Rugged Maniac – Tretsch Review Atlanta 2015

Rugged Maniac – Atlanta 2015

Prologue

7:15AM – 20 Eastbound – A huge fireball in the sky and no sunglasses

7:38AM – Conyers – There is a great convening of Grey Berets and friends at the Waffle House. The Dark Waffle is strong with this crew.

8:25AM- Conyers –  QT how I love thee

8:50AM – Georgia International Horsepark – You walk and you walk some more. Then you walk some more. The parking is far from the festival area. But I’m about to do an OCR, so who the fuck cares.

9:45AM – Festival area – Climb into the starting corral over a chest high wall. This year it’s immediately adjacent to the finish line and Mount Maniac. The emcee paints a horrid picture in my mind of Easter baskets, snakes and lip stick. I dig this guy!

9:55AM- Festival Area – It’s so fucking humid. The kind of humidity where “moist” is the only appropriate word. No one likes this word. You can chew on this word, it’s so…..mealy sounding. But seeing as I’m already wiping waterfalls of sweat out of my eyes, it’s the word of the day.

Observations on the run:

  1. There is an immediate 90 degree right turn through/under the Mount Maniac obstacle; a cargo net spanning overhead so low I can touch it. Luckily the turn is close enough that you can’t get to “busting ass speed”, and then a straight shot through the festival field and it’s on.
  2. Barricades is far enough out that I can hit it at speed without bunching up with anyone.
  3. Oh look that’s where the Spartan Sprint monkey bars were! When it was 28 fucking degrees out.
  4. Cruise up to Jacob’s Ladder, a portion of which was obscured by tree limbs (really builders?), ready to try the rollover technique at the top. It works, and none of my man parts get inconvenienced. A good start to the day so far.
  5. I hit Tipping Point a bit slow and I start to slip on the way up the seesaw. Rookie move! I have to do a semi crawl to the fulcrum before I can stand up and ride the plank back down to the ground. RM Tipping Point
  6. Ninja Escape is disappointing this year. Unlike last year’s four alternating A frames ala America Nina Warrior, I run up to single 8 foot long A frames set in parallel. 3 short hops and I’m out. Less Michael Dudikoff more Chris Farley.
  7. I get a second shot at Tipping Point after ninja escape. Running up the seesaw at full speed proves to be the right move.
  8. Oh shit! That’s where the Battlefrog jerry can carry was! My sphincter clenches involuntarily.
  9. With a step board at 24” and another 24” from the top, the 8 foot Napoleon Complex is an easy climb. But, I’m still too scared to do the roll and jump technique on the dismount. I just imagine my knees exploding in a phantasmagoric shower of mud, blood, and cartilage.
  10. Fuck it’s hot!
  11. I recognize this gravel skid trail! Oh crap it’s “that” hill! The hill of wreck bag and buckets of gravel carries.
  12. A substantial pile of gravel being consumed by weeds proves me right.
  13. I think it’s time for a new venue. Next thing you know I’ll be recognizing….oh look! There’s the root I tripped over at Spartan!
  14. I power walk up King of the Mountain. At least I’m not carrying anything.
  15. It’s fucking hot!
  16. I have a bubble butt, and when crawling it tends to rise like fake boobies in a hot tub. This does not serve me well when going through 24” culvert pipes or slithering under barbed wire. Both of which exist at Pipe Dream.RM pipe dream
  17. Pack Mule continues to be the world’s shortest, flattest carry. However, it does give a good primer to OCR carries to a newbie.
  18. “If you think it’s so easy Tretsch why aren’t you sprinting this carry?” Damn voices in my head……
  19. Where Balance or Bust was last year now looks like the workings of a lunatic gravedigger. His medium – dirt, his brush – track hoe. The Trenches are deep dry gashes in the earth to leap over. They are of various widths and at schizophrenic distances apart. Jump hop jump hop jump hop jump hop jump hop, what the fuck?! Looks like the “artist” got fast and loose with his brush; the last trench is significantly wider than the first five. If not for a firm dirt ledge a couple of inches down from the opposite edge, I’d still be trying get out of that hole.
  20. I love this part of GIHP; tight trails zigging and zagging through the woods. This must be what they are calling Haunted Forest. Yeah I’m haunted alright. Haunted by the fact my teammate is now ahead of me.
  21. BAM! A deer bounds across our path. The beauty, the grace; I’m sure this is a good omen and I’ll become one with nature, find my chi, my inner peace and……..FUCK! I can’t believe Frosty is in front of me.
  22. It’s fucking humid.
  23. Sweet mama Speed trap comes into view! It doesn’t matter knowing the mud pit will have a drop in it, it always gets with a surprise. I’m refreshed in a glorious coating of Georgia mud.
  24. I love vertical ladder walls. I always try to see what board I can get my foot on with the initial jump. I’m sure there is a mathematical equation in there somewhere [Height Achieved (Ht) = Miles Ran (mi)/the fucking heat index! (Fk)]. Beam Me Up delivers some lofty heights.
  25. I’m fully proficient on the Flip&Crab ™ technique on Let’s Cargo. The steep hill right afterwards? Well that just blows.
  26. Fuck! It’s seriously hot! If I wasn’t running I’d have a bad case of batwing (the struggle is real. #manproblems).
  27. The bubble butt rises again! I catch my drawers on the snaggletooth extravaganza that is Commando Crawl. Shit! I’m at least 30-40 seconds behind my teammate. I don’t have time for barbed wire pleasantries. I back that ass up and become FREE AT LAST!
  28. Quad Burners aren’t exactly the most welcome steep piles of dirt at this point in the race, but at least I’m not carrying a coffin filled with fucking sand bags!
  29. AGAIN! The Leap of Faith is more of a step of sanguinity. But oh lawdy!! That water feels fine!
  30. I love Antigravity! This is in my top 5 of all obstacles. How can you not love trampoline bouncing to cargo net A-frames?! The face plants of yore are replaced by mad ninja like grace in the now. Unfortunately it is tucked away behind the trees far from the festival area. This is where Gameface media needs to set up next year.Rugged Maniac Obstacle Antigravity
  31. Crap! I’m now a full minute behind my teammate.
  32. The Gauntlet is a one trick pony. If you’ve ever done RM you know those menacing looking heavy bags are actually giant pill shaped capsules of air. If time wasn’t an issue I’d rather take a dunk in the water.
  33. Jesus! It’s moist out!
  34. I run straight for the Frog Hop until a racer in 6th or 7th position stops me short coming the opposite way from Frog Hop, and lets me know I’m going the wrong way. Fuck! This is the third time this year I’ve gone off the reservation.
  35. I can now walk across a beam over water. Finally! It’s all about getting that breathing under control. I worry about the cross bracing between beams. These could really screw someone up if they slip off the beam. Rugged needs to redesign Balance or Bust.
  36. As I cruise towards Frog Hop I mentally replay the BattleFrog College Championships in my head. The things I learned: Speed (I think I have some left), land in the center of each float, and do not stop.
  37. The floats are in nice tight, neat rows. The runner ahead of me is a young kid and probably weighs less than my last poop, so the water is calm and the floats barely moving. I pick a lane on approach…and giddy up! The execution is surprisingly flawless given my well documented predilection for bungled bounding. RM Frog Hop
  38. I do three halfhearted hops at Pryomaniac before doing the final jump in an epic Gameface Media worthy leap. I had some small flames and plenty of heat, but I am once again denied the righteous flames of OCR badassery.
  39. I need more practice on suspended gymnastic rings. I’m no Bart Conner, but I still make it across The Ringer.
  40. I finally leave a couple of racers behind who had been nipping at my heels for the latter portion of the race. Obstacles can make ya’ or break ya’!
  41. With improved fitness over last year comes the ability to approach the next obstacle without stopping: The Warped Wall to Mount Maniac to Accelerator. Or as Rugged lists them; three separate obstacles. I call it one awesome mountain of fun.
  42. Warped Wall is one of the shorter ¼ pipes out there, and coupled with first wave dryness getting my chest above the rim is a groovy feeling.Rugged Maniac Warp wall
  43. I stumble on the cargo net that spans and climbs the gap between Warped Wall and Mount Maniac. My foot goes through the webbing and I’m all of sudden nuts deep on the net. If there had been a wave starting at that point I would have kicked someone in the head. Rugged you need to make it taller if you are going to have the starting waves go under.
  44. The bar across the top of Accelerator is a big bummer; I can’t do my typical jump up into the air for maximum speed, maximum fun.
  45. The pool at the bottom is shallow enough not to cause a problem trying to crawl out. Two quick steps and it’s over the finish line I go. My heart pounding like a jackhammer.
  46. I LOVE this race! They call it a 5k and it is (actually came in at 3.5 miles on my watch, but in the OCR world that’s dead to nuts spot on). The obstacles are a gas and the terrain, though hauntingly familiar, was just right. It’s a good race for the newbie and the seasoned veteran alike. I hope as Rugged continues to improve they break the age groups down into more of the usual ranges, to provide opportunities for more Bling.
  47. Tretsch says DO IT!

Prologue

A second lap is done, and maximum fun and muddiness is achieved. There was a siting of Sasquatch in and around the Speed Trap. We hang around at the top of the warped wall helping scores of people up and over. There is much grabbing (of legs, arms, ass) heaving, and lifting. The thank yous are very satisfying.

There is much merriment and beer drinking with my fellow Grey Berets and GORMRS. The festival area is abuzz with people enjoying the hot summer day, the vendor tents, and the jamming tunes.

 

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Green Beret Challenge Review

Green Beret Challenge, Atlanta, 2015

Prologue:

This was a different kind of event for me and requires a different approach to laying it down on paper. I mean after all, this was the very reason the Grey Berets were created; a geriatric powerhouse comprised of Scott Bennett – aka “The Patriarch”, Jae Lumley – “Dirty”, Richie Taylor – aka “Mr. Pink”, and me your humble “Scribe”. Titans of Tendonitis ready to take on what the GBC was going to throw at them.

This review can’t be just a collection of nonsensical ravings of a lunatic mind. “Dead is Dead!” Wait? What? It deserves a certain level of gravitas benefitting such a serious undertaking.

Oh fuck it! Who am I kidding?

6:20 AM, Dunkin’ Donuts– What the fuck do you mean there is no coffee?! This is Dunkin-as into coffee -Donuts! “Something wrong with the water in the area sir”. Shit!

6:40 AM, Waffle House – She is taking longer to write up the ticket for one coffee then it took to draft the Magna Carta. By hand?!

6:45 AM, QT – Morning rituals are nice. Race morning rituals are a necessity.

7:ish AM, Fort Yargo State Park – I roll up to the parking lot and see my fellow Grey Berets already there.

