March 19, 6:05 AM, My Driveway – The doom and gloom reports of a frigid morning prove inaccurate. It’s 57 degrees out. Nice. Let’s hope the rain doesn’t show up either.
5:35 AM, Buford, GA – It’s always gonna be a good race day when there is a Waffle House and a QT at the exit to serve both ends of the body.
7:20 AM, Lake Lanier Islands Resort – Parting with my $15 at the gate house hurts as I enter OCR’s newest venue.
7:23 AM, Lanier World – I pull into a giant parking lot with asphalt and painted parking spaces and everything. Such wanton luxury.
7:25 AM, Lanier World – Registration is right at the edge of the parking lot just before the entrance to the water park. Sunrise is struggling against the gloomy cloud cover.
7:30 AM, Lanier World – – It’s a curvy downhill sidewalk to the water park. There are strings of edison bulb café lights strung along and over the sidewalk. I feel as if I’m going to some fancy wedding.
7:31 AM, Lanier World – – Oh look! There’s the wavepool: serving Atlanta’s chlorinated pee wave needs for over 20 years. Very strange to see it empty.
7:45 AM, Lanier World – – The festival area is on the soft, white (and obviously imported) sandy beach. All the tents are laid out along an arc of the sheltered cove near the water, the start line inflatable is damn near in the water (facing TOWARDS the water!), and the main stage IS in the water. This is one cool set up! I even see a few obstacles in the distance near the mouth of the cove.
8:00 AM, Lanier World – – Though it is in the high 50s, the heavy cloud cover coupled with the fact that the water is 5 fucking feet from the start line, cements my decision: it’s another long sleeve compression shirt, pecker pants, and skull cap kind of day.
8:10 AM, Lanier World – I take a quick warm up jog, thinking about the fact I’m not running the 2 lap elite wave. I’m just going to do the 8k and then do a second lap for fun. I’ve been a lazy fucker this past winter, so it’s just as well I’m not having to try to crush it for 2 solid laps.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE RUN:
- The 8:00/8:30 open waves have been combined for unknown reasons. I nudge my way to the front of the corral. I pay for it with my right ear being 12” from a monstrous fucking speaker turned to 11.
- We are down on one knee as Coach Pain, the Bishop of BattleFrog, the Sensei of the Start Line, the Monsignor of Emcees, the Preacher of the Pep Talk, delivers unto us his sermon. He really is the best at the motivational style of starting.
- Damn, that water looks cold! Sun, where for art thou?!
- And we are off! It’s a high-stepping, wide arc, following the beach in the knee high water to the opposite side of the cove. I am moving too fast and the adrenaline is pumping too hard for me to notice the water temperature. The sand turns to riprap on the other side of the cove.
- The riprap immediately drops the pace next to nothing to avoid turning an ankle on the submerged rocks. Now I’m feeling that water!
- I clamor out of the lake and straight up steep fucking Hill Scramble 1. I’m half way up and my heart is jackhammerin’ my chest into a heaving mess.
- Well, that’s a bitch of a way to start a race.
- After a bit of pavement running, we drop onto an abandoned golf green and immediately hit Over/Under/Through.
- It’s a looong rolling par 5 to Confidence Climb. This is a new BF obstacle: fifteen vertical feet of square aluminum tubes spaced ass puckering distances apart. The side roll technique at the top works well. These will suck when wet and/or muddy.
- As I continue, on it becomes obvious we will be running the hilly fairways of the closed PineIsle Point Golf Club.
- The pile of Wreckbags is so clean, and neat, and dry, and heavy looking.
- Within 50 yards, I’m climbing over the 4-foot wall. Of course, a short but fucking steep hill immediately follows it. What the hell? Another 4-foot wall awaits at the top.
- I drop off Beelzebub’s bolster and it’s a barely controlled run down a steep hill through the trees taking us to the next fairway. Oh goody look at that fucking long hill!
- I’m starting to get pretty warm. I wonder if it was a mistake to wear a shirt?
- The two 8-foot walls are our reward at the top. Interesting, there is an elite lane and a novice lane. Step boards on the novice and the standard smooth wall for Elite. Elite it is. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
- A hard 180 and I’m shooting down another single track “trail” in the woods, getting wacked by branches, right through some squelchy mud and straight up a fucking hill. I’m sensing a theme here.
