BattleFrog Carolinas Review- Part 1

Saturday, April 25 5:30 AM Charlotte- my mom and Bennett have done very well at this early morning hour. There’s no grumpiness, everyone’s awake and moving. We get into the car…..and clickety, clickety, clickety, clickety! Fuck me! The distinct sound of a very dead battery! Immediately transfer all racing gear to mom’s car.

Saturday, April 25 5:50 AM- flying down the highway to try to get back on schedule. It’s dark and raining.

Saturday, April 25 6:31 AM Carolina Adventure World- relief washes over my body as I realize that the parking (which is very ample and located closely to the festival area) is on nice hard packed gravel. I will not have to worry about rain later in the day. I do not want a repeat of last week’s parking situation and sphincter puckering extraction there in.

Saturday, April 25, 6:37 AM – The fucking music is at 1,000 dB. I am in the Port-a-John having to brace myself with all appendages. The vibration of the thin plastic walls is disturbing. The sloshing is unsettling. The broken door lock may unlatch at any moment. I fear imminent implosion. I’m all for getting the blood pumped, but this is getting the blood boiled.

Saturday, April 25 6:40 AM- Hit a bit of a snafu at registration. They have me as a spectator. It’s early. I’m a bit of a dick to the volunteer. This is not the right kind attitude to have on race day. He reaches deep within the laptop, while maintaining a smile, and finally gets it straightened out.

Saturday, April 25 6:50 AM- Extremely pleased to see there is a huge tent that BattleFrog set up with tables and chairs. A mess hall if you will. My mom and Bennett are going to be able to stay dry for the day. This tent overlooks Tsunami, the monkey bars and the Delta ladder. “Holy Shit! Those monkey bars are longgggggg!”

Saturday, April 25 7:05 AM- Sky is so dark with gray clouds, it doesn’t look like the Sun will be seen for a century. It’s misting out and it’s cold. I have to admit to myself I’m a bit nervous about the upcoming race. The last BattleFrog I raced was the inaugural event in the ATL in 2014 when 15k was 7.1 miles, the monkey bars were flat and short, it was but one partially filled Jerry Can, and the obstacles were fewer. Now it’s two 8K laps for a total of 60 must complete obstacles, that are now obviously harder, in order to keep the coveted neoprene orange wristband. The warm-up jog calms the nerves.

Saturday, April 25 7:15 AM- I shed my shirt (this would later prove to be an unwise decision) and my mom goes ahead and writes the numbers on me. Finally, it’ll look like the numbers weren’t drawn on by a drunk person. I run over to the starting corral.

Saturday, April 25 7:20 AM – The elite (I really hate this word in the OCR world. It’s got the feeling of self- righteous douchebaggery. Not the athletes of course, just the word. Why can’t we use a real word, a normal word like competitive or pro. Elite is just so……….elite) wave is chock-full of OCR luminaries, with recognizable names like Atkins, Zwonitzer, Yuri, Corinna, and Claude. Rules are explained. Must complete all obstacles! “Got to keep that orange band on…..GOT to keep that orange band”! The MC gets everyone pumped up, some HOOYAHS are yelled, and it’s go time!

Observations on the run:

1. 200 yards out and we had the first obstacle. I’m never seen an obstacle that slowed down the frontline this much. Huge mud mounds with a steep drop into a vertical walled mud pit. Water is chest high! It’s a vertical climb out of the pit to another steep mud mound. Three times this happened. It was a struggle. I’ve never had so much competitive ass, male and female, in my hands before. We are all doing what it takes just to get out of that last pit. This proved later on to have set the tone of the entire race perfectly.


2. Long mud pit, a 20 foot tall steep dirt pile, and 12 foot ladder directly at the bottom was the lead-in to the start of the trail running.
3. The rain has started in earnest. Gonna get interesting.
4. The 2 inverted walls are tall and deeply in cut. A jump and a heel hook gets the job done. The rain allows for a smooth slide down the back face.
5. Holy shit! These trails are not fit for human legs. Deep ruts, carved into the earth by mud chewing 4 wheel drives, disappear into the gloom of the forest. A hump bisects these fucking channels of misery to create the third rail of today’s track. I can either run down the middle on a balance beam of mud, squeeze into the ruts, or take my chances on the high side walls of the trail. It ends up being a ballet of all three.
6. These fucking hills are tough. And I’m talking about the downhills.
7. Freedom from the woods! DAMN! That cargo net A-frame is talllllll and steep. Will the “flip and crab ™” work?! It does.
8. Uh oh! 2 Slant walls! (inverted walls in reverse). Going to be slippery. Today is not the day to try the flip technique on these. I flop over with my usual form-without-form form.
9. There’s the first water station! I always take the opportunity for some hydration. NOTHING set up! I yell at the volunteers. Where is this dickishness coming from this morning?! I must still be annoyed about my car not starting. “This attitude won’t work! It’s bad for me and certainly not fair to the volunteers. I have got to get myself right!” I have to rip open a package of Styrofoam cups myself and pour from a water cooler. Unexpected flavor as I realize it is a fucking nasty tasting electrolyte drink. I spit it out.
10. More sloppy wet trails from hell. The last 5 obstacles have been spaced pretty far apart.
11. And then I spy through the trees, Jerry Cans lined up in neat rows like tidy toy soldiers. I pick my two cans, fat fucks both of them, and move out. The 5 gallons, or as I like to say – 41.7# of liquid misery – feel familiar in each hand. The training had me prepared for their heft, but as I round the bend, the nightmarish 1:1 down slope of mud, rocks, and boulders was a complete surprise. Knowing what goes down must come up, I vowed to keep moving until at the least the uphill. At the bottom I round the bend and then my nightmare truly began. An even steeper longer climb awaited. At one point there was a small but fucking shear rock face that had to be negotiated. Who knew that jerry cans could be used as climbing aids?! Back into the woods, the steepness has subsided, the footing more comfortable with the soft cushioning of terrestrial humus, but the fucking end seems nowhere in sight. And then it appears through the dense scrim of trees, those tidy soldiers still waiting to crush others behind me. That was a quarter of a mile of hell if it was a foot!


12. Maybe someday I will be able to feel my forearms again.
13. The racers have really thinned out. I find myself alone for long stretches.
14. The trails have gotten more twisty, deeper and concave. Like running down a ½ pipe maintained by a tweaked out crackhead driving a Zaugg pipe monster with most of its blades missing. Its evil Chutes and Ladders.
15. I feel that earlier sense of annoyance literally wash away in the rain and mud. I’m feeling right, I’m feeling good. The trails are still nasty fuckers though.
16. And suddenly we are out of the woods and smack in the middle of a swamp.
17. I hear the sweet sounds of a volunteer (a GORMR) who recognizes me as I crawl under a cargo net in the muck.
18. There is mud. There is water. There is mud and water. Then there is the soul sucking muck we were hiking through. Running was not an option, and it seemed actually moving might not be one either. Every step a fucking struggle to free ones foot from the ravenous thirst of this muck beast. It was the Swamp of Despair or the Swamp of Sadness if you are a fan of Never Ending Story. I’ll be damned if I was going to be Artax. The hips were hurting and the thighs were burning and my knees were coming up higher than a bunch of stepping Alphas doing the Alpha Train. Unexpected holes and deeper mud beneath the water made for nasty surprises. But because of the relative earliness within the course I was able to keep on my feet and plow through.
19. Cattails and reeds were the gateway to a pond crossing. The waist+ high water was cool but not uncomfortable. Good sportsmanship was expressed as hidden logs and holes were identified by the other two racers sharing this watery jaunt with me.
20. Out of the pond and straight up a fucking hill. This wasn’t even a trail at first; rather a vertical bushwacking without any cigarette at the finish. Oh lovely, a tree fall to step (nee….climb) over! Mind the sharp fucking broken limb at crotch level.
21. Back out into the open of a fire break. 6 foot walls to flop over. The concept of bounding over anything now lying in broken misery at the bottom of the Swamp of Despair.
22. I can see the slant walls. Yes! There are other humans around! At least someone may find my broken and battered body in the not too distant future……I don’t want to be a speed bump for some hopped up redneck in a tricked out Chevy with a 48” lift.
23. A quick 12 foot rope climb (over rocks and dirt…….scary!! this may want to be reexamined) and it seemed that the run through the hilly trails of terror had come to an end. Glorious flatness as far as the eye could see. Still more fucking rutted than a herd of deer in a field outside a Cialis factory though.
24. Running along at a good pace when this lone volunteer, in the middle of fucking nowhere, on the side of the trail yells out, “ok, crawl under the wire!” “What fucking wi….” whoa! Brakes applied. I surely would have taken myself out at the knees, the thin silver wire barely visible to my race addled senses. Gonna have to remember this for the next lap!