7:30 AM, Fort Yargo State Park – Sign in was a breeze. I didn’t have to. They had the team captain sign in their respective teammates. I heard of no problems.

Observations on the run:

CHAPTER 1 – WTF

The music is blaring out of funky LED lit (in GBC green no less) speakers. It’s deep and primal, ethereal. It has a Cirque du Soliel quality to it (this is good in my book). The Grey Berets go for a quick jog in the woods on what appears to be the actual course. We get back just in time to line up for the start.

 

Dark green smoke is ominous, and I get the cool factor and all. One could easily run the movie in your mind of oneself coming out from this cloud in super slo-mo, resplendent in you sponsored OCR gear, the bodies of all the competitors behind you stuck in the mud of your awesomeness. But like the blue smoke of Savage Race and the white smoke of Spartan Race, green still tastes like a shot of battery acid with a burnt benzene back.

A short run through the woods and then it was straight uphill under the shadow of a massive power line. The Grey Berets were doing a moderate pace knowing we had some tough tasks ahead. As Mark Ballas told us during the weeks leading to the race, “the pain would be legendary”, so we weren’t gonna sprint to it.

We reached the top of the hill to find a wooden ammo crate filled with an unknown heaviness for two team members and a 10 foot pole with 4 sandbags attached for the other two. “Well I guess we’re taking these fuckers for a walk boys!” So we walk, briskly. There is no running or even jogging with these awkward loads. And we walk, and we switch hands, and we switch shoulders and we switch loads. This painful pax de deux just kept fucking going. The sandbags are hanging by ropes and their gentle swaying is just enough of a distraction to keep us from reaching a synchronous gait while at the same time giving me a shot to the clockweights a couple of times. And we kept going. I knew we would be hauling heavy shit, but I was starting to wonder if we would be carrying said shit the entire time. And then the trail looked familiar and the realization sunk in that we were back near the starting line. Fuck me! This meant we would be carrying Satan’s testicles and his wooden box of horrors up that fucking power line hill! My idea of bringing shoulder width sections of pipe insulation to wrap the pipes with was already proving to be a prescient move. We gutted out the hill and finally reached the top. Well, that was a fun fucking one mile loop.

Green Beret Challenge Crates

CHAPTER 2 – Swamp Thing

Feeling light in the loafers after casting off the first load, we dropped into the woods for some trail running. After about a mile of running and general Grey Beret goofery we came upon a tidy but large pile of dirt. Next to it a sign read “Fill one sand bag per person and continue on course”. There was no one around. This was basically self-serve misery. There was a large pile of sandbags (helpfully stamped with huge black letters – “sandbags”) and the mound was stuck with multiple garden trowels like some sort of gardening Pinhead. We quickly reached an accord regarding what constituted full; to the top of the last ‘S’, basically enough to grab has a handle. I believe we were all inwardly thinking we didn’t want to come across as a team of sandbaggers. OH shit! That’s fucking funny! See what I did there?!

Green Beret Challenge Sandbags

We quickly doubled back to wade through the foreboding creek we had only just crossed over via a cool metal grate bridge. The creek was the kind of waterway that screamed Southern Gothic meets sci-fi horror. The water was black as night, the sunlight held at bay by a thick canopy of trees, unimaginable horrors lurking below the surface just waiting to pull us under. All I wanted to do was keep Satan’s fucking love lychee from getting wet so it wouldn’t end up weighing more than a certain OCR elite’s ego. (too soon?) The creek opened up to a wide expanse of water, picturesque in its swampiness. We slogged through the short distance under the watchful eye(socket) of a skeleton hanging from a parachute snagged in a tree. A rescue mission from last’s year’s event gone wrong perhaps? A few jokes flew regarding age and the Grey Berets. Spirits were high. The Shade of the trees and the coolness of the water were short-lived and was quickly replaced by a wide open firebreak. Our breezy attitude changed faster than a bride at a Filene’s Basement gown sale, as we hauled Satan’s man-satchels up one fucking hill after another.

The downside to a laser straight trail is you can see how far you have to go. The upside to hills is they obscure your ability to see how far you have to go. Either way we are fucked, as the bags weigh heavier on our shoulders and our minds with each step. I began to wonder what we would be doing with these evil polypropylene bags of hell. Would we have them for the rest of the day? Approaching the bottom of a particularly steep section of hill we came across some flexible plastic (body?) sleds. Each one holding two sandbags and no one in sight. There was a bit of confusion as to our next step, but luckily Mr. Pink had paid attention to the starting line announcements and was sure we were to continue upward. Ever fucking upward. Trudging on I looked back and wondered when we would see those things again. And we just kept fucking going up. By now I had shifted Satan’s nutsack from one shoulder, to the neck, to the other shoulder so many times it looked like I was voguing.

CHAPTER 3– The Undertaker

We top out to see a grouping of coffins in the distance. I knew from the social media mind games Mark Ballas had played prior to the event we would be hauling these vampire sleeping bags some way, somehow. And now as we approached, I knew with the certainty of the condemned what we would be doing with the sandbags we had been carrying for almost a mile.

Each rope handled pine box of pain came with four pipes and six short lengths of rope (and a fucking extra sandbag for good measure) like some kind of evil Boy Scout vampire camping kit. Mr. Pink and I made quick work with some skillful wrapping and frapping while Dirty supervised and Patriarch posed for pictures. The volunteer told us we were currently the second team. We were stoked and this gave us a tremendous boost of confidence. Counting to three we heaved the Antichrist’s assemblage to our shoulders, said a collective “what the fuck!?” and headed off into the woods. Almost immediately the approximate 300 pounds started to take its toll on my shoulders despite the cushion of the pipe insulation. This was going to be fucking miserable, and only made more so mentally by not knowing if we would return via the firebreak up that miserable fucking hill already traversed or from some other more gentle direction. The mood was lightened somewhat by a discussion regarding how terrible we would have been as litter bearers in the time of the Pharaohs. I am hitting my hydration pack like a tweaker on his last crack pipe. We come close enough to the firebreak to hear others making their way up the hill. We let out a battle cry; “GREY BERETS!” We at least remember our team name. Which is nice.

Green Beret Challenge Coffins

The trail was rough and uneven, and though we had lashed Beelzebub’s box of baubles to the frame with the extra two ropes, it always seemed it would come sliding off. We had a macabre debate about the injuries that would be sustained should the coffin fall. And we kept walking. Sometimes the trail opened up other times it was not much wider than our rig. Shifting shoulders was becoming more frequent for everyone as the feet turned into yards and the yards turned into fractions of miles. But unlike the sandbags, it required a full shoulder press to make this happen.

And then it happened; A subtle shift in direction and the inevitability that we would once again be climbing that godforsaken hill. This is not what I was thinking when I thought we would see the plastic sleds again. As we make our way up the hill and the last quarter mile, the grunts and groans get louder the breathing more labored, the shoulders having become fucking mush long ago. But there are people ahead and cameras in view. No looking weak now!

As we were breaking down our frame we got a chance to chat with some fellow GORMRs. Well, that was a fun almost fucking one mile loop.

Chapter 4 – Sandbabies

We continued on the firebreak, gladly leaving behind The Undertaker. If we felt light after Satan’s testicles, we were positively fucking buoyant now. The downhill run along the firebreak was like a handful of uppers after a 3 night bender in Vegas.

A quick left into the woods and I could see the backside of the damn through the trees looming over the trail. What labors of Hercules awaited us there? We arrived at the top of the damn to find another mound of dirt accompanied by a pile of flaccid sandbags and pierced with a multitude of more garden trowels. This time, however, there was a buzz of activity with volunteers, spectators and a videographer all very much interested in our collective misery. “Fill the bags to within a thumb length of the top. Just enough to be able to tie it closed”, commands the volunteer. Fuck me! I mean we didn’t puss out when we filled the first bags in anonymity, but this time the bags were going to be a good 2-5 pounds heavier! This is soon forgotten when a camera lens is stuck in my face while I claw at the dirt (garden trowels are for old English ladies with gingham aprons and pink wellies) with my hands. It’s film baby! And no self-respecting OCR runner, let alone a Grey Beret shirks from a camera. In my mind I spoke with the eloquence of JFK and projected the sex appeal of Denzel. But most likely, if I don’t end up on the “cutting room floor”, I will come across sounding more like Karl Childers and looking like Redd Foxx.

“Follow the damn towards that tent and then follow the red ribbon off to the right” are our marching orders. A scant 100 yards and down the steep back face of the dam we go. And then up. And then fucking down. The two shoulder shuffle in full effect. Come on vogue! Then up. Are you fucking kidding me!? Now hugging my sandbag like a lost puppy. And then down. And then up (for the love of…..!), finally arriving at the tent.

Chapters 5&6 – Packs of Pain and the Swim

We stumble to the tent as Team Fantastic Four is waiting for a final teammate and wrapping things up for the task we are about to do. A GBC member advises us we have one minute to decide who will swim and who will be a mule. Though the swim was with an old school life preserver that looked like a reject from Minecraft and the water did look refreshing, I and patriarch opted to Ruck. I’m a fucking idiot.

I have never rucked, don’t understand it and the rucks had more straps and buckles than Miss Kitty’s pleasure dungeon. I had no idea what the fuck I was doing. While Dirty and Mr. Pink made their way to the shoreline to frolic in the lake, Patriarch and I pack our rucks with two sandbags each. We about kill ourselves getting them on our backs and I almost topple over shifting the pack from “cattywampus” to “vertical enough to get going”. And off we go in a straight line away from the lake with 100 pounds of mother fucking earth threatening to pull my ass to the ground. We don’t go far before the trail breaks left. “Great!” I say. “This won’t be too long.” Then it breaks right going away from the lake. Another left and I think we are running roughly parallel with the shore, somewhere “over there”. And we keep going. Hints of civilization are popping up; a road here a parking lot there, a group of walkers looking at us with complete horror. My left shoulder strap is twisted and I know the ruck is not optimally positioned, packed or cinched but I don’t want to stop for fear I won’t get this beast back up on my shoulders. Both of us are walking stooped over like Yoda, less the cane. Shitty this ruck is. We weren’t saying much, both of us lost in our own misery. But every once in a while we would do a “systems check” and crack wise. And then for the second time that day a subtle shift in direction (this time left) made me think we were on the back turn. But the slog just kept fucking going and my ignorance to the way of the ruck was only compounding the pain. Then like a glorious Saharan mirage the lake appeared. And the gifts continued to rain down upon us with the deliverance of some sort of elevated concrete manhole structure. Yes! Oh Yes! A place to set down the pack that wasn’t the ground!

