* From: Kevin Fitzgerald
* Event Details
I arrived at the Marshfield Fairgrounds at 7:50 AM and paid $10 for parking in “Lot B”. The signing for the lot wasn’t as bright and visible as it could have been, but I grew up five minutes away, so I knew the area really well. Parking was quick and easy and directly across the street from the start line.
Three people were in front of me in line for packet pickup, so the wait time was less than two minutes. The volunteers were friendly and hard at work. The bag of goodies included a high quality tech cotton tee shirt, a Marathon Sports coupon, a small race bib, and a blue paper wrist band. The tee shirt was an athletic fit dark grey shirt. It said, “Athlete” on the back on black and Gladiator Training Grounds on the front in red and black lettering. I liked the shirt. After signing the waiver and checking in, I made my way to the porta-potties. Seeing as how it was early, there were no lines and they were very clean.
I was part of the 8:30 AM wave. By 8:15 AM, there were maybe thirty people dressed to race. At the starting line, there were maybe fifteen us of. The guy on the microphone was doing his best to hype us up, but he was like a hundred yards away, and getting less than a dozen people to jump and scream first thing Saturday morning leaves everyone feeling a bit awkward.
There was a massive paved area with a few picnic tables and four vendors that felt way too spread out. There was the beer vendor selling Coors Light and Blue Moon, a tent set up for the Army, a CrossFit tent and a tent set up for some weight loss wrap device. My girlfriend spectated, so she went to the CrossFit tent and they showed her how to correctly use a rowing machine and then timed her 200 meter row. She also checked out the tent with the weight loss wrap thing, and it turned out she knew the woman working there.
At the starting line of the first wave, there were probably fifteen of us. The guy on the microphone said we’d be going in ten seconds. There wasn’t really a countdown, and there was a bit of confusion as to whether it was actually time to take off or not. The race wasn’t timed, so it didn’t really matter anyway. So then we were off.
* Race Details
The course was completely flat with the exception of a few dirt piles, so it went fast. There were loads of repeating obstacles. You had your standard 4’ walls. There were 8’ walls with ropes to help climb over with a platform on the opposite side for a safe descent.
There were steep “A” frame walls. Some had boards to help ascend and descend. Descending was a bit scary as it was so steep that you slid down fast to a hard landing. Luckily, the walls were dry and my Salomon trail shoes provided decent grip. I feel like non-athletes could have easily injured themselves on these, so I would recommend throwing some hay down at the base for the descent.
These three obstacles were repetitive and none of them were particularly challenging. However; they were spaced very well throughout the course, so there was never more than a minute without an obstacle. I’d rather have easy repetitive obstacles than a boring ten minute run with zero obstacles.
That being said, they did have a few unique obstacles worth mentioning. There were three balance beams set up that were over 4’ off the ground. Most people took their time, but if you had good balance, you could jog across them. If anyone fell, there was only pavement to break their fall. I’d recommend putting this obstacle over water, or at least sand. I didn’t see anyone fall, but this seemed pretty risky for those with poor balance.
There was this ring swing obstacle over water. Three ropes with rings at the bottom to swing across. The water pit construction seemed a little shoddy as the loose dirt started to backfill into the pit, and the tarp was a little loose. It made for a great challenge when climbing out of the pit though, so I actually enjoyed it. Maybe it was by design?
Originally, when I attempted the ring swing, I had to jump for the first ring. I was hoping to be able to grab it with one hand so that I could create some momentum to reach the next ring, but it was too far out of my reach.
I was able to jump up and grab the ring, but I had no momentum. I have decent grip strength, so I felt confident that I could create my own momentum and swing myself across anyway. Then I looked at the next ring. It was literally 6’ above my head. I’m only 5’6, and I don’t think any human could reach a ring that much higher above their head. Even if the rope was in swing fully extended, with the wingspan of a 7’ NBA player, I don’t think anyone could’ve made it. I just dropped into the pit.
After emerging from the pit, I looked back and saw someone else approach the obstacle differently. They grabbed for the first ring, and then pulled themselves up the rope until their foot was in the ring. Then they were able to reach up for the next ring. I wish I had thought of that! That’s probably how the obstacle was designed, but I didn’t approach it that way. I’d love to give it another try.
There were a few other standard obstacles throughout the course. None of them presented much challenge, but it helped break up the monotony of running across flat land. Jumping over MASSIVE tires was pretty cool. The tires on their side must have been 5’ tall and probably 12’-15’ if stood up straight. There were some tunnel crawls as well.