25. Still doing the trail rut two step, but it’s flat, and that’s alright with me!
26. Through the wall! Under the Wall! Over the Wall! Rinse. Repeat.
27. My watch tells me I am just over the theoretical halfway point and it’s painfully clear I may not finish this first lap in under an hour. But, I am blissfully unaware of the shitstorm that awaits me and I forge on with the confidence of the stupid.
28. 8 foot wall. A female elite is struggling. I give words of encouragement as I haul my ass over the edge. Didn’t pinch the trouser trout this time. Things are looking up!
29. She repays me by cruising by me on the trail easy as you please. You go girl!
30. DAMN! That is a tall cargo net strung across the trail. Without a mess of people on the net keeping it taut, it is floppier than a pimp’s hat at the disco. It is surprisingly taxing on the arms.
31. Well hello there again elite female now struggling on the 12’ rope wall. I use the first board at thigh height to get up and realize why she is having so much trouble. The huge 2” (at least) thick rope is greasy with mud and wetness. Dry, you can just walk up the wall. Not gonna happen on this day. Will the rain ever fucking end!!? I grab the rope as high as I can and just hoist my right foot up to the second board 5 feet above the first board. Guess what? I flop over. And slide down the rope on the other side. I am rewarded with a view of a gnarly fucking hill in the distance. Yay. I leave behind my new acquaintance plus a couple of dudes also struggling.
32. Some more slippery fucking hills and then its swimming time. I am not a strong swimmer, but it seemed like only 50 yards. I jumped in. Fuck! COLD! I did the best imitation of my late grandmother swimming; a leisurely breast stroke with head held high so the bouffant would not get wet. All very civilized you see. My subconscious meanwhile sounded like a freaked out tweaker yelling in my mind’s ear; “You gonna have to do this again, man! You’re gonna be tired man! We’re gonna DROWN man!! Hey, hey…you got any GU on you?! I need a rush man!”
33. With the water still dripping off my body……oh wait, it’s still fucking raining, I come up on a hydration station and a pile of Wreck Bags. As I take a cup of water I look across the trail and lock eyes with Justin Rose. This gives me a huge boost, as I am a hell of lot closer than I would have ever imagined to people I never see after the start of the race until the beer tent! I am pumped! Than he says these four words as he drops off his bag; “That carry WAS brutal!” (or something like that. My brain is addled). “Well shit! That ain’t good!” The pump has sprung a leak. “Fuck it! Let’s get this done! I own one of these 50# sausages, I know a Wreck Bag!” I heave that fucker onto my shoulders and wear it like some kind of giant’s necklace, and take stock of where I am headed for the first time. I almost gasp as I look straight up a steep, rutted, muddy hill with no apparent end. Surely I have fallen to the 4th circle of hell. This hill has got to be at least 1:1! I drop the diesel into low gear and just grind my way up. This is the trail rut two step in fucking high-def super slo-mo, and there ain’t a damn TiVO in the world that’s gonna speed this hell up. The shoes are keeping me pretty locked in. This infernal rain is gonna really make it suck, at a molecular level, on the second lap. I see sky ahead. The top of the mount seemed to be only 50 yards away! Maybe? The grey, dead, lifeless sky never looked so beautiful! And then I had to climb over a waist high tree fall. Are you fucking kidding me?! Acord’s sadism seems to know no bounds. I crest the slope, but there is no elation. I’ve only walked up, up and AWAY from the bag drop and in front of me is a 6’ wall. WTF?! “Throw the bag over the wall and follow it!” (This will be amended by the second lap to be “place your bag ON the wall, make sure it’s clear, and tip it over!”), says the volunteer. Either way, as you may know by now, I will be as graceful as the Wreck Bag I’m following. On the way downhill I commiserate with a tiny female elite (there are no smaller bags for the women!), she complaining of the suckiness of the carry, and I grunting in agreement and trying to NOT bust ass and look like a chump. Strangely, I get a sudden feeling of enjoyment and realize I’m having a blast. A brutal, wet, sloppy, hellish blast, but a blast nonetheless. I am, of course, still on the first lap. Either that, or it was the booty shorts. A final sketchy downhill, a last fuck you up hill, a slog through some squelchy mud and the carry from hell is over. That had to be a half mile!


34. An hour as come and long gone. The digital readout on my watch mocking me; relentless in its ability to make time move forward faster than I would like.
35. I crest a short steep hill to an open plateau to behold Tip of the Spear, and I come face to face with the wondrous realities of mandatory obstacle completion mixed in with shitty weather and the way it can level the playing field like a 75 ton Caterpillar 657e Motor Scraper. There, before me, were a least a dozen people struggling on this obstacle. People I hadn’t seen since the start. People I recognize that I don’t EVER see after the start. I was floored. I was stoked. I was deliriously happy. I was needing to stop fucking standing there and get through this obs myself! Three 8 foot+ tall plywood A-frames. Two with short nylon ropes hanging down from the top and one with 3 horizontal boards running parallel with and just below the top. All separated by a 6’ long balance beam. Goal: ring the bell at the end. I know from the climbing gym I’m better going from left to right, which happens to be the front face of the first row closest to the approach. I hop on the step as a dude falls in front of me. Giddy up time! I’ve never done this obs before, but it’s clear that you need to stay high on the rope with a good crouch with feet firmly planted above the midpoint of the wall. The first three ropes are only about 24” apart, but the 4th rope leading to the last two ropes is a long 3foot+ reach. First A-frame complete as I shimmy down to the balance beam. My track record with anything balancey has been awful, so I literally shuffle across this 6 feet like a sloth on Xanax. Cross the second A-frame in a weird but successful position. A new form with no form. More slow shuffling. Damn! I’m gonna get this done! Third A-frame is done and the bell is fucking rung!

36. Cruise through the Wedge thingy. The mud and rain makes it easy to slide across with back pressed against wall.
37. A “quick” run through the open field (the flattest smoothest part all day), down some sketchy shit, up some sketchy shit (God knows #Effbeard doesn’t want us getting too cozy) and then we come up on a Circus Maximus from hell minus the chariots and the blood thirsty Romans. This obstacle clearly a mud bogging oval. As I drop in, I can imagine the roars of approval from PBR fueled spectators as machines clearly never meant to go on dry pavement, chew their way around this oval. I take clues from a couple of guys ahead of me, who keep dropping in and out of underwater holes and make my way to the edge where it is shallower and “less” mucky. I round the first turn and….”what the fuck?!”…..a sternum checker in the middle of the water. I step up onto the lower log, not sure what the fuck to do. I lean over and place my hands on the higher log. Well shit! Now I’m all stretched out! I push myself back upright, manage to stay upright, and then just jump. I manage to hang on as I spin around that log like a loose piece of roast lamb on a wire kebab. Make my way back to the edges and hightail it outta there.

38. More mud trudging misery shows up within a few hundred yards in the form of what can only be described as a mug bogging drag strip. This shit is horrible in the middle and on the edges and deeper too! The music, still a 1,000 fucking dB is starting to seep into my consciousness as I climb out of the water. I know I’m only 4 obstacles away from completing….oh wait, only the first lap!
39. Climb a short, but of course steep hill to get to the festival plateau and I’m looking at the last few obstacles – Battlefrog’s signature obstacles: Delta Ladder, Monkey Bars, and Tsunami, all in delicious quick succession. Then I focus and look straight up at “60 Degrees”. What kind of diabolical shit is this?! A “ladder” with six (was it 8?) 2” diameter rungs spaced about 20” apart leaning towards the approach at….well, 60 degrees I guess. Damn thing had to be ten feet tall. The pipes were wet and muddy and slick. I take this one with deliberation and soberness. My transition at the top was more torturous than an obstacle race series turning into a home shopping website.
40. “Has the Delta Ladder grown”?! That beast is scraping the grey off the clouds! “And these rungs, they seem further apart!” I have the flexibility of a steel beam, so getting that foot hiked up to each rung was a joy. From atop this aerie I searched for my daughter and my mom, hoping to feed off some energetic cheering. The “ants” below all look the same.
41. It’s still fucking raining
42. I hop up onto the Monkey Bars platform at the far right lane and spy a shirt hanging from the supports. “Is this yours I ask the volunteer?” “no”, he says. “Thank you random person out there who left this dry garment of delight hanging there. I’m sorry I used it as a hand towel.” And off I went. The bars just kept going……down. A quick flat then a relentlessly long angle upwards. Then it was over.


43. I run to the Tsunami, all 50 feet of it and eyeball this monster. It’s still fucking raining. No sense in hanging around, the second lap awaits. Pick the far left lane and go……and grab onto the slickest rope ever created by Satan. I stand there in the transition, giving halfhearted attempts at climbing but quickly realize it ain’t gonna happen with this braided trail of snot. I slide backwards and take stock for a moment. Several guys are struggling and then I see a small dude on the far right go up quick as a lick, easy as pie. THAT’s my rope! I happen to look to my right and see my mom standing there. She gives me a big smile and a thumb’s up. It’s giddy up time. Up, up, climb, climb, kick the leg out over the lip, and that fucker is conquered. A quick jump…..”Holy shit! I may have jumped too far out!!!” This slide is so steep it’s almost in cut. I manage to place ass to slide just before the transition and ride it out at warp fucking speed.


44. Why do I have so much trouble getting out of these pools of water with plastic linings?! I look like a baby taking its first steps, except you know, I’m six foot tall, old, and not in diapers……yet.
45. “Holy Fuck”, I whisper as I run towards Tunnel Rats for the lap transition, “THAT was a lap?!” Good God Almighty!!!”
46. Four little girls, in the brightest, most neon yellow t-shirts that modern chemistry can create, were standing adjacent to the entry to Tunnel Rats. I gave them a smile and a wink as I dropped in, feeding off their youthful energy and silly giggles.
47. I popped out on the other side feeling good. Feeling confident. Orange band still firmly affixed to my left wrist. I’m at a 1:23 split, so I missed my goal of a sub 60 by a Battlefrog mile. Will the open heats be a factor?
48. Time to do this shit all over again………

What will happen on Tretsch’s second lap? Will he survive the cold, wet course with his orange band? Be sure to check out the second installment of Tretsch’s journey.

