Monthly Archives: June 2016

How To Get Cast On American Ninja Warrior*

*or Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge, or any other OCR- or OCR-adjacent reality show

We’ve all seen the shows, and loved them, and dreamed about being on them, so as to launch us into superstardom and validate our otherwise tiny lives.

So we figure out what we need to apply, and craft our audition videos, and submit them, and hear… nothing.

It’s not our fault. Skill’s not enough to get on a reality TV show. You also need a compelling backstory. And that’s a tricky thing. Most of us are too busy living and stuff to get one.

But now, there’s a solution. If you don’t have a compelling backstory, buy one.

Polydactyl hand

I’ve got polydactyly… but it doesn’t have me! Creative Commons image by Drgnu23 via

I’ve got several economical and thoroughly non-guaranteed packages. For example, everyone loves the Disease Package. For just $2,500, I’ll give you complete research on a disease that’s obscure but serious-sounding. It’ll be everything you need to pass yourself off as suffering from it, or, if you prefer, to have a loved one who has or died from it that you can dedicate your performance to.

If that’s not enough, a pair of extremely reasonable add-ons are available. For just $1,000, I can give you an authentic-looking document signed in ink by an Official Doctor Substitute formally diagnosing your serious but inspirational condition, in the event that the show demands proof. Or, for a completely separate thousand bucks, I can contract an actor of appropriate age, ethnic background, and ability to cry on cue to portray your loved one.

Of course, diseases can be icky, and you may have ethical concerns about claiming a disease you don’t actually have. No problem! We’ve got plenty of other inspirational backgrounds to choose from.

The Rehabilitated Felon Package is a steal at just $2,200! It includes a custom-created criminal background—one-time or recurring—that you’ve served your time for and which you’re now using to try to inspire others to keep out of trouble. We’ll tell you exactly what you did (including details like the type of property stolen, the specific drugs taken, or the precise breed of rare dog rare dognapped), the situation that you really shouldn’t be blamed for that led you into a life of crime, details about your incarceration, and an inspirational mantra from either the judge who sentenced you, a gruff but caring warden, or the prison roommate who’s uneducated but wise that inspired you to turn your life around. Available add-ons include a professional mugshot package (with hair, makeup, and whimsical greeting cards suitable for giving your relatives a real scare at the holidays) for just $349.99, or an actor to portray the victim of your crime who has recognized that you have fully repented and with whom you now share an unlikely but inspiring friendship ($2,500; only two available per calendar year).

Finding Nemo screenshot

Or, if you prefer, you can be the fish-torturing dentist from Finding Nemo.

Maybe you want something a bit lighter and more fun. Just $1,499 will get you the Wacky Job package. You’ll get all of the information you’ll need to impersonate a circus lion tamer, a parachute instructor, an erectile dysfunction doctor, a racehorse inseminator, or any of dozens of other cool professions. The package includes three portable, career-appropriate props you can bring with you to final auditions or filming days. Plus, for just an extra $500 we’ll give you a wacky career like balloon salesman that lines up with a popular movie, so you’ll be able to say, “It’s like a real-life Up!”

Disadvantaged Backgrounds come in lots of shapes and sizes—poverty and violence are ever-popular, but there’s also religious cults, kidnapping, overcoming a stutter, or parents who kept voting for Lyndon LaRouche. And any of these are available for just $1,999. All disadvantaged background packages come with the free, award-winning guide, 12 Ways to Seamlessly Draw Parallels between the Obstacles You’ve Faced in Your Life with the Obstacles You Face on the Course!

The Unique Living Situation is a great starter package—easy to implement but surprisingly effective. For just $1,200, I’ll give you a trigonomous relationship, a family of ghosts in your house, or a close personal friendship with Carrot Top. (Seriously, he’s desperate!)

Maybe you don’t even want to commit to all of that. For just $599, I can give you a Memorable Personal Style: Rainbow hair, trademark body paint, an obscure superhero you impersonate, a fez, or any of a thousand other options. I’ll provide a general outline but you’ll have final say on colors and design.

All packages come with a customized, easily repeatable hashtag no more than twenty characters long.

