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.
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.
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.
I 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.
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.