*Photos By: BattleFrog Race Series


Savage Race Georgia – “Mud, Mud, and More Mud!”

Savage Race Georgia Prologue:

Friday, April 17th – I am trapped in the office. It has been raining for 5 days straight. I fear I shall not see the sun again.

Saturday April 18, 7:45 AM – It’s a grey, Pacific Northwest kind of grey, foggy day. The beautiful horses are resplendent in their grass munching indifference to the stream of cars pouring into the verdant grounds of the Moonlight Stables. As I am directed to my parking spot in the middle of the wet, hilly, and rutted grass field in my small low clearance car, I start to think Colossus may not be my biggest problem today. The registration is long at the Savage Race Georgia’s Pro™ bib numbers line. This is not surprising given our heat goes off in about an hour. This affords me the opportunity to have a nice chat with an OCR luminary; The Humble Hero, holder of eight axes. A nicer, faster guy you will not meet. The prerace Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (2 creams, 2 sugars. How do you Dunkin’) kicks in and I realize my Savage Race bib number sequence is the next line over. Boom! No line, and I am quickly in. And……….it’s a fucking mess. The mud is thick and squelchy, clearly showing the paths of all the heavy vehicles and equipment used during set up. I fail to grasp the significance of this obvious foreshadowing.

Saturday April 18, 8:10 AM – Once again, wonderful early rising magical GORMR elves have set up a fantastic tent area within the festival zone. The tent is electric with the buzz of the new SavagePro ™ concept and the blue rubber bracelet that will either be a boon or a bane once the finish line is crossed. Somehow I manage to get my gear on, have some pleasant conversation, body number myself and others, see a guy named John, get in a warm up run, and do some stretching all under an hour.

Saturday April 18, 9:00 AM – It’s Pro Go time! Giddy up!


Savage Race Georgia Observations on the run;

  1. I’m strangely subdued as the MC whips the Pro corral into a good Savage lather. I wonder if I should be concerned. “What’s that twinge in my knee”? “There’s some OCR heavyweights here!”, “Isn’t J.D’s kilt pretty?” “Hey look a Drone!” Jesus! My mind is all over the fucking place!
  2. Blue smoke is cool. Blue smoke does not taste like blueberries. Blue smoke tastes like a nasty fucking combination of burning crack house and exploding transformers.
  3. And SQUISH! The open field is immediately a foot sucking, ankle inhaling mess. Sloppier than the stables of King Augeas, and I’m no Hercules. But no worries, a majority of the running will be on easy wooded trails…….right?
  4. savage-race-georgiaA quick barbed wire crawl after a ¼ mile slog (oh legs, don’t start crying now!) starts things off Back to back to back to back……..fuck! Would it ever end…..5 foot walls separated by a quick roll (ouch! That knee went a bit too high! Zing!) under barbed wire got the blood good and pumped for the upcoming Shriveled Richard.
  5. My Richard and his two sons survived, having taken refuge to a pre-puberty safety zone.
  6. A sloppy crawl at Prairie Dog and then it was into the woods where surely this fucking mud would end.
  7. The creek to my left was moving at a good clip, swollen with a week’s worth of rain. I on the other hand was moving in the opposite direction at a more modest pace; slowed by the mud from a week’s worth of rain.
  8. That creek would make a good obstacle.
  9. Shit! Huge branch! I stumble as the branch kicks up and completely takes out the guy close behind me and to my right! Great…..I have gone from solving my face planting problems to now causing them. “Sorry man!” At least the mud is soft.
  10. First steep hill. This is Savage so it certainly won’t be the first. I take the advice from my friend Richie, during a discussion at a race a week prior, and power walk up that fucker. This will be my modus operandi for the day; conserve energy on the ups; King of the Crips of Cruisertown on the downs.
  11. Damn! These trails are fucking muddy! Cross slope running is pushing the limits of my ability to avoid clumsiness.
  12. So the twig and berries were just about to remerge when Thor’s Grundle appears like a blue painted mirage from hell in the middle of the forest. “Fuck this!” they say as I drop in. “We’ll see you at the beer tent!”
  13. savage-race-georgiaWith nary a dry anything to wipe my hands off with, I approached Pipe Dreams with a healthy dose of trepidation. The large diameter pipes, slick with wetness from the early morning dew and rain made for a sketchy, always on the razor’s edge trip across the water. Using the sideways shuffle technique allowed me to cover more distance in less moves (having a big wingspan helps) while also using the movement of the pipe to my advantage.
  14. The Universe likes balance: Ying & Yang, Action-Reaction, Peanut butter and Jelly. And so it was on a downhill cross slope going full tilt, my legs slipped out from underneath me. The mud and wet leaves cushioned my fall as a girl right behind me stepped directly on my ankle. Luck was on my side. A fine combination of being in the right position for the wrong reasons and a girl who was smaller than one of Cranky’s rucks. No damage done.
  15. Time to settle in for a long trail run until the next obs.
  16. Fuck these hills! Fuck it’s muddy! Writer’s note: I am pouring myself 3 fingers of bourbon just thinking about it.
  17. It’s thinned out pretty good by now. The leaders surely ½ way complete by now as I pace a couple of guys behind me and chase a couple ahead of me.
  18. A wall. Small rock climbing holds. Manna from heaven for a boulderer.
  19. If there be photographic evidence of me at the Sawhorses, I will scour the earth to make sure it is eradicated. Imagine a fish. Imagine a fish with legs. Imagine a fish with legs out of water. Imagine a floppy, gasping fish with legs. That was me humping over those damn poles. I have the grace of a hippo in ballet slippers.
  20. Back in the woods……the fucking wet, muddy, hilly woods.
  21. Mile 3 vibrates my watch. The elapsed time showing of 35 minutes is a wondrous surging kick of confidence. My legs are all like “so fucking what!” There is no storybook surge of power and speed that follows.
  22. Did I mention it was hilly……..and muddy?
  23. Me So Thorny was a bit of a downer, even as it gave me a sweet “kiss” just before I exited. Last year it was an eye tricking zig-zag. Now that was cool! But, it was still in the middle of the woods which is always good.
  24. I’ve been pretty much on my toes all morning and looking down to make sure said toes weren’t going into a bottomless hole, a soul sucking mud pit, an ankle snapping creek/gulley, etc., etc., …..So, in one of the rare moments of looking up I find myself at a “T” intersection. I look to my left and there are racers coming at me, and then go by me! I am baffled, befuddled, and bewildered. A feeling of dread comes sweeping in like the Santa Ana winds. Their gale force winds stoking a wild fire of confusion and anger. FUCK ME! I am lost!
  25. For a fraction of a second; the kind of minute time measurement that can only be quantified at a place like the Large Hadron Collider, I thought about just blending in and continuing on. I shook off that awful thought and backtracked the 100 yards from whence I brain farted. At least six people have passed me! Writer’s note: This happened where the trail after Sawhorses (obs. No.8) comes very close to where the trail exits the woods on the way to the Great Wall (obs. No.10). If I had followed through on that fleeting thought, I would have repeated a long part of the course I had already run and the OCR gods would have had one hell of a laugh.
  26. I break free of the woods at last and run straight into a field of wet, tall, heavy grass! Oh and muddy too. And rutty. And riddled with equine landmines.
  27. E.T. and his Reece’s Pieces decided to reappear just as I was approaching the Big Wall. Bad timing. Somehow I managed to pinch…..ummmm….the tip of the spear, and this wasn’t Battlefrog. Is there no end to the ways I can inconvenience my body?!
  28. The grass was endless. The muddy ruts endless. And then there was the game of horseshit hopscotch. If I was on my toes after 3.5 miles, I was positively En Pointe at this point. Fuck! Who doesn’t love some ballet humour!
  29. Fucking hills.
  30. I didn’t learn my lesson last week at Macon Mud Run regarding balance obs. I did not take a moment to find my inner Nadia Comaneci at Nuttsmasher. Two steps in and I had to make a quick jump back to the platform to avoid going in the drink. Back on and halfway across, shuffling like Tim Conway, I lose my balance. My instinct commands my right foot to go to the adjacent beam. So, there I was, one foot on my beam and one foot on my neighbor’s beam, and I was about to really find my inner Jean Claude Van Damme. The gigantic lens of a GameFace Media camera (great choice SR! great choice!) was pointed at me. There was no choice but to stick out my tongue and throw some metal horns; then I fell in. Shit! More people are now passing me! 3rd time’s a charm and it’s back on!
  31. savage-race-georgiaFucking tall, wet grass. Where’s a herd of hungry goats when you need them?!
  32. A cleansing 14 foot jump at Davey Jones was the pause that refreshed. With the course map in mind, I was ready for the onslaught of obs to come.
  33. A quick ladder climb. Great view. Well executed flip move.
  34. Will this grass/mud combo never fucking end!!?
  35. “Why are these culvert pipes set up like seesaws?” “In and up you say?” Wheeeeeee! A sudden and unannounced tip downwards has me squealing like Matt B. Davis finding the next new running section on the Beltline.
  36. Sometimes you need to keep this sport in perspective. An obs that makes you giggle is just the thing to do that.
  37. Missionary Impossible comes into view. I love it for two reasons: It’s not running, and it gets the shoulders loosened up for Sawtooth.
  38. That magnificent beast, Sawtooth, menacing in its assemblage of wood and steel, was there…….at the top of a fucking hill. Aggressive angularity ready to chew up and spit out even the most seasoned OCR racer. I hop up – ok, shuffle- to the launch deck. Take a deep breath (where was that at Nuttsmasher!?), grab the first bar, and “what the fuck?!” “textured paint on the bar?!” Oh, it’s on now! Giddy up.
  39. savage-race-georgia“Oh for fuck’s sake! More log hurdles!” They are in mud/water pits this time. Well if I take a digger at least there’s mud and water to break my fall, and spectators to enjoy the show. My form that has no form is floppingly flawless and I make it through.
  40. Back in the woods! I didn’t think I’d be happy about that after those first three miles, but let’s just say I won’t be doing a Julie Andrews number in an open meadow anytime soon.
  41. My wood for the woods doesn’t last long (getting old sucks……hehehe) as Big Ass Cargo Net comes into view…..sitting in a grassy field. I finally execute a flip move at the top without binding, pinching, or nipping any body parts. I crab walk down for the first time. This is a wondrous technique.
  42. Inverted walls (Venus Guy Trap? really SR?)! Cool! Ohhhhhh, no boards on the invert side. Smooth as melted chocolate with nowhere for the feet like in other races. Standing in the squelchy mud, the lip of the wall looked a mile up. A big jump, and BIG ol’ honkin’ heel hook, some ungentlemanly noises and I was up and over.
  43. The next inverted wall is reversed. Finally the mud becomes an asset as I jump straight down from the 8’ lip.
  44. There’s Slippery Incline. Fuck! Will these hills never end?!
  45. I get wood back at Lumberjack Lane.
  46. savage-race-georgiaFuck! Why must every major obs be majestically placed upon the peak of a hill, as if set up by Ingmar Bergman for a gloriously silhouetted scene straight out of The Seventh Seal?!
  47. Colussus, that fucking beast, gave me fits last Fall. This was the first obs I ever needed help on. Today there would be no help in the SavagePro ™ heat. As I had caught up to a guy, who I had chased down since being passed at Nuttsmasher, I had no time for reflection. He hits the pipe first, so I gotta giddy up! Good approach, shitty attack! Good grip on the rope! Lean back! Fucking climb! Commit to the lip! SHIT! not much of a lip! No turning back! I AM keeping this blue rubber bracelet today! Heave! HO! I’m up! A high jump onto the slide for maximum thrills and it is enema time!
  48. savage-race-georgiaGetting out of the Colossus pool was one of the hardest most awkward tasks all day! That plastic was slicker than two slugs fucking on a marble floor. I’m out and passing who I need to pass.
  49. Finally! Finally! Finally! I get flames to jump over and not just smoldering smoky ashes! Not roaring righteous flames of OCR badassery mind you, but flames nonetheless. I don’t have enough gas in the tank for the epic photo worthy jump.
  50. I can see the finish line and it’s DOWNHILL from here!
  51. I try two pulling methods at Block Party: hand over hand, and one big pull combined with leaning back. Neither have obvious advantages. Both clearly expose how tired I am.
  52. Cruising down the hill, I see a young guy about to take the last turn and he’s not paying attention. I feel a surge of competiveness (who knows what place I’m in, where I might land in the standings?!) and I kick it into full on sprint mode. I pass that dude just before the finish line. Stick a fork in me, I am fucking done. And, I have my blue rubber bracelet still on!
  53. This race was fucking awesome! It was muddy. It was hilly. It was grand. Savage put together a fantastic race. Do this race in the Fall. Tretsch says DO IT!