Finally, I offer Discount Stories. My full-price backstories are first-rate and guaranteed unique, and extraordinarily likely to get you cast on a reality show of your choice. However, not everyone cast will go far. If you prefer a cheaper option, for half price you can purchase a gently used (No more than one episode) certified pre-owned backstory from our catalog. (A nominal fee may apply for adjusting details to your current situation; actor rental and certain other add-ons are always full price.)

Here’s to your brand-new reality!


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OCR (sort of) Report: DRX-Games: I Suck at Liveblogging

Well, so much for the attempt to liveblog. And it’s completely my bad; I had enough reception, but I didn’t have the mental fortitude to keep my phone with me during the events, let alone writing during them. Which is pathetic—one of the people I was with did a fantastic job of taking pictures. Oh well.

My gym group at the DRX-Games

She didn’t actually take this one, but it was her phone and she arranged for someone to take it.

A rough outline of the event:

The DRX-Games aren’t exactly an OCR. They’re more Crossfitty, in that it consists of a series of six events that are scored and combined. Although the challenges are fairly OCR-adjacent.

It was a small event, compared to a usual OCR. There were, maybe, 50 or so people competing. I’m pretty sure that’s by design—I think they capped the number of entries at 60 anyhow, probably to keep it manageable to operate with a pretty limited staff. It produced a pretty friendly, close-knit sort of event.

The group was big enough to split into two. My group started at the Hercules Tire Flip. As I expected, this was a pretty standard tire flip; down and back a path, as many times as possible in a minute. The tire wasn’t all that big—maybe semi-truck sized rather than tractor-sized. Definitely lighter than the ones my gym has, which were a bit lighter than the ones at last week’s Spartan Race. It wasn’t light, but for me the challenge was more in controlling the tire than in actually flipping the thing. Up to five people went at a time, but I was lucky that my heat only had three, because I’m pretty sure I went off-center at some point.

My next event was the Amazonian Tire Pull and Drag. I think these used the same type of tire as the flip, but friction can be a harsh mistress. The event involved sitting down and pulling a tire attached to a rope uphill over a lengthy course—maybe 50 feet, though I’m not good at estimating distances like that. Then, we got up, dragged the tire back to its starting point with the rope outstretched, ran back, and did the whole course again. This was probably my best event; as one onlooker observed, it was pretty similar to rowing, which is probably the (athletic) thing I’m best at.

Event 3 was a quickie: the Ares Spear Throw. Three shots, three points per stick, with a bonus point if we get all three. We had a bit of chance to practice before the event started, and I missed every single one, shattering the fragile confidence I had built at the Spartan last week. In the event, however, I hit one out of three.

Number 4 was the Dirty Bucket List. This was a race, but kind of a two-parter: we started with a farmer’s walk, hauling two buckets (with handles) around a loop. Then we dropped one of the buckets at the starting line, and did a second loop carrying it bucket-brigade style.

Event 5 was the Atlas Titan Stone Relay Carry. We had to do three laps down and back around a flag, carrying a different heavy stone each time. Men-folk had stones that were about 40, 70, and 120 pounds; ladies had a 40 and two 70s. The 120 was really heavy; rolling was permitted, but the event was scored such that the fastest rollers were put below the slowest carriers. I managed to carry it, although it took a couple tries to get it situated.

Me hauling a 120-pound Atlas Stone.

Yep, I brought the Fez of Inspiration.

The final event was the DRX Dash—which was an actual OCR. It was a sprint, though, only about 300 yards, with 20 or so obstacles. The obstacles included a bunch of things that we’d already done, including tire flips, spear throws, atlas stone carries, and a bucket carry, but also crawling through tunnels, a log carry through a pond, barbed wire crawls, a pair of inverted walls and a pair of diagonal ladder-kind-of-thing climbs, a really effing huge slip wall, and a cool (though not spectacularly difficult) climb up a bunch of logs sticking perpendicularly out of a hill.

