Event details (parking, facilities, vendors, schwag etc)
Parking: There were three options for parking, depending on what time you got there. 1) $10 VIP parking, right at the base lodge, 30 second walk to Start-Finish. 2) $5 satellite lot with shuttle (2 miles from event site). 3) free but limited parking along some of the side streets off of Yawgoo Valley Rd. (no parking allowed on Yawgoo Valley Rd. itself)
Facilities: ample porta-potties (never a long wait), changing tents, first-aid station, cold-water temporary showers fed by a water tanker truck,
Vendors: several local/regional health industry vendors (massage, PT, etc.), Unleashed Fitness, National Guard Recruiting, Wreck Bag, several others, BoldrDash merchandise tent, several games including human foosball!
Schwag: Race specific cotton t-shirt, finisher medal, free water & fruit, free after-race beer
Timing: ankle bracelet (big improvement over bib timing, since bibs are easily lost on course)
Race details (course, obstacles, difficulty etc)
True story: while charging up one of the grassy slopes for like the eleventieth time, Lynn Hall (BoldrDash race director) passed by on her ATV, recognized me, and stopped for a muddy hug. I told her “Awesome job Lynn. The course is fantastic, really well laid out, super challenging. This is the best BoldrDash to date.” She said, “Michael, you realize that you say that every time. And that is a good thing.” She’s right. One of the reasons I choose to only #racelocal these days, is because the directors of these races want to get to know their racers, listen to them, and incorporate their feedback. They honestly try to improve year after year, race after race. Most local race directors have regular day jobs — these races are not about the money. They are about the racer experience, and often donating significant chunks of the proceeds to local charities.
This was the 4th year for this race, held at Yawgoo Valley Ski Area, a small “mountain” in Exeter RI, with a vertical elevation change of 240′. While not the capable of hosting the long death marches associated with some of the events at bigger mountains, the course team made exceptional use of all available terrain. Racers were rarely were going along flat terrain for very long — they were either ascending or descending the majority of the time. Sometimes when races have to weave the course in and out, up and down like this, course markings can get confusing, but that was not the case here. Course direction was clear at every point along the way, with the possible exception of the long jaunt through the backwoods. Here, orange spray paint dots and arrows on rocks and trees were used to guide racers. If you only looked down at the 3 feet directly in front of you, and you were moving along at a pretty good clip early in the day before hundreds of other racers wore a path, it was possible to get off course before you knew it. Ask me how I know. But getting back on course was simple by looking up and surveying the trees. Once back on course, it was important to look up every once in a while to site the path. Racers were taken through an ankle-to-knee deep stream for several hundreds of feet, and then again later through less deep but muddier water. At about the 3-mile mark was an obstacle rich field at the bottom of a very wide Green-level slope. Racers ran (?) up and down this slope a total of 4 times, with obstacles at the top and bottom. Half were “work obstacles” designed to challenge your strength and stamina, such as a long sandbag carry, chain drag, and tire drag. The other half were very challenging man-made climbing obstacles and walls. The neat thing about this area was that it was very spectator friendly. Spectators could gather around the roped-off section at the bottom and see the entire field where most racers spent 10-20 minutes lumbering through. Previous years, the course was roughly 5k in length, and followed roughly the same layout. This year they added one mile, and completely changed the course design and obstacle placement. This was really nice to see for us veteran BoldrDashers. It truly seemed like a completely different race.
This year, many of the obstacles made a return appearance from previous BoldrDash races (including some from the Spring Beach race). Props — very green! There were also a few new obstacles we haven’t seen to date (possibly inspired by the popular American Ninja Warrior TV show?), and some reengineered/rebuilt versions of obstacles from previous years, such as the monkey bars. I won’t go into detail about any of the obstacles, because it is my humble opinion that what makes a race the most fun is the surprise factor. But I will say this: one section of the course had 4 pairs of over-under walls. This counted as ONE obstacle, not eight. So when they tout 30+ obstacles, they are really talking about many more than that. And one reason that this is my favorite race of the year, is because wherever there is a REALLY hard obstacle (e.g., 10′ wall with one cleat at 8′ high), there is an easier version and a medium version right next to it. So an elite racer can run right alongside with less experienced people, and everyone gets to challenge themselves at their personal best level and feel the same level of exceitment and accomplishment. There are many obstacles that will absolutely challenge your upper body strength, grip strength, and “racer wisdom” (knowing the best/easiest/fastest way to tackle a certain obstacle), and yet this race truly appeals to ALL levels of racer. There are many obstacles I have never seen on any other course, including the big box race series.
Difficulty: On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate the course an 8, and the obstacles between 8 and 9. Having said that, like mentioned earlier, wherever there was a really hard obstacle, there was an easier version right next to it, so even though racers could make this a 9, less willing racers could have a much easier experience.