8 Race Weekend

Prologue: On May 11 of 2013, I did 3 races in one day and challenged others to top that feat. On June 8, 2013, Jeff Rondina, began posting pictures on my Facebook wall on what would turn out to be 5 races in 13.5 hours. I have wanted to attempt to tie or beat that effort ever since.

Race: #1
Name: Run for the Stars 5k.
Date/Time:Friday April 25, 2014  6:30pm
Location: Sixes Elementary School, Canton, GA.
Brief Description: 5k near and around elementary school
Driving distance: 41 miles from my house to the race

What I remember:
This was my first 5k in over a year and my first since I began heavy speed training. My previous best was 23:56 and I knew I could beat that. I chatted it up briefly with a young man named Mikey who the locals were saying would probably win. I told him I would run with him for as long as I could. (This turned out to be about 10 seconds). He did go on to win in 18:17. I ended up coming in 9th place. I had been passed by nothing but little kids so I was pretty sure I won my age group. I found the woman in charge to claim my age group award (a medal, and a Dave and Busters card). This only took 5-10 minutes, but cost me valuable time and I almost missed the start of race #2, so I would not be doing that again, no matter what the result.

GPS Data: 3.09 mi
Official Race Time: 22:18
Place: 9/108, 1st in 40+ (Masters Winner)

Mikey and I at the start.

Race: #2
Name: 1,2,3k Glow Show
Date/Time:Friday April 25, 2014  8:00pm
Location: Alexander Park, Lawrenceville, GA.
Brief Description: Non bibbed, non timed race through a park with glow-sticks
Driving distance: 55 miles from previous race

What I remember: This race was supposed to start at 8:00pm. GPS with traffic was telling me it would get me there between 5 and 10 past 8:00. I was nervous as hell that I would blow my 8 race weekend goal on just my 2nd race. I had cajoled Val Smith and her friend Michael Sanford to join me. Val was our point person who got there early to make sure we got in, in case we were running late. I was on the phone frantically with Val getting the scoop on the race and parking logistics as I drove over from the other race as fast as I could.   I parked my car and starting running for the start line at about 8:05. Fate smiled on us and the race ended up not starting until 8:19pm.  The race was short, but running at dusk on a beautiful night was awesome.

GPS Data: 1.58mi
Official Race Time: N/A
Place: N/A

Race #2

First two down, and I am thrilled.

Race #3

Name: Run for a Reason 5 K
Date/Time:Saturday, April 26, 2014  8:00am
Location: Flowery Branch High School, Flowery Branch, GA.
Brief Description: 5k at a high school
Driving distance: 43 miles from my house to the race

What I remember: I knew I needed to get 4 races in today. It would be a stretch yet I drove with a lot of hope that it could happen. I had packed my bags and the car the night before with enough clothes and (thanks to my supportive wife) enough food for the day. I also remember thinking I would need the day to go perfect traffic-wise to make everything happen.

When I got to the start line, I was actually quite cocky after my age group domination from the night before. This race had a larger ratio of adults to children than the previous night, but no one looked like they were there to win other than one male and female who looked to be in their 30s. Since there was no 16 year old standing next to me like the night before, I thought. “Maybe I’ll win the whole thing outright”. I was wrong. I was immediately passed by several people and knew I was slower than the night before. I ended up finishing in 23:10. I was NOT going to stick around and ask about AG awards as I learned my lesson from the night before. I did find the guy who looked closest to my age that beat me and when I found out he was only 36, I was thrilled to know I was the first place 40+ guy. Not a moment to spare as the last heat of the next race was supposed to start at 9:00am, I grabbed my stuff and off I went.

GPS Data: 3.17 mi
Official Race Time: 23:10
Place: 10/108. 1st in Age Group.

2014-04-26 08.31.32-2

Ready for some mud after this one.