Overall Thoughts about the Event

First off, I was there with a few other people from my gym—Chantelle, Hayden, and Jay. That’s the first true group experience I’ve had at an event like this, and I really enjoyed it—it’s awfully nice to have people photographing, and sharing bananas and giving tips and cheering and sharing sunscreen and so on and so forth. Big thanks to them for organizing and for being there.

Second, the overall vibe was really nice—chill and relaxed and friendly, but also just a group of people coming together to do something cool, more than a heavily sponsored, very for-profit, “hey-Olympics-look-this-way!” Not that there is anything wrong with that (really, I swear!) but I have a lot of respect for little guys who do things too.

Third, the event was held at the Dirt Runner facility, which also contains a 4-mile OCR course and a Ninja Warrior-style speed/balance/power hybrid course. I think we had the opportunity to try the other stuff, although I was pretty cashed out afterword and didn’t. (Although before I tried the Ninja pegboard and its Z-wall, which wasn’t really a Z because it had four legs rather than three.)

Fourth, the small-scale nature of the event did have a bit of a downside in the form of some logistical glitches. I think the group was quite a bit larger than at the first one, so crowd control wasn’t always dead-on. There were also some logistical issues within the events themselves. For example, in the tire flip they used people competing but not in that specific heat to count, and in the first heat one person got counted twice while another person didn’t have anyone counting. In my heat of the tire drag, I’m told the timing got messed up so I’m not sure if I got an official time or what. In the Atlas Stone Carry a couple of people complained when they were assessed penalties because they dropped the stones in an out-of-control way and they kept rolling. (In a way, a valid complaint, since it hadn’t been explicitly explained. In another way, you shouldn’t need to be explicitly told that rolling a 120-pound, or even 40-pound ball, through a crowd of people is a Bad Thing To Do.) The bucket carry probably would have been more fair as a series of straight lanes rather than a loop, since people on the outside of the loop had to carry their buckets farther than people on the inside.

I’m not terribly bothered by these issues. Obviously you want to avoid them, but most of us viewed it as a fun event—the grown-up equivalent of a field day—rather than a hard-core competition, which I think is the right approach.

Fifth, I’m not a swag hag, and I wouldn’t do any event for the medals, but this is cool.

DRX-Games MedalI heard that it’s hand-made, and I believe it (you can see a few scratches and cracks that a computer probably wouldn’t have left), which is awesome. Also, heavy. If you had to, you could use this as a mace.

Personal performance

My stated goal was to finish not-last in something, and I’m pretty confident I did that. I don’t know details (they’ll post results on their website, but they’re not up yet) but I know I was second out of five in my heat of the tire drag, second out of four in my bucket carry heat, and second out of three in my Atlas stone heat. I’m really happy with how I did in the first five events.

And then the sixth was absolute crap.

My climbing is getting worse, and now there’s a mental component to the problem. Fear of falling, combined with the very real slickness from muddy hands and arms and equipment, and my own physical shortcomings have created a serious block, and I’m not sure how to deal with it. I’d like to figure out a place that’s feasible to get to where I can actually work on it—for me, familiarity breeds success—but I’m not sure where in Chicago that’s possible.

If you’ve got any ideas, let me know.



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OCR (sort of) Liveblog: DRX-Games

 6:25: After a surprisingly challenging start to the day, I’m off. I slept extremely poorly last night, couldn’t find my bug spray this morning, and missed the train by less than half a minute. (Literally: got to the platform as it was pulling out of the station.) opted to take a bus downtown to meet up with the rest of my group-it runs express most of the way, and winds up closer to the meeting point than the train, so it may turn out ok.

Also, I do need to figure out where we’re meeting…

8:20: en route, we see a car nearly run off the road by another one. Then, we take the wrong exit. Not a big deal, since it was at the interstate interchange; we just had to do the full cloverleaf…

9:44: we’ve arrived and gotten the lay of the land. They had some spears available to practice throwing. My hit from last week made me overconfident because I hit none of them.

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A Woefully Uninformed Weekend Preview: DRX-Games II

This one is a late-breaking bit of personal news: This weekend I’ll be taking part in the DRX-Games in Marseilles, Illinois.