I miscalculated my selected portion of the structure relative to my waist height and ended up on my back like a fucking turtle, legs kicking arms, flailing. Patriarch looking at me like I was a dumbass. But I was free of the weight and it was glorious! We took a breather, I straightened my shit out and then we continued the slog. Shortly after we came to a point where we could see the shoreline from whence this ruck fuckery commenced and we knew we were going to make it. A short, and luckily firm, walk through the water and Dirty was there with a helping hand to get us on shore. The last 50 feet was a fucking steep brutal hillock upon which the tent stood. It’s as if every extra little inconvenience was found to force one to dig deep when you were at your lowest. I deposited myself and the ruck to the ground with the grace of an acid addled rave dancer.

Well, that was a fun fucking one mile loop.

“Break down your rucks and carry the sandbags back through the way you came”, says the GBC dude. Oh my fucking gawd! You have got to be fucking joking!?” We manage to make it back to the dirt mound without dying, though Patriarch did feel the wrath of a few hornets kicked up in the tall grass.

Chapter 7- Grey Matter

We are told each one of us must answer a question. Dirty’s eyes go wide as he explains that he “can’t remember shit guys!” I’m pulled aside for my question and I think to myself; “I got this. I paid attention to Mark’s Tuesday tips. I did my research on Special Forces groups. I know who Barry Sadler is for Christ’s sake!” Hit me!….. “What football team was the first to win four Super Bowls?” I swear I heard a trombone just before I said “huh?! What the fuck?!”

Of all the things in the world to ask, sports related questions are the worst. I do not follow professional sports of any kind. Football is a mystery to me with its billions of rules and hyper specific positions. I know less about football then I do about quantum mechanics. They took my surprise and epithet as a sign of defeat and were about to move on to my other teammates when it came to me, like a magical cartoon thought balloon. In that moment I knew my age was an asset where knowledge had failed. I grew up in the 70’s and there was but only one team that transcended the line between fan and non-fan and was squarely in the realm of overall popular culture; “the Steelers”, I answered. “Right you are! Don Pardo tell him what he has won!” Welllllll Alex, he’s won the opportunity to leave that heavy fucking sandbag behind and continue on unencumbered!” Unfortunately two of my teammates were not as correct.

Green Beret Challenge Water

Chapter 8 – The Sandman

The Grey Berets, suitably beaten up but still going, head into the woods with two very full sandbags. The trail is beautiful, shaded and offering nice views of lake. It is a fantastic opportunity to make up some time running, but we just can’t get the legs moving having to share the sandbags. We pass the time discussing all of our questions: Who wrote the Ballad of the Green Berets? (makes sense), what year was the green beret officially made part of the uniform? (makes sense, but required deeper B-side type research), who was the 41st president (tangential at best) and my question (way the fuck out from left field). But hey, it wasn’t standing at the Spartan memory board with a sharpie, it was a challenge. As we come around a bend we hear someone bellowing “you old guys have all the knowledge!” We look up to see team Fantastic 4 on an intersecting trail to ours and they are dragging those sleds we saw 3 days earlier at the nascent stages of the race. “We had to carry all four bags, and now we’re dragging them!” Well at least we knew what was to come. We continued along the lake until the trail turned left. “Back to the fucking firebreak” I groaned. And then the sleds appeared; evil renditions of the bits of plastic I used to sled on during the snowy months of my youth.

Not wanting to go one foot further than we had to, we selected the front sleds, added one of Satan’s Cornish pasty crimping to the two already in them, and got to setting them up. “Oh goody! More fucking straps!” Luckily Mr. Pink showed me the way as I was too mentally fried to deal with nylon webbing gymnastics. Dirty and Patriarch had no such issues. Our hydration packs were tapped out so we made a move to top them off at the small water jug. “Empty. They have gone to get more”, said the volunteer. “The fuck you say!” my brain cried. This spot was the nexus of three challenges and every team would pass through this point four times. One fucking jug of water was a slight miscalculation. “There is water up at the coffins” the volunteer continues with. This was great, because that was the direction we were headed, but it also fucking sucked because it was the same fucking hill we had just climbed two times before. Find a happy place, find a happy place. Awesome! Only a 150 pound sled and a quarter mile in the blazing sun between us and some high quality H2O.

Green Beret Challenge Heavy

And so we dragged the plastic planks of pain slowly up that hill, each Grey Beret trying to occupy the same spot of dirt so that both arms could be utilized for pulling. Again images of ancient Egypt popped into my melon. We were the slaves dragging huge blocks of limestone but without the benefits of large well lubricated logs. Exhaustion breeds bizarre hyperbole. During a short breather we look downhill to see team Fantastic 4 breaking down their sleds. We tell Patriarch to note the time. Ever upward.

We see some more GORMRs along the outer edge of the trail heading uphill with us. And though I pitied them for the coffins to come, we cheered them on while gaining some measure of strength from their return cheers. We reached the top and fell on the water jugs like dingoes on a baby.

While we enjoyed a bit of a respite, we were somewhat troubled to see the rules of The Undertaker had become lax to nonexistent. Dirty started to “help out”, but we had our own fucking misery to contend with. We had to keep on keeping on. So into the trees one more time. The flat and/or downhill trail made for an easier time dragging the sled. We started singing at the top of our lungs. We were getting loopy. Along the lake (déjà vu) we stopped for some nutrition and some good natured lamenting about the extra two sandbags. And then finally we reached the end of this challenge.

Well, that was a fun fucking one mile loop.

We broke down our sleds, piled our sandbags as instructed and headed off. What was the time?! We were 25 minutes behind team Fantastic 4. I was sure this was the last challenge as we had gone over eight miles by now. I feared 25 minutes was too much time to overcome in our current state. We were beaten up pretty good, but our spirits were still high and we hadn’t killed each other yet. The run, though in the sun, was downhill and we soon saw the lake. Our speed was less then blazing but we weren’t walking. I could feel my legs starting to shut down as we approached the wooden bridge that looked so tantalizing from afar at the beginning of the race. On the far end of the bridge I could tell there was a GBC sign, but without my glasses could not tell if the arrow pointed left or right. If right, our misery would soon be over as it would take us past the bottom of that retched Power line hill and towards where this madness started. If left, well, I may have just curled up into a fetal position and started sucking my thumb. YES! The arrow pointed right. I felt triumphant for our team in what we had accomplished so far. There was no hidden gear we shifted into, fueled by the-end-is-near-nitro, only the labored breathing and occasional grunts of the truly tired. The blue arrows suddenly had us veer off the trail and bushwack it towards the lake. And there it was, the finish line, on the other side of 100 yards of water, minimal in its trappings but glorious in its proximity. The water was cool and refreshing, and as we got closer to the opposite shore people started making their way down to greet us. And there was cheering and it was grand. We crossed the finished line holding hands as one unified team, and after 3 hours 40 minutes it was over.

Post Script:

I’m not one for contrived platitudes or even heartfelt truisms. I’m more snark than serious. And I don’t feel as if I have miraculously changed into a new person and my life’s path will forever be altered. I’m probably just not that kind of a person. However, this challenge gave me a new found concept of what the possible is.

I was shell-shocked after this event not only physically and mentally but also from the fact that I had just done something I was not entirely sure I was going to be able to do as well as my harshest critic, myself, would have thought. This event was the hardest thing I had ever done and it was brutal and maddening and awesome and fucking crazy, but it’s now a part of me. And I can now go forth in other racing endeavors with a touch more confidence and maybe dig a little deeper. At the very least I can always say; “At least it’s not a wood coffin filled with fucking sandbags……..”

Tretsch says DO IT!

Did you run The Green Beret Challenge?  Tell us all about it!

Green Beret Challenge Finish

The Grey Berets are Left to Right (minus photobomber), Scribe, Patriarch, Mr. Pink, and Dirty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almighty Mud Run 2015

Prologue

5:00 AM – Alabaster, Alabama – Wake up in a shrine to the University of Alabama football program. I feel dirty and cheap. I fear retribution from a particular anthropomorphized orange.
5:55 AM – Alabaster, Alabama – “Jimmy” the pimply faced morning manager at Chik-fil-A can’t seem to get the doors open. I guess it’s off to Waffle House for our much needed race fuel; the elixir of endurance, the potion for performance, the mud for mudding – Coffee.
6:00 AM – Alabaster, Alabama – No flipping large Styrofoam to go cups. Only four flipping cups left in the whole flipping Waffle House, and they are all “smalls”. We plunder them of all remaining cups.
6:05 AM – Route 65 South – The car is redolent with the smell of Waffle House wheat toast. My fellow Grey Berets are obviously epicureans of the highest order. I’m triple fisting with two cups of coffee and my usual pre-race smoothie.
6:45 AM – Billingsley, Alabama – We finally arrive at Bridges of Faith’s Bridgestone facility. Registration tent is literally in a picturesque grassy field with the free parking. I can see the start line 200 yards further on. It’s a fine morning.
7:03 AM – Billingsley, Alabama – The port-a-johns are a might close – as in 10 feet close – to the registration tent. I will not be held responsible as a result therein.
7:10 AM – Billingsley Alabama – The Grey Berets opt for the blue All-Star bracelet. Seven harder obstacles; complete each one and you get a hole punch in your bracelet. Get seven punches and you get the coveted blue Almighty bandana. I sense a new do-rag in my future….

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Observations on the Run:

1. Oops! No one heard the start signal. The RD coaxes us, with wild gesticulations, to start. It’s a bedlam beginning.
2. 25 yards out and it’s a 90 degree left turn. Thank you smaller people for being my bumpers.
3. Going out at a blazing pace. Might be an issue……
4. A quick downhill transitions immediately into a very steep uphill with 3 flipping Mini A-Frames in the way. That’s some evil snot right there.
5. What the flip!? How in the heck is going down and up, turn into down and up and down and up on the return?! Have I entered into some sort of topographic M.C. Escher?!
6. OOOO boy! I’m kind of gassed.
7. An easy Inverted (ladder) Wall with a jump gap to a slanted ladder wall over a muddy soupy mess. Perfect time to try the flip technique.
8. They are definitely using every hill they have.
9. I love tires on a steep incline/cliff! Must not use hands going up Tire Falls!

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10. Bifurcated culvert pipes turned into Water Slides sends me into a muddy mess of a Low Crawl. Good god! What is this stuff? The color of breast fed baby poop and the consistency of cake batter with too much undissolved sugar. Impossible to move quickly through and way too easy to get stuck in the morass. It’s flipping awesome!
11. Damn floppy horizontal Cargo Net! You mock my lack of grace!
12. Ahhhh! A dusty flat dirt road is nice, because I’m carrying 20lbs of cake batter in my shorts.
13. The Sun is bright and warm.
14. A smelly waist high Pond Crossing¸ but it is cool, wet, and it gets me back down to racing weight.
15. Finally! Into the trees for some shady trail running.
16. Here’s the first All-Star obstacle! Diamond Devil, the winning design in AMR’s recent obstacle design contest, is a beautiful construction to behold. It’s awkward and sketchy in a good way, but ultimately not too challenging, since it has been severely truncated from its original design. Bummer! Punch my band bro!

