Category Archives: How Not To

How Not to Do the Hercules Hoist

There are plenty of places online that will give you advice on how to complete various popular obstacle course race obstacles. This is not one of those places. This series of posts will teach you how to fail those popular obstacles. More specifically, this series will teach you how to fail obstacles—with style and panache. If you’re going to earn burpees, you might as well earn those burpees.

Today’s obstacle: the Hercules Hoist.

Father Ted screencap

(You may also name your sandbag Sampras.)

  1. Give your sandbag a name, like Flopsy or Bruce or Father Jack Hackett.
  2. Ask Flopsy or Bruce or Father Jack Hackett if it really wants to be hoisted. If the answer is no, respect its wishes and accept your burpees with grace. Sandbags are people too.
  3. If it is willing to be hoisted, then offer your thanks to Mother Earth for her willingness to support the sandbag so far, Father Sky for accepting the sandbag into his aerial realm, Sister Sisal for paying the sandbag’s price for flight with her sturdy tension, Uncle Pulley for maintaining a mechanical advantage near 1 (apart from friction), and Archimedes for first describing the simple machines. (He was from Syracuse, not Sparta, which I’m sure will anger people, but the truth isn’t always politically correct. But it sometimes is, so if you use “politically correct” as an insult reflexively without considering the actual correctness of the statement in question, you’re an ass.)
  4. Drum Circle

    Drum circle photo by Kit O’Connell via Wikimedia licensed under Creative Commons.

    Make certain you pull in harmony with the Earth’s heartbeat. You can do this by keeping time with a drum circle; if you did not bring a drum circle to the race, you may have to close your eyes and astrally project back in time to one of the drum circles you attended this week.

  5. When you have completed, leave an offering of kale seeds to memorialize the occasion and nourish future hoisters.
  6. Contrary to popular belief, it is not mandatory to dance naked around a bonfire in celebration, unless said bonfire is greater than eight feet high, or the moon is in its waxing gibbous phase, or you’re camping with a group of performers from a minor-league Renaissance Faire, which is not a story I’m planning to tell.
  7. Quit bogarting the good stuff, man.

Previous entries in the “How Not To” series:

Wall Climb
Spear Throw
Bucket Brigade
Monkey Bars

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How Not to Do the Monkey Bars

There are plenty of places online that will give you advice on how to complete various popular obstacle course race obstacles. This is not one of those places. This series of posts will teach you how to fail those popular obstacles. More specifically, this series will teach you how to fail obstacles—with style and panache. If you’re going to earn burpees, you might as well earn those burpees.

Today’s obstacle: The Monkey Bars

  1. At this point in the race, your hands are probably wet and muddy, which is terrible for impersonating a monkey. Dry them off as best you can by rubbing them on your shirt, or the grass, or a volunteer, or a passing goose.
  2. Grab the bars firmly, and hold the rest of your body up off the ground.
  3. There are several approaches from here on out:
    • Arm-over-arm. This is the “standard” playground-style monkey-barring approach. When one arm is on a bar, the other arm swings to the next one. Much harder than it looks; the gene that permits children or orangutans from accomplishing this task easily gets surgically removed from all humans when they turn 18. Then the gene is ripped up into tiny pieces, burned, urinated upon, fed to a hippopotamus, and shot into space.

      Kid on monkey bars.

      This kid is way more Spartan than you will ever be. Deal with it. Creative Commons image by The Rev. Jay Sapaen Watan.

    • Catch-up: Your first arm goes to a bar, then your other arm joins it. The bartender says, “We don’t serve arms here.” Then he said, “farewell.” The bartender was Hemingway, by the way. I don’t know if I mentioned that. Oh, wait, got distracted. Anyhow, this method is a bit easier, but a bit slower, and you will get tired just as quick.
    • Skip: If you’ve got the arm length and the swinging momentum, skip a bar here and there. You’ll look a bit pretentious, but you’ll make good progress, unless you miss, in which case your fall should make highlight reels.
    • Edges: Screw the rungs and travel along the bar holding the edges, like Donkey Kong Jr. It may seem a bit twatty to do it that way, and it probably is. It can feel a bit easier if your arms are long and wide-set like mine are. I’m weird, though.
    • On top: Just do it like this guy. Physically easy, but balance is important. Plus, if you’ve got issues with heights, you should note that your face will be the height of the monkey bars plus the height of yourself above the ground, which is almost 800 feet, so it will scare the dookie out of you, which isn’t pleasant for anyone on the course. Also, it’s probably against the rules.
    • Inchworm: This is easy: just weave your body between the bars. You may need more back flexibility than you’ve got, and you might get stuck, but hey! Cool photos!
    • Upside down: Just hook your toes over the bars, and walk across. Not necessarily possible, but if you pull it off, you’ll be a meme for, like, twelve whole seconds.