I normally don’t do events every weekend—I like to have a bit of recovery time, and the opportunity to keep them “events” rather than a constant thing. However, a couple of the trainers at my gym announced they were doing it and invited anyone who wanted to form a group, and so I’ll be there with a small group of friends.

What I know about the event is: It’s not really an OCR, but rather a collection of six events. Although one of those events is an OCR, albeit a very short one (300 yards).

The website has the event titles, and they vary in clarity. “Hercules Tire Flip” is, presumably, flipping tires as many times as possible in a given time. “Are’s Spear Throw” is probably a spear throw, although you may be disqualified for proper use of apostrophes, in which case I am fucked. “Dirty Bucket List” and “DRX Dash” aren’t quite so clear. Even the relatively clear ones have some mystery—for the tire flip, for example, how big is the tire, and how long are we flipping?

My stated goal is to finish not-last in at least one event. But that’s a bit douchey. And to explain why I need to call myself out there, I need to back up to when I first got into OCR.

I downloaded a free ebook from Spartan and read it, and got pretty annoyed by it. First off, it presented as “beginner” workouts things like 10-mile runs that really obviously aren’t beginner workouts. Second, even then I got bothered by the “This is a completely impossible challenge, and also, anyone can do it” mental gymnastics that most OCR is guilty of. Third were, as always, the “inspirational” stories. I think inspiration is problematic generally, but these stories, as I recall, were nearly all people who started as elite athletes and stayed that way. One that stands out in my mind was from someone who (again, in my mind; she probably didn’t actually do this) giggled as she said that she expected to come in dead last in her first OCR, but actually, she won it!

Yeah, fuck that false modesty.

And yet, here I’m dropping some of my own. Because even though I’m not ever going to be mistaken for an elite athlete, I’m looking at these events and very cautiously saying that several of them are kind of in my wheelhouse. (At least three are pretty heavy on power rather than speed or nimbleness, which plays well for me.) And you can see results from the last event online. The winner of the tire flip, for example, had 16 flips. That doesn’t seem like all that many flips! I mean, I can flip a tire 16 times.

Of course, the ambiguity still comes into play, because the results don’t say how heavy the tire is (the one at my gym is the one that I use as a baseline, and I can throw that around pretty impressively, but the Spartan last weekend had a tire flip obstacle, and it was definitely a bit heavier than my gym’s) or how much time you have to flip. And, of course, I have no idea what level the other competitors will be.

So there’s plenty of room for surprises on the upside. I guess when I say my goal is to finish not-last in something, really I’m saying that I don’t have any expectations and I’ll be satisfied with doing my best and not humiliating myself. But I wouldn’t be terribly shocked by any result.

Hoping it’s fun!

Eta: If things go well, I’ll live blog things this weekend.

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I Watched the Spartan TV Show and Wasn’t That Pissed Off By It

So, the Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge premiered this week. It was actually a few days ago, but I only got around to watching it yesterday. I don’t have a TV, which makes me sound really pretentious—I actually watch more than I should, it’s just all online because I don’t really care about time-shifting.

Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge courseI also wasn’t in a rush. The show is paired with American Ninja Warrior, which is cool but also really obnoxious. (I’ll be full-on pretentious here and declare the original Japanese one was way better.) The format is awesome, but the dressing-up with REALLY SHOUTY HOSTS WHAT SHOUT ABOUT EVERYTHING! and the increased focus on Backstory bug me. I fully expected that the Spartan show would take the same approach.

It does, to some extent. It dwells soundly within the reality show paradigm, and expecting it to avoid those trappings completely isn’t realistic. (The presence of Evan Dollard, Who I still affiliate with the American Gladiators reboot, one of the most egregious examples of taking a great show format and turning it into an absolute pile of shit*, which is completely unfair to blame him for and I don’t but it’s still something that happened, concerned me.) But, while I’ve got plenty of unsolicited recommendations to improve the Spartan show, I’d say it’s got a lot of potential.

The show started horrifyingly, I’ll say, with about 7 minutes of Backstory Glurge. And then, the first few obstacles were either skipped or shown in a fog of confusion. What exactly are the rules for that log jump thing? Is there any penalty for not making the jump other than having to climb out of the lake?

After the commercial break it got even worse: A tiny update on the “previous heat.” So, basically, in order to get enough time for Backstory Glurge, they turned the race into the Technical Oscars. Then, more obstacle confusion: The Log Traverse (I think? – the thingy where the teams had to hold on to a log while it swung somewhere) was massively unclear. What was the penalty for dropping off of it? And, more importantly: the show told us that one of the teams did succeed at it, but they didn’t bother to show how. I mean, “show don’t tell” is only the first piece of advice any aspiring storyteller gets, but when you’re a Spartan, why bother paying attention to that? It’s a problem that happened several times during the show.

The thing is, once they started focusing on the race itself, it got a lot better. Much to my surprise, by this point, I really got into watching the teams racing each other. There were plenty of points where teams could make up or lose time and pass each other, and the tension built nicely—it was fun and exciting to watch. I was also often impressed by how the obstacles were adapted into team challenges rather than individual ones.

I was especially surprised by this because of how hard the show pushed the “New York vs. Boston” “rivalry” that two “teams” in the second heat supposedly “had.” It’s unfair to have this reaction, but I was so happy when neither team was fast enough to qualify for the final. Even though that meant that we just got more special-needs-baby emotional porn as a replacement.

So, yeah, I’d love to ditch that kind of thing. I suppose I’m not qualified to declare whether or not the competitive aspects of the show are sufficient to support a show on their own, and I’m obviously a bit biased, but I think they are. You know, the way real sports do.

A few other criticisms that I hope are constructive:

Insight about the teams would be a great replacement for “story” about the teams. The hosts noted how important strategy is, to take advantage of team members’ strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. But I don’t think the show ever mentioned any details. I’d love to have some idea of who’s fricking awesome at raw strength but so bulky they can’t climb, and how teams deal with that, or whatnot.

Insight about the obstacles would also be awesome. As I mentioned, the program often told us that teams completed a really hard obstacle without showing it. It also told us how epic a challenge some obstacles were, without giving any kind of insight about how it could or should be completed, particularly if there are options that each might have advantages or disadvantages.

At times, the show felt overly performative. A lot of things seemed to be played up way beyond what was real: I can’t say for certain, but I suspect the woman’s hyperventilating at the dunk wall was a bit less serious than the program tried to make it appear. (Also, it was pretty poor form of the show to immediately follow that with a segment about how the women on that team are redefining feminine strength.)

This may also be unfair, but it also seemed like some of the encouragement provided by the coaches were playing to the cameras—like the producers might have told them to be sure to keep up a running commentary. And equally unfairly, I suspect that some of the post-race celebrations with families were only captured on the third or fourth take.

Not every ad break needs to be a cliffhanger. Especially not when the cliffhangers were as stupid as this show had. “Will the guy who managed to jump into the lake before manage to jump into the lake this time? Gosh, I don’t know!”

If you’ve got to have product placement, be more interesting about it. The fitness watch (I won’t give the brand, because no need to encourage that kind of behavior**) could have potentially provided some interesting insight rather than just mentioning one guy’s heart rate at one point in the race.

The hosts were surprisingly good. I was worried that the two of them would impersonate fourteen hosts, the way American Ninja Warrior’s do, but I didn’t mind them.

Yeah, Spartan loves its medals. I had to freeze-frame it, but I can confirm that they’re not identical to the regular medals. But they’re close.


Ultimately, though, I think there’s a really good base here to build from. I hope the show evolves and finds success, particularly if it can find success as a sports show rather than a reality show.


* Why did the reboot suck? Sin #1: They crapped all over the gameplay. The events had the potential to make maybe 10 seconds difference in the Eliminator—which could take 10+ minutes. And even the Eliminator was stupid, because almost all of that time was taken up by that reverse treadmill at the end. So the entire show came down to that one thing. Sin #2: They managed to slow the pace down to a crawl by doing really unintersting interviews with every competitor before anything happened, and after anything happened. Sin #3: Hulk Hogan was a spectacularly annoying host.