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17. Brick Carry, the second All-Star obstacle immediately follows. Rows of cinder blocks await in an open meadow to be escorted for a short, flat, jog/shuffle/walk. My 2 blocks are painted a lovely shade of All-Star blue and connected together with a short length of rope. I channel my inner oxen and haul them around the loop. OOO! That next obstacle looks long and fun. Punch my band bro!
18. I drop my load, ahem, and move on to the Gauntlet 50 feet away. Two huge culvert pipes loom ahead, their gloomy interiors mysterious with silhouettes of strange shapes. But first! A cool mud/water pit crawl under some logs. The 48” diameter pipes 30 feet beyond prove to be filled with tires of all sizes. I trip my way through the pipe with the grace of an elephant seal on dry land. Damn! No rest! Straight to a series of elevated horizontal logs to negotiate. No rest! A 5 foot wall and barb wire roll….times two. No rest! A quick scoot across some balance logs.
19. They are packing in some obstacles in this meadow! A couple of people are nipping at my heels.
20. No sooner have I jumped off the balance logs when it’s into a muddy pit to make my way through Steam Roller. Tires, loosely hung from 4x4s spanning the mud pit, force me down into the mud as I push back against their weight. It’s mildly claustrophobic. I get passed.
Writer’s note: Later, photographic evidence clearly shows a disturbing amount of butt cleavage. One more row of tires and I may well have had my first OCR wardrobe malfunction and some scrapes in unusual places.

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21. And the hits just keep coming! I start Muddy Cheerios thinking “oh hum, tires on the ground…..gee, fun”, then I round the bend. WHAT the flip!? Tires of all shapes and sizes as far as I can see going up a slight hill. I get into a rhythm by running on the sidewalls and try to catch the guy who passed me. They go on and on and on and on………………..
22. As I come around another bend I finally see the end of this infernal tire highway and catch a glimpse of the familiar blue chevrons denoting an All-Star obstacle. There’s just a bit of a line.
23. Sidewinder is monkey bars with bars parallel with the direction of travel and all not in the same line. Excellent twist, but not long enough. Punch my band bro!
24. A quick run along some old horse stalls – pastoral in their quiet decrepitude – and Tire Wall, the 4th All-Star obstacle appears. Two columns, of three humongous hanging tires each, flank a center grid of tires for the non All-Star lane. It’s a tricky climb that tops out at least 12 feet high. The transition to the down climb makes the heart skip a beat. Punch my band bro!
25. A quick climb up into the hay loft of the Barn. No time for nooky (my, that IS an idyllic spot for a hammock….wink wink nudge nudge) as it’s a quick sprint to other side to climb back down.
26. Back out onto a dirt road. I am feeling uncomfortably winded and the negative voices in my head are getting louder. What the hey, this is only a 5k!?
27. Backtracker is an interesting riff on the backwards uphill crawl, the usual cargo net having been replaced by monkey bars. However they are high enough off the ground to be able to keep my butt elevated and do a speedy reverse-crab-walk-monkey-bar-traverse hybrid. The “Crabkey”? “The Crabey”? “The Monkrab”? Lower those bars and it becomes an arm burner.
28. Back in the trees I stop, just literally stop. I’m tired. Why am I so flipping tired?! I walk a bit battling the voices in my head. I convince myself it’s the lack of consistent training runs due to being so flipping wrecked from the last few “big” races. Or I’m just a being a puss.
29. The All-Star version of the 8 and half foot Climbing Wall has the signature painted blue chevrons on its face in lieu of stepping blocks. Damn! Hanging from fingertips was not what I was expecting. Nothing like a heel hook to get you out of trouble. Punch my band bro!
30. It’s always cool when the obstacle allows for overlapping traffic. The Bridge has you traversing over the heads of people slogging through a very uneven mud pit on the way to the 6th All-Star obstacle.

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31. It’s out of the mud pit and immediately you’re climbing the very tall warped wall that is Escalator. Though the rope is braided nylon it proves not to be greasy and the top is reached with a big leg hook. Punch my band bro!
32. The final All-Star obstacle proves to be a doozy. Triple A-Frame is a huge A-frame, covered with a slippery All-Star logo emblazoned tarp that rises straight out of a thigh high swampy mess. The attachment of the rope on the slanted face of the wall at the top proves to make for a very tricky transition to a ¾” lip. Punch my band bro! The bandana will be mine!
33. Lowering myself on the other side (the mirror opposite of the approach side) is less than elegant. And now I am faced with a steep hill. Great.
34. The Polar Dip is well timed, as I am getting hot and more tired. Giant square blocks of white Styrofoam floating in the muddy water make the dumpster look like a giant mug of hot chocolate. This seems appropriate given the crackling fires of Fire Jump beyond. The blocks are a challenging add to this oft copied obstacle.
35. Three consecutive rows of blazing logs with tight spacing makes for awkward pacing and I am unable to successfully pull off “The Flash” ™.
36. I come out into an open field where the course is doubling back on itself. I can see the guy who passed me, my mental breakdown walk creating a gap too large to overcome.
37. The Low Crawl here is not “smooth” cake batter, but rather a wet rocky mess. Rolling under the logs keeps the scraping to a minimum.
38. Why do I have such trouble with floppy flaccid cargo nets? I finally get to the top of Oil Rig, get to the other side, and immediately take a high jump onto the slide. The water is refreshing and just the right depth.
39. Take another 180 turn and head straight towards Sheriff’s Taser. I have a philosophical issue with electrical obstacles; there is no physicality to them, no fun upside, and nothing but potential unhealthy downsides. BUT, I have to do all obstacles in the competitive wave to be eligible for placing. The dangly wires are spaced in such a way that I can cruise through them sideways without being touched. My hypocrisy goes unpunished.
40. A short run through the woods with an unwanted hill right before the finish line and it’s all over.
41. I remember to do the TretschStretch ™ as I cross the finish line at 41:29.
42. Despite wrestling with my demons and it becoming an unpleasant chore to finish (the second lap brought back the fun!) this is a great race for a good cause. Tretsch says DO it!

Postscript

9:00 AM – Finish Line – I cheer on my fellow GORMRs and Grey Berets crossing the finish line as I struggle to stand upright under the heavy load that is this amazing bling hanging around my neck.
9:10 AM – Finish Line – After a lot of “I don’t know, you wanna do it?”, and “I’ll do it if you do” the Grey Berets (3/4th of them anyways) decide to go for a second lap.
9:15 AM – Festival area – The Air Force tent has perfectly ripe bananas, water and Nilla Wafers. Nilla Wafers! This makes them the best post-race refreshment stop to date. The funnel cake truck tempts me with its powder sugar dusted fried goodness. BUT, a second lap awaits. I will however, come back to you, oh fresh squeezed lemonade stand to partake in your sugary citrus deliciousness.
9:30 AM – Starting Line – The Grey Berets plus one yuck it up as we start our second lap. It’s sunny, I’m with good friends, and there is no competition. It’s going to be a fine day

*Photos By: Tobias M.

BattleFrog Atlanta- Elite Experience

5:32 AM – Arrive at Dunkin Donuts for that sweet elixir of life; the fuel that fires the foolishness; my secret supplement of success; a large coffee– 2 creams – 2 sugars.

5:59 AM – QT, your freshly cleansed bathroom is a prerace delight, so therefore I want to apologize…….

6:16 AM – Roll into the VIP parking like a ballah.

6:24 AM – Look at that Biggest Team tent! It has to be at least 2.5x the size of the Spartan biggest team tent. Le Grand Chapiteau is going to be shading a lot of GORMR monkeys.

6:45 AM – The news flies through the festival area faster than a scalded haint; Elite men will be able to use feet on the Bridge over River Cry. I’m not gonna lie, this makes me happier than a baby in a barrel of boobies.

7:00 AM – It’s going to be a blue bell day, with sun, gorgeous skies, and beautiful temps……Damnnit! Where’s the rain? Where’s the unrelenting wrath of my sweet mistress of nature to level the playing field for those of us advanced of age and less swift of foot?

7:01 AM – Bib on. Numbers scrawled upon my person. Precious elite neoprene band on. GU tucked into my pockets. Time for the prerace jog.

7:15 AM- The call is made. Time to assemble in the starting corral.

Observations on the Run:
Readers note: *** = second lap thoughts

1. Coachpaine gets everyone pumped up. He tweaks the elites with regards to the Masters.
2. Having Overs, 12’ wall and Throughs right out of the gate requires a jackrabbit start to avoid the inevitable back-ups. Granted they are not long waits in the competitive wave, but it’s still precious time. Unfortunately I’m more off a jackass off the starting line.

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3. Damn heart is pounding like a fucking jackhammer! What the hell, all these jacks and no cokes!
4. The scorched earth of the Hill Scramble would have been more fun with some rain.
5. I still approach Unders with my damn brain yelling, “should I dive?! Should I roll?” This translates into……you guessed it; a form with no form. Less Bond, more Bean.
*** It’s just rolling a dead body under the wall at this point.
6. As I drop into the trees I get my breathing somewhat under control. Not exactly Kwai Chang Caine, but not Michael Meyers either.
*** Random dude #10 comes up beside me and gives me some encouraging words. We chat for a bit. His enthusiasm and pace put a little pep in my step. We chat and run together for a bit then he moves on.
7. So I’m climbing the Delta Ladder, my balls pretty much in my face because these damn 4x4s are spaced so far apart it seems like my right foot is behind my head, and this volunteer is yelling “the record is jumping from the 4th rung! I want to see from 5! Who’s going to break the record?!” “Are you fucking kidding me?!” I think while making my way down. “What kind of dumbass are you, inviting certain injury?!” I love my volunteers loud and enthusiastic (it’s just a great feeling to bathe in their joy of the sport and giving back, and much more appreciated than they will ever know), I don’t want them loud and moronic. Congratulations dude, you have become the very first inductee into Tretsch’s OCR Douchebag Hall of Fame (TOD HOF) – volunteer category.
*** TODHOF inductee #0001 has moved on, or has shut his piehole. I’m too busy trying to keep my overstretched hips from exploding to look around.

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8. Twisty downhill and – groan! – uphill wooded trails. Dappled sunlight. Perfect morning temps.
*** Fucking dappled sunlight! I sure could use some clouds and some rain.
9. It’s dry. Bone dry. Not a playful puddle in sight.
10. The butt-scootch method on Wedge Donovan isn’t so speedy when it’s not covered in mud and raining. Note to self; adapt to the nice conditions not just the shitty ones. A volunteer is cranking some good tunes from his cellphone.