- Back on a fairway, I’m bombing down three tiers of tee boxes. No time to wash the balls. Looks like a long, straight, downhill three wood from here.
- After another fucking hill (who knew that Lake Lanier was so fucking hilly!) I see a small wrought iron structure perched on a dais, framing a spectacular view of the lake below. Another wedding image flashes through my mind. What the fuck?! I’m a walking (running actually) romantic comedy.
- A sweeping 180 degree lie and we arrive at the Monkey Bars. Looky here! BF has brought back monkey bars. Not the original beast with the long downward angle, horizontal transition to the long upward angle (how I miss you so) mind you; but rather a shorter, and fairly staid, classic up/down configuration. Again, it seems to be part of the new concept of building the obs out of aluminum box beams.
- Fellow Grey Berets, Mr. Bean and Fireball, are there volunteering. Supportive hugs are given. This obstacle is also divided into “skill” level lanes. So, I beat feet to the elite lane. I figure I normally would have to be in this lane anyways. I step up and grab the first bar. What the fuck?! These bars are not secured down! They freely spin within the holes of the castellated beams! You tricky motherfroggers! The angle of the beams and gravity pretty much keep the bars where they need to be so it goes off without a hitch. Wetness would cause havoc though, I think to myself.
- It’s a straight, short 3 iron to 60 Degrees. The elegance of the original construction of this obstacle has been changed to another sterile aluminum mess, and the bars are now square!
- A long putt and I’m at the base of Hill Scramble II. Fuck! That is a steep hill in the trees. “Scramble” invokes visions of speed and agility. I’m trudging up this fucker with neither speed or agility. This sucks! At least I’m not dragging a fucking sandbag filled coffin-wheelbarrow.
- I come out of the woods (at least I haven’t lost my balls) onto another fairway. We’re still heading in an upward direction. Fuck!
- Hump Over is a series of four horizontal logs in increasing heights off the ground. Not hard to get over, but after that damn hill slog, certainly not welcome.
- I finally reach the top of this long uphill fairway and drop into the woods for some single track trail running. It’s apparent now we are getting into a rhythm of fairways to woods to fairways to woods; exactly like my fucking golf game.
- I’ve always hit Ramp Wall with one step on the wall and then launch to the top. Without even thinking I took two steps, my Icebugs like glue on the wood, and was at the top without slamming myself or Elmer the glue shooter and his BBs against the wall. Yay for that!
- After some rolling hills, I start a descent towards the lake that offers up another fantastic view. The clouds hang heavy, dark, and ominously.
- The pink course flags lead me along the lake’s edge on a cracked and weed-choked golf cart path. And then just like that, I’m in the water again. Well, no worries about overheating now.
- It’s tough going on the slippery riprap hidden under the murky water. It’s not above thigh level so all the important bits stay warm and dry.
- I pick my way up the bank. We are now way out on a point, connected to the main island by an isthmus. This would have been a spectacular green. I would have shanked a fuck ton of balls into the lake on this approach.
- There in nice neat rows are the Jerry Cans. Camo green cans of pain and misery. I take my two and head out.
- My little pink flag friends take us on a wide arc around the fringes of the green. We are going to be circumventing this entire point, I just know it!
- Just after I drop down onto a rocky “trail” just above the water line, I have to stop and pause for a moment. Fuck! The lack of winter training rearing its ugly head again!
- Negotiating the rocks as I have to head into the water is a fucking nightmare. The unsure footing in the water not much better.
- We wade onto a beach (Like MacArthur, but without the aviators and brass balls), climb back up to the grassy point, and finally drop off Satan’s sippy cups.
- Back down to the beach, and back in the water and back on to a fairway.
- Oh goody more hills! This whole golf course was built on an ancient fucking mountain. Stupid tectonics. Yeah, for erosion though!
- Wobbler looks like it was designed by a bored 14-year-old summer intern at BFHQ, with no access to good supervision or software. A cargo net on the ground followed by a classic spider web, all under the framework of a huge, but old, set of monkey bars. This made it on the course versus the Delta ladder?
- I laugh at the signs telling us to keep off the monkey bars. BF knows its audience well.
