It was one of those perfect race mornings. The kind that just feels right. You know what I’m talking about. The weather is perfect, the venue location makes sense, the scenery is beyond spectacular and the energy buzzing around the starting line is tangible. And as I’m standing there in wonderment taking in the picturesque view before my eyes I say to myself, “of course it’s amazing – I’m in Vail, CO!” That alone earned 5 stars and a 2 thumbs up from me – smart choice BADASS Dash, very smart indeed! So, with that said, let’s get to this race recap! Drumroll please………..now this is the part that REALLY excites me! I get the pleasure to tell you that BADASS Dash got it right again with a very challenging course and incredibly brilliant use of the little Vail Village and natural terrain at the base of the ski slopes.
I’ve participated in 2 prior BADASS Dash races in Atlanta, and made the trip to Vail for the Eddie Bauer BADASS Dash at GoPro Mountain Games 2014 because it’s Vail and that alone is awesome! I looked forward to the trip out and enjoying the free race entry I won for placing first in their Elite Female division at their Stone Mountain, GA race in March of this year.
The 2013 BADASS Dash, which I enjoyed immensely, was their first race for Georgia. BADASS took feedback from racers and the OCR community to heart and came back strong again in March 2014 delivering another quality race by adding increased course difficulty and some additional obstacles. After two great race experiences, I was very curious to see what type of race they’d host for us in Vail.
What made this race so GREAT? Let’s dissect shall we:
Bipedal Race Morning Commuting (No Car Needed!)
Well first off, I set a new personal best in my pre-race commute time! That’s right, I got from my hotel room to the race start in 5 walking minutes. With Vail being a cozy, pedestrian-friendly village surrounded by countless hotels and condos it made for an easy-breezy commute. It was so easy to get to the starting area, I actually felt a little guilty thinking maybe I should do some skipping or slow-jog it to make it feel like some level of effort – but nah, I just strolled and felt immensely pleased with things getting off to such a nice start. For those who might have driven to the race from surrounding areas, there was a nearby parking garage they could utilize.
Pre-Race Festival Atmosphere & Race Start (Lively & Upbeat!)
I’m certainly one to give credit where credit is due, and I have to give big props to BADASS Dash’s announcer, Austin. Not only did Austin do an amazing job keeping the festival area pumped with great upbeat music, he made some fun small-talk and back-and-forths with both the spectators and elite racers who were milling around waiting for our wave to take off. He also did a great job giving instructions about the course rules for the elite heat & how our obstacle completion requirements and penalties would differ from the other heats. Since many of the elite racers at this race were invited, like myself, to race from previous BADASS Dash wins, they expected more out of us. For instance, we would do multiple repetitions at various obstacles rather than once and done. Also, the penalties were stricter for obstacle failures, involving higher numbers of burpees, pushups or sit-ups.
The first combined male & female heat of elite racers was set to start at 8am, but the race start time was delayed by about 20 minutes. However, BADASS Dash was not at fault for the delay. They had the race course mapped out well in advance, with plentiful marking no more than 100 feet apart throughout the course, but due to some “wee-hour of the morning mischiefs” many of the course arrows had been flipped around which would have had us running in all random directions. I don’t know about you, but I’ve taken wrong turns on courses several times which is frustrating, so I sure didn’t mind waiting 20min for them to get it all corrected. Also, given that this event was part of the GoPro Mountain Summer Games 2014 and thousands of people were at this event, it’s really quite the feat they were up against to mark out a course that was open to the public, winding throughout the main village in some sections and subject to pranksters. Normally a race delay causes some grumbles, but in this scenario, due to excellent communication from the event staff to the racers explaining the reason of the delay, we all took it in stride and chilled in the starting area talking amongst ourselves with Austin piping great music during the delay. Nice job BADASS Dash – communication is key & you did the absolute best you could do and handled the situation brilliantly.
Race Count-Down & Course (Obstacles Galore!)
So a quick count-down by “Austin the Awesome Announcer “and right off the bat we were all hopping over their “Hellacious Hurdles” & low-scrambling uphill under the “Nerve Racking Net” obstacles. The racers starting spreading out a bit as we took off down a paved stretch of road for about a third of mile which ended with some friendly volunteers telling us to crank out 25 mandatory push-ups. Ok, no problem! I was hanging at 4th place for the females at this point and after busting out my push-ups is right about when I started thinking to myself, “Hmmm, I’m feeling pretty whipped already – is this the elevation running obstacle coming into play here maybe?” But, no time to dwell on my lungs that felt in overdrive already and heart rate that felt way high because no sooner than a little more running we were at the 10 front-forward somersaults obstacle that BADASS refers to as “Roll Tide.” If you’ve never tried this, give it go because it’s tougher than you’d think! Sprint a half a mile then start doing 10 somersaults, then jump up and try to keep running and see how quickly you transition! It’s a simple concept as an obstacle but I found it highly effective and experienced some mild vertigo. I took a few seconds to get my bearings and then hopped up & kept “running.” But oh so clever was the course design! Next up, was the net crawl that we were told to roll through, not crawl through. So, if you weren’t already a little dizzy, this for sure got you the second time and I can confirm that at least one racer I talked to post-race “lost his cookies” after that obstacle. Score 1 for BADASS Dash!