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11. The 12’ Rope Wall is out in the open, surrounded by cracked earth, and baking in the golden radiance of a hot Georgia sun. Those ropes are going to be dryer than a popcorn fart. Which is nice.
12. I hit the 8’ Wall with a halfhearted attempt that leaves my right hand grasping diddly squat. “Well that’s embarrassing” I think as random dude #1 gives me a “you got this” on his way over.
13. For the second BattleFrog race in a row the first hydration station is not fully set up and we have to pour ourselves refreshment. The struggle is real.
*** I pull out a mustard packet. Such a delicious accompaniment to the electrolyte drink.
14. As I make my way through some great wooded trails I can hear the distinct sound of cowbells. Christopher Walken runs with me in my mind.
*** One of my GORMR teammates who is running BFX cruises on up to me. We chat and run together a bit, and then he moves on.
15. The Rope Climb is hanging from a cable strung between two trees. All of them deliciously dry. I pick a thick monster of a rope (no knots; they get in the way) to the far left. It gives an unsettling amount as I put my full weight on it. A weird sensation to be sure. I wish this climb was higher if not for the fact it’s over hard packed forest floor.

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16. I’m stalled out in a RosePose on the 6’ Wall, because random dude #2 decides to come up tight to my right side and I don’t want to kick him in the head. I need to learn the flip technique to my left. I need to learn the flip technique period. I’m tired of pinching my jibberstick and racking my hairy space hoppers on the leg over-straddle technique.
17. I really have to pee.
18. What is this strange dry gritty substance where my shoes find such good purchase?
19. “Try out the new shoe tying trick that’s all over Facebook,” I thought. “Don’t want to leave a good eyelet unused” I said. Than why the fuck does my right heel feel like it’s going to be worn down to bone by the end of this race?! It’s too early in the race for this shite, and I have no time for retying. I need a water obstacle to cool the foot fire.
*** Fucking heel! I’m not watching life hack videos ever again!
20. I hit the Delta Cargo, after pouring some water in my head and on my head, at the same time as random dude #3. This is a perfect opportunity to test my theory that the “Flip & Crab” ™ is faster than doing a leg over and then climbing down backwards. We both reach the top at the same time [Side note: To my newbie OCR friends who are climbing nets in a crowd; remember to only grab the vertical sections of rope/strap to avoid getting your hands stepped on.] I flip, he throws a leg. Suddenly, somehow, I’m staring straight down at the dirt 16 feet below me, my fingers in contact with………..NOTHING! And for that millisecond while the OCR gods decide to which side I will end up on this fulcrum of OH-fuckery, there is absolute molecule soaking terror. Time slows down and everything moves in exquisite John Woo slow motion, minus the white doves, as I teeter over the abyss. And then the OCR gods reach a decision and my fingers find straps. I crab walk down, my heart about to go all Ellen Ripley out of my chest, and I’m twenty yards down the trail by the time random dude #3 reaches the bottom of the net.
*** More people on the net this time, as the open wave and BFX runners have been passing me. Flip & Crab ™ goes off without a hitch. Still proves to be faster.
21. Fuck! THAT was scary.
22. “Well hello Jerry Can brothers! Shall we go for a stroll?”
23. This gloriously desiccated trail is rather narrow. “Keep going! Don’t Stop! Why thank you random dudes #4 through 8 for stopping to the side – on what little shoulder there is. Damn! I think I got this fucker! Yikes! Vertical wall to my left, small cliff to my right! Shit! Crowded hairpin turn with a big step up! Don’t stop! Hey, there’s the camera guy! Do I go for Blue Steel, a smile or gritted teeth?” The struggle is real. “There’s the finish! Don’t stop! Last little steep part Dig in!” Boom! “See you boys on the next lap!”
*** “OY! These feel heavier this time! The previous cans may have been a bit light on the water. I can’t be that tired!” I go from zero stops on the first lap to three on this one. Shit! On the way to TOTS, BattleFrog’s own David Moore introduces himself. We run and chat for a bit.
24. Fuck! My forearms and fingers are pumped out! No problem, I’ll just shake them out for a while as I run to the next……oh shit!
25. Tip of the Spear looked at lot further from the cans on the map! But the A-frames are dry and the ropes are manila. Ain’t gonna be but a thing!
26. I avail myself of the bushes and give my forearms a few more precious seconds of rest. “Hey, is that the Yellow River? Why can’t we be in there?”
27. I put my weight on the first rope and my forearms immediately demand an explanation for all this tomfuckery. “OOO boy! This is going to be a long obstacle! What the hell; an extra 8 feet of the ledger boards? That’s some evil shit right there.” My forearms are screaming bloody murder by the time the bell comes into reach.
*** The multiple stops at the cans of crazy, actually make TOTS easier this lap.
28. As I approach the Wreck Bag Carry I see some of the leaders dropping off their bags. I am sure this will be the last time I lay eyes on them.
*** Fasciculation flutters start to tickle my calves as I approach the bag pick up. Uh oh! I pound my last mustard packet…and no water in sight. I’ll be burping on that for a while.

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29. Dry grass trail and moderate hill grade?! What a treat! I can’t get more than a power walk up the hill. The rule of not letting the bag touch the ground while negotiating the 4 foot wall seems to be a bit goofy when I need only rest the bag on the wall as I climb over. The guy who got beaned in the noggin by a Wreck Bag in South Carolina would probably tell me to fuck off. As I jog downhill I get to shout out to a fellow Grey Beret coming up the hill. Unfortunately this will be the last time I see him.
*** I see another good friend coming up the hill as I stumble down the hill. “Good for you dude! You have made up some serious ground!!”
30. Nothing but a flat, dry and dusty dirt road for as far as the eye can see. Which is nice.
31. The volunteers at Slant Walls and Inverted Walls are loud and funny. I can’t help but smile.
*** The flutters turn into 10,000 volts of electricity as my left calf says “Howdy DOO! Fuck you!” Now I’m going to have to launch off my right foot. Awkwardness ensues.
32. I finally feel the need to drink some of the electrolyte stuff. Compared to the sloppy seconds of Succubus that was at Tough Mudder, this drink tastes like a ’47 Chateau Latour.
33. Dirty Name looks a whole more menacing over dry land. The ol’ jump, hug and spin move, while not elegant, works flawlessly. Hugging trees is what I do.
34. Mud Mounds finally! Time to get wet….finally! I have been worrying about these since the course map was released. They are far into the race, and if they are anything like South Carolina AND I’m by myself, I may very well not get out of the pits. The mounds are smaller! Annnnd, the first pit is shin deep. What the hell? The next two not much deeper. The water does feel good though. I must be getting tired and loopy, because I swear I smell coffee.
** David Moore (man, does it ever help to run with someone when you’re getting low in the tank) clears up my previous confusion and tells me, in fact there is coffee in the water and scattered on the mud mounds. This caffeinated delight all provided by a new sponsor. The sign “Mounds of Grounds” now makes sense and I feel a little bit less crazy. This is by far the BEST sponsor tie-in of any obstacle in the OCR world (yeah, I’m looking at you TM with your dumbass “skidmarked” name for an inverted wall). Genius. Now just make the damn things taller and deeper. D-Mo and I chat and run together a bit, then he moves on.
35. The dusty road to Perdition finally comes to an end as I take a sudden right and drop right into a scene plucked straight from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Primeval swamp? check. Wicked looking trees, black and menacing, rising form the fetid waters? Check. Candles throughout? Check. Wait! What? Scattered throughout the approach and into the water are Tiki torches assumedly filled with citronella oil. This is a great mosquito control idea on Battlefrog’s part, or volunteers setting the mood for some OCR sexy time. Either way I hit the vertical Swamp Cargo net with Captain Jack all googly eyed and slurry running all floppy through my mind. I use the flip technique here as well, but manage to take a shot to the gut with the support cable before I do. Ooof!
36. Swamp Cargo part dux is a bit of a challenge with the sloppy slippery face of the wall to negotiate before getting the net. Luckily a tree and two small roots prove effective at combating gravity. I can hear the music! The end…..of the first lap…..is nigh. My watch a happy harbinger of good news, as I calculate the first lap will happen in under an hour and I will get out ahead of the 8:30am BFX/first open wave at the backup causing first few obstacles.
37. The Festival area is fully awake now with (the more manageable decibel levels) sounds of great music and abuzz with the activity of spectators and racers as I round the corner and come out from under the trees. Despite the sun and dry weather 60 Degrees is still a bit slick with mud. And like in South Carolina, careful deliberate movements are the name of the game. My transition is still as awkward as a baby giraffe learning to walk.
38. I hear the cries of the grass gasping for water so I oblige by wiping my hands all over their shriveled blades. Monkey Bars are but 50 yards dead ahead.
39. UNLIKE South Carolina, not only are the ground and sky devoid of water but so are the monkey bars. Bonus! they start on an upward climb and end with a downward climb instead of the harder reverse! The overall length is just as long however. The whole assembly is so low to the ground to mitigate injury, as there is not an inviting muddy water pit below, that I must crouch down to avoid splitting my melon on the first two bars. All goes smoothly.
*** Redemption from South Carolina! The second lap goes even more smoothly than the first. As I drop down to the platform I yell. A loud primal yell. Guttural. Impassioned. Spontaneous. An Arms out, fists clenched, teeth bared kind of yell. I probably looked like Wolverine….except for the claws, the mutton chops…..oh, and the muscles, and the good looks. Shit! Never mind.

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40. As I run up to Bridge over River Cry, there are racers climbing, racers falling and racers standing there with “what the fuck?!” expressions on their faces. I pick a lane where random guy #9 is just about to finish. I have no idea what to expect. I have never climbed a caving ladder. Hell I’ve never even seen one in person. The damn thing is barely a hand and a half wide. It is clear it will require slow deliberate movements while keeping my weight completely centered on the rungs lest it rotate unexpectedly. “That pool of water looks to be rather shallow,” I think. But there is no time for reflection, only action. I’ll figure out how to transfer to that girthy 15’ tall wood pole when I get there. It has huge jugs on it so I’m not too worried……I think. It’s a wobbly awkward start reaching out to the furthest rung I can to lessen the number needed to finish. I pull my feet up and make the first tentative moves; hand, hand, foot on rung, foot on rung. As the pitch of the ladder gets steeper I decide to be more cautious and lessen the strain on the arms by wrapping my legs over the ladder and proceeding with a rope traverse type technique. I never look past the next rung my hand needs to go to. I don’t want to see how far I still have to go. At the end I grab a jug, cut feet, spin and cling to the pole. “You wondrous wooden shaft!” I say as climb down. My elite band is safe for the first lap.
*** Disaster almost strikes near the top when my left hand miscues and the cable ends up between my ring finger and my angry finger. The cable bites in hard as a good portion of my weight is supported by the two fingers on the rung. I manage to get my right hand on the next rung in time. I repeat the same transition as lap one and hit the ground with another guttural yell. My brain and body both in accord that I will finish with my band.

