We believe there are two very distinct types of runners in the obstacle racing and mud running world. The every day OCracer and the very competitive OCRelite, we like to give perspectives from both sides whenever possible.
Earlier today, we gave you a recap of the Georgia Savage Race from an OCRacer. Here is a recap from the same race from one of our OCRelite contributors, Alec Blenis.
This weekend I had the opportunity to run an obstacle race that was new to me: Savage Race. While new to Savage, I’ve run plenty of obstacle courses and knew what to expect. Except this time, I wouldn’t be running in the competitive wave*; something quite unusual for me. As some might say, I ran as part of the “90%”, getting to experience Savage Race the way most racers do, in an open heat.
First Impression: getting to the race was pretty easy. Surprisingly, the venue wasn’t in the “middle of nowhere” as so many are, and its location was very convenient for those driving from nearby Atlanta. Parking cost was a standard $10 and close by to the festival entrance. I arrived near the end of the day, but the check-in process seemed to be running smoothly. Much of the course was visible from the start/finish area, so the race was more spectator friendly than many others. One problem I could see already was a huge line at one of their obstacles; I’m not sure what they call it, but Tough Mudder’s version is Everest. I was bummed that I registered too late to receive a timing chip, but there’s no point in having one when you spend half the race in a line.
Running: my GPS measured the course around 4.6 miles, while my calibrated foot-pod** measured 4.8. I thought it was a great entry-level course, but I expected more since the website implied 6 miles. “The course designed to kick your ass” is a bit dramatic. The terrain was far from easy though, with 915 feet of elevation gain according to my watch’s altimeter – an average grade of 3.6%. Compare this to 4.5% for Superhero Scramble Dalton, and 2.8% for the Conyers Spartan Sprint, Georgia’s other short distance obstacle races. Elevation gain doesn’t tell the full story though… Savage Race had more mud than the hillier Superhero Scramble, but the Spartan obstacles were by far the most challenging and time consuming. The Savage Race terrain was not technical at all, but mud did add to the challenge; Superhero Scramble was very hilly and moderately technical; Spartan Race was the least hilly but most technical.
Obstacles: the obstacles at Savage Race were all very well built and some quite theatrical. Names like “I’m so thorny” and “kiss my walls” are hard to take seriously, and most were not too difficult. Their version of a traverse wall was probably the most difficult I’ve done, but most others were simple. The monkey bars were my favorite – even with the incline, they felt easy (I think it was a narrower bar than I’m used to). Savage Race did a great job at having very wide obstacles to avoid lines, with the exception of two obstacles, the balance beam and quarter-pipe. One of my favorite sections was a series of 5’ walls with barbed wire – not an uncommon obstacle, but here there were at least eight in succession instead of the usual two or three; they actually started to get tiring! Near the end of the race, we faced a series of two electroshock obstacles, something I despise. I’m sure I’m in the minority here, but I like physical challenges that test my athleticism, not stuff like that. It’d be like having an “obstacle” where you just get slapped in the face. No thanks.
Finishing: after the electric shocks and final barbed wire crawl, it was over. Their wash station was broken, but there was a lake to rinse off in and changing tents were available if needed. The shirts and medals are pretty cool, so overall I’d say Savage Race did a great job. Had I run in the competitive wave, I’m sure I would complain about the lack of obstacle penalties, but it didn’t affect me in the open heat. If they want to have prizes and real results, they absolutely must enforce obstacle rules and assign penalties for those unable to complete them. They should also make the balance beam and quarter pipe obstacles even wider to prevent long lines.
Thoughts: Will I race it again? For sure. Overall, as an open heat runner, I give Savage Race Georgia an 8 out of 10. I didn’t run competitive so I can’t say for sure, but as a competitive runner I would probably give Savage Race a 6 out of 10. I’m a tough critic, so a combined total of a 7 is pretty good. There’s always room for improvement though.
(*earlier in the day, I had put on a weight vest, ran to a local 5k, won the race, then ran home to prepare for Savage Race)