Savage Race Georgia PostScript:

April 18, 10:30 AM – The beer is cold, the grilled cheese sandwich out of this world, and the post-race camaraderie just fantastic. Stories are told, experiences shared, fellow racers cheered through the finish line.

April 18, 11:30 AM – Unfortunately I have to cut it short and head home back to the family. My podium moment will just have to wait for another race. I don’t bother with a rinse off as I am pretty much dry and mud free (except for the feet of course. The festival area has only gotten worse since the first heat.). Flip flops make for a treacherous walk back to the car, as a feeling of panic starts creeping over my body. I drive a Mazda 3i hatchback. How the fuck am I going to get out of this mess?!

April 18, 11:40 AM – I start the car, more nervous than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. The girl in the 4 runner next to me starts to back out. All I hear is the distinct sound of tires spinning against slick earth. OOO! Boy! I slip it into reverse and ease out. Success. I use the Tiptronic feature and roll the car in first gear. It’s a downhill start, rutted by not too bad. I see some muddy ugliness at the bottom of this small hill. I kick the speed up a bit, go to 2nd and slide through the mud, and then I have to stop! A small pickup is spinning his tires trying to back out and is blocking the way.

April 18, 11:45 AM- I get out to help the guy. My calves have been one twitch away from full seizure since I crossed the finish line (still wearing the compression sleeves), so I am nervous to do some pushing. But hey, I may be in the same predicament at any moment. Many hands make easy work and I’m back in the car. No issues starting back up in this flat area.

April 18, 11:47 AM – I crest over another small hill and see a clusterfuck of mud on the opposite uphill. A couple of cars have stopped on the uphill, so I bide my time still pointing downhill. They manage to get through. I pick up some speed and hit the hill. “Remember Snowpocalypse! No stopping on an uphill climb! Never stop!” The traction is getting squirrely has the car shimmies to and fro.

April 18, 11:49 AM – I am clear of the grass field! Sweet! Nothing but smooth sailing on gravel from here on…….SHIT! it’s even worse! Up ahead is an absolute nightmare of mud. Flat but still deep and thick! Three cars ahead is that white pickup I helped, its rear end moving around worse than a twerking Miley Cyrus. All of them make it through and I hold my breath and go. The mud has got to be half way up the tires in some places. I can feel the bottom of the car being scraped by mud and gravel. I’m shimmying around like M.C. Hammer. Glory of glories, I am out!

April 18, 11:54 AM- My tires touch firm wondrous pavement. After two additional sketchy hills, some cursing and laughing I made it through the last obstacle of the day! The OCR gods were plentiful with their blessings on the race course, but they were downright magnanimous with their miracles in getting me the fuck out of that sloppy mess. By no rights should I have been able to get out of there with my car, and in another couple of hours I’m not sure I would have. I turn right to head home with a smile on my face and mud in my ears.

 *Photos By: Gameface Media, Jay Naval, Jeff Milsaps, and Lloyd Parker.

Macon Mud Run 2015 Review

The Macon Mud Run’s competitive 7k wave starts at a civilized 10:30 AM. In the OCR first wave world that may as well be happy hour the next day. Having completely brain farted the math on the trip time from the ATL, I arrived a full 2 hours early. And what did I receive for my mathematical mix-up? A parking space 25 feet from the starting line. This race is on the grounds of the Hephzibah Children’s Home (and fully benefitting this great organization) so there is plenty of parking for the mathematically challenged and anyone else arriving up to a half hour after the festival area officially opened at 9:00 AM. After that, there is remote parking, whether by foot (much closer than at GA. Int’l Horse Park) or by shuttle (definitely not close to approaching Warrior Dash distances). I was able to roam around and check out some of the obvious additions/improvements to last year’s course. It looked pretty damn awesome. This was my first repeat race since starting this OCR madness in March of MM14, so I was eager to start.


Observations on the run:
1. As I stood with my back to the maniac with the inch and a quarter attack fire hose blasting us with icy water, my nipples becoming potential weapons, I reflected on the awesomeness of standing in a 100 foot long mud pit that was the starting corral. Divided into thirds by large humps, the official starting line was at the end of the first third. You had to walk from the end of the entire pit, in squelchy mud and knee deep water to get there. I quickly noted if I stood too long without moving my feet I would be stuck. There is no waiting for mud at this race!
2. Thankfully the horn went off, I got a quick start over the hump and into the first pit we went. And… was ankle deep. Sweet! A quick exit was to be had! Then the bottom dropped out. Hidden in the murkiness of the muddy water was a deeper pit. Its greedy maw taking out a few people right at the get go. I managed to stay on my feet (a surprise to be sure given my clumsiness) and got out of the pit first. The complexity continued with a fairly tight dog leg right on a pretty steep hill. This would prove very slippery on the second lap.

3. Over/Unders are pretty standard but using large wooden cable spools makes it more interesting. Those things do not have the ground clearance you would think; the scratches on my man boobs can attest. Hey dude in front of me! You were supposed to go under the first set! Oh well, the arrows were a bit faded. Time for some new and brighter paint.
4. Having run last year I knew the turn coming up meant the spur (creating the 7K from the main 5k course) was about to start, and I was pumped for “Don’t look down”. Three tree falls 8 feet above/across a creek. Mildly terrifying since it is not a nice man made water filled hole that one could reasonably feel good about falling into. With visions of last year’s tumble into the water running through my brain, I took a deep breath and glided across. My new grippy La Sportivas proved their worth. Editor’s note: I have it on authority that the portion of creek under the trees has been cleared to relative smoothness.

log crossing
5. The trail running is beautiful. The forest gloriously green in Spring splendor. The ups and downs of mini ravines already making the legs complain.
6. Hey look! Boards strung between trees! I love ladder obstacles, and in the middle of the woods, even better. They needed to be twice as tall.
7. Wait a second! What is this? Why is there a tiny little steel pipe spanning this creek and a limp noodle of a rope “handrail” next to it? Damn pipe can’t be more than 2” in diameter. I’m by myself (though feeling the heat of a couple of guys behind me pushing the pace),so there’s no one else crossing that I might steal some “beta” off of. This is some circus high wire type shit here! I mean I’m no Philippe Petit. I step on and lean too heavily on the rope that has wayyyy too much slack in it. Somehow I manage not to fall, and quickly realize I need to push into the rope towards the direction I’m going. Pleased this was not any longer of a traverse. LOVEd it!
8. More trail running. Some creek swimming/wading (always a good thing) and the classic rope climb appears. No knots, but dry. An easy 12 foot climb. These classic OCR obstacles always take on a different more primal feel when they are plunked down in the middle of the woods. Somehow they feel more right in these locations.
9. More leg crushing ravine drops and climbs.
10. There is this fantastic stretch in the woods where all the ground cover and low limbs/branches have been cleared and it’s nothing but hundreds of 1”-3” diameter saplings between the course marking tape. It was like riding in the trees on a great powder day. You pick a line and just go. Very peaceful, if it weren’t for the sound of the freight train that was my heart. What the hell, Tretsch? You need to get your breathing in check!
11. I have absolutely no grace going over the log hurdles (logs strung between trees at chest height). I’m a bug’s push away from falling flat on my face at any moment, plus I lose precious seconds with my form that has no form. I need some ups.
12. There it is, Major Mud and Mud Mountain! The 7K spur is done and it’s time to get my legs chewed up by hundreds of mud pits and the mounds of dirt that used to occupy those voids.