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41. I don’t get to do the Tsunami until the end. This makes me sad.
42. There is no cool lap transition obstacle. This makes me sad.
43. Repeat 1 through 40. Refer to ***
44. Finally I get a run at Tsunami. There is no long flat run up to the obstacle as in past races, but this proves not to be an issue with it being so dry. Out of superstition I pick the far right rope and in the immortal words of James Brown, “Get on up!” And without stopping I make for the slide. My apologies to random dude #11 who was sitting on the lip waiting to slide. I think I came really close to you as I jumped up to fall into the slide. Dick move on my part.

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45. I crawl through the Normandy Jacks as fast as I can, my back pressed against the wires. I’m too tired to crawl on my belly.

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46. And for the third time that day I yell out a scream as I cross the finish line. I’m done and I’m still rockin’ the rubber! It’s 9:30 AM and it’s a fine day.
47. What can I say, this race rocked! Dryer than I liked? Yes. Not enough water obstacles? Yes. But this is BattleFrog, if there are places for improvement it will be done. You want to be challenged, this is your race. Tretsch says DO it!

Postscript

For the first time I am able to hang for a while after the race and really soak in the atmosphere. The Music is at the right volume and the sun is shining. A couple of beers, some great fellowship, many laughs, much cheering for fellow Grey Berets/GORMRs and general goofing off makes for a fantastic morning.

1:00 PM – Thank god for biggest team perks. I hobble to my car only a hundred yards from the festival entrance.
1:03 PM – It’s going to be a long 40 miles………………………………………………….

*Photos By: Tiffany Rae Flock, John Montoya, Daniel Firment, Andy Sneller, and SeiberShots Photography.

Tough Mudder- Atlanta 2015

Prologue:

5:25 AM, Atlanta – What the hell? Was I drunk last night?! This race bag looks like it was packed by an amateur! No change of clothes, no trash bag, no packets of GU.

6:45 AM, Fairburn – “Take a right” she said. “You have arrived at your destination” she said. “Oh yeah Google Gail? Then where in the hell am I, and why do I not see one flippin’ Tough Mudder sign?!”

6:46 AM, Fairburn (I think) – I see a sign that reads “Purple Spectator Route.” Confusion permeates the car like my friend’s fart from 10 minutes ago. Stopping in the middle of this gravel road seems the best course of action. I take a pull from my delicious smoothie (I would like to thank TretschStretch Smoothies for giving me the fuel I need to race at peak performance.) and ponder our predicament.

6:47 AM, Random gravel road – I turn around, go a few yards and turn into a gravel drive and pull up to two barns. A mystery man appears from nowhere. “You here for that Tough Mudder?” “You bet your sweet ass orange headband we are!” “Go back down that road, veer right at the next fork. You’ll see it”

6:49 AM, Random gravel road – We are on the right track! I see Funky Monkey through the trees!

6:50 AM, Fairburn – Pull into a spot in a grassy field. We have not gone through the official parking entry. We are completely on the DL, but alas, it does not matter; I paid for parking online.

6:58 AM, Forever Fields – Will we ever get to Mudder Village? It’s cold. I fear we did not bring enough supplies for the journey.

7:01 AM, Endless gravel road – All hope is lost. We must now ration our dwindling resources. I take smaller sips of my prerace 20oz. of Dunkin’ Donuts magic elixir (Tretsch runs on Dunkin’).

7:03 AM, Endless gravel road – We make out the faint outlines of tents on the next rise. Glory! The end, or the beginning really, is in sight.

7:24 AM, Mudder Village – Starting to herd the cats, I mean team members, as they trickle in. It’s cold but the sun is fast rising from its slumber. It’s going to be a spectacular day. Time for a warm up jog.

7:45 AM, Mudder Village – Bag check separates me from my money. I get to place it in a horse stall myself. This will prove to be a prescient move.

7:53 AM, Mudder Village – As we head to the starting line, we run into two late arriving teammates. They have to bail on starting with us as they will not be ready in time. I am extremely bummed as I was looking forward to these two knuckleheads joining us for much merriment.

7:55 AM, Starting line area – 8:00 am wave has been closed. Shit! Can’t complain though, it’s not the one any of us were assigned to anyways. We are a team of bandits, so we gladly enter the warm-up zone for the 8:15 wave. We are still missing two teammates. In no time we are invited to enter the starting corral. I’m pretty excited. My FIRST Tough Mudder!

Observations on the run:

1. This M.C. is hilarious. His banter is a welcome change from the last two Saturdays of serious chest thumping, blood pumping rah-rah. Hey, our missing teammates, and they have brought a friend! We are now 6 scruffy men and 3 refined ladies.

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2. The surrounding rolling fields are beautiful. Look at all those fucking hills………..
3. We immediately get all up into these rolling fields and my legs let me know they are not happy about being abused for a fourth week in a row. Power walking the hills are the rule of the day.
4. We cross over what looks to be a fun subterranean crawling obstacle.
5. Kiss of mud starts things off with an easy barbed wire crawl. That first layer of filth going on smoother than a mineral mud body wrap at Spa Sydell.
6. Look at that glorious lake! Picture perfect with the early morning sun highlighting the mist coming off the surface of the water. OOOO! Look at that tree fall going into the lake! Can we climb it?
7. Pitfall is where the mirth starts as I lead the team into a watery, muddy pit and immediately drop waist high into a hidden hole. This obstacle is perfectly named. I can hear the laughter of my teammates behind me. It’s gonna be a good day. I’m grinning like a jackass eating cactus as I exit at the opposite end.

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8. The bucolic setting is invigorating as we continue running along the lake on a flat gravel road. Images of genteel afternoons spent in Burberry tweed whilst pursuing the equine arts trot through my mind.
9. Hey look there’s Balls Out! 8 foot+ A-frames with thick ropes, spaced 4+ feet apart, and hanging from the top; this is a variation on last week’s tip of the spear. I stay low to get as much rope as possible to run to the next rope. I wish the A-frames had been longer.

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10. The first hydration station appears up ahead. Never have I seen such huge coolers. Multi-spigoted monsters sitting on spindly steel legs; the stuff of nightmares for any football coach. We get our cups and go to the “trough”, I get some water and then decide to try the electrolyte drink. Fucking nasty doesn’t even scratch the adjective surface in describing this blue liquid. It seems like some fearsome combination of pedialyte, the horrific Robitussin from my youth, and the milking of Satan’s anal glands.
11. Hey look a dumpster! Bonus obstacle. The volunteers yell at me, my teammates laugh.
12. Into the woods we go. Time for some trail running! UGH! And hills!
13. Warrior Carry appears in the middle of nowhere. We are an even number of men, but an odd number of women. And then just like that a lone female, mysterious in her old school aviators, happens upon us just at the right time. We assimilate her like the Borg. Any animals still around are surely scared off by our general foolishness and horsefuckery, all at maximum decibels. All manner of carrying styles are employed.

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14. We come out of the woods after a beautiful but hilly and long trail run into an open field with a substantial hill leading us to Mystery?
15. It is a mystery. It’s a mystery as to why they didn’t put water into these pits dug into the ground. It’s a mystery why they didn’t make them wider. It’s a mystery why they bothered hauling a huge ass water tank up that hill.
16. More running. More beautiful surroundings. And then off in the distance, the faint sound of a bell. YES! King of the Swingers was nigh! THE obstacle I had been waiting for after watching stupid numbers of hours of TM YouTube videos! The team was very excited.
17. It is ginormous. A wonderful bricolage of wood, scaffolding, steel and plastic sheeting. I quickly climbed up to the platform 12’ (?) up. Holy crap the tiny little handle bar at the end of the swing bar looks even tinier in person and it’s WAY further away than it looks in the videos. There will be no leaning over and grabbing it; this is a full-on-you-gotta-commit kind of jump. Why do I hear calliope music in my head? Enough standing around…JUMP! Grip is good! Swinging….wheeeee! Release! Go for the bell! Now, here is where I messed up. I swing at that bell as if I’m Hakeem Olajuwon swatting the very soul out of John Starks. So as the bell makes the pretty, tinkling sound of success, I’m tumbling toward the water in my best imitation of a rag doll thrown by a petulant toddler. I hit the water with an impressive smack, taking almost the full brunt with my bald-headed giggle stick. The frog-lady in the water looks at me with concern. I think it was concern. Who can really tell given the goggles and the regulator? Fear not lady, I am quite used to the many ways I can inconvenience my wife’s best friend during an OCR.

