* From: Tom Fitz
* Event Details
Yesterday evening i had the opportunity to visit the new Elevated Training Course at Ward Hill in Shrewsbury MA. The location is great right near the highway. There was ample free parking, plenty of tables and benches, a grassy area for stretching and clean bathrooms. The staff was extremely friendly. Both of the owners Jeff and John went out of their way to introduce themselves to everyone. This was good because there wasn’t much as far as signage and I had questions about where to drop my gear and where to find the wash off station.
* Race Details
Since this was a pre-opening test event, I kept that in mind during my time there. I came in with lower expectations knowing it was still a work in progress. Official grand opening is scheduled for July 9th.
– Course Layout – If there is one thing Ward Hill has its Hills, and they made good use of them. we traveled up and down and over and around many times. I appreciated the constant varied terrain, no flat ground. They spread the course out over the entire ski area including some woods trails, not just on the ski slopes.
-Venue – This was my 1st time at Ward Hill. There was a lot to like about it. It was wide open with great vantage points from the lodge area which had a nice back deck/bar area where you could sit and watch people out on the course while enjoying a cool beverage(post-race of course)
-Leadership – My brief experience with Jeff and John was quite positive. They seemed friendly and outgoing and genuinely want the training course to succeed. example: since it was so hot out yesterday they added a water station on the course. They proactively asked for feedback on how things were working out and what could be improved. They even asked everyone to fill out a survey before they left.
Areas for improvement:
-Course marking – Everyone I talked to went off course or even missed a whole section due to poor markings traffic cones or even directional signage would be a nice improvement over the spray painted grass arrows and ting orange flags.
-Obstacle Layout – the obstacles were spaced throughout the course, which split up the running sections nicely, however they were not always in the ideal spots or order. for example the large 10ft. wall was great, but it was way in the back up the hill. That is something that is tough and would be something people would want more practice on (it is a practice course after all) and also something spectators like to watch. move it to an easier accessible area. Another example was the cinder block carry. Instead of having us run down the hill, pick up the blocks and run around the mini loop, have the blocks carried up the hill or even better carried down the hill and then back up. Most races these days like to combo obstacles to make them more challenging for instance the small walls would be more effective close together or with under walls in between.
-Quantity of obstacles- the quality of the builds were good, the A-Frames seemed very stable and the climbing walls didn’t wobble at all. Would like to see more, you have the space.
-Course length- saying its around or about 2 miles is not ideal If you want it to be a timed course provide and exact distance, preferably stretch it be exactly 2+ miles
-Extra obstacles. Hazards I could do without – 2 things that I noticed that I didn’t love, one was on the back hills the trail went through a patch of poison ivy, maybe bring the course around that, easy fix. Second was on some of the hills the grass was nice and clean cut near the main lodge area, unfortunately there were other sections of the hill that were totally not mowed and the grass was almost knee height, I had to pull a tick off(luckily my compression socks saved me). I think cutting down some of that long grass would be helpful.
Overall I think that Elevated Training has potential to become a great training center in central MA with its great location, hilly terrain and strong leadership. I Will try and provide an update once it officially opens and see if all the feedback they got was put to good use.
* From: Christopher “Flux” Hoey
* Event Details
* Race Details
This 1.9 Mile course holds a lot of potential. With hills galore you will get your “Elevation” training in!
To get it out there: I hope they make two improvements by the July 9th opening that would have prevented me from rolling my ankle. (Thankfully I didn’t roll it bad enough to keep me from going two laps, but it’s kind of swollen today…)
– Course markers need improvement on visibility. I missed a good chunk of the course on my first run. Markers that are chest to eye level and even more use of rope barriers would keep things obvious. Plenty of people were confused about where to go.
– The grass on the trail, although it looked like it was mowed, was hiding too much of the terrain on the slopes. While trying to figure out the proper course path I crossed over an area between slopes twice and caught a deep uneven hole, rolling my ankle, and thankfully came short of breaking it. Just a strain.
Aside from that, I have confidence this course can really make a name for itself in the area. We central MA Spahtens could really use a course like this close by. The walls and other wooden built structures are secure and sturdy. I didn’t at all feel unsafe while on their obstacles.
The obstacles are not challenging for intermediate to elite runners. Beginners will find this course as it currently is great for preparing for the big race days. Obstacles are classic from wall climb, inverted walls to run up, ladder walk, tire jumps, cinderblock circle, sandbag carries, in and outs complete with mud and water, tube crawl, ground crawl, hay bales to climb over, hills, hills, oh and more hills!
I did run the course twice and find its repeat factor high. With no waiting at obstacles and plenty of hills to beat on your pace it’s a great way to test even the elites to see how long you can go for.
This is how great things start, with small beginnings. Don’t be fooled by the short distance as the hills will test you. I would like to see more obstacles come in like monkey bars or even a tyrolean traverse! Obstacles we would love to practice that we can’t build ourselves. Besides being hill strong I would encourage them to come up with an obstacle unique or original to them. Something to “peak” everyone’s interest 😉
I’m not going to review the facility in terms of bathrooms, check ins and such as I’m not sure if things will be different on and following their grand opening. I do hope they down size their water stop to just small cups as opposed to whole bottles of water.
Regardless of my rolled ankle I enjoyed myself at the open house. I really do think we are seeing the start of something special here in central MA. I would be weary personally to jump on this course with a fast pace until the course is more visible. No need to hurt oneself in training! I’ll be watching to see where they go from here.