Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mud Endeavor Little Manatee Run - 3/25/2017

Mud Endeavor - Little Manatee

Mud Endeavor Little Manatee Run
By Guest Writer:  Danielle Kissel

Hi All! I’m Danielle, Krissie’s cousin – a former cross country and track runner, turned OCR addict. This past weekend I had the privilege of participating in the Mud Endeavor’s Little Manatee River Run. This race series has always held a special place in my heart. The Mud Endeavor’s Under the Lights 2015 race was the first OCR I’ve ever run, and since then, I’ve been hooked! I’m in love with this sport and the competitive yet team-building vibe it brings to the running world. Seeing how helpful people become whenever you can’t scale and obstacle is one of the most pleasurable aspects of this sport.

So, the Little Manatee River Run… let me just tell you, this may be a little local race, but this “little local race” is NO JOKE! This was my first time participating in their Little Manatee River location and I can honestly say that this race was unlike any other Mud Endeavor I’ve run in the past.

Rather than place a heavy emphasis on man-made obstacles, the race made full use of the natural landscaping of the location. We were continuously up and down, weaving in and out of the Little Manatee River… we even ended our race with a swim across the lake! There were still the usual walls to scale, ropes to climb, and rings to swing across, but the use of water throughout this race threw a complete twist that left my legs aching for days.  I remember swimming across the river into the finish line and looking at the guy next to me and saying, “I didn’t know I signed up for a triathlon!”

We raced on a somewhat overcast day, which made for great weather. I was a bit displeased at first when I saw that the start of our run began with us running into the water, but we were in and out of the water so much, that you never really experienced a temperature change chill, or even had time to think about how weighed down your shoes were becoming.

The start of the run was just a muddy, murky mess of water. At the start of the gun, and after the race MC repeatedly reminding us to make sure our shoes were tied reeeeally well, we crawled through about 100 yards of murky mud water. The water was the consistency that your shoes begin to get suctioned into the water so much that you just have to do a sort of doggy paddle crawl across the river. My favorite memory from this part of the race was someone to the side of me yelling, “I feel like a manatee!!!” At that point, I thought, “Why yes, I do actually feel like a manatee”. Prior to this run I had never given much thought towards manatees, but now I actually can understand quite well how they must feel.

After our muddy start, we weaved in and out of the woods for a while. We encounter some over-under obstacles and then commenced towards running over some hills and dropping down into the Little Manatee River to run through some water. I’m not going to lie, the first time I dropped down into the river, I thought I saw an alligator. I immediately relieved myself that it was just a log, but just that’s the type of running we were doing – straight up, in the river, just you and nature. It was pretty cool! Just a heads up though, when you do this race, be sure to watch out for tree stumps! I nearly wiped out on a few stumps that were hidden underneath the water.

While the first half of the race relied entirely on weaving in and out of the Little Manatee River, over the remaining half we were left with dry land obstacles. All of these were your typical wall climb, rope climb, heavy item carry, and so on. Everything was challenging, but very do-able, which makes this a race I’d recommend to any first-timer. The volunteers were very helpful in offering up advice as per how to conquer an obstacle whenever it was needed.

The final portion of the race is the only area of caution I throw out. If you can’t swim, start learning, because the end of this race was a swim across the lake. I grew up as a competitive swimmer so this aspect was not too big of a deal for me – the thing that threw me off was getting out of the lake. Climbing out we had to overcome a sort of backwards-inclined slip-n-slide. This was challenging. I slid down that board several times before finally figuring out how to anchor in my shoes just right to climb my way up. It was definitely a challenge that left you feeling accomplished at the end!

Overall, I had a blast at the Mud Endeavor Little Manatee River Run! This was a truly unique run that you’ll never experience elsewhere. And for any of you die-hard mud runners who don’t want to do the Mud Endeavor because they’ve never offered up stickers for your buckets, well guess what! They have stickers now!!! I was so happy when I opened up my race packet to find a Mud Endeavor sticker! I can finally advertise one of my favorite races on my bucket for everyone to see!!! 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Oh Savage Race....