13. “The Graveyard” is a brobdingnagian checkerboard straight out of Wonderland consisting of 21 pits and 25 mounds and I am confused on what to do given some barriers at the beginning. I drop in and cross this madness like a draughts master on a game winning jumping binge.
14. Ugh! A hill climb. Oh and a wire (no barbed wire here) crawl! That’s new. I see a couple of nice barn buildings at the top of the hill and some paddocks. A picturesque scene. Then it’s a first class ticket to cruiserville on the downhill with more pits and mounds.
15. Hey sweet volunteers at the first water station, how many people ahead me?
Girl #1; “6 maybe 7”
Girl #2; “6!”
Girl #3; “about 20”………..huh?! WTF?
16. I know what’s coming around that bend. A long fucking hill……….
17. Hey look a quick detour down into a deep ravine. That ought to give the legs a rest. Oh! I have to climb back out……..
18. Back to the same fucking hill.
19. Finally I drop back into the woods. I quickly start to feel like a fresh faced doughboy on his first day at the Western Front, as I bounce in and out of trenches. The legs are holding up though….the lungs, not so much.
20. With the warm weather we had prior to the race, the Polar Vortex #1 is more like a tepid eddy. Still a welcome swim/wade across the pond.
21. Still feeling the presence of a couple of guys pushing the pace. Not quite at my heels but definitely a concern.
22. Coming out of the woods and there are those barn buildings!
23. I jump up on the first stump of “Stump Hopper” without stopping. Bad move, I lose my balance on the first and second try! Tricky; all different diameters, but none bigger than 6” and all different heights. Damnit! Two guys are passing me. I get control of my breathing and cruise through on the third try.
24. More pits and tall mounds on a twisty course through the open meadow allow me to regain on one of the guys who passed me.
25. Holy shit! look at the size of those tires! ALL of them at least 3 feet in diameter. I’ve punctured a tire, changed a tire, hell I’ve even cleaned a few tires, but I have never flipped a tire in my life. I pick the pink one. My mind wanders thinking why I would do that. I lean down, grab a hold, and……..nothing. Fuck! This thing is heavy and filled with water. I’ve committed to this pink tire, so I just get into all contorted types of positions as I flip this thing towards the opposite side of the paddock. Dammit! My struggles put me behind the original two guys who passed me plus and additional guy! I ruminate on how there are not smaller tires for the ladies.
26. I race out of the paddock and turn the corner to see the three cruising downhill on the shoulder of the road and then disappear around the corner. Shit!
27. And then salvation! A Traverse wall; a new obstacle for the Macon Mud Run, it appears under the shadows of a large picnic pavilion. All three who passed me are struggling. This obstacle is my peanut butter and jam and I get a glimmer of hope. I step up onto the picnic table to access the wall. Whoa! 3 feet off the ground, the hard…packed…dirt ground! This needs to be addressed next year. No need to put a traverse wall (if not over a water pit) more than a few inches off the ground. Every hand hold and foothold is of a different shape and size, including triangles! THIS is an awesome innovation on an OCR standard. Well played, MMR….well played. I cruise through leaving behind 2 of the three who had passed me, and race towards the second pond crossing. I can see “the kid” 2/3s of the way across doing leisurely back strokes.
28. I run up on the dock, with the voice of a volunteer telling me not to dive, and dive in. A very shallow racing dive to be sure (the second lap would of course be a cannonball…..because duh, it’s a dock and a pond and that’s how it’s supposed to be done) ‘cuz I have ground to make up. I use the rope to pull myself across as quickly as possible. This proves difficult with the pool noodles wrapped around the rope.
29. I’m able to keep “the kid” in my sites as we run along the road, but my legs just won’t shift into a higher gear. Damn all those glorious trenches, ravines, mud pits and mud mounds. You did a job on my legs!
30. I “sprint” across a 30 foot+ telephone. One of three spanning a muddy, murky pit. I love how long these things are! And they have a bit of bounce once you get to the middle!
31. As I finish up another creek crawl (I LOVE creeks!) A sweet, girl volunteer pelts me with mud as she says, “you’re not muddy enough!” I love the enthusiasm…….I nail her with a mud ball on my second lap.
32. I see “the kid” in front of me at the top of the hill climbing a serious mud mountain with huge 2 foot tall steps. I am losing ground and this fucking hill does not help. And as I drop into yet another mud pit, along Zebulon road on the way to the mud stairs, one of the dudes who had been nipping at my heels ever since I had retaken him, passes me. Damnit! I can now tell the tank is starting to empty.
33. We drop back into the woods for a short jaunt and then around the bend appears the highlight of the race; a cornucopia of clay, a profusion of pits, a myriad of mounds, and an absolute bedlam of begrimery. TWO huge mountains dominate the middle of a maze of course ribbon. Each one carved with huge steps on the approach side, a smooth hill on backside and pierced with plastic culvert pipes near their apices. A tortuous, circuitous route of mud pits and mounds leads to each one. And because you double back on each one (thus going THROUGH the mountains via the culvert pipes) at one point I was literally on top of the dude who passed me. Frustrating.
34. Two deep trenches covered with a construction of wood framing and steel mesh, meant a trip on my back pulling myself along. With only my nose, mouth and forehead above the waterline all the external sounds faded away and I was left with my moment of zen; listening to my breathing (which was now under control) and that unique aural experience you only get when your ears are underwater. And then it was over and it was back ON baby!
35. I had lost the kid and the dude around the corner. Knowing where I was on the course because of my experience last year, and given the state of my legs, it was an unfortunate reality that I was not going to catch either of them.
36. Back into the woods and then out of the woods and boom! There was the festival area and a throng of enthusiastic spectators and volunteers. And I was pumped for what was coming next.
37. Having wandered around earlier I was able to review MMR’s classic end game before the finish line; an 8’-9’ quarter pipe literally carved into the side of the hill. A skater’s jam wrought in Georgia clay. This was followed by the classic downhill slippery slide to mud pit denouement. BUT…. MMR had added three diabolical twists.
a. They built yet another high stepping mud mound fifty feet in front of the quarter pipe. Great! I get a nice downhill running start. Ahhhhh, not so fast young grasshopper.
b. At the bottom of this slope they had dug a firepit! What the what?!
c. The quarter pipe had no ropes.
38. I lumbered up the steps, took no pause, and raced down the backside of this last fucking mud mound. I jumped over the fire pit (and YET again, I am denied the righteous flames of OCR badassery and merely chew on some thick oaky smoke) and hit the pipe at full speed. The calves cooperate and I am up and out with no issue.
39. I run half way down the slip and slide before I remember to….you know, slide.
40. A cool medal, a bottle of water and some yummy Clif bars and I am done! That was awesome. A good burn on the legs and lungs.
41. I wait for Richie to cross the finish line and we decide to do a second lap. This becomes a goofball affair of mud ball slinging, wallering in the mud pits like fat summer hogs, yucking it up, helping people out who are struggling, and generally just acting like children……..playing in the mud.


This race is a fantastic way to experience a mud race, still do some obstacles and definitely get in some good training for you competitive types all while contributing to a good cause. As an added bonus to all you OCR families out there, within the festival area is a children’s zone with three huge bouncy houses/slides and carnival games. This is where you can drop your child off (you and your child get matching wrist bands for obvious reasons), for free, in the care of volunteers from Stone Edge Church, while you can go and race. Let me repeat that; FREE! So, you haven’t paid for parking, you haven’t paid for spectating and now you get to race while your children go bananas in the bouncy houses…..for free.
Put this race on your calendar. Do it. Tretsch says so.

bouncy houses

*Photos By: Gameface Media, Woody Marshall with Macon Telegraph, and Robert Tretsch.