      Stick figure doing monkey bars upside down

      And I thought my last race photos made me look a bit wonky… Creative Commons photo by David K, badly modified by me

    • Teleportation. How hard could that be?
  4. Midway through the bars, when you are really tired, remember that you’ve still got a bomb from playing Candy Crush. So use it, and blow the frickin’ rig up.
  5. Rejoice.

Previous entries in the “How Not To” series:

Wall Climb
Spear Throw
Bucket Brigade

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How Not To Do the Bucket Brigade

There are plenty of places online that will give you advice on how to complete various popular obstacle course race obstacles. This is not one of those places. This series of posts will teach you how to fail those popular obstacles. More specifically, this series will teach you how to fail obstacles—with style and panache. If you’re going to earn burpees, you might as well earn those burpees.

Today’s obstacle: The Bucket Brigade

  1. Prepare. If you’re doing a Spartan race, you know this classic is coming, so there’s no excuse not to make yourself strong in advance. So in the weeks leading up to the race, do at least two squats. And a push-up.
  2. As you approach the Completely Unbranded Large-Scale Refuse Bin filled with Unbranded Congealed Earth Matter, take a moment to prepare yourself mentally. Take a deep cleansing breath, emit a mighty bear-like roar, and throw a massive hissy-cow, complete with stomping, weeping, and flatulence.
  3. Stephen Fry as Jeeves

    He can do anything!

    Racers need to fill their own Unbranded Polymer-Chain Unbranded Congealed Earth Matter Container in a Basically Cylindrical Shape. But you can save time and effort and avoid the crowds if you send your valet to fill it for you. Double points if your valet is Stephen Fry.

  4. When lifting any heavy object, it’s important to protect your back by lifting with your legs. Lay down on the ground with your feet around the bucket, clench, and lift.
  5. Now that the Unbranded Congealed Earth Matter Container in a Basically Cylindrical Shape is airborne, you’ll be expected to traverse a lengthy path while carrying it. You can take inspiration from the nearest snake and how it moves: simply undulate your powerful rhomboids and latissimus dorsi muscles, while using your ventral scales to grip the surface of the earth and propel yourself forward.
  6. Hmmm… as it turns out, that’s pretty hard to do. You’d think snakes would be a much less successful species. Plus, the path is pretty long. And that thingy with the really long generic name (By the way, sorry about that. It’s a gag about Dumpsters and intellectual property that’s gone horribly wrong. See, Dumpster is a brand name, and they’re pretty aggressive about sending nasty notes to publications if they use the word as a generic term, and I’ve gotten them in the past, and so I mock. 3M is the same way with Velcro, which means that I’ve been required to use the term “hook-and-loop fastener” unironically, and I’m still a bit bitter.) is really fucking heavy. So maybe stand up and hoist the bucket onto your shou…
  7. Damn, the volunteers really care about that “don’t carry the bucket on your shoulder” rule. Like, try it again and she’s going to punch you, and then pull down your pants, and then call your mother and tell her that you’re being a meany bo beany face. So let’s not mess with her again. I guess you can just carry it at your waist.
  8. Six steps later and everything hurts. Step off to the side and rest.
  9. Okay, try it again. Huffhuffhuffhuffhuffhuffhuff! Great, four steps this time.
  10. Rock piles in Iceland

    Many people don’t realize that Iceland was originally created by a Spartan race gone wrong. Image by Jeroen (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jerrroen/256320733) licensed under Creative Commons (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).

    You know, I bet they won’t check to make sure the bucket is still full of rock all the way to the hole when you get back to the bin. So just dump a bit out. Trust me, your pile won’t be the first one there.

  11. Wow! 12 steps! That’s 22 steps total! You’re almost half of a percent of the way there!
  12. Wait, half of a percent finished really isn’t good. So, tip out a bit more rock.
  13. Who are we kidding? This ain’t happening. Just drop the bucket, and scoop up a handful of rock.
  14. Really? A muddy hill to climb with this shit? Goddammit!
  15. Okay, here’s the story: You fell, all the rock came out of the bucket, then the bucket exploded, and you did the burpees, and you’re not sure why nobody saw you.
  16. Yikes, this muddy hill is still pretty flipping long. It might be violating the spirit of the race, but piggyback rides are part of every valet’s job description.
  17. Vomit.

