* Event Details
There is a new training facility joining the likes of Unleashed & F.I.T. Center, and for once, its actually in Massachusetts, and even better, centrally located in Shrewsbury! Elevated Training is located on Ward Hill, and local ski mountain, easily reached from Rt 9 and the Pike if wanted. Parking is easy, it is a ski mountain, so large crowds are easily accommodated. For the opening, there was a table set up outside the ski lodge with the standard waivers to sign along with a general info sheet for the center to have in which to judge its clients – ie, what races have you done, have you ever run an ocr, etc. Once signing everything, we were pointed off to the left and onto the course we went.
* Race Details
The course was quite good – very good use of the hills available! Started off down a small incline, then immediately up one of the slopes and across a ridge to the first real obstacle – rolling mud, mud mile, whatever you want to call the mud pits to clamber in, out over the mound and thru the next one. Only 2 pits, and they were close enough to easily jump over, but also about 24-30″ deep, so if you didn’t jump them, you were quite wet. It was much more water than mud in them, so not too terribly dirty. Around a corner once you found the markers, down the hill, over a ‘balance beam’, really a repurposed box from the terrain park, so about 8″ wide, 8′ long and only 4 inches off the ground, and back up the mountain. Reach the top to head down another trail to carry cement blocks around a course and back up the steepest hill of the course. From here, we found an 8′ wall, which I rather liked – had an embankment built up to it, leaving about 6″ of space in front of the wal
l, so you have to actually jump for it, not walk up right against it and try & scale it. The back side, because of the embankment was a further drop, but the wall had a ladder built into it. Onto a nice double track trail run along the back of the hill and re-emerge on the top of the hill to find a large A frame w/ uneven slats to climb up & over – harder than it looks! Back down the hill to the sand bag carry and down, then back up with the bags. Some spotty marking in this area especially, as from the map, this is the middle area where you basically track thru 3 different times in a space about 50′ wide – hard to tell where/what you’re supposed to be heading for. Finish the carry, up a bit higher, then down and under the ski lift to the barb wire crawl. Loved it being in nice grass – feel free to let that grow and have us pound down w/ our bodies – much better than rocks! Up the hill again, and over some fire escape ladders held along the ground as balance rungs, th
en back down, over some hay bale jumps and a final hay bale pile to climb over.
Final tally for myself on distance was 2.2 miles, but I started my watch from the reg desk, when the course doesn’t actually start till further across the base area. They report 1.9 – 2 miles.
There is much to like in this first offering from Elevated. Is it perfect? No, but neither are Unleashed or F.I.T., each has their better areas, and neither offers full on hill climbs added into the training. The obstacles are a good start, but can definitely be improved. Some of my suggestions:
Biggest one – Course marking – the little orange flags utility companies use are nice, but hard to see when grass is long or they aren’t very close by – arrows stuck on stakes are an easy remedy and help direct better than having to look for the next flag. Another option is to let the grass grow, and then mow your course, letting the other grass stay long – very easy way to point out the course.
Make the mud pits further apart/wider, so it isn’t easily jumped – make getting wet a necessity
Balance beam – Ward Hill has a terrain park and I’m sure they’d be willing to let more than a single box be used – a combination box to low rail or incline box, or even creating a raised platform for the existing box – its much harder if the box is 2′ in the air vs 4″ off the ground
Maybe spread some of the course a bit wider apart, with the sandbag carry & an up & down trail on the same thin section, makes it difficult to keep up with where you’re supposed to go.
The new OCR runner with me was a little intimidated by the wall, pointing out that if you run, jump and don’t catch the top, you slide down & end up in a ‘hole’ caused the embankment, she was worried about busting an ankle on it,
What they got right:
Course sends you up & down the mountain a bunch, great use of the terrain
Wall is great, love the location and have to scale it to access the trail run section, and personally, love the embankment/gap.
Trail is great, well marked and a nice change from the front of the mountain
A-frame is challenging with its uneven slats
Cake was awesome – should be an every week offering:)
My other thoughts on the facility are more questioning its availability. As of now, they will only be open on Wednesday evenings from 530 – dusk, a time that works for me, but not necessarily everyone. There are no set classes, the course is simply ‘go play’ or training groups can be set up in advance on certain times. While I’m perfectly ok with this method, it is also fun/rewarding to take a class and be forced to push harder to keep pace with the trainer.
I’m very excited to see a new facility pop up close by and want to see it succeed and hopefully be able to offer more – classes, obstacles, challenges, and fun! Its a great effort and you can tell that alot of thought has gone into what’s there, even better Jeff & John, the owners really want feedback and liked hearing thoughts, so I look forward to seeing what else they come up with. I’ll definitely be back to see more!