- I manage to stay on my feet through the spider web. In fact, I haven’t fallen on my face yet! This day is lookin’ up.
- More fairways, more woods. This is such a great fucking course!
- At the bottom of a hill, I arrive at Hump Over 2. I’ve seen this obstacle on videos and even at last year’s BattleFrog College Championships, but I had never experienced it myself. A series of beams (again, with the aluminum castellated box beams) alternating between chest height and knee height. Over the first one, under the second one. Repeat.
- The volunteer is yelling, “try to avoid putting your hands in the holes!” I roll my eyes, as I think about what I’ve been telling people about this style of obstacle building. (writer’s side note: BattleFrog, this is my biggest beef with aluminum framing – the edges of the metal at these holes can be sharp! Using these beams on the parts of the obstacle that will be touched by hands is stupid. I said this about some of Spartan’s obstacles last year. I shouldn’t have to be told to avoid a part of the obstacle that I have to touch in order to successfully execute said obstacle….rant over)
- Fuck! How long is this hump….over?!
- It finally ends, I suck down a GU, grab a water at the aid station, and keep on keepin’ on.
- More fairway, more hills, but all the body parts are intact and feeling fine.
- I’m enjoying the long range view of the lake as I crest a hill and head down to the next obstacle. It appears to be some sort of traverse type obstacle.
- Wedge Wall is a piece of cake. 2Xs for the feet, incut 2Xs for the hands, and straight as an arrow.
- As I approach the Mud Mounds, I hear the volunteer yelling “keep those hands dry! The platinum rig is next!” My hands shoot up over my head faster than a teller’s at a bank heist.
- The mounds are not too high/steep and the pits are not too deep. (Any of you who did BF Carolinas last year know what the extreme opposite is like. Oy!).
- The mighty Platinum Rig, taker of bands – destroyer of dreams. It also is split into skill level lanes. I’m running for time in the open heat but still choose the elite lane. There is a bit of a backup. I take the time to assess the set up: ring, nunchuck, rope, fixed bars (round and square), ring, nunchuck, rope, low-hanging cargo net, rope, stripper pole, nunchuck, nunchuck.
- The clock, she is a-ticking!
- I finally get my turn. It’s easy peasy until 1/2 of the way through, when I get all twisted around and flailing. Next thing I know, I’m doing my 8-count body builders. I would love to take another crack at it….or two, or ten, but I have no band to defend.
- I stop at the adjacent aid station for a quick water and realize how much time I burned when I see some fellow Grey Berets have caught up to me.
- With a twinge of disappointment for not giving it a few more tries at the rig, I head on down the hill.
- The sweet tug on all my body parts by sweet Lady Gravity is short lived as she suddenly ups and leaves me in a huff, and her idiot brother Benny Hill shows up.
- It’s another long uphill slog in the woods.
- Every time the course turns towards the lake, the vistas never disappoint. As I soak in the view this time, I spy an obstacle far below that is in the water just off another sandy beach.
- After wading into the lake up to waist high, a short climb up a saggy vertical cargo net gets me to the top of Hooyah: plastic culvert pipes all angled down to the water. Fuck! more than just my feet are going to get wet now! The sun has not won its battle with the clouds. The temperature is fine, but there is a bit of a breeze. I do not want to get fully submerged.
- I pick the furthest pipe to the left, since the course goes left from here. I plan to control my descent so I can ease into the water. Feet first!
- My concerns are quickly proven wrong, as I slowly…..slowwwwly, painfully slowly slide down. It is the very antithesis of the slide at the 2015 OCRWC. At the bottom, I actually have to grip the edge to pull myself out.
- The water is chest deep and fucking cold! I have to take a long route at an angle to the beach. The going is slow. I could swim and get through it faster, but I just don’t want to get more wet than I have to.
- Inverted Wall has a commanding position on another picturesque point.
- I get to the top in my usual manner, but as I make the transition, something goes horribly, horribly wrong. My foot slips and Slug Gherkin and the testaculars take the brunt of all my weight. MOTHERFUCKER!!! OWWWWWW! I slide down the other side and collapse on the grass. Fuck! Fuck! Owww! The dude behind me asks if I’m alright with genuine concern in his voice. “Yeah, I just racked my nuts and pinched my pecker!”, I tell him. I get a look of understanding that only men can share in moments like this.