Race #4
Name: Muddy Duck Dash
Date/Time: Saturday, April 26, 2014. Last heat 9:00am
Location: University of North Georgia, Gainesville Campus
Brief Description: Mom and Pop OCR
Driving distance: 9 miles from previous race

What I remember: Once again, Val Smith came to the rescue again as she got there before me, ran the race and was there to help me get there on time. The final heat started at 9:00am, but with every minute counting on a 4 race day, I knew I wanted to start as soon as I got there. Val arranged to get me my bib and chip ahead of time by talking to the RD. I hit the parking lot, changed into ocr shoes, grabbed my bib and timing chip from her and ran to the start line. The 8:50 heat had left a few minutes before and the 9:00am heat was queing up. I thought about waiting for about 5 seconds and then said “Fuck it” and took off running. If my time didn’t register, so be it. I had lots of racing left to do.

This race was exactly what I needed! After hitting the pavement hard for 5ks, I was so happy to have my feet hitting trail. When I got to the first creek crossing, that familiar smell of water and mud was a reminder of everything I love about OCR. This race turned out to be one of my favorite local obstacle races of all time. The trails were beautiful. the obstacles were family friendly, well built and really fun. In addition, the volunteers were awesome. This was a race that you could bring your spouse and kids to and they would love it. Or, if you went with friends, you could run it 2-3 times and enjoy it each loop. As I finished, I briefly stopped by the timing tent and explained my situation about my weird start. Special thanks to Tim and his team from Dirty Spokes Productions for making sure my time got included in the final results. I will be doing a full write up on this one (including photos) in the coming days, so stay tuned.

GPS Data: 4.01 mi
Official Race Time: 40:59.7
Place: 1st in Age Group. Unsure of overall

Muddy Duck

4 down, 4 to go.

 Race #5

Name: Superhero Scramble
Date/Time: Saturday, April 26, 2014. Last heat 12:00pm
Location: Durhamtown Off Road Park, Union Point, GA.
Brief Description: 4-5 mile obstacle race
Driving distance: 84 miles from previous race

What I remember:  This was a good hour and 40 minutes away which was giving me just enough time to make it by Noon. The race was off the beaten path and the website said NOT to use GPS directions. Val Smith once again was a huge help as she got there before me. She texted that her google maps took her right to it. About 10 minutes from the site, I decided to look into the distance to the next race to see how close I’d be cutting it when Superhero was over. Doing this had me lose signal and now I did not know how to get to Durhamtown. The GPS directions had a few turns left and I did not have them memorized. I had taken a screen shot of the turn by turn directions from the website, but from where I was, this was no help either. I hoped for a gas station or somewhere else I could ask directions, but there were none to be found.  I eventually found the name of the road that the park was supposed to be on. However, sometimes country roads go on for miles in either direction. Or, they stop and continue on further down the road, rather than a 4 way stop. There was no way to be sure I was headed to the race. I turned down the road and prayed I was going the right way. After about 5 minutes, I began to see dirt bikes. This made me hopeful, but when I didn’t see an obstacle race festival area, I thought maybe there are multiple ATV parks in this part of the world, so my panic continued. About two minutes later, I saw the tops to white tents and the familiar Superhero Scramble colors and let out a huge sigh of relief.

I knew this race would have at least 30 of my friends from Georgia Obstacle Racers . Several yelled encouragement as I literally ran from my car to the team tent, and then onto the course. I ran to the start line just as the final announcements for the Noon heat were happening and just like that I was off again. About 1 mile into the race, my friend J.D. Allen decided to find me on the course. I had been running alone all morning, so it was great to find a friend on the trail. He covered most of the course with me, and took some photos along the way. I really enjoyed my SHS experience. The race definitely needs some better safety measures in place for water obstacles, but other than that, they made great use of a dirt park no one has used before and had some great obstacles. The water slide they are famous for was even bigger than before. In my haste to leave, I did not pick up a finisher shirt which is a bummer as they are different than previous years.  A full write up will follow on this one as well.