Oh Savage Race, Savage Race, Savage Race, how I love thee.  March 18 & 19 was the Spring Savage Race event weekend taking place at Little Everglades Ranch in Dade City, FL.  Savage race is known for their stellar event production and they have always impressed me in their layout, design and obstacle quality.  This Savage Race would be my 5th Savage in the Florida arena and I continue coming back for more.  Savage holds a special place in my heart because of several reasons. 

1)      It was my first Obstacle Course Race I did and actually trained for, way back when, I was new to the sport.

2)      It taught me to face my fears years ago when the last obstacle was Tazed.  The one obstacle which participants low crawled under and received shock from electric wires hanging down.  Electrocution was and still is one of my biggest fears.

3)      After meeting my husband and several other friends, Savage has always been the run we all run together with in and help each other with obstacles.

4)      It allowed me to qualify for OCR World Championship in 2016!  I didn’t go, but the honor of knowing that I could was humbling.  Thank you Savage Race.      

Since I’ve began running Savage I have always been surprised at each race.  The Race Director and Course Designer have a way to change things up over and over as to not be repetitive in a market filled with redundancy.  This past Savage Race brought a few new obstacles to the Florida playground which encouraged people to challenge themselves, pushed the Elite wave participants, and gave returning participants something new to try out.

Pole Cat
A lot of the new obstacles were primarily placed in the last quarter mile of the race.  This allowed for Elites to test their upper body strength and skills in a strategic order meant to burn out their arms.  I have to say, watching these elite runners struggle on some obstacles made me think wow, if they are having a hard time there is no way I’ll be able to do these!  One of the newest obstacles was Twirly Bird which was a rig based obstacle with ropes participants had to grab to get through. Holy moly upper body strength and grip strength was a must! These ropes would have been fine, except to add to the challenge Savage Race made them into a “Mop Head” type of grip structure.  Grip strength had to be on point and sadly many people didn’t complete this obstacle without the help from others.  A fun new obstacle they added this year was called Hangarang.  Essentially this is 2 logs held on by chains over water that participants had to balance on to cross.  This obstacle focused solely on balance and taking your time.  It was fun being able to watch the people succeed, and those who didn’t fall into the water laughing.

This particular day I decided to run with a large team, IronANT Fitness, which consisted of friends with varying skill level.  Our goal for the day was to enjoy the gorgeous land, have fun, help each other, and motivate each other through the course.  None of us were worried about finishing in a specific time or not having the physical ability alone to complete an obstacle.  We all worked together, we all helped each other out, and we all motivated each other.  Several people on our team had never successfully reached the top of curved wall at Colossus.  As a team, we made it happen for them.  A few people had always been scared to jump into the Shriveled Richard obstacle.  Together as a team, we helped them take the ice cold plunge.  A few of the obstacles like Thors Grundle, and Pole Cat were done several times just to take pictures.  A small handful of us decided to challenge
ourselves and run the course barefoot just to see how we liked it.  Sawtooth became a training obstacle where some team mates were showing others how to grip the bars allowing people to go farther than they ever had before. 

The day was long, but it consisted of positivity, laughing, smiling, mud pit fights, and good times.  When we had finally crossed the finish line as a team I looked down at my watch and it told me I had been out on the course for 3 hours and 50 minutes.  Typically, this time would have angered me because I know I could have done better.  But today, my abs were sore from laughing, and crossing the finish was a different kind of accomplishment.  It was the completion of something together, helping people make memories, allowing others to share your love of OCR’s, and building friendships that will last for years.

Savage Race did not disappoint me one moment during our close to 4 hours on the course.  There were plenty of water stations, smiling volunteers, and fellow runners who make the day worth going.  If you are a seasoned veteran to OCR, or a newbie, you can find your way through Savage Race and hopefully love it as much as I do.  Thank you again Savage Race for a beautiful day spent outdoors!

Register for your next Savage Race HERE.

Find out more about Iron ANT Fitness HERE.

Visit Iron ANT Fitness on Facebook HERE.

Photo Credits:  Jack Goras Photography