Throughout the course, BADASS definitely delivered on their promise of 30+ obstacles and made especially impressive use of incorporating the natural layout of the village and base of the ski slopes to create their obstacles. Some of the standout obstacles for me were running & splashing through multiple sections of tiered water steps and fountains through the village section (total blast of fun which raised a few curious eyebrows from passersby who weren’t sure if we should be doing that!) Also, I really enjoyed their concept of scurrying along narrow rock walls ledges that were covered with chain-link to grip onto, followed with several stretches of boulder ledges above the pavement to navigate along without falling off.
BADASS did a great job throwing in steep incline climbs throughout the course that put my already overworked lungs & heart into extreme overdrive! One section of the course lead us to the base of a snow-covered hill with a rope we could use to haul ourselves up. I was definitely feeling the burn at this point and grabbed that rope with steely determination and hauled myself up. (And yes, I had to do some fast-walking at the top end to catch my breath and I’m not too proud to admit it.) After a few paces along the ridge of the snow I came to the largest expanse of blue tarp I’d ever seen which was their “Stupendous Slip-n-Slide.” After my experience with some recent obstacle race events with massive slides, I felt like a “slide pro” and took a running jump onto that baby using the little trail of water going down the middle and rocketed so fast everything was a blur! I only lost the corner of a thumbnail as I blasted into the muddy snow below so all is well that ends well! For another birds-eye-view recap of the course, check out this BADASS GoPro coverage of the course and obstacles.
A Successful Race Event (I’d do one again!)
Running toward the finish was a real treat with Awesome Austin the Announcer calling out racer names as we came across the line (thanks Austin – that was pretty cool!). I ended up placing 6th for the Elite Female, which I was thrilled with, and congratulate the winners for taking home most of the well-deserved podium spots in their home state! For any non-local runners like myself, BADASS could easily have listed the elevation as an obstacle too! I found it a welcome challenge and wonderful experience to run through the beautiful Vail Village & ski hills and be a part of the GoPro Mountain Games.
BADASS Dash delivered a well-planned course, in a gorgeous part of the country during an event with a lot of other fun things going on which made for a successful race, fun atmosphere and overall awesome weekend experience. In talking with BADASS Dash CEO, Grant Reeves, I learned even more about their commitment to making BADASS a success and based on my three BADASS Dash race experiences thus far, I think they’ve definitely got the recipe for success. Their race is plenty challenging for more experienced athletes while still achievable for new participants and they’ve consistently done a great job incorporating obstacles into existing terrain. They also offer a K-9 race division, which is a unique and interesting twist I’ve not seen before in OCR. It was pretty fun to watch other racers coming through the finish with their beloved pooch by their side!
Snacks, drinks, and vendor booths were plentiful in the finish area and the racecourse, from the starting corral to the finish area was well staffed with cheerful & helpful volunteers. Volunteers are essential to helping races go smoothly and BADASS Dash had a great crew out there on race day! The course marshals did an excellent job enforcing penalties (which has been a point of contention in many OCR events) and I found it absolutely refreshing to see this side of racing so well executed and done fairly. By my account, BADASS Dash put on a great race and gave it’s participants a unique experience with the fountain splashing, snow running, and monkey bars on the slope of a ski hill.
I won’t hold it against BADASS Dash that I lost a little back skin on the “Australian Back Crawl” due to it not having any water flowing down it to make it more slippery. The design of this obstacle involves pulling yourself up on a steep slope on your back underneath a cargo net that is a foot or two off the ground. It’s a clever idea and I’ve enjoyed it the two races prior. But this time, given that Colorado was in a drought and water usage on the course was very limited, this obstacle was painfully slow moving for me. Despite my best effort of pulling with my arms and pushing with my legs to propel me upward, I would gain 2 inches of movement with each push and pull, sticking to the tarp underneath me like we were best friends. Rocking a snail’s pace I did make it to the top and popped out from underneath the cargo net and just had to chuckle at how much harder it was with no water. So, I love this obstacle BADASS and hope you keep it at all the other races because it is physically taxing to accomplish and it’s interesting, but maybe only when there is a little water to give us a chance!
Shenoa Creer, a.k.a. ‘The Wolf’, is an avid OCR enthusiast who embraces all things deemed challenging. When not representing ORM out on the race course, she might be seen running with one of her beloved weimaraners. Shenoa moves to her own cadence which coined her nickname. She loves the spirit and community uniquely found within obstacle course racing. She previously covered the Highland Mud Run.