GPS Data: 5.18 mi
Official Race Time: 1:20:44
Place: 57/638

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J.D. and I find another friend to recruit for GORMR. #dontjudge

Race #6
Name: Tough Mudder
Date/Time: Saturday, April 26, 2014. Last heat 3:00pm
Location:  Bouckaert Farm, Fairburn, GA.
Brief Description: 10-12 mile obstacle challenge (cause it’s not a race)
Driving distance: 113 miles from previous race

What I remember: We are now at the part of the challenge, where it’s really possible I don’t make it to the next one in time. I was not able to leave Superhero immediately because there was a massive mud crawl at the end of the race. I had to attempt to wash off before walking back to the car. Then, as I began driving, my GPS did not pick up with out any signal, so my only hope is to start driving the direction I came from, and hope it clicks on when I get back to civilization. However, that may or may not be the right direction. This is not a 1 or two turns off the highway situation, this is back road to back road situation. After 10 minutes of driving, it comes on and it shows me traffic on the major highways and that I should take the back way. I am so grateful I did as everyone began posting on Facebook how they were stuck for a long time. I began driving around somewhere around 2:00pm. The last heat began at 3:00pm. GPS was telling me that I would arrive by 4:10pm.

I arrived and parked at around 4:15pm. I had been in the car for 2 plus hours and really needed the bathroom. My thoughts were racing as I tried to find the por-ta-potties.

Should I ask them really nicely to let me go, should I just sneak on? What if the volunteers are gone and there is no water stations open? I had no Camelbak with me and would certainly need water and nutrition on what would most likely be 2+ hours on course. Would it be stupid to attempt water obstacles with no staff or volunteers around? What if I was caught halfway through and was sent home task unaccomplished? Or worse, banned from the next day as well?

I passed my friend Peter McNairy and he yelled “Hello” to me. I just sort of looked back because I couldn’t produce the words to say everything that was going on in that moment.  His thought could have been “Fuck that guy for not saying hello back”. He would later tell me that his thought was “This guy needs my help”. This is how you know a true friend. I did need his help, badly. When I came out, I said “I just got here, can you run with me”? Without hesitation, he said he would.  He filled his pack with water and nutrition and we began to walk to the start of the race.

My body was starting to feel the effects of all the long day. Superhero had some challenging upper body obstacles. So that combined with all of the running, and all of the driving, and  all of the stress of the day made me truly grateful to have Peter with me. We joked and laughed for most of the race. Many times at a race, you can be alone in the woods, or alone in the woods with a few friends. Every once in a while, other racers will pass you, or you will pass other racers. Or at the very least, you will talk to a volunteer at an obstacle or water station. As we covered those first 8 miles, there was no one on the course, so it was a very unique experience. In the back of my mind, I was always afraid somebody from TMHQ would come by and tell us to stop and take us off the course and end the adventure right there.

We didn’t see anyone until we got to Walk The Plank where we saw several medical staff including divers. They were all packing up and getting ready to go. An extremely generous medical supervisor, got a diver back in the water plus 2 or 3 other personnel on guard at the water’s edge to make sure Peter and I could do this obstacle safely. This was a real treat for us and now it felt like we were destined to finish.  We eventually caught a group walking that had left at 3:00pm  at mile 9 and were able to coach them over an obstacle and give them some encouraging words to help them finish. With only 2 races left, I have completed what I know is the hardest part of the challenge, I am physically and emotionally wiped.

A complete write up will be forthcoming on this Tough Mudder including the Legionnaires’ Loop you have been hearing about.

GPS Data: 11.29mi
Official Race Time: N/A
Place: N/A

IMG_2242    Peter looks tough. I look like I got run over by a truck.

