Terrain Race held their 2016 Chicago race on August 20 at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. Terrain Race had 3 options to fit racers’ needs: a 5k course, a 10k course, and an option to run unlimited laps. The 5k and the 10k started off together with men’s competitive first followed by women’s competitive, and open heats followed. Podium finishers in both of the races received monetary prizes. There was NOT a master’s division (40 and up) at this race.
The unique start corrals, were actually pools of water, in which racers awaited the “go” and had to leap out of the pool quickly to start the race. The majority of the race was flat running through fields around the Chicagoland Speedway. It was definitely a “runner’s course” for the majority of the first mile.
Mixed up with the running, were trenches of water and mud mounds, crawls under wires, crawls through tunnels, vertical walls, a 25 pound Wreckbag carry, and then mile 2.5 hit. There was a slight back up at this point because many competitive heat athletes were having difficulty crossing the “Monkey Balls” obstacle. After several tries, I saw several competitive heat athletes toss in their arm band, which disqualified them from getting on the podium and winning prize money.
Next up was the wall jump that split the 5k course from the 10k course. The 5k group was led to the final 4 obstacles at the finish line and the 10k was led on another 4 miles of course and obstacles. 10k runners had a rope climb, several shorter walls to hop over, a mini tarzan swing, a teeter totter, and some stadium stair running.
After the stadium run, we were led back outside of the track where we encountered a tractor tire drag, which led to the final 4 obstacles that were spectator friendly. The next obstacle in line added to much confusion. Initially, competitive athletes were told to try as many times as you want, but you must complete each obstacle. However there was some confusion at one of the final obstacles. The structure was about 20+ feet long and had racers suspended over a pool of water. They had to use total upper body strength to move from climbing rock to climbing rock, legs suspended. Halfway through the obstacle was a wood support piece that racers had to navigate around without touching. The confusion came when some competitive female racers were allowed to go halfway and keep their bands, however this rule was not uniformly enforced. However, after personally questioning the mishap with the competitive women, both the lady in charge of that obstacle and the race director were not very friendly nor clear on what happened, or why the rules were not consistent for all.
This hand tearing obstacle led to a tunnel crawl, more muddy trenches and more muddy mounds, followed by a suspended cargo net climb about 5 feet from the ground. This structure gave way and collapsed around noon, when the obstacle had several people on it. No major injuries were reported. One racer, Kurt Stremming, was on the structure when it collapsed. He stated, “It was slow motion for me…I was holding onto the wafer board in the middle, literally felt it sway, start to crack, and collapse.” He also said, “…one lady had her head struck but is fine and another got his leg pinned but is fine.” There was also complaints that the staff were more concerned about removing the debris from the course than checking in on the people that fell. There were approximately 8-10 adults and 2 kids on this obstacle when it gave way.
Finally, the kid’s race seemed to be a hit. The 1-mile course included walls to climb over, a balance beam, muddy mounds, a framed cargo climb, and a sandbag carry. Kids that raced received the same medal as the adults. The medals were very nice and larger than I had expected.
Overall, despite the obstacle collapse and the confusion with the competitive women, the race was a lot of bang for the buck. The MC was awesome, played great music and kept the atmosphere fun and friendly! 5k racers only paid $30 plus insurance and the 10k racers paid just $35. Parking was $10 and very close to the festival area. I see a potential future with this race company once they get the kinks figured out and get things running a little more safely and uniformly.