* From: Amy Lillis
* Event: Trailblazer Rock the Gauntlet
* Date: 2014-05-04
* Event Details
The marketing for this race is almost non-existent, unless you happen to work or go to school at Yale, and the website had very limited information. But, the race was inexpensive, fairly local to me, and my friend brought it to me as her first OCR. I had to go!
The event was held at East Rock Park in New Haven, CT. Parking was easy, either on the streets surrounding the park, or at Wilbur Cross High School across the street. There were ample porta-potties, and the regular restrooms were also open. Yay!
Packet pickup was available for bibs and numbers the day before the race, but you still had to get your timing chip on race day. Race day pickup was a breeze. The table was staffed by people who knew their jobs and were able to get everything done fairly quickly.
There were great vendors! They had free pizza from Old World Pizza Truck, which has real, wood-fired ovens on board. There was free beer from Thimble Islands Brewery (each participant was given 2 free beer tickets, but the guys weren’t even collecting them). There were small loaves of free ciabatta bread – I think my family had at least 5. There were booths from SmartWool, Denali, and more.
There was even a little kids course set up that all kids could use for free. It was tiny and clearly for really little kids, but even my 11 year old played on it for a while. Luckily, there was an actual playground and a river, so the kids were well entertained while I was out running.
Schwag – each participant was given a nice tech shirt at registration, and each finisher got a ribbon. That’s right – a ribbon. It’s cute and green-ish and has the name of the race on it. 🙂
* Race Details
Initially, I was very worried that the course would be overcrowded. The website said that the race was limited to 1000 participants and there would only be 2 waves. The email we received 2 days before the race stated that the first wave was 80% full. I was expecting 400 people in my wave, but there were only about 200 and probably fewer in the second wave.
My biggest complaint of the day would be that the start and finish were completely unmarked. In fact, when I asked someone at the registration tent where the starting line would be, she said that she thought it would be “on the other side of the playground”. It turns out that it was right next to registration, in the exact same place as the finish line.
The course was really nice. It went up a very steep hill for most of the first mile, then the rest was a race downhill.
The obstacles were fine for a beginner’s course. The first was a bunch of barrels set up in part of a field that you had to “weave” your way through. Really, you could run an almost straight line. Next were the stairs that are built into the trail going up the steepest part of the climb. It was a place where almost everyone walked, and it did cause a backup further back in the heats. Next were two small slanted ladder walls with a jump off the back end – only about 4-5 feet high. Up the rest of the hill to the sandbag carry. The sandbags were hiking backpacks filled with about 20 pounds of weight. We just went around the little monument and right back – maybe 75 feet total. After putting down the backpacks we rolled under a net, then crawled through a tunnel. Then, we got to go downhill. This was definitely my favorite part of the race. It was fairly steep and technical, but we could really let go and take the ride down. So fun! Once we got to the bottom, we go
t back to the park and found a tall wall with braces to climb like a ladder, then 3 jersey barriers, and a tub of water to slosh through before the finish.
While it definitely wasn’t the most challenging race I’ve done, it was fun enough that I went through the course twice. My friend is now hooked on OCRs and is looking for the next one. I hope this race can continue to grow and become a little more challenging! It was worth the hour drive for me.