Race #7
Name: Biggest Loser Run/Walk
Date/Time: Sunday April 27, 2014 8:00am
Location: Six Flags, Austell, GA.
Brief Description: 5 and 10k run/walk around an amusement park
Driving distance: 14.6 miles from my house

What I remember: When I got finally got home Saturday night, I did not have the energy to empty my bags and the car to repack it for the day. I went to bed as early as I could and woke up at 4:45am to get ready for the day. I knew that the hardest part was already behind me, but you never what can happen so I was not feeling out of the woods. The Biggest Loser has that funsies/cheeseball vibe you get at most color and electric runs. Happy music is playing and the MCs talk about sunshine and lollipops. It’s an attitude that says “We really don’t care about our race time, we are just happy to be here”. Even though it was REALLY cheesy, I was ok with it because after 20 plus miles the day before, I would not have the speed to beat my previous 5k times. (and really what’s the point of a 5k if you can’t attempt to PR). So I was just there to get my 7th race over with so I could see my friends back over at Tough Mudder for the last one.

Somewhere around mile 2, an 8 year old boy passed me the way 8 years old do. You know how they run full blast in short bursts, because they have no idea how to pace? Well this kid passed me and I thought “he’ll be out of breath any second”. Turns out he wasn’t and he and I ran neck and neck for about 1/4 mile. Out of sheer will, I just decided this kid was not going to beat me today. No one else in the world cared if I beat this kid or not, but if you’re a competitor like I am, you know that feeling and you can’t ignore it. So I dropped the hammer for the last 3/4 of a mile, which was almost a full minute faster than my previous mile. I beat him by 52 seconds. So,  Jackson Orsega, from Sharpsburg, Georgia. Thanks for pushing me to another 1st place in Age Group.

GPS Data: 3.24 mi
Official Race Time: 25:03
Place: 9/265  1st in Age Group.

Biggest Loser

 Happy to know there is just one more.

Name: Tough Mudder
Date/Time: Sunday April 27, 2014.  Heat time  10:00am
Bouckaert Farm, Fairburn, GA.
Brief Description: 10-12 mile obstacle challenge (cause it’s not a race)
Driving distance: 13.9 miles from previous race

What I remember: All the pressure of other races to get to was gone, and I could just enjoy this one with friends. It was a great way to end the  8 race challenge. I took off with a bunch of friends, but the majority of the course was spent with Andrew Grizzle, Val Smith, and Ashley Martin. We did what we always do on days like this: push each other, make fun of each other, make fun of other people, and laugh a lot. I will especially remember Val showing off on obstacles and posing for pictures.

I’ll post some of those photos when I do the full TM wrap up (both laps) in days to come.

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Race number 8. Feeling number 1. (photo credit Tony Ferrante) 

GPS Data: 11.41mi
Official Race Time: N/A
Place: N/A

Overall Race Miles: 42.96
Overall Driving Miles: 373.5

Special Thanks- Dominic Carubba who loaned me his car for the weekend, My wife Stacie Davis for packing my food and putting up with my insanity, Sirius XM Lithium Channel, which provided my soundtrack for the entire weekend.

Matt B. Davis

is the host of the Obstacle Racing Media Podcast and the author of "Down and Dirty-The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and Mud Runs". He is also the only (known) #wafflehouseelite obstacle racer.
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9 comments
  1. I thought I was foolish for doing two races in the same weekend, and now I’m out of breath just reading about what you did.

  2. So glad to hear someone else had concerns about Superhero. I cannot believe in this day and age they wouldn’t have trained personnel at all the water obstacles. Several of the rock climbing walls were sketchy too. Not sure about doing another of their events….

  3. Always a great time running with you Matt! Great story and congrats on completing the challenge.

  4. Dude,
    What an awesome journal of your experience.
    Remember when you were so fat and out of shape, that you thought Doug Grady was crazy for doing the tough mudder because you couldn’t even run a mile.

  5. Just did 2 obstacles race this weekend. Wow I don’t know if I coukd do 8 races in one weekend. You are awesome.

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