Previous entries in the “How Not To” series:

Wall Climb
Spear Throw

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How Not To Do the Spear Throw

There are plenty of places online that will give you advice on how to complete various popular obstacle course race obstacles. This is not one of those places. This series of posts will teach you how to fail those popular obstacles. More specifically, this series will teach you how to fail obstacles—with style and panache. If you’re going to earn burpees, you might as well earn those burpees.

Today’s obstacle: The Spear Throw.

  1. Take a spear.
  2. Examine it closely for any slight curvature or irregularity, like you’re a douchebag playing pool at a bar.
  3. Once convinced that it’s perfectly straight, find a friend and re-enact the light saber battle from Star Wars, or, if it’s not a very good friend, the light saber battle from Spaceballs.
  4. You should now feel like a jedi, which is quite important. Time to prepare physically. Grab the spear in one hand, preferably the one you throw with, and preferably with the point aimed at the target.
  5. Fix your stance. Your feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width, and your knees slightly bent, and your toes crossed, and your calves relaxed, and your thighs clenched.
  6. While you’re here, are you into musicals? Because this is the perfect time for it. One theory about the singing in musicals is that it happens when the level of emotion is so heightened that mere talking can no longer express it. And what is more intense than the spear throw? It’s a fucking obstacle based on focus rather than raw power or speed, with devastating penalties for failure and a glorious bonus for success. So take this opportunity to let your heart’s song out. “Spear” is pretty easy to rhyme with, but if you want extra credit, try rhyming with “javelin.” And don’t forget that you need a dance as well—and you will get penalty burpees if you just crib the “Step in Time” choreography from Mary Poppins.
  7. By this time you might be huffing and puffing a bit, so exit stage right to let the supporting cast throw their spears. Don’t worry—they’re really only there to make you look good by comparison.
  8. Get back in line and just throw the damn thing.
  9. Realize 12 nanoseconds before you release that you’re standing on the retrieval rope.
  10. Try to abort; wind up half-aborting, so the spear travels a full 6 inches away from your hand.
  11. Shout all the profanities you know.
  12. Shout a few profanities you don’t know. “Pilkunnussija” isn’t entirely appropriate here, but it’s a great word, and it would be just the third Finnish word you use (after “sauna” and “Molotov cocktail”).
  13. Burpee.
  14. Wonder if Tough Mudder might be on to something with the whole no-penalty thing.

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How Not To Do the Wall Climb

There are plenty of places online that will give you advice on how to complete various popular obstacle course race obstacles. This is not one of those places. This series of posts will teach you how to fail those popular obstacles. More specifically, this series will teach you how to fail obstacles—with style and panache. If you’re going to earn burpees, you might as well earn those burpees.

Today’s obstacle: The Wall Climb. Yep, this straightforward classic.

Wall obstacle

Well, not exactly this straightforward classic. This is from an Afghan National Army training course, but it’s the only Creative Commons wall picture I found (by russavia, via http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Obstacle_Course_1_%286452147727%29.jpg). I think it’s okay, though. I’m pretty sure you know what a wall is.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to how to not do the wall climb, in style:

  1. Paint yourself bright red.
  2. Inflate yourself until you appear bulbous and friendly. You may need to relocate certain facial features, perhaps even moving your smile all the way to your groin.
  3. Position yourself to approach the wall. It would behoove you to start at least twenty feet from the wall’s base, but the specific distance is between you and your god.
  4. Run toward the wall. Surprisingly, you don’t need to run at maximum speed; a lazy shuffle should be adequate.
  5. As you come close to the wall, raise your arms.Kool-Aid Man
  6. Make impact with the wall.
  7. Break through the wall
  8. Shout, “Oh yeah!”
  9. The next step will vary somewhat with your surroundings: You may need to thwart a bank robbery, or rescue skateboarders from dehydration, or perhaps even provide an excuse for a band at a school dance to stop playing in the middle of a song. Use your best judgment; adjusting to each race’s unique conditions is the hallmark of a great obstacle course racer.
  10. Serve everyone present a “beverage” that comes from your head.

You will have to do burpees after this, and the shards of wall that you produce might impale your fellow racers’ feet, and you’ll probably needlessly contribute to backups at the obstacle, but I think we can all agree: It’s worth it.

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Filed under Funny, How Not To, Obstacle Course Racing