA! The anaconda is the never ending series of up and over bank running around the far end of our grass running track. You following the obviously marked path, up and over and down , over and over and over again!! Fun!! Each time you get to the top of the track, you will encounter a simple obstacle of some sort. You go over the haybales and under the rails! At the finish of the anaconda, you will have completed 5+ miles and now you will head up the hill to the party barn to check in, get what you need for the next lap and head back out for another loop! Cant wait to see you all in January. I think that you are going to have to complete 6 laps to be the winner this year! Rob

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