Atlanta Spartan Sprint 2015


This was to be my first Spartan, and being one week shy of exactly one year since I started this whole OCR insanity, I was eager to test my newfound fitness against this well-known racing series. At the same time I was a bit bummed as I had been fighting the fucking phlegm monster for a month, and that little prick decided to make a guest appearance just a few days before the race. My racing buddy and I arrived at GIHP at 6:45 in the AM and it was 26 fucking degrees. The kind of cold that only feels worse because you know you’ll be wet and muddy very soon. The ½ mile walk from the parking area was not an unwelcome bit of warm up. Check in was a breeze. I mean when isn’t it when you’re there before the sun is up? We walked into the festival over rutted and frozen ground passing under the cargo bridge obstacle. This would prove to be a cooler experience on the way out when it was covered in racers, but know it was just a quiet welcoming hulk. We found the biggest team tent and parked my newest piece of OCR gear – a four wheel collapsible cart with 250 lbs. of crap carrying capacity. Everything in the tent was covered in fucking frost! Did I mention it was ass puckering cold? I had already decided to wear a long sleeve compression shirt and forgo making yet another group of racers suffer through my blinding whiteness, but I was still unsure about pants versus shorts. Quick hellos were said to my fellow GORMRs. As we unpacked our gear and race packets the cold started to really seep in and the decision was made; Compression tights (hey Athletics8! You need a 46 year old with middling fitness to pull in the cougar demographic?). This proved to be a highly prescient choice. Some of the GORMR ladies seemed to appreciate my Marvel Comic boxer briefs (About to do their 11th race. Barbed wire inflicted holes and all) when I dropped trou. They could have been laughing AT me. Did I mention it was fucking cold? Anyways, my trusty, 10 races tested board shorts were still going on over the compression tights. No one needed to see my Mamel Toe. Did my usual race prep in those strange plastic boxes lined up like Qin Shi Huang’s terracotta army on the other side of the jumbled mess that was the festival area. Went for a, (now a habit at GIHP), pre-race jog to the parking area and back. And just like the weather report predicted the “fair Lady Georgia shone her golden radiance down upon” Sparta. Perhaps we might get to just plain freezing by the 8:00 am start time.

spartan 4

Notes for the Reader

I was to end up doing two laps; my original 8:00 am heat and the 10:45 am heat with the bulk of my fellow GORMRs. One * means the second time on the obs (obstacle) was easier because of increased temps, 1st lap knowledge, etc. Two ** means it was harder because of muddiness, tiredness, etc…

  1. The drones flying overhead while in the starting corral had a menacing…umm, drone, which gave me a “this shit’s about to get real” kind of feeling.
  2. Singing the National Anthem A capella style due to an A/V snafu (side note: I think this was staged. It happened in Tampa also) proved without a shadow of a doubt that I have the singing voice akin to two cats fucking. Have you heard that sound? It ain’t pleasant.
  3. 200 yards in and we had mud and water filled Moats. I leapt over these like my life depended on it. Though sunny it had not topped the freezing mark. I was able to only get my left foot wet, but it was an icy taste of what was to come.
  4. **The Hurdles location was a rookie mistake Spartan! 300 yards out was too close to the start for such an obvious back-up causing obs. Having the beam turned 45 degrees was a devious touch though.
  5. **Walls. You jump. You pull. You crank with your leg. Better the second time around when your hands were full of GORMR ass, helping out like only a true OCR gentleman would.
  6. **I had been looking forward to the Z Wall ever since I heard they had added these kinks to the linearity of the original traverse wall. As I suspected, it was right in my bouldering wheelhouse, and my very first Spartan bell was rung. An anemic “ding” (the bell was hung up and not hanging freely), but a “ding” none the less.
  7. *Caution! Monkey Bars will freeze before the trail. Love that they are different spacing different heights and large diameter (though not good with frost and ice).
  8. *Stairway to Spartan was a good combo of wall and delta ladder. Frost on the wood made for “good times” at 16 feet.
  9. Decided to try the flip technique on the Vertical Cargo Managed not to kill myself, but I imagine I looked like a flopping fish. Second time around was flawless and caught on camera. Cameraman: “Hey Spartan! Look!” Me: “Hey cameraman; flip with Blue Steel!”
  10. Getting to hustle past the largest team tent with your fellow team members cheering you on was pure OCR gold. An adrenaline shot straight to the heart from Uma Thurman herself. I’m no square Daddy-O, I’m a GORMR.
  11. I always try to jump up as many rungs on any A-frame type obs (less climbing), and since the Cargo Bridge was only a mile into the race I was able to get up to the third board. Then it dawned on me, there were people watching! Damnit! Where was the flair, the joie de vivre, the smile?! All business. I was clearly slacking.
  12. Hercules Hoist. Hoist a heavy bag. Try not to burst a blood vessel…. or bust a nut. Physics and a fucking huge log were in my favor.
  13. Loved the “non-trail” portions of the course. I could hear the braying of the hounds, the shouts from the screws! I wasn’t going back to the joint! You coppers would hav…….wait? what?! Shit! Watch out for that low hanging limb!
  14. I broke my streak of falling flat on my face.
  15. *And then the Rolling Mud (mud pits with mud humps) appeared. As I descended into the first mud/water pit, I bid adieu to my balls, knowing I would not see (or feel them) for quite some time. Each mound progressively higher, each pit of water progressively deeper. This of course makes perfect sense upon later reflection, but when your nuts are seeking shelter in your chest cavity and your feet have become lifeless stumps, the fundamentals of civil engineering escape your immediate understanding.
  16. As I waited for my buddy to enjoy the “pleasures” of these pits, I looked back towards them. I was struck by the bright sun highlighting the steam rising from the heads and bodies of my fellow racers. Reminded me of my time sharing a hot spring with Japanese Macaques in Jigokudani; Our heads steaming like a New York City sidewalk grate. Oh wait, that was a National Geographic article. Shit! I can’t feel………….anything.
  17. Pounding my legs as if they were pizza dough and a moderate hill climb gets the blood pumping again.
  18. **”Fill a bucket!” “To the holes!” “Black buckets for men, red buckets for women!” I better not see that bucket on your shoulder Spartan!” The Bucket Carry was a bitch. I didn’t stop. It sucked. Passed people I did not expect to pass.
  19. Running down the trail looking like Jim Carrey in that tranquilizer dart scene from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.
  20. **Inverted Wall! Thank god! Get some blood back into the overcooked linguini that are my arms!
  21. **Tough hill climb. They are getting easier than last year.
  22. **Oh goody, it’s the Sandbag Carry! First rocks now sand! That soft squishy pancake was like neoprene heaven compared to those evil plastic buckets from the 9th circle of hell.
  23. *Hey what’s this random bulletin board doing in the middle of the woods? Wait! Why is there a word and a series of numbers next to the last two digits of my prison…..err, bib number?! And why the fuck are they written upside down?! So here I am with several others, heads cocked to the side like a puppy hearing its name for the first time, attempting to read this code from U.N.C.L.E. To the guy who used the sharpie that was lying there on the 2x, that’s cheating fucker!
  24. I was starting to really dig this bushwacking/running thing. And I was managing to keep my face from getting fresh with Mother Earth. It was a fine day.
  25. Sierra-322-7038…..over…and over….and over…..and over………….again!
  26. **Nice and sketchy use of tree fall on a steep downhill.
  27. Come around a bend and boom! A huge cliff of impressive dimensions looms overhead…..covered in cargo netting?! FUN! Hell, I imagine, for acrophobics. Strange jelly legs at the top. Nerves or fatigue?
  28. As I write, I cannot picture what was in those heavy ass steel plate sleds at Plate Drag. Since there were not 8 tiny reindeer available (despite the freezing temps) I had to pull that sled myself. Glad that huge spike was there to brace off of.
  29. Balls to rival my own. Less blue, more concrete. Both cold as the rocks of Torneo’s hoary brow. The Atlas Carry is heavy as fuck for us smaller dudes. First burpees of the day, and they were a required part of the obs. I was determined they would be my only burpees!
  30. spartan 1The Double Up was another obs in the wheel house of a climber – Two handed pull, heel hook, crank with the leg, and reach for the upper bar with the right hand. Boom! And……not so graceful on the dismount.
  31. I was now fully appreciating the “Bear” Novakovich pull-up challenge I did in January. The fucking misery of 3,100 pull-ups in a month was paying off in huge dividends.
  32. *Hey dudes with the clipboards stopping me! What’s that? My last two digits of my bib number and the double secret code from awhile back!!? Shit, I had not recited it since the cliff climb. And then it appeared in my brain as easy as complex number multiplication is to Raymond Babbitt. SIERRA – mother fucking-322-7038!!! BOOM!……… ’course ten minutes to Wapner.
  33. And there they were, farmer Brown’s misplaced bales of hay. I was ready. Keep the rope on the hay side of the barrier. Get the rope in big fat loops on the ground with no kinks. Rope lightly grasped in the throwing hand with the spear. Step back two steps. Rope lightly draped and to the side. Side shuffle forward. Hard release. Exaggerated follow-through. YES!! Spear Throw, crushed. All that practice with a roped spear paid off! Do not listen to those that complain the rope effects the throw. It does not, it’s too damn thin and light. They probably stepped on the rope.
  34. *I tapped into my Johnny Weismuller, used the outside lane closest to the crowd and hit the Rope Swing with all the true Tretsch élan I could muster. Then I got hung up on the bungee cord on the dismount. A couple of awkward and funny looking hops and I still managed to avoid falling flat on my face. So much for looking cool…..
  35. spartan 3*I had been wondering where and when the Barbed Wire crawl would rear its pointy head. Just when I had “warmed” back up, down in the wet mud I went. No rolling here, what with strategic mounds in the way. Some so tight to the wire I had to go all cephalopod and ooze through.
  36. The crowds cheering my name…….in my head.
  37. **The Slip Wall was just that…….on the second lap. I have got to get faster on the down climb on these A-frame type obs. What’s the trick? I must know.
  38. *Oh…….goody. More……longer… barbed wire with more mud and deeper water. It’s now roughly 9:20 AM and it has just gotten above freezing (maybe). Since I can’t roll, I’m not flailing like Elaine on a dance floor, but I still manage to feel the sting of a pointy bit reaching out and saying “hello Spartan in the brand new technical compression shirt, that needs some breaking in”.
  39. **Shit! Steep uphill under barbed wire!
  40. *From the top of this conquered mound the view made my heart sink. For there, at the bottom of this Hamburger Hill, was a pit with a wall; its lower portion submerged in a huge, ugly, sure to be nad shriveling cold pool of muddy water of unknown depth. Many expletives were shouted… my head. There were kids present in the crowd. I’m not an animal. I dropped in; it was chest high!! The cold hit me so hard I stopped and had a microsecond of panic. Grabbed the bottom of the wall, plunged under and left my balls behind.
  41. **Another cargo climb… a platform with poles. And not an Amber, Chastity, Candy or Cherry to be found. I wrapped as tight as I could but still slid down at warp speed. These things were slicker than two eels fucking in a bucket of snot. I hit the ground and jarred the hell out of my left knee. This was a very dangerous obs with not enough cushioning for the surely expected speed of descent. Time for refinement Spartan!
  42. And Thermopylae was done! That was one long ass obs. It was really 5 rolled up into one miserable obs.
  43. **So now, really wet, really muddy, really fucking cold it was time for the Rope Climb. Found a good rope, used my practiced foot technique, and rang my second Spartan bell for the day. Not so much on the second lap. The ropes became limp versions of the slippery poles and I failed an obs for the first time that day. Kudos to all you who can climb that greased snake after hundreds of people have been through.
  44. **A-Frame, up fast down slow. I really need the secret to this.
  45. **And my streak continues. The Fire Pit is nothing but a smoldering stack of split wood as I take my leap. Once again I am denied the righteous flames of OCR badassery. Though I do get a lungful of smoke…..tasty, minus the salmon.
  46. **A quick hop into the Mud Pit, because you know, I could still feel one toe and I don’t want to do anything half ass and then across the finish line. And just like that, my first Spartan was done.
  47. That was pretty fucking awesome!
  48. I cannot get warm. I am shivering uncontrollably. PB&J going all over the place, but not in my mouth. Firepit…more smoke! Real flames!….helps tremendously.
  49. The festival is now a jumbled mess with a crap load of people. Takes multiple tries asking multiple staff people (not volunteers) to find the results tent. Nothing is working.
  50. Core temperature seems to bounce back just in time for 10:45 heat. Refer back to 1-47, but with insane calf and hammy cramps after mile 1.
  51. I run through the finish line straight to the tent, strip off my shirt, grab my sweatshirt and haul ass (amazing what family obligations will do to muscle cramps) to the 12:30 kids race to follow my 6 year old and her BFF in their first Spartan race.
  52. Lil’ grommets are just so damn fun to watch doing an OCR.
  53. I forgo the wash off area for the first time in any race. I just don’t want any more cold fucking water!
  54. Spartan, black is not a great choice for a changing tent. Walking in to an almost pitch black space, the distinct jingle of medal against medal, the air was pungent with that certain funk that makes the nose hairs curl. The heat from a space heater was oppressive but not all together unwelcome, with the previous shivering still fresh in my mind. It all had a Midnight Express vibe to it. I may have had an ass or two uncomfortably close to my face at one point. The price for snagging one of the few folding chairs, and being low, I guess. Even a lone bare light bulb would have been helpful Spartan!
  55. Final obstacle – Hauling two 6 year olds, a three year old, and wet gear in my cart back to the parking lot. Brutal, but dry and toasty.
  56. This race kicked ass. I’m glad I enjoyed it, because I have the Georgia Super and the Carolinas Beast on deck. Though I won’t “drink the kool-aid” (for any race for that matter. Why? They all need to be tackled and enjoyed. No need for deifying any particular one) I really would recommend this race to anyone.