- As I stumble in the sand of the next beach, my shelled nuts crying holy havoc, I realize I did the intermediate lane of the inverted walls. Well shit! There goes that whole paying attention problem again.
- OWWWWW! My twig and berries hurt!
- Back on the grass, along the shore, I see the Rope Wall. Yet another BF original obstacle now divided into skill level lanes. I start to get the post nutsmash cramps as I climb the wall. Thank god it’s dry out, so it’s a quick easy climb. I’m almost glacial in my movements at the transition. The little gentleman in the pink pullover and his manbags is yelling at me like Samuel L. Jackson on a tirade, “Motherfucker, you best move slow and careful!!!”
- The course takes us along the lake, and I’m relishing the flatness. Just before I follow the flags away from the lake, a big motor yacht comes into view. There are a bunch of people on the deck cheering as the racers go by. Certainly don’t see that at every race, I muse. I throw em’ some metal horns and head up yet another fucking hill.
- As I get out of the trees and along the edge of another fairway, I am treated to a view of the BattleFrog College Championship 2016 course down at the lake’s edge. A spectacular scene of awesome obstacles and ESPN crew and equipment everywhere.
- Heading down the remnants of an ancient driveway/road, I see the staging area for the production.
- Delta Cargo has changed! Beyond the obvious new construction style, the angle seems different, at least sixty degrees! I do the Flip-n-crab ™. The new steeper angle makes the crab walk down a might scary!
- Rope Climb didn’t escape design changes either! What’s this? Use the two rings to get to the rope, climb the rope, ring the bell and then touch the last ring after climbing down? COOL! This is a great twist to the classic rope climb. Best perfect your foot technique now people!
- Down and out of the woods and I am back on the road from the beginning of the race. A giant loop has been made, I gotta be close to finishing now!
- The course flags take me up the road while people from a newly released wave run in the opposite direction on the other side of the street. I can hear the festival area speakers.
- A hard right and I hustle down into the woods in some kind of ravine. The sound of the music is muffled; the thick leaves under my feet making a nice rustling noise. What is that strange black cable running along the ground? Someone bootleggin’ Comcast? I hope no one trips on it.
- It’s all very pleasant, and then the fucking hill that takes me up and out of this idyllic spot appears. Oh for rice cakes! Will it ever end?!
- Through a small park and the cove appears! I can hear the music. I can smell the barn.
- I turn onto a sidewalk that leads down to the cove. Gotta check the speed on a steep downhill curve lest I end up in the lake. The sidewalk leads directly to a marina that spans the width of the mouth of the cove. Walk the Plank is the floating dock that connects the two sides of the cove. It is absolutely the coolest approach to a festival area I have yet experienced. It puts a little more pep in my fucking step!
- I hit the beach and am confronted by the Weaver. Fuck! This thing is made out of small, SQUARE aluminum tubes! That’s gonna hurt!
- I hop on and realize they have spaced the bars for someone of Kareem Abdul-jabbar’s height. I’ve only ever done a weaver once before (at OCRWC), and I’m not sure my method will work here. Lots of grunting and groaning ensues. Half way through, going under, my legs slip and my feet come within inches of touching the ground! Shit! that was close. I dismount at the end with a graceful ass plant on the sand.
- I jog the 50 feet to Tip of the Spear trying to get my breathing under control. This BF classic has also been updated. The wall angles seem steeper, they’re covered in BF blue FRP panels (what the fuck!?), and the finger boards at the middle wall ascend and then descend. The shoes prove worthy and I ring the bell. Those damn plastic panels are going to absolutely suck when they are wet during a race!
- I sprint to the finish line and it’s over. No elite loop for me.
- HOLY COW! This race was awesome! Lake Lanier Islands is an awesome venue for a race. Tretsch says DO IT! Do ANY ocr that comes here!
I stumble across the finish line after my “fun” second lap. My legs are screaming at me. All I want is a fucking cold beer.
It never rained and the sun even peeked out for a second. The temperature is just right for hanging out with my toes in the sand.
Walking back up that hill to the parking lot sucks. The walkway has lost all its wedding bