So, you like your OCR’s with a little less running and a few more obstacles huh? Does less run, more fun sound right up your alley? Then the Epic Series might be your future event of choice. With obstacles often lined up back to back and total running distances typically less than 2 total miles, Epic offers the ultimate OCR test of functional fitness. The Southern California based company held one of their outstanding events on April 23 at the Los Angeles Police Academy across the street from Dodger Stadium, and I was lucky enough to get the assignment to cover the event. This marked my second time covering an Epic event and the blend of functional fitness and OCR immediately made this my favorite race series. Epic offers three different levels of intensity on each obstacle. For Elite men and women, and for Open runners the difficulty will vary accordingly. For example, a keg carry meant a full keg for men’s elite, half full for women’s elite and empty for open class runners. As a bonus, elite division racers also got to participate in an extra CrossFit style event after the race for more trophies, which I’ll explain later in this article.
Waves started off at 8 a.m. with the elite division leading the way with upcoming waves following every 5 minutes. The Epic flag lap started off the course with a jog around the track carrying a large Epic Series flag on a pole. As a matter of fact, all obstacles were placed inside the track area making the course very compact and offering a great view for spectators along with offering a great opportunity for photos. After finishing the lap and dropping off your flag racers immediately transitioned into a low crawl followed up by a wall traverse. Now things started to get tougher. Atlas Stones over the shoulder for 15 repetitions was waiting next and really started to tax your cardio ability. When finished tossing the stones Epic transitioned into their unique balance obstacle. This consisted of a C shaped beam with small raised platforms placed about two feet apart that required racers to basically hop from one peg to the other. Once finished an athlete had to pick up a slosh pipe for another lap around the track.
After the slosh pipe sprint came the dreaded wall sit. Racers were required to hold an hour glass out in front of them while stuck in the 90-degree wall sit position for three agonizing minutes. Lumberjacks were the next bad ass obstacle on the list. You may have seen something similar on World’s Strongest Man on ESPN. This obstacle consisted on flipping over a long section of square metal tubing over and back. Heave it up, walk it to vertical and push it over before going to the other side and repeating the movement. 15 flips were required here and the task really took it out of you! The rope climb was the next obstacle in line with a twice up and down requirement for obstacle completion and then it was on to the timed plank. Once again, a three-minute hold was required after one flipped over the hour glass to start. I’m almost positive that was the longest three minutes ever. Once complete, athletes were required to run another lap, this one with nothing extra to carry which was a great relief to those of us who were already winded.
Upon completion of the sprint lap, the keg hoist was ready and waiting for you. Three repetitions to the top and back down once again tested that grip strength. A ladder wall followed up the keg hoist before moving on to the toughest obstacle I found at Epic. 15 reps of burpee box jump with a 36-inch-high box. Most of the elite competitors I saw were thoroughly gassed on this obstacle including yours truly. Things got slightly easier for the next two obstacles in line. An inverted wall climb and side to side ab twists with a 30-pound medicine ball. That small break was much needed because next up was another lap to run, with two full jerry cans! Traps and grip screaming towards the end of that lap I guarantee you!
After finally dropping off those damn cans, athletes were finally on the home stretch of the race. This started off with a unique obstacle called The Archer. Targets were lined up which required two hits with a bow and arrow. Yes, OCR with a bow and arrow! I bet you never thought you would see that in a race huh? After racers got their fun playing Robin Hood a series of three walls were next in line. The Tri Wall, Ladder Wall, and another inverted wall all needed traversed before being led to Barnaby’s Wall which was kind of like a rock climb wall up and over. It was gut check time for the very last obstacle. One placed in this position to see who wanted it more. Athletes were required to run just one more lap, but with a full keg across their backs! Man, I couldn’t wait to ditch that damn can after that final lap. Once complete plenty of vendors were handing out various drinks and some cool bling was put around your neck.
Trophies were given out to the top 3 men and women overall and top 3 men and women masters. Little Epic kiddies had their own race to provide total family fun. Mix that with free parking and free EPIC pictures and you have quite an event! Sponsor tents were all over including The Vitamin Shoppe, BodyArmour Super Drink, Rush 10-8 Gear, and Live Sore with finishers shirts made by Clinch Gear. Now, this was a great event. But if you ran elite there was a little something extra waiting for you……
Set up in an adjoining parking lot was the Epic Strength and Endurance course – only for elite competitors. Elite athletes could choose one of the two with weights and reps being the only difference. First off was a police SUV pull for distance: jump into a harness, get low and go. Right after that was a push press: 10 reps with 135 for Endurance and 5 reps with 185 for strength. Immediately following that was the deadlift: 225 for 10 reps Endurance and 315 for 5 for the big boys. Right after that was an Atlas Stone you needed to throw over a wall and then proceed to jump over the wall for 5 repetitions. An unknown weight tire flip for 5 reps was next up followed by 15 step ups with heavy ass kettlebells. Finally, a sandbag lunge for distance was the last test before a sprint, or crawl to the finish line. Knowledgeable judges were provided for each competitor and a 15-minute time cap was used to keep things rolling. This separate event also gave out trophies for the top 3 male and female in each division. So, if you want a unique OCR race, or an awesome test of functional fitness you must try an Epic Series race in the future!
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