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18. HOLY SHIT! That was awesome. I need to do that again!!!
19. There is cheering and support for other members of the team and then it’s off for a second swing. The bell went ‘ding-dong’ again without the dong being dinged.
20. I go off course and run downhill through the wild flowers, flapping my arms and acting the fool. Life is grand.
21. The second hydration station offers up gummies. Yum! I feel guilty, as if I’ve raided Lil’ B’s stash of princess fruit snacks; they are delicious. Then I remember sage words of advice I once read from more seasoned OCR runners; “don’t try anything new on race day”. OOPS! We’ll see how these little gelatinous morsels of modern chemistry affect me. I avoid the blue piss of Beezzlebub.
22. The team continues to remark how beautiful the surroundings are. “Still doesn’t make the fucking hills any flatter”, I mutter.
23. The damn bars on Funky Monkey (…..2.0 even) are small. I’m talking old school, 1970s era playground small. I HATE small diameter bars. You engage your thumbs the bars can tear your hands apart, hook them with just your fingers and you always have a chance of slipping. The trapeze thingy and the bars make for a cool variation. I stay dry today. It’s a great atmosphere at this obstacle and we are cheering on our ladies to be the first females of the day to get across. The grit they showed was tremendous, they hung in there like a hair in a biscuit. But alas, it was not meant to be. Next race!
24. Back into the open meadows and oh joy………more hills.
25. One of our young, OCR newbie teammates (exactly why in the hell are we letting two 18 year olds set the pace wonder the grey powers of the group?!…..) standing at the holes of Mineshafted asks, “Do I go in feet first?” “No! Head first!” was the resounding answer from the more seasoned (weathered, aged, well worn, grizzled, wizened….) members of the team. Sliding downwards you really feel like you are going deep underground. We pop out into a deep pit with a small but slippery slant wall. There’s just enough room to get a good two step run up to it.
26. As we drop down into the wide open spaces of the main meadow, we can see Everest up on the hill to our right. We should be there in no time……
27. Toilets and bananas; these water stations are no joke! It’s no use. I can’t fight the need. I’m worried about my calves. I must drink the blue bile of Nosferatu. I do a 50-50 mix with H2O.
28. I crouch down low to ease myself into the Birth Canal. As there has been no mud or water for quite some time, I feel inadequately lubricated. I plunge inward on hands and knees with ease. This ain’t so bad at all! And then WHAM……the inescapable reality of Hydrodynamics comes crushing down on my neck and shoulders, and I narrowly avoid planting my proboscis in the pampas. I had merely been pushing the water forward and when it could go no further it stacked up and squashed me. The last few feet I become one with the grass.
29. There is much laughter as the team makes all manner of indelicate comments regarding birth. We have no class.
30. The problem with open field running is you can see how fucking far you have to go.
31. My knees are starting to ache with the previous 3 weeks of competition still fresh in the muscle memory banks.
32. As we stare down into the pits of Mud Mile 2.0, I think we all had a collective “oh crap!” moment. These monsters were deep! “She puts the lotion into the basket” kind of deep. And there were 4 of them. Unless you punked out and went to the edges (and even that looked sketchy) there was no way you were getting out of those pits alone unless you had:
a. A jetpack. I left mine at home
b. Toe picks and a grappling hook
c. Strange mutant powers of the levitating/flying kind
d. A small dog for a hostage
33. The water was deep and the squelchy muddy bottom was constantly sucking at your feet. The pit walls were sheer cliffs. The dirt mounds offering nothing but handfuls of loose soil. Between the heaving and ho’ing, there was more ass grabbing then at a Tailhook convention. The air was filled with the sound of people having serious amounts of fun despite the serious amounts of effort being expended. We finish and one our teammates says, “Look we get to do it again on the way back!”
34. Back into the woods and it’s a slippery, muddy muckfest of a trail. I start to twitch as my memorabrarian (you know…..your memory librarian) goes and retrieves the Savage Race and Battlefrog replay reels. At least it’s flat. My hips and knees tell me to fuck off.
35. Beached Whale seemed to be underinflated as everyone gravitated towards the center and we became a scrum of bodies just trying to get to the other side. The fine mud grit between body and vinyl doing exfoliating wonders on exposed skin.
36. At mile marker 6 I looked at my watch and it said 7.5 miles. This kind of discrepancy had been the case for many miles. Clearly Tough Mudder miles are longer than mere normal human miles. My legs cried “but HOW will we know WHEN it will end?!?!”
37. The Berlin Walls were tall. Escape from New York kind of tall. The tallest of any race I have done. Even using the slippery 2x a couple of feet up with a weird step hop move, I barely got fingers over the greasy top. Myself and a couple of teammates camp out on top of the wall and help hoist people up, legs and ass going all over the place, while one of our other gentlemen helps from below. Ahem!

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38. For the next million miles it’s a slog of nasty mud; slicker than a harpooned hippo on a banana tree. My knees really are starting to hate me.
39. We stop at a water station after climbing the world’s tallest mound of mulch. A volunteer is greeting us with high fives and boundless enthusiasm. I’m now at a 3:4 ratio of Vulcan piss to water. Fifty yards away we can see the second loop of Mud Mile 2.0
40. MM2.0 second round is even worse than the first time. We hump it through with as much grace as a herd of water buffalo on rollerblades.
41. The running is flat but tiring through the thick grass.
42. I vowed not to do Cry Baby because of the multiple surgeries I have had on my left eye and not wanting to do anything to my remaining good eye. Besides, like Electroshocking, it’s just a stupid obstacle. Nonetheless I cheer on my teammates as they enter the toxic box and then pop out the other end, blue mentholated smoke trailing behind them. They all reek of Vick’s vapor rub 2.0 as we continue our adventure.
43. More open field running. More hills. It never ends.
44. The young’uns are kind enough to keep us in sight.
45. We make our way along the front side of Mudder Village and the Mini Mudder course until we arrive at Arctic Enema 2.0. All ice water obstacles are fucking cold. It’s just a cold hard (see what I did there) fact of Thermodynamics. But after the first time, any subsequent races are just varying degrees of cold and no need for panic (remember; slow, controlled breathing). Now, when you have to slide down a ramp under a chain link fence that disappears into the murky water to unknown depths, THAT’s a whole different story. One teammate and I are sitting at the top of the ramp and I’m thinking this icy mess has the color of the world’s largest skinny-half-caff iced-mocha-latte. Anything to keep my mind off the impending underwater negotiation around the leading edge of the fence. “3..2..1, go!” the slide is slick and fast, and we are in, under and out from the fence quicker than green grass through a goose. Peripheral vasoconstriction starts quickly, but testicular retraction is instantaneous as I bid my betty swollocks a fond farewell for a few hours. We climb over (there are those RDs in the OCR world that would have had us going underwater again TM. Just sayin’…) the middle barrier and make a quiet and dignified exit. We catch up to the vanguard of our team doing jumping jacks while they wait for us.

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46. People walking up the main access road enjoy the spectacle of tired cold wet runners before we disappear around the corner. “You’ll get yours soon enough…”
47. I’m chugging Smurf sewage like it’s Cristal. I no longer bother cutting it.
48. The water station is in the shadow of a spectacular barn; five star accommodations for the well-heeled horse. A huge earthen cliff, the remnants of the construction process is our next obstacle; Cliffhanger.
49. We run up a dirt ramp so that we can rappel down a 12 foot+ cliff. The rope is a monster and weighs a ton. This is some sketchy shit right here. We circle around and then climb a 30 foot face covered in cargo netting. “This is going to scare the fuck out of some people”, I muse.
50. More beautiful trail running. More fucking hills. I’m getting a hitch in my stride.
51. Bear crawling at The Liberator (This name makes absolutely no sense. Fire that intern TM!) works well and raised the net up sufficiently to help those behind me. A teammate slams her knee into an unmarked stump (Where’s the orange paint TM?) while crawling.
52. More running.
53. Will it ever end?!
54. We skirt along the backside of Mudder Village before dropping back into the trees. We are close!
55. THAT is the tallest inverted wall I have ever seen at any race! Skidmarked? What the hell does that have to do with anything?! It is a BIG leap just to get to the lip. Thankfully the lip is dry. Our team is alone at this obstacle, so we make short work of it with generous amounts of lifting and pushing. Some tires and a large corporate logo on the backside clears up the name confusion. Still makes no sense.
56. The location is ridiculously idyllic. There is a perfect little lake with a perfect little dock, just begging for cannonballs. I would drown at this point.
57. We round the corner and see Funky Monkey. We have done a monstrous figure-eight. A compulsory figure writ large over miles of woods, meadows, and mud.
58. What is this?! A teammate drops into a small creek along the roadside and immediately sinks up to his chest. It is the grossest, nastiest stretch of water in the history of OCR. I don’t even know what to call this fucking mess of mud, leaves, grass and god knows what else. At one point I literally felt I was going to disappear below the surface; sucked down by the mysterious muck below. One teammate doggie paddles across. She had the right idea.
59. We arrive at Everest covered in quickly drying black goo. The sun was shining and the end was near, and that HAD to have been the last hill or I was gonna fucking lose it. We take stock of the ¼ pipe that is Everest. It didn’t look that tall, though it did have an unusually large rounded lip. I take first crack at it. Run! Launch! Good height! Reach for the back of the lip and……….BUBKISS. The back of the lip had to be at least a foot beyond where my hands were now grasping for nothing but smooth plastic. My slide back to terra firma is quite elegant. I finally exhibit a bit of grace for the day. Second time’s the charm though. With two other teammates at the top we get everyone over the lip, and then help out a few more. It occurs to me what bravery and trust it takes to run up that beast and just jump towards outstretched hands hoping you will be caught.
60. Everest allows for a commanding view of the rolling hills and Mudder Village. It’s all downhill from here baby!
61. I promised my wife I would not do Electroshock, and I wasn’t going to do it anyways. It’s a stupid fucking obstacle with no physicality to it and nothing but downsides health wise. Luckily Deadringer was a Legionnaire’s option for bypassing electroshock. So, I bandit it. I was dying to try it. Some teammates joined me, others went the 10k volt route. “Hey, is that a BAR over there. I’m thirsty!” It was weird at first using the rings, but I eventually got into a rhythm. An Elaine Benes kind of rhythm, but a rhythm nonetheless and I made it across.

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62. We all convened at the exit of both obstacles and confirmed we would all be crossing the finish line together. Some were feeling the sting of electricity and some were lucky to have emerged unscathed.
63. We ran eight abreast through the barn, cheering ourselves, as we approached the finish line.
64. And then it was done. I am tired.
65. That was FUN!! I am no longer a Tough Mudder virgin! However, 11.81 miles in 3:11:34 a week after a brutal Battlefrog made it more like an uncomfortable romp in the backseat of a subcompact versus sweet love on a rose petal covered bear skin rug in front of a roaring fireplace at a ski chalet. Nonetheless as a team event it was a blast. I cannot speak to previous Tough Mudders, but Tretsch says DO it.

POSTSCRIPT

11:26 AM, Mudder Village – I just went through a gauntlet of swag. Towels, T-shirts, protein bars, supplement stuff, and beef jerky. I tear into the beef jerky package ravenous with hunger. Now I know what pairs perfectly with Satan’s blue ball sweat. Luckily a trash can is close by to spit this nastiness out.

11:30 AM, Mudder Village – I go to the bag check to retrieve my gear, while the others go check out Fire in your hole….I mean Ring of Fire and the hamster wheel thingy. The volunteer at the table shakes my hand and congratulates me on a job well done. All the volunteers today have been top drawer.

11:40 AM Mudder Village – I reluctantly get my beer. Am I the only one who hates Shocktop? Two races in a row with this crap. First world problems. The staff at the beer tent are just a wonderment of friendliness and service. The beer sucks, but their employees are aces!

11:45 AM Mudder Village – I’m whoopin’ it up watching some of my teammates attempt Satan’s bunghole……I mean Ring of Fire. I do not partake. I am not a Legionnaire and I am too much of a cheapass to pay for it. The action photo provided is a nice touch though.

Noonish, Mudder Village – The two young’uns appear, one has both her palms completely wrapped in gauze; the hamster wheel thingy has claimed another victim. We continue yucking it up and taking pictures, and then team members start to peel off.

12:45 PM, Mudder Showers – As I stand there on the hill, soaking up the sun, rinsed off as much as one can be with an old school spray nozzle, I reflect on the choices I made to get to a sport where I can stand amongst a crowd in nothing but my blue and black striped Voltron boxer briefs, and no one gives a rat’s ass.