** Unless they want to pay me, of course.

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2016 Chicago Spartan Photos: Why Aren’t These Worse?

I got my pictures from the race this weekend today, and was pleasantly surprised. Not by the photos themselves, but by how easy it was. The past several Spartans the “search by bib number” has not worked at all for me, so I’ve had to estimate the time that I hit each obstacle and do a brute-force manual search. This time, however, flawless. Perhaps it’s just because I had one of the easiest possible bib numbers (2900). Or, more likely, it’s because a few minutes into the race, while we were stuck in a muck bottleneck, a couple of women let me know that I had my headband on upside down. (I put it on real quickly and didn’t notice.) I have no idea who they were, but thanks to them!

Anyhow, the photos are disappointing just in that they’re not the spectacularly bad offerings of the past, but they don’t make me look good, like someone I’m not. It’s the uncanny valley of photogenic mediocrity. Welcome to where I live!

Still, I’ll share a few:

Me doing the bucket brigade at the 2016 Chicago Super

It’s time for America’s favorite game: Which of the moles on my face is real, and which are made of mud? The winner gets a more intimate knowledge of the moles on my face.

Me at the 2016 Chicago Super

I actually saw the photographer here, and made an effort to smile. Or portray a serial killer. For me, the dividing line is awfully thin.

Me at the dunk wall at the 2016 Chicago Spartan Super.

I actually really like what the mud did to my hair here. Were it practical, it might be my new look. I am not sure what’s coming out of my mouth, but were it practical that might be my new look as well.

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OCR Report: 2016 Chicago Spartan Super: Lines, Bells, and Muck

Spartan medal and banana.

Spartan Super medal, with a banana. It’s not the Hot Banana, but it is the Hot Banana’s bunchmate. Basically, it’s the Dannii Minogue of Hot Bananas. (This will make sense if you read the whole post, except for the part where I know who Dannii Minogue is.)

So, yesterday was the Chicago Spartan Super.

The personal headline: For the first time, I rang a cowbell in a Spartan Race.

It was the Z-wall, and it surprised me. I’ve been bouldering, but I had been last time I tried the Z-wall, and it didn’t help.

Anyhow, I didn’t cry after hitting the bell, but I was closer than is dignified to admit.

The personal deck that’s immediately below the headline in a smaller font size, but in this case smaller by like maybe a quarter of a point, because it’s practically as important as the headline: I actually rang three cowbells this race. I completed the monkey bars for the first time in a Spartan, and I did the rope traverse (maybe Tyrolean traverse, I’m not sure, but it’s the one where you grab a rope overhead, lift your legs up to it, and walk your way backwards to the bell), which is the first time I’ve been in a race that had it.

Oh yeah, also: I hit the spear throw for the first time.

So there’s a blatant positiveness to yesterday, which is nice. The rest is kind of a mixed bag, so I’ll tackle the day in order.

Getting there was surprisingly difficult. Due to the heat I didn’t want to spend any longer waiting around then I had to. Normally I’m really early for stuff, but this time I planned things so I got there right about an hour before my heat.

Just about everything took longer than expected, though. The bus (which took me to the train) was a little bit late, but no biggie. Then the train (which took me to the airport) was—well, not late, since the CTA doesn’t really have schedules, but it was a 10-minute wait, which was, again, not huge but not ideal.

Then the shuttlebus (which took me from the airport terminal to the car-rental place) was—not late, but jammed full, which made getting on slow. And then the car rental (Dollar) was the huge delay—the jammed full bus dropped us off at the counter, where several other jammed-full busses had already dropped people off. I joined the line inside the building, but I was lucky—it quickly stretched out the door.

All told, I’d budgeted about a half an hour for the train-to-rental-car segment of the trip, and it took an hour and a half.

The trip to the venue was supposed to be a bit under an hour, but there were a couple of 10-minute delays. One seemed, while in it, to be Spartan’s fault, but upon further reflection, probably not—it was a four-way stop sign that probably should have had a light. Sure, race traffic contributed to the delay, but the cross street was also jammed.

