About Epic Series OCR
The Huntington Beach Sports Complex played host to the latest Epic Series OCR event on August 12th in Huntington Beach, California. This unique OCR based on functional fitness currently hosts events in Southern California only, but after reading this review you may want to schedule a trip or vacation around one of these magnificent events.
What is Epic Series you ask? My best description is that it’s an awesome blend of functional fitness movements with OCR obstacles set around a circular course with a total distance of about 1.5 miles. It’s almost like an extended CrossFit competition without the complicated movements with the weight used at each obstacle station scaled into Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced difficulty levels.
For the Competitive waves, obstacle completion is mandatory and the obstacle standards are strict (men must do Advanced-level obstacles and women must do at least Intermediate-level obstacles). In the open class, it’s more about fun with no mandatory obstacle completion, no penalties, and the ability to choose which difficulty level to complete. This makes the event challenging but doable for any athletic ability level. Although if you were to choose to run a Competitive class there was a little bonus competition after the race that I’ll get into later.
Epic Series designs their courses in a large circle similar to a track with rows of obstacle stations located in the middle, which requires way less space than a normal OCR and makes viewing perfect because all the obstacles are right in front of the spectators the whole time. Epic could even hold one of their events indoors at a stadium or convention center if they desired, but the course for this event was set in the parking lot of a sports complex.
Waves started at 8 a.m. with each wave thereafter starting about 5 minutes after the previous wave. I personally thought this might lead to log jams on the course but it didn’t really appear to be too much of an issue as athletes moved swiftly from station to station. The only time athletes from different waves merged together was during the runs around the perimeter circle during different segments of the race, some requiring carrying of different objects that I’ll get into later.
The start of Epic always consists of a flag lap. Large Epic Series flags are used and require racers to run around the perimeter circle then dropped back off near the start. Now, this is when the real fun begins. Starting through the first row of obstacle stations racers immediately encountered a ladder wall. Once up and over the wall was the Atlas Stone station. A ten-repetition requirement was required here with athletes hoisting the stones over their shoulders and dropping them onto a mat. Larger mats really could have been used here, as many stones missed the mats and ended up being turned into rubble on the parking lot floor. I personally broke two of them and hope I don’t get a bill in the mail!
Moving onto the next station Epic set up rows of boxes for burpee box jumps that left most gasping for air. Again, the heights of the boxes and rep count varied depending on the difficulty level. The last station in the first row of obstacles was the balance pegs. This unique obstacle was set up in three sections of curved beams linked together with pegs installed every two feet apart. Another lap around the perimeter, this time with a weight scaled slosh pipe, ended the first section of obstacles once the lap was completed.
Row two started off with a series of banded bunny hops. Twice down and back facing frontwards and another two times down and back shuffling side to side. After taking off the band it was onto the Russian Twists. A weight scaled medicine ball was used for this 20-repetition side to side abdominal buster.
The Triwall climb, a wall with three different heights for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced levels, was set up to climb over next leading right into the overhead squat station. Light weight pipes were used in this 30-repetition movement and most athletes knocked these out very quickly.
A rope climb for two repetitions was the last obstacle in this section leading to another sprint lap around the perimeter. Now the rope climb was a tad short. In fact, a taller athlete could just jump and hit the bell. In my opinion, Epic should find a way to make this setup a bit taller for future events. A rope with knots and a cargo net were provided for those who could not complete a rope climb.
After the sprint lap, row three started off with a keg hoist up to the top of the pulley for three repetitions then it was onto the dreaded squat wall. This was a time scaled wall sit with legs at 90 degrees while holding an hour glass with straight arms out in front of you until your time was finished and was a total bitch to do!
With quads on fire, another series of 15 burpee box jumps was next on the list and was seriously punishing after those damn wall sits! An inverted wall climb was the last obstacle in this row and was finished off by picking up two jerry cans for the farmer carry run around the perimeter of the course. This was a total grip strength, lower back, and trap buster!
The hourglass was used once again starting off the next row of obstacles. This time you had to watch the sand slowly moving while holding a plank position. This was almost like mental torture, come on sand, move!
The next station in this row were the lumberjacks. These consisted of metal 4×4 tubes connected to the ground by a pivot anchor. An athlete had to pick up the pipe and walk it up till it landed on the ground on the other side for a total of 16 repetitions. This Epic unique obstacle is one of my favorites combining a deadlift and military press type movement in one and really gets your heart pumping. Another ladder wall and inverted wall completed this row of obstacles and the following lap around the perimeter was completed while carrying a medicine ball.
The last section of obstacles started off with Barnaby’s beast. This was a wall traverse up and over using rock climbing holds as anchors. After completion was another Epic only obstacle. A bow and arrow were used to hit a metal target set up a few yards away. A rubber stopper was used on the end of the arrow and a net was setup behind the targets making this a fun and safe obstacle.
After playing Robin Hood a low cargo crawl was next up leading to an over and under obstacle. Plastic tubing was set up a couple feet off the ground and an athlete had to jump over and then crawl under to the other side before repeating this suckfest for division scaled reps. One last triwall was now the only thing between you and your keg.
No not beer, this last run around the perimeter required an athlete to hoist a keg onto their shoulders for the entire lap. Once the lap was completed and the keg dropped off it was a 20-yard sprint to the finish!
Now had you run the open class your day was now complete. But, if you ran Competitive you had a choice to compete in a grueling separate course for more bling. Epic separated this into strength and endurance courses with the same obstacles but different weights. Actual judges followed you around counting reps and checking to make sure lifts were completed properly.
Action started off with a truck pull for a short distance followed immediately by a push press station with added chains just for fun. Once complete a deadlift station was setup just a few feet away. An Atlas Stone was set up next and required an athlete to hoist the stone over a wall then required the athlete to follow the stone over by jumping over the wall.
A heavy farmer carry was next up followed right away by tire flips. Step-ups with kettlebells in each hand followed up the tire flips then it was on to a sandbag lunge. A final sprint to the finish completed this brutal short set up. This truly separated the men from the boys and I can see why Epic only offered this to the elite athletes. It was not for the faint of heart.
The set up on this was a tad sketchy, as the pavement was not flat here causing Atlas stones and weights to roll down the lot and the bars with weights for the push press and deadlift used old twist collars which came loose after each rep. But the challenge was still awesome, kind of an old-school let’s see who can get it done while everyone is watching type event with friends screaming at each other for encouragement.
Trophies were given out to the top 3 Male and Female athletes in two classes, Under 39 and over 40, on the competitive course along with the top 3 Male and female athletes on the Elite Strength and Endurance course. As an added bonus an Epic Series WWE style belt was given to the top Male and Female on the Strength and Endurance course! With the rapid growth of Epic continuing I’d personally like to see top 3 age group medals awarded in 5 year age increments for future Competitive events. Medals are cheap and everyone likes a chance to score some extra bling.
A kid’s course made the event a truly family event. Geared more towards just getting kids active the obstacles were not hard but the kids could run the course as many times as they wanted. Lots of vendors were located around the festival area and parking was right next to the event for a cost of only a dollar. Photographers were all over the event capturing “Epic” shots as you competed and were free to all.
The bathroom set up was just awful. Two bathrooms on each end for a grand total of four were just not enough as long lines were seen the entire day. Race bling and shirts were awesome as always and results were posted quickly.
So, although Epic has a few things to iron out it’s my opinion that any OCR or CrossFit junkie really should make their way to Southern California to try one of their events. This is my personal favorite race series due to the great blend of functional obstacles. So, if you don’t like the mud, don’t like to run much, or just want to try a different kind of OCR give Epic Series OCR a try!
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