Towards the end of the race, there was a metal pipe suspended 7’ in the air that went up at a slight angle to a platform. Then there was another metal pipe that was parallel to the ground after that. You had to traverse across these pipes. Watching people attempt the obstacle after my race, everyone used methods typical of the Tyrolean traverse. I just went hand over hand and made across all the same without using my legs.
After that, there was a cargo net climb followed by the finish line. There was bottled water, bananas and a quality medal waiting for me.
The course was well marked, and in areas where the next turn may have been confusing, there would always be a friendly volunteer to point you the right way. Throughout the course, there were plenty of volunteers in red shirts cheering everyone on. For a first time local small scale race, I was truly impressed with the quantity and quality of volunteers.
There was one water stop approximately halfway through the course. The course wasn’t timed, but I could hear the 9:00 AM wave taking off around 5 minutes before I finished, and I typically run a 24 minute 5k.
I left around 9:30 AM since I had to work. When I left, I was still shocked by how few people were at the race. My hope is that the numbers increased over the day. The race was organized and staffed well, and they could have handled a first wave that was five times bigger.
The vendor area seemed way too spaced out. For such a small local race, everything should have been pulled in together to make a more intimate and engaging experience.
Overall, I enjoyed the race. It was a great first effort. I’d like to see more variety in obstacles, but I’m sure that’s something we’ll see next year. I really hope their turnout throughout the rest of the day was worthy of their efforts.
* From: Dennis Michaud
* Event: Gladiator Training Grounds 2014
* Date: 2014-09-13
* Event Details
We arrived early and picked up a great parking spot. I knew the area otherwise might have had some trouble as I only saw one sign as for the event itself. Parking was $10.00 which still irks me; I think parking and any other fees should be part of registration. Spectators were free, so a certainly a plus in my book. Registration was easy, a nice quality t-shirt was pretty much the goodie bag, well there was also a coupon for Marathon Sports. Festival and registration area all on what was huge paved area that had the day been warmer would have been downright uncomfortable. It wasn’t, but just a thought for future events. Tents for shade A group of picnic tables were set up, and there were porta potties setup close, but not too close. They did run out of hand cleaner in many of the porta-potties, and when the staff was informed I was told they would contact the supplier. I never followed up, I had no need to. There was the beer vendor, Coors Light and Blue Moon, with all the craft breweries in New England, I would hope all events would start to support your local brewer. US Army had a tent, thanks for your service guys, but they did tell me I was too old to re-enlist.:) B Good was there as a food vendor, while I didn’t partake, reportedly food was awesome. Another vendor selling or demonstrating some weight loss, spot reduction device. There was a group of folks talking up an upcoming 5k for Wounded Veterans. A bouncy house for the kids as well as a kid’s course, that actually looked pretty nice. I’m not sure if they had finisher medals for the kids or not. A Crossfit box was setup and had a few competitions and demonstrations going on. The area could have supported a much larger festival, with so little going on in such a large area, just felt a little weird.
* Race Details
According a teammate the course measured about 2.4 miles and flat, which is ok in my book. Put all the obstacles in a 1 mile course and start people off every minute or so and I’d be a fan for life. Running is not why I do OBSTACLE course races. Here is a list of the obstacles in no particular order with comments as required.
1: Multiple 4 ft walls on the course. Pretty straightforward and seemed well built.
2: Multiple 8 ft walls that had ropes and a step on the left and right to assist and a section in the middle with no assist. A little something for everyone.
3: Multiple A-frame walls with assists on the right and left with no assist in the middle. These were quite steep on the descent and there was certainly potential for injury on landing. A few hay bales along the bottom would be one way to soften the landing.
4: Crawl under a net. This seemed to go on forever. I’ll remember to wear my knee pads the next time.
5: A 50 ft or section of balance beams. When I did this one I found it to be doable with one person on the beam. It was long enough that 2-3 people could get on it and the “wobble” factor increased tremendously. This would be a great obstacle over water or maybe some mud, but over hard packed ground, I chose to not to complete the entire length.
6: I seem to remember there was a section with a big pile of tires to climb over. If you have this many tires to use, maybe start and end with the agility run through the tires as well as just climbing over them.
7: A couple of giant tires to jump/climb over.
8: A field of 55 gallon drums set up as sort of a slalom course.
9: A few inverted walls with a step up that you could use as an assist.
