* Event Details
This race was my first Shale Hill experience, and was the perfect way to wrap up my rookie season of OCR. As many have said before me, Shale Hill is an amazing course run by amazing people and should truly be on everyone’s racing calendar at least once a year. Onsite parking was free, and was just a short walk to the gym where they had racer check in and bag drop (also free). With only 55 or so racers signed up, check in was super easy and we were provided with our team bib number, a nice shale hill t-shirt, and a small bag of goodies. After the race we got a badass medal, very nicely done Shale Hill. After breezing through check in, I had plenty of time to relax and meet some of my fellow racers.
* Race Details
This event was a three person co-ed team relay race, with each person running 1/3 of the full Shale Hill 6+/- mile course and completing approximately 20 or so obstacles along the way. After some mind games involving a 100+ pound log being hauled around by Rob, we were led outside to pick our team “batons” which turned out to be either a pool noodle or a helium balloon (pick the noodle, trust me). You were required to complete each obstacle with your baton either in your hand or attached to your body somehow. I have been told that apparently it’s not easy crawling through barbed wire with a *!@#ing helium balloon, so do as I say and not as I do and pick the noodle.
As I only ran 1/3 of the course, I won’t give an obstacle breakdown but the course is an absolute blast regardless of which section you were assigned. Everywhere I looked I saw an obstacle which I had never seen before in another race. The course is hard, but I know that it will feel so good to come back and conquer the few obstacles which I failed this time around.
I was not able to put together a full team on my own, so with the help of some NE Spahtens, I was able to link up with two racers who needed a third. I won’t lie, it takes some effort to get to Shale Hill in Benson VT, but the people who also make that effort are people who you will want to hang out with. Sign up with two strangers and by the end of the race you’ll have two new friends. Seeing the camaraderie throughout the whole race made for a fantastic experience. It was great having teammates cheering you on through the various obstacles along the course as they made their way to the designated transition points. It wasn’t uncommon to see people finish their section and then continue on with their teammate to lend a hand, or seeing people hanging out at the transfer points waiting for the baton handoff sharing racing stories and just having a great time. I think that the format of a relay race brings a unique twist to the standard race format, and I hope to se
e even more teams there next year. Overall, I would rate this event as excellent. Grab some friends, or make some new ones, and see you for the next relay in 2015.