12:47 PM, Mudder Showers – I meet one of my teammates coming out of the Legionnaire shower trailer (warm shower facilities?! There really is no other reason needed to run another TM), and we chat as I walk towards the changing tent. “Oh my gosh, I almost walked in there with you!” she says. “Ha, nothing to see but small shriveled [index finger and thumb a couple of inches apart]……..” I say loudly.

12:47:05, Changing Tent – 12 men turn around simultaneously as I walk in. Not a fucking sound. Outer space is noisier. Then they all bust out laughing……..

1:05 PM, Endless Gravel Road – The long trek back to the car is easier than in the morning. There is sun on my shoulders, story telling, and endless people watching.

*Photos By: Tough Mudder

 


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BattleFrog Carolinas Review- Part 2

As with all stories, they start at the beginning. So if you need to catch up you can do so here!

49. Refer back to 1 through 31, just more slippery, muddier, hellish and slower. Being a bit superstitious I take the exact same lanes at each obstacle as I did the first lap.

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50. It’s still fucking raining.
51. It keeps my spirits up realizing I am passing people from the 8:30 open wave.
52. I made a critical error going shirtless. I am starting to get seriously cold. It never fucking occurred to me that when it rains you never dry off from the cold water obstacles. CRAP!
53. By now that Electrolyte drink I spat out at the very first hydration station has become ambrosia. I down a cup of that shit and savor it like it was 23 year Pappy.
54. People are walking through the pond. It didn’t occur to me on the first lap to even check the depth. However it’s up to our shoulders and takes more effort to move in this manner. The water is colder or I am. I execute another fine imitation of my grandmother’s swimming form. I wonder if she’s looking down wondering what the fuck I am up to?

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55. The Wreck Bag hill has surely dropped down into deeper circles of Hell. There is now water freely flowing down the ruts. I pass two young, ripped meatheads as they are complaining and whining about wanting to drop the bag in situ (my latin…..certainly not theirs) and just head to the beer tent. “Bitches, you just got passed by a dude at least 15 years your senior…AND, the ladies have to carry the same bag!!” This gives me the mental boost I need to top out and finish this fucker.
56. The people doing BFX must be out of their fucking minds!
57. I am pretty much scared shitless as I crest over the top of 60 Degrees. I am exhausted, and this slippery ladder from hell requires supreme focus.

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58. Delta Ladder is a grind. The hips are complaining vociferously! I’m pretty scared shitless at the top of this one also.
59. I scan the crowd for my mom. I could REALLY use my sweatshirt and a towel. I need a moment to dry off before I tackle the Monkey Bars. No luck.
60. There, crumpled in a mess, is the same shirt. It’s wet of course, but somehow feels dryer than I am. I “dry” off my hands, excuse myself through a couple of guys resting on the platform and go. OOOOO! I can feel my body weight this time as I make my way down the first section. I think I got this. The flat section transition to the upward section takes tremendous effort. “DAMN! The gas light is going blinky, blinky, blinky!” I’m getting heavier but the grip feels solid. The end is fucking near! Three bars to go. Then nothing. I’m falling in a weird slow motion as I watch my right hand miss the bar. My left hand/shoulder not tooled up to take the unexpected weight shift. SPLASH! A few “Gosh Darns” and “Gee Whizzes” and I circle back to try again.
61. I could REALLY use my sweatshirt and a towel.
62. I ask a gentlemen spectator if he can get me a towel; anything to wipe off my hands. I almost jump over the fence and hug him when he comes back with one. Back I go.
63. 4 bars from the end and I stall out. Everything in my upper body telling me to fuck the hell off. I fall. I get out of the water and stand there dazed and confused, minus the weed, the hot young girls, and Matthew McConaughey. I hang out at the end platform like a lost puppy. Not really focusing on any one thing. My brain is shot. I can tell my shoulders won’t handle another trip through without a long rest. I am starting to shiver. I’m too cold to rest it out. I could REALLY use my sweatshirt and a towel. I give up my orange band as if it’s the last piece of chocolate on earth. I am defeated and demoralized.
64. I pick the same lane at Tsunami, cruise on up, top out and my calves immediately seize up. My screams are unmanly and unseemly. I get a helping hand up from another racer.
65. I can barely get out of the water.
66. The Normandy Jacks are a disaster of huge mud holes and ROCKY soil and low strung wire. My calves won’t cooperate, so I can’t bear crawl through this to avoid the sharp rocks. I drag myself through as the calves – sometimes only one, sometimes both – keep seizing up. I am going at a blistering 47.18 minute/mile pace. I note a large brown spider crawling out of one of the mud pits with me. “You best vacate this area most ricky ticky little arachnid dude!” Great! I am literally talking to spiders.

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67. And then it’s done. Garmin says 11.31 miles. I say Hell now has a mile marker.
68. THAT was fucking AWESOME!!!!! This course was brutal and so fantastic. Everything about it was textbook challenge. The inclement weather only made it better for an old dude like me. I fear it would give a first time OCR runner complete and utter shell shock from which they might not recover from to want to race another day. Nonetheless, Tretsch says DO it!

Postscript

April 25, 2015 10:50 AM – I am shivering. There is a worried look on my Mom’s face as she describes how blue/purple my lips and face are. I’m exhausted. I’m Done. “Daddy is it time for my race yet?!” says Lil’ B. “Man up Tretsch”, time to get warm and get the clothes changed so I can go to the most important race of the day; The Tadpole Dash.

April 25, 2015 11:05 AM – I am not letting that cold ass shower water go above my knees. Imma gonna just towel clean everything north of Kneecapistan.

April 25, 2015 11:10 AM – The changing tent floor is almost as bad as the festival area grounds. I find a small dry patch as mud squishes through my toes on the way there. Another dark material tent! Hello!? You can’t see in a tent that is fucking BLACK (or was it blue?), and blocks what little light there is on this rainy grey day. I’m near the open flap of the tent. I don’t care if the outside world can see my business. Not much there anyways given my body temperature. Every move, every task is done in exquisitely slow, shivering, exhausted movements. Getting my muddy feet through the legs of my boxers without getting them dirty is the 61st obstacle of the day. The rain has finally stopped.

Writer’s note: You, my dear reader, may choose to bail if you are not interested in the Kiddy races. I know it’s been a long slog with a Wreck Bag of words and you are probably tired and in need of some nourishment and hydration. Until next time.

April 25, 2015 11:23 AM – “Daddy is it time for my race yet?!” “No sweety. About a half hour”. “Don’t forget, Daddy, you need to write numbers on my arm….and a heart!” “Yes baby love.”

April 25, 2015 11:25 AM – “Daddy is it time for my race yet?!”

April 25, 2015 11:45 AM – “Sweety it’s time to get ready for your race!” “YEAH!! Don’t forget to write my numbers on my arm….and a heart. In pink!” “I know baby love.”

April 25, 11:55 AM – We are all gathered around as Mike Getka from Battlefrog teaches the children how to do 8-count body builders. The cuteness factor is pegging at 11. The parents are all jockeying for the best camera angles. I meet some guy name Ryan Atkins from Toronto and his huge Husky. Seems like a nice kid. Wonder if he is running the race today? My mom crushes that poor pup (the husky, not Ryan) under a barrage of loving and petting.

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April 25, 12ish PM – The Tadpole race starts. A big muddy puddle and a small wall and the air is filled with laughing screaming children. Down a sketchy hill, around a cool banked S curve and then it’s more mud and a tall dirt mountain. Unfortunately this is all going on in the woods and away from the festival area, so Lil’ B’s grandmother can’t enjoy the fun. Mud mounds and mud pits get the children really screaming, then it’s a steep hill climb. I am:
a. Filming with my phone
b. Trying not to bust my ass
c. Hoping my calves don’t explode into a post-race pile of mush.

Then it’s around the corner, a great volunteer cheering her head off for all the kids, and a huge (relative to this race’s age group of 4-8) Delta ladder/Cargo net comes into view. Must be almost 8’ tall. I’m a bit nervous, and I am sure Lil’ B was gonna balk and want me to help. Nope. As soon as a “lane” opened up she went straight up with nary a thought. Over and down the cargo net and it was back on! A stumble on some rocks, but good recovery and she then looks back and tells her old man to watch out. This is a valid concern on her part. So awesome.

A quick scramble up a hill without using rope and it was mini Normandy Jacks time. This was exactly the same as the adults down to the sharp rocks, gravelly soil and deep mud pits, only writ small. At this age it would have been better to be smooth mud. Bennett gets her medal from that kid Ryan. I guess he’s a big deal in the OCR world. I need to check that out. She gives me a couple of “Hooyahs!” and then says, “Daddy can we do it again?! I wanna do it again!” There’s no energy like 6 year old energy.

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April 25, 12:30 PM – Again, Lil’ B goes through the 8-count body builders with the older children who are going to run the Bullfrog 1 mile. Same start and initial route as before, but after the hill climb the course turns right in the shadow (if there had been sun) of a huge green sign that says one mile…and an arrow. I ask Lil’ B if she wants to do the 1 mile, and I get a resounding yes. I weep just a little on the inside for my legs. The trail winds through the woods, it’s quite lovely. I almost forget I just went through the same kind of bucolic surroundings…..except I didn’t. There are tall walls that Lil’ B gets a hoist up onto, but she nervously goes over the edge on her own while I go to the other side to catch. She has fun sliding down the backside of an inverse wall. There is some Over/Under/Throughs. The volunteers the whole time being helpful and supportive. “Daddy, I have to go potty!” Detour time! That tree looks nice.

Back on the trail there’s lots of muddy puddles to go through, and we seem to be alone. We catch up to some people at the lip of a HUGE (again, it’s all relative) mud pond/hole. Maybe 75 yards across. Mike Getka is there lending a helping hand. Lil’ B asks if it’s deep, she is assured it is not so for her height, proven by the children ahead of her already in the water with their parents. Surprise of surprises she goes in alone and fords the whole distance on her own, while I stand and chat with Mike and give him my two cents on the music volume. I run…..more of a zombie like shuffle….to the other side after she is across, yelling all sorts of proud parent things. “Daddy, can I do that again?!”

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Around she goes and does it again, this time completely alone in that watery expanse. A tiny dot of yellow, bright against the disgusting grey/brown of the muddy water. By now we are completely bringing up the rear of this race. And the love I feel for Battlefrog right now as I think about the amazing experience Bennett and I had while she was doing the last few obstacles with at least 10 volunteers, Mike Getka from Battlefrog, and a SeaBees upper mucketymuck cheering with unabashed enthusiasm for Bennett as she completed the course, is palpable. They had all just had a long day I’m sure, and to show that kind of support was just really touching.

April 25, 1ish PM – “Daddy can we do that again?!” “No, baby love. Not this time.”

And just like that…all good things come to an end! Again, be sure to check out Part 1 here if you missed out.

*Photos By: BattleFrog Race Series