spartan 2


I am an idiot in many ways today. I was calling a teammate by the wrong name ALL day, I failed to make the start of my 6 year old’s daughter’s 12:30 race (this also makes me a fucking tool besides being an idiot), and I did not get a finisher T-shirt because:

  1. I am a Spartan noob.
  2. I did not read the athlete’s guide closely enough.
  3. I didn’t bother asking anyone.

I blame it on the cold.

But a HUGE shout out to Spartan Customer service. I emailed them Saturday night once I realized my monumental blunder after reading several Facebook posts (again, the GORMR family comes through). Sunday morning I had an emailed response saying they would mail me one. Sweet.

Tell us what you think of Spartan Race, leave a Review Here.

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*Photos By: Thank you to GORMR’s: John Montoya, Jonathan Delgado, Joshua McElroy, Richard Rouse, Tim McCall, and everyone who pitched in.

The Ugly Sweater Run- “A 5K of Goofiness!”


GORMR sweater

Observations on the run:

1. My first ever road 5k since I started the whole OCR mess, and it may as well be a goofy (but charity funding) lark like an Ugly Sweater Run.

2. I purposely parked a distance away so I could give the ol’ bones a warm up jog. It also allowed an opportunity, for anyone in the neighborhood lucky enough to be out and about, to take in the magnificent glow of my sweater.

3. Seriously, my sweater had more sequins and shiny beads than a show at Charlie Brown’s Cabaret. The reflections were leaving scorch marks on the trees.

4. As I made my way over Park Drive Bridge into the park, I could see the festival area over at The Meadow.

5. Dropping into The Meadow loop, I could see the start and finish areas were festooned with huge inflated candy canes, reindeer, and a Santa Claus. A theme was emerging.

6. Having picked up my racer packet the day before (no shirt for this race, rather a goofy beanie with a huge Pom-Pom) I skipped the registration tents and went directly into the festival area, where free water and hot chocolate awaited.

7. The race theme hit me like a tinseled, blinking, knitted, polyester Mack truck.

8. A chiropractor doctor from Life Chiropractic had a tent, and in a weak moment I said yes when asked if I wanted my spine checked out. Next thing I know I’m on my stomach on a massage table getting felt up. Based on his assessment, I’m a cross between Quasimodo and Renfield.

9. The emcee had us line up along the edges, in reverse order, of the start corral. Having found a spot with a fellow GORMR in the first 20 feet, this allowed for some great sweater watching as people filed in down the middle.

10. The ugliness, silliness, inappropriateness, and the downright unbelievable heinous habiliments cannot be understated. My adornment was squarely in the top 10% of fugly, but there were some that made mine look like the most sophisticated bespoke article of clothing that Tom Ford himself could fabricate.

11. There were onesies (basically Snuggies with legs) that will give me nightmares for weeks.

12. And then the first wave started. Being very near the front, I quickly followed another fellow GORMR as we bobbed and weaved to get out of the pack.

13. Oh look! A cute dog!

14. Cramming a 5K into Piedmont Park required a route that looked on paper as if a hyperactive five year old, cracked out on a sugar high, got a hold of his favorite blue crayon and a Piedmont Conservancy Map, with visions of sea creatures in his head.

15. The route was sure to be fast and looked to take me to places in the park I had not been to in over a decade if not ever.

16. Oak hill started it off with a slight climb along 10th street. A massive, gorgeously gray Borzoi watched us with regal indifference as we cruised downhill, made a sharp right and hit the flats around the lake.

17. The expressions on the people just visiting the park with no idea of the sweater run were priceless. I of course was secure in my manliness despite the fetching ladies sweater vest i was wearing. I felt pretty.

18. Oh look! A cute dog!

19. As we crossed the Lake Clara Mead Bridge, passing the public pool, I flashed back to the early 90s and a sultry summer evening; I recalled the old diving pool, a hole in the fence and some illicit skinning dipping.

20. Looking at friend’s photos, it seems us front runners missed the snow at the inflatable arch.

21. Oh look! A cute dog!

22. Stairs! An obstacle!

23. Any minute I expected to be passed, like a Trabant on the Autobahn, by a ‘real’ runner.

24. An elongated ‘S’ took us though The Active Oval (another trip down memory lane of soccer matches and overly serious kickball games) and put us in the middle of that great downhill near the tennis center.

25. A slight uphill towards The Welcome Plaza and I mentally flagged; I actually considered stopping at the Blue Donkey coffee truck for a quick espresso.

26. Oh look! a cute dog!

27. Still no one passing me. Where my 20 minute peeps at?

28. A quick dash to The Promenade, more stairs (down), a 180 and we were on our way through the Six Springs Wetlands.

29. The chill of the morning gave way to uncharacteristic balminess and the goofy hat had to be shed. The dogs in the dog park recoiled in terror at the sweater and the sweaty “hat head”.

30. Oh look! a cute dog!

31. A long flight of stairs down (the race director must have OCR tendencies) and The Meadow came into view.

32. Photo op! …Heavy metal pose

33. Photo op! ….Blue Steel

34. Finally one guy passes me. All elite runners take the day off?

35. I tried to make the jump to light speed as I approached the Park Tavern, but the month+ of no road work coupled with the pain in my ass (piriformis muscle; my new enemy), assured that the hyperdrive motivator just didn’t work.

36. I coast across the finish line doing my best Chariots of Fire pose (arms out, chest high, chin up, face turned towards the bluebell sky, an expression of “victory” bathed in the glorious radiance of a warm December sun) when I hear the announcer; “Red Sweater beats Green sweater for 5th!” And then I see the bobbing ponytail of the girl I passed halfway through the race.

37. Yes!! Epic photo must have been made. Gameface Media, don’t you dare disappoint me. I’ve got people counting on this photo finish.

