2016 Abominable Snow Race

12645017_813976955414489_3270821643927157595_n12647042_545896888893270_7962832219435843011_n The 2016 inaugural Abominable Snow Race {ASR} was held on January 30th at Veterans Acres Park in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Having raced in other winter OCR events in the Midwest in the past, and feeling that they were lacking, I was pleasantly surprised at what the ASR had to offer. Race designer and local racer, Chad Riffe, really pulled out the big guns when putting together his course. I’d say no expense was spared for his event. From the battle of the bands going on in the festival area, to the quality of the gear offered up to be purchased, to the well-built obstacles, it was clear he wanted people to leave happy and come back next year. Volunteers were happy and helpful despite the chilly temps, and the event was fairly well organized considering it was a first year event.12650972_813979228747595_431972832204351072_nDSCN0028

The Elite wave took off at 8 am and racers were quickly made aware of the one thing ASR had no control over. The majority of the gently rolling hills, which offered a modest elevation change of 253 feet, was covered with ice! Yes, those of us without the benefit of metal studded shoes fell early and often. Luckily for me I had my trusty Obstacle Guard shin/knee compression guards on, saving me a busted knee. The lack of actual snow on the course was taken care of by bringing in a snow maker to give the main course a wintery blast. There were some staple obstacles that you would expect to find over the 3.4-mile course. Logs to carry, tires to run through and over, mounds of snow to climb over, and wire to crawl under were all decently spaced throughout the trail. But where most winter OCR events fall short, ASR came through. ASR boasted a double traverse wall connected by a “Cliffhanger” beam connecting the two. The Oil Rigs were a well-constructed 12-foot-high obstacle where a cow bell was placed at the top and needed to be rung. The Snow Fort was a cargo net climber’s dream; a large square 12 feet high with netting on both sides and the top. The Abominable Wall was a steep wall with a rope for you to use to traverse over, and an inverted wall like you might find at other major summer events, were made much more difficult because of cold hands and the extra layers of clothing. I found all of the man-made obstacles to be expertly built and solid.DSCN0014

There were also obstacles included for fun. Any OCR event wanting to build a sustainable business model needs to incorporate some fun stuff into their design for the people who are out there just to have a good time. ASR hit a homerun with this by including an inner tube slide down a hill. A huge success among the non-elite competitors, I saw people tumbling down the hill while laughing and having an awesome time. In addition, there was a sling shot with a ball where a target was provided, and a miss meant 30 mountain climbers.DSCN0018

Besides an elite heat, ASR offered a “Hero Heat” for first responders, a kids race, and open class heats taking off every 20 minutes to keep obstacles from getting clogged up with racers. The crowd looked to me to be constant all through the morning with smiling faces everywhere. I found the ASR to be an awesome race for the elite or novice racer as there was truly something for everyone here. I met competitors from all over the Midwest. Winter races are hard to plan for, but ASR looked to have everything but the ice on the trail covered. The race swag was on point, high quality tee shirts and stocking hats plus a unique finishers medal was handed out, and etched glass trophies were given to the elite winners. After talking with Chad Riffe after the race, I’m excited about talk of expansion of the race in the future. Congrats to Chad for doing a great job in filling a winter niche for the OCR competitor!

Scott Brackemyer

44 year old Scott Brackemyer is a self described "Eliteish" racer from Dekalb Illinois. The father of four loves to travel with his family to races to spread the good word of OCR and living a healthy lifestyle.

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