The other delay was a long line entering the parking lot, and I’m not sure why—once we got in it was pretty smooth sailing. My hunch is that when several shuttle buses lined up, the last ones blocked the path into the lot itself—but I couldn’t see much so I’m just projecting based on the lot’s geometry.

By the time I got on the shuttle bus, my heat time had passed, but at bib pick-up they automatically put me into the next available heat. No fuss, no muss. After a quick bag drop, and a quick pee, I made my way to the start line.

The race itself was, as I mentioned in my preview, very hot. It was also muddy, in a not-very-good way—long stretches of suck-your-shoes-off muck that were also single-track, so your pace was whatever everyone else was doing. I don’t know how long precisely, but I’ve seen a few reports that the one that started the race was a mile long, which I’d believe and which is also just stupid. It wasn’t fun, and not in the “Wow, this is a really hard challenge that I hate while I’m doing it but will love afterwards” way but in the “Wow, this is stupid” way. After a couple miles, I was just cranky.

The middle part of the course was where I had the obstacle successes, which boosted my spirits a lot. And then the end was a lot more muck packs.

The other course-design quibble that I had: This course was really wall-heavy. I think 5 or 6 obstacles either were plain old walls or they had walls as the significant component of them. It may just be my general suckage at them (I did not do well on the walls at all) but that seems like kind of half-assed course design to have so relatively little variety.

The bad in my personal performance: In addition to the wall suckage, I burpeed 4 obstacles. Multi-rig was hardly a shock, especially given how muddy the first rope was. Rope climb, similar—while the ropes were over dry land rather than mud pits as in the past, they were still slick with mud and I couldn’t get any traction.

The slip wall was a bit disappointing, since I haven’t had much trouble with that in the past. But it was mega-slick, both the wall itself and the ropes to pull yourself up. (It was immediately after a muddy pond with an uneven bottom so you were pretty likely to fall in and coat all of your limbs.) As a result, there was a big crowd of people at it, most of them struggling and often sliding down the up side in a completely out-of-control way. After a few tries, I decided burpeeing out was a less-likely-to-break-both-legs kind of option.

I also burpeed the Stairway to Sparta, which was immediately after the slip wall and immediately before the fire jump. With the slickness and the fatigue, I couldn’t manage the initial wall.

Logistically, things were pretty good, I think. It’s actually tricky to judge in a way. The line to get into the parking lot kind of sucked, but I’m inclined to give Spartan the benefit of the doubt—big rainstorms a couple days before flooded the initial lot so they had to use contingency plans. The packet pick-up/gear check/pre-race stuff was a blur that I don’t remember, since it went so fast, but that’s a sign that it was quite efficient.

The backups on course were almost all during the mucky run portions, rather than the obstacles. (The slip wall was a notable exception.) Water, which I had been concerned about, was nearly hitchless. There were 5 stations; Station #2 had only one volunteer and several of the jugs had broken nozzles, but even that didn’t produce any unseemly backups. Also, station #4 had a “nutrition boost,” which really shouldn’t be in quotes because I don’t remember the exact words they used to describe it. But they were giving out packets of gel cubes; mine was so citrus and so gelatinous and the best thing that I’ve ever tasted. Plus, I figured there would be two cubes in the packet, and then I ate two and there was a third one, so bonus.

The course was very flat, through farmland, woods, and (most interestingly) paintball courses. There were a bunch of things that looked like ads spread throughout the course, but their benefit was lost on me because I wasn’t wearing my glasses.

And the most important lesson: I brought some food as lunch and recovery fuel. I only left one banana for after the race—which I left in the car. Which, naturally, was closed up for about 6 hours in the extreme heat. Turning the banana into a hot banana.

“Hot banana” is not a good thing. Seriously, it was amazingly disgusting. Don’t warm a banana in an overheated car for six hours and then eat it. Yergch.

Oh, yeah: Alpha 039-3474. I think. It could be Alpha 039-7434. I remembered the number as “0 EZ OGRE,” which it clearly wasn’t. But it also wasn’t asked, so no big.




Filed under Obstacle Course Racing, Spartan Race