38. A quick water and it’s off to the Sam Adams beer tent for my free race beer.

39. Great people watching continues as I yuck it up with some fellow GORMRs.

40. Then someone says, “That guy over there is giving away Kind bars”. I would have won the race if I ran like I did to get a Kind bar.

41. It was a fantastic day for a run, I thought, as I jogged back to the car.

42. Nice Punisher shirt, creepy guy on a park bench…………

the finish

*Photos By: Ugly Sweater Run and Tretsch


Merrell Down & Dirty- Atlanta 2014

Call me Tretsch. I do not have any particular interesting tale to tell of my daily madness. I am not one of those amazing people, who – perhaps wider in girth, lacking in fitness, and slower of foot – made that life changing decision to get off the couch and through enviable will power tackle OCR life. Nor am I a disabled athlete; Superheroes all, who somehow through sheer tenacity and grit, tackle and complete the same damn obstacles as everyone else. I’m just a regular dude who fell in love with OCR, hooked up with a bunch of fellow lunatics on the OCR crazy train to Mudville and decided to fully enjoy the ride.

It was by the third race that I had enough energy to pull my head up and really look at where I was going and see what I was doing. So I decided to write about the races I was doing. So join me dear reader on this adventure; there will be irreverence, there will be much self deprecating humour, there will be profanity (Advanced apologies. You have been warned), there will be obscure references, and there may even be some good information to be gleaned that may help you decide on your next race. All that strive to better themselves out there on the stinky mud fields of suffering you inspire me. I hope I can return the favor by making you laugh.

I give you;
Merrell Down&Dirty Atlanta 2014; Observations on the run:
I arrived at the Georgia International Horse Park in the dead of night (well 7:20 in the morning. But being only 50% into my 20 OZs of Dunkin Donuts pre race fuel, it sure seemed like the dead of night) and rolled effortlessly into the VIP parking lot. This shaved about a 1/4 of a mile off the walk to the festival area.
The early morning fog was thick. The festival area klieg lights bright in my eyes. The tents, ghosts in the background. The atmosphere pure Hollywood; a strong “the Military has taken over this mysterious buried object dig site. Trespassers will be shot” kind of vibe. Check-in was opened 3 minutes early and was seamless. A quick pre race ritual visit to the impressive battery of still clean port-a-potties (for journalistic reasons of course) and I was ready to lace up. I can’t emphasize enough the benefits of arriving early.
As usual mysterious GORMR (Georgia Obstacle Racers & Mud Runners) elves had the tent already set up. I stowed my gear, slipped on my creepy toe socks (according to my wife. You should see the twitching that occurs if I just say the words “toe shoes”), squeezed into my neon orange calve sleeves, fired up the GPS watch and went for a slow 1 mile warm up. I had realized 5 races into this OCR craziness that at 46 years old I needed to warm up all manners of pieces and parts on my body. My limbs didn’t like the cold call from my brain trying to get them to buy a timeshare in a lovely little A-frame with lovely views of naturalistic settings. It has improved my performance significantly. I highly recommend it.
We queued up for the 8:30 a.m. 6 mile race when the announcement was made. Here they had an interesting corral system; military and first responders first, the brick division next, followed by everyone else split into groups by their own perceived (objective I’m sure) knowledge of running pace. All groups had a 2 minute gap between release.
down and dirty fb
A beautiful soulful rendition of the National Anthem was sung, as the bright sun was rising, and then the horn wet off and it was ON!
1. Down and Dirty? More like Up & Runnin’. This was a trail runner’s course. The first 3 miles only had 5 obstacles, with the next 15 spaced out over the next 3.6 miles.
2. D&D now has surpassed Rugged Maniac in the shortest sandbag carry distance known to man. Points though for the old school bag with the twisty closed top.
3. Twenty push-ups was an unexpected surprise in the woods. My form was lacking.
4. Colossus Climb had a tinge of danger around the edges of its childish bouncy house DNA. You just weren’t too sure if you were going to shoot off the end of the slide and get the full on parking lot gravel enema. Alas, it was stickier than sliding down  a banister in shorts on a muggy day. What’s with having to take a hard 180 to approach an obs when you have a billion acres to work with? Just stupid.
5. As I am not Nadia Comaneci, the balance beams were going to prove to be a challenge to even get on until a hand shot out into my peripheral vision, and Lo!, it was my friend Shenoa. In a Ballachine worthy moment, we executed a perfect pas de deux and pulled each other up onto our respective beams. Teamwork at it’s finest and most spontaneous.
6. The marine hurdles were surprisingly tiring. It didn’t help that I spun around the second of the three and landed on my ass. Sorta like a rotisserie set on really high.
7. The tires stacked two high kept for high knees, yet it was the last single one that reached out and said “hey!” And so, I took the bronze in my age group today, but took the gold in falling on my face…..again. Not Mother Nature this time (reference Savage Race write up) but Pappa Michelin.
tire baby
A sidebar; I’m a mildly seasoned OCR runner, more jalapéno than scotch bonnet, but I’ve done well in the 10 I’ve run. I started running, trained with regularity  and podiumed my age group a few times. So it’s with a budding elite runner’s sense of bravado that I say to the trolls (most of you who are being passed by me and my older cousins, the Silver Foxes) out on the race course that make nasty comments and act generally rude to a slower, less fit, perhaps walking participant and ruin their day out on the course; fuck you! Fuck you and your special kind of stupidity! If I ever hear that when I am running by, I will call you out and shame you on social media as only a wit truly can.
Where was I?
d&d sandbag
8. So, as I’m hanging from the top of the Monster Climb with my thumb and forefinger firmly pinched between cargo netting and steel pole, I thought to myself, I REALLY need to get this flip turn thing figured out. This of course was followed by a sound best described as a cross between a preteen girl finding out all the members of One Direction are gay and two fornicating peacocks. After extracting myself, blood shot out from under my finger nails, which was nice.
9. Just like Battlefrog, I loathed running on the granite.
10. If someone had night vision goggles on they would have been laughing their ass off watching me run through the under road tunnel. Being prone to falling on my face, as it recently seems, I was high stepping through that darkness like an over emoting cat burglar.
11. Monkey Cross was one of the interesting obs highlights. As I reached for the upper rope about midway across, imagine my surprise when it magically shot up out of reach. I realized, as I was avoiding another faceplant with merely two fingers and a toe, that the rope was continuous and unsecured between the two lanes. So when one grabbed the rope and pulled down, it raised the length of the rope in the other lane. Diabolical. Make this obs twice as long and you have a good challenge.
12. Jim’s Jungle gym was the other interesting obs. Half a standard A-frame cargo net on one side but something entirely different on the approach side. A series of alternating Klee clamps up a steel pipe made for a cool way to make the climb. Make that twice as high and it would be awesomely terrifying.
13. I boulder, it’s what I do in lieu of weights. Seeing a 10 foot wall  covered in climbing holds after 6 miles made me smile.
14. A soapy, sudsy incline wall? I could just hear Madge at the top of wall screaming “you’re soaking in it!”. Needed to be 5 feet higher. And again! What’s with the 180 degree approach. Stupid.
15. So for 6 miles I kept thinking, “I’ve been down (and by down, I clearly mean falling on my face and getting dumped on my ass) but I have not been dirty. Then they hit you with the awesome mud humps/crawl right at the finish. Love it! Truth be told I’m getting tired of all the body cleansing-wedgy producing-crash into a pool of water-at the finish line slides. Mud is the true OCR patina that needs to be brought across the finish line.
16. Great festival area, weird main stage. Corporate sponsors Merrell and Subaru had some great tents. I almost got my hair did at the Paul Mitchell tent, but they recoiled in terror at my locks. The Marines were there with a pull up contest. I did not partake of the concessions but it smelled good. And I only wish I had had time to climb the portable climbing tower.
17. No beer. This is a bummer for me, but not a deal breaker. Just that that frosty adult beverage goodness tastes so damn good after a silly lark like an OCR.
18. The rinse off area was good for two reasons: the hoses had great pressure and there was a bonanza of Paul Mitchell hair shampoo. Never have I left a race with such silky smooth hair.
19. I want you all to take a look at the head band thing you got in your swag bag. Now look at the pictograms that
show the myriad ways (it’s a hat, it’s a brooch, it’s a pterodactyl!) in which it can be worn. Top row far right. A blindfold?! WTF?!
“The safe word is Larabar”….
20. Many people complained there weren’t enough obstacles, it was more of a trail run and it wasn’t challenging enough. For me, I embraced it as a chance to really see how much I could quicken my pace. I do agree on the first point, but remember OCRs are running (if you choose to do so) at its core. And as for not being challenging enough? That’s bullshit! You could have run faster, tried to do the cargo nets with one arm, carried two sandbags, jumped the military walls without touching them with your legs, done 40 push-ups, put bricks in a backpack (you guys are nuts by the way). The point is these races are as challenging as you make them whatever that may be.
21. As always it was fantastic to see and talk to so many GORMRs
climb slide
This is a good beginner race and should be on your list if you are trying to entice a friend to join our demented ranks. For the more seasoned racer its a fantastic way to see how much time you can shave off your pace. There was a complaint that the course was exactly the same as last year. This is a rarity in the OCR world and should be used to your advantage. You can actually compare apples to apples from last year and really get a good metric on fitness progress. Would I travel more than 3 hours for this race? Probably not. But, if you are in that radius, come, race, and be awesome.
*Photos By: Robert Tretsch, Gameface Media, and Merrell Down & Dirty