Shale Hill – Polar Bear 2015

* From: michael downey
* Event: Polar bear – shale hill
* Date: 2015-02-07

* Event Details
Parking was easy and FREE and pulling up at 530am it was still pitch black and was very cool that all you could see was the path to the barn having fires leading the way. for this race we received a AMAZING schwag bag with a nice buff from icebugs, a sample of trail toes some shale hill stickers and a few other nice little things along with our long sleeve event shirt. the race day party in the barn was amazing, getting a nice breakfast buffet to fuel up pre race was a great touch and then when you finish in the afternoon they have lunch there also with the world famous chocolate milk (P.S. it lives up to all the hype)

* Race Details
This course was hands down the hardest race i have done to date and i originally planned to go 2 laps but before i even got to the tire flip i realized that idea was not going to happen with the way the trails were snow packed. the course was well laid out and marked and instructions were placed at all the stations. you will find obstacles here that are no where else in the world and different spins on them. even though the area looks flat for the most part there are quiet a few killer hills . ever since i joined this team in early 2013 i kept hearing about this place and the rave reviews and it almost seemed like there is no way this place can live up to these reviews. well IT DOES and way more. Rob and Jill have built the field of dreams of OCR .We are lucky to have this world class facility in our area and making a trip to here is a must for all members of NES and anyone into OCR

* Rating


* From: Jeanine Peirce
* Event: Shale Hill Polar Bear Challenge 2015
* Date: 2015-02-07

This was my first time at Shale Hill. It won’t be my last. I signed up for the Polar Bear Challenge because I enjoy pushing myself simply to see what I have in the tank. It was the greatest challenge I have committed to yet. I failed 14 obstacles and yes, I can say this with pride. Only one did I simply accept my chip–the uphill monkey bars is simply not even in my dreams yet. Every other obstacle I either did automatically, stood with a look of “there is NO WAY I can do that” and then tried, failed, tried, failed, tried again and sometimes succeeded. The staff, and if they are volunteers then they are the best volunteers on the planet, were exceptional. If you come to an obstacle and are unclear on how to proceed, they not only can explain how to do it, but are extremely willing to show you with a personal demonstration. They want to see you succeed. They encourage you. They may threaten you with 4 penalty chips causing you to threaten them back, but hey, it if gets you up & over the obstacle then it is still a win/win!

The Course: I will not go into details because the maps and online demos are quite good. I will say be prepared for multi-step tasks to accomplish the obstacle. Upperbody takes a beating. The snow was deep and soft and provided its own constant obstacle.

Gear: My biggest fear going out was having the right gear. I was comfortable the entire race which was sub 20s and snowed. I wore UnderAmor 2.0 base layer top/bottom, long sleeved drill shirt, a buff, Solomon windstopper pants, Icebugs with Darn Tough socks & gaitors. I did start the race in a windstopper jacket which I jumped off course to throw in the back of the truck as I realized early on it was causing me to overheat. I carried 3 pairs of gloves in a Camelback without the bladder (1 UA running gloves with grip, 1 winter glove, 1 glove with a windstopper mitten that folded over to warm the fingers). For food I had an assortment of GU, Snapcandy, a couple of bars and a bag of nuts/seeds. I chose not to bring water knowing there were stations on the course and more than enough clean snow. If I could change anything I will improve upon the gloves. I need to find something that is waterproof and has excellent grip. There are multiple obstacles that are made with metal which was brutally, viciously cold and the cause of frostbite to some.

Lodging: I stayed with 12 other Spahtens a few miles up the road. It only cost us around $50 each for the place to stay. Friday night we came in scattered, met up at the Wheel House for dinner, returned to the house chatting and relaxing before the big race day. Post race, we hung out around a fire, foam rolling/stretching, having beverages and talking like we’d know everyone forever. We bought subs from a local shop for dinner Saturday night and were all out the door by 8 a.m. Sunday to head home.

I raced this as “journeyman at heart”. I was there for the experience. I was there for the challenge. I took my penalty chips along the way because I wanted to keep count of what I failed. 5 hours and 46 minutes later I crossed the finish line with no intent of even trying to bang out penalties. Normally I’m the “no way, I’ve got to do my burpees to the ground and arms over head” mentality, but I gave everything on the course. I earned that pretty piece of bling. If I lived near Shale Hill I would do this course once a month because there is so much to conquer. Some of it is simply my own personal fear of falling, some of it can be rectified with better physical fitness. Either way, I will be back Shale Hill. It may take me over 5 hours again, but it will be worth it. Anyone can experience this course. Run it as a journeyman and enjoy it with the team.

Battlebuddy: Don’t leave home without your battlebuddy! Sistah Tutu is mine. We started the Polar Bear together. We finished it together. Thanks sis!


Leave a Reply