As BADASS Dash prepared for its Second Annual Event at Georgia’s Stone Mountain Park I was excited to celebrate my Anniversary of OCR racing by competing in the same Race where it all started for me. They promised to improve upon last year and after running this course they truly made several changes that enhanced the experience for just about everyone there yesterday.
The course was advertised as a 7K (4.34 miles) and my RunKeeper GPS logged it at 4.56 miles actually run, which is pretty good course planning and a benefit to people who appreciate knowing beforehand what’s going to be expected. Beginners and veterans alike lament “5k” races that turn into almost 5 miles to run, or 10K races that only go 4 miles. The course was somewhat different from last year’s and provided a nice blend of paved paths, dirt paths, easily negotiable hills, and some creek bed running.
What They Got Right
1. Packet pickup was once again offered Off-site on Thursday and Friday at a local Sporting goods store and it was much better organized than last year. I was in and out in about 2 minutes with my timing chip bib and both a Tech shirt and a Tshirt in hand.
2. The Obstacles were a nice mixture of being easy enough to allow you to catch your breath for a moment, and some that were truly challenging. Running a serpentine path around road markers, dodging dodge balls, and walking over hurdles to save knees provided semi-comic relief. However, the uphill-upside down cargo net crawl was even tougher this year because the plastic was not wet. The PVC pipes to crawl through were a real struggle and quite a tight fit. The cargo net over a Semi presented a challenge, and the inclined wall with ropes was steeper than I’ve seen before so it was no joke. When it came time to run up and over picnic tables in one of the pavilions, there were three laps to cover over the length of the area and my quads felt it much more than last year. Inflatable bouncing houses were fun and everyone was laughing as we tried to negotiate and help folks through them. The sandbag carry was almost totally flat so I once again got to balance it on my head and do my charm school routine while singing silly songs. The mud crawl under netting may have lacked flesh shredding barbed wire above, but it seemed to last forever and felt like we might be crawling a lap around the mountain. And as you approached the Finish Line and Festival Area there was the Web of Water. Surgical tubing stretched in a web across your path with ice cold water spraying on you from all directions. Think of doing the Matrix while running through a car wash at about 34 degrees. This flat took my breath away!
3. The Festival Area was nicely organized and not too crowded. There was ample room for teams to set up their own tents and gathering areas, and folks even caught some rays on the grass in the beautiful sunshine. A permanent bathroom facility was nearby, so there were no gross porta potties to negotiate during the course of the day. People who paid for Spectator Passes were pleasantly occupied while their runners were out on the course and had ample opportunities to check out various obstacles nearby on this close running course so that they could see the runners instead of only catching the start and the finish line activities.
4. The Race Organizers were accessible to the racers and participants during the day. The music kept the energy levels high, and the Announcer/MC was really good in keeping his commentary fresh and entertaining for hours. This is quite a feat sometimes.
5. The medal was a nice, spinning Badass Dash medal that for some reason alternated between black and yellow for different racers. Curious, but no biggie, really.
What Could Be Improved Upon
1. The food truck and available options for nutrition during the day could have been better. There were fruits, granola bars, and water available for racers, but very limited food at the venue otherwise. Those who made a day out of it were left with pretzels and nachos to choose from, and several folks were dying to have something maybe just a little more healthy and substantial to buy. Food Truck vendors love to be able to sell their stuff and it should be easy to find more trucks next time. The food also did not go on sale until 12:00pm. With an 8am first race, this needs to be fixed.
2. And on the flip side of nutrition – Beer. Beer was not advertised, but it was certainly at last year’s Event, and I know because that one beer was the first beer I’d had in almost 2 years at that time and it was one of the best I’ve ever had. Beer, it’s not just for breakfast any more, and a post-race cup of suds is something a lot of people crave.
3. Once again they ran out of medals before the end of the race. I cannot understand this, and it really bothers me when the later racers who have struggled against all odds to complete this course and have refused to quit come dragging across that Finish Line only to be told that the medals are gone and they’ll get them mailed out later.
Editor’s note- We reached out to the Race Director, Brian Sharenow about the missing medals. This is what he told us. “When we got down to the last few boxes of medallions we noticed the awards company shipped us a few boxes of kids dash medallions instead of regular racers so we were short about 15 medallions. Myself and the Festival manager took each person’s name and bib number to get their info and we are going to mail them the medallions they are owed this week”.
4. The volunteers who did a magnificent job encouraging runners and worked all day to make this a wonderful experience were told they’d be able to run for free at the end of the day. This didn’t happen for a lot of Volunteers, and they were given the option to run with the Dogs and their handlers on a K9 course where some of the obstacles had already been removed, or just pass on running. And their volunteer “meal” consisted of being limited to 2 slices of pizza. Treating volunteers poorly is a huge error in judgment. Volunteers are so important to the success of an Event that it would be advisable to coddle and treat your unpaid assistants in a manner that makes them want to do this again and bring more friends with them next time.
**Editor’s note- Mr. Sharenow reached out to volunteers within a day or two of the race to apologize directly to those who did not get to run. He completely owned the communication breakdown that occurred and offered them a free race for next year. When we asked him about this, he said “Least I could do. It was our miscommunication and anything that goes wrong I always take accountability for so glad he felt taken care of. I am big on taking care of any and every one I can”
Overall Impression and Recommendation
I really liked being a part of Badass Dash Stone Mountain 2014. It improved upon the 2013 Event and provided a good, challenging race and an opportunity to do what I love with the people I love. If other Badass Dashes are convenient for me to check out in other locations around the country I would be interested in running them if possible, and I will definitely be signing up for Badass Dash Stone Mountain in 2015.
You can find some more event photos on the BADASS Dash Facebook page.
ORM previously interviewed Race Director, Brian Sharenow for our podcast, you can hear that interview here.