10: A couple of “hills of dirt/gravel” to climb over.
11: Ranger Bars. Hope these are back next time. Total failure for me, my calf cramped as I threw my leg over. Two attempts, same result. I will be back.
12: A few cargo net climbs including one section a horizontal cargo net crossing. Always fun to see the different ways people approach the crossing.
13: Some “lobster trap” tunnels to crawl through while a volunteer enthusiastically sprayed water over you, followed by a section of culvert pipe to crawl thru with the same enthusiastic volunteer waiting for you. Hint: It might be a good idea to go thru this section as part of a large group as opposed to solo, there was only one hose.
14: Tarzan/Air Loop swing. I was disappointed at this obstacle. A well designed single rope Tarzan swing is doable and fun for most people. A well designed air loop setup again is doable by many and fun. This hybrid creation was done by few if any. No one that I spoke with was able to complete it. The edge of the pit was collapsing so reaching the first rope was a challenge in itself. Air loops would be an awesome and fun obstacle, a Tarzan swing, (not the Spartan Beast style), is a fun obstacle. I’m not sure a hybrid is the way to go.
There was only one water stop on the course, but in several locations volunteers were handing out bottled water. I found the course to be marked ok. If someone was a fast runner I saw several areas where it would have been quite easy to take a wrong turn. There was also a run through the grandstands, don’t really consider that obstacle. Nice medal at the finish line.
For a first time event, I liked it. I hope this event back next year, bigger and better than ever. It is an agricultural fairground, you want the grandstands to be an obstacle, make it a farmer’s carry thru the grandstands. You have all those tires, how about a tire drag? Did someone say tires, how about tire flips?
* From: Matt
* Event: Gladiator Training Grounds
* Date: 2014-09-13
* Event Details
This is my review of the inaugural Gladiator Training Grounds OCR in Marshfield, MA. I also decided to sign my 13 year old son up for his first OCR, and I think this was the perfect race for him to get his feet wet. I signed him up on a Thursday the race was a Saturday, I never received any informational email about pre-race or any other specific details about the venue. Luckily somebody from the team posted an email they have received. Arriving there for me was slightly confusing, I punched in Marshfield Fair grounds into my GPS, and upon my arrival to the front there was no sign of an OCR going on and entrance was closed. I would of liked to see a race sign maybe pointing you to the right place. The entrance was a little over a mile away on the other side. Not a big deal, maybe if I was familiar with the area I would of known better. Parking was in a grass lot across the street for a small fee of $10, it was close to the start. I did notice when I left around 11 they were n
o longer charging for parking. Being a first time event the crowd was small so there was no line for registration. I signed the traditional waiver and was passed a bag with some coupons and a pretty cool Gladiator t-shirt. There was a dj that was keeping the crowd motivated and playing some tunes. A cross fit box had a small demo area, and there were a few vendors including some Army recruiters and B Good was grilling up some burgers and chicken. The waves were relatively small with 10-25 people. The race start was a bit confusing, there was no countdown or even a go, so we all just kind of looked at each other weird and started running. For a small local race the obstacles were decent, a lot of walls. The spacing of the obstacles was nice no really long hauls between obstacles. The terrain was flat for the most part other than a couple dirt mounds. Tons of volunteers out on the course, and I don’t think I passed one volunteer that didn’t greet me and my son and tell us
“great job”, and direct us to the next obstacle. If you like a lot of mud during your races then this wasn’t for you. There were 2 obstacles with mud/water. One was an awkward rope swing that was very difficult because of the distance to the ropes. I wasn’t really sure how to approach it. The other water/mud was just a dirt mound into a trench with some pretty cold water. Then we climbed some rather large tires and ran through a field of garbage barrels. I would have loved to see a couple of those barrels out front where the vendors were. There were only 2 and it was rather far from the picnic area. One obstacle I really enjoyed was an incline Tyrolean Traverse, but rather than a rope it was a pipe. After the incline it was straight across about another 10-12 feet. Only bad thing was if you fall there was nothing but hard ground to break your fall. Maybe some mud/water or even some hay or something similar below it would have been nice. The final obstacle was a high
cargo net maybe 20-25 feet once we scaled down we crossed the finish line and got a nice finishers medal. They also offered bottled water and bananas at the finish line. Would I do it again? Yes, I see a lot of potential for future events. I would like to see it be a little longer; I believe it was just a tad over 2 miles. It was a fun event to do with my son he had a blast.
* Race Details