A GORUCK Nasty 001 Review
GORUCK, well known for their military-esque team based endurance challenges, stepped outside the box for their first stab at events in the obstacle course racing realm. While there were many unique and positive aspects to the GORUCK Nasty 001, the organization has some serious work to do if it wants to be successful in this market.
The GORUCK Nasty had some really unique and exciting features that you will probably not find at another OCR event. The PX (post exchange) was a great on-site store to buy all GORUCK gear for a great price. Usually merch tables at events jack up prices, but GORUCK was offering 25% off all items! If they did not have the item you wanted on site, they gave you a code to order online by midnight that night and you could still get the sale price.
They also had a Scars station set up right inside the PX, for all repairs on GORUCK gear. As an aside, GORUCK offers lifetime guarantees for all items, you just pay to ship it out and back and Scars will fix it or replace the item. Having this remote set up right at the Nasty was really convenient for customers. If they could not fix it on site, they would pay to have it shipped out and back to the customer. A++ for Fantastic customer service all around!
Another great aspect to this event was the Memorial Mile. At the bottom of the mountain we had a brief chat about the sacrifices made by our military, and then were able to take a small flag, to honor a fallen military member, with us as we walked 1 mile back up the steep mountain—A small sacrifice in comparison to the sacrifice of giving your life for this country.
Another great feature to this event was $1 beers. Pretty self-explanatory, but cheap beer is generally a plus. No alcohol was allowed on the course, which prevented any drunken shenanigans as best as possible during the event, but racers were rewarded with one free beer and $1 beers after that!
Lastly, the overall attitude of those around you at the Nasty was great. Despite 45-minute bottlenecks (which I will touch on later), racers were in great spirits, really encouraging everyone, and having a great time. This is generally pretty common for the GORUCK community. Because the GORUCK multi-hour endurance challenges are based so heavily in teamwork, most everyone brought that mentality to this event. There is some of that mentality at other OCR events, but nothing like you see in the GORUCK community because without that teamwork and camaraderie, the events would literally be impossible.
A few things GORUCK could improve upon would be the overall atmosphere of the event. While everyone was pleasant it was almost like a ghost town arriving on site. Very minimal signage, no exciting festival area, and a lack luster starting line. A side from 80’s ballads on a tiny speaker system at the start area and one Cadre basically making small talk before casually telling us to go, you would not even know this was an exciting OCR! I am used to the buzzing of spectators and racers through the festival area, the sounds and smells of food and beer, the pounding of the music on sound system and the MC getting us riled up and ready to race, both of which can be heard 2 miles out on the course.
Another issue out on the course was poor course marking and invisible staff. There were several times on the course when I was not sure where to go because the course was not marked well, and it felt like long periods of time without any obstacles. Also, I had NO idea who worked there. The Cadre were almost invisible at obstacles, despite being the ones who were supposed to be loud, representing the event, and explaining the obstacles. The same could be said about the volunteers. Both the Cadre and the volunteers needed brighter shirts, or just needed to stand out more in case racers had questions.
While the previous issues were bad, they are easy fixes. Some of the issues surrounding the obstacles are things that I think will make or break GORUCK Nasty potential future events.
The first issue is the type of obstacle. They had many unique and fun obstacles, but unless you were military trained in confidence courses, you were not safe completing these obstacles. They had several obstacles that were 50 or 60 feet off the ground that just involved racers freely climbing on them, jumping from them, etc. While obstacle course racing involves risk, some of these obstacles seem suicidal to attempt. Additionally, some of the best obstacles required racers to be able to climb a rope. If they couldn’t they were unable to even attempt the rest of the obstacle. Obstacles were either too dangerous or too difficult. The only happy medium was monkey bars, walls, smaller cargo nets, and a barbed wire crawl. Also, the event boasted nearly 28 obstacles, but only about 15-20 were on the course. Overall, it seemed like GORUCK was having an identity crisis in regards to whom they were trying to market this inaugural event to. They made it seem like this event was fun and for everyone, but the obstacles were too intense for even some fit and elite racers.
The other issue was the massive bottlenecks at obstacles. There was at least a 5-10 minute wait at a majority of obstacles and 45-60 minute wait at the big, exciting obstacles (and I raced at 8:30am; I cannot imagine what it was like later in the day). This issue stemmed a lot from racers being able to jump heats whenever they wanted all day, and from racers being allowed to attempt the obstacle as many times as they wanted. While flexible race times and more than one attempt at obstacles has its benefits to racers, it also creates massive bottlenecks, which is frustrating and creates a lull in the excitement of the race. Especially when certain obstacles could take a fit person 3-5 minutes to complete. It made a quick 6 mile course take nearly 5 hours.
Overall, I think GORUCK really tried to create an event that was unique and exciting. The head Cadre and creators of the event claim they do not want to be the next Tough Mudder or Spartan Race, they just want to put on a fun, successful event that is different from their usual challenges. While this is a respectable goal and they definitely have a great start, they are going to need to do some serious overhaul on the organization and implementation of future GORUCK Nasty events in order to prevent from flopping like other start up OCRS, as well as to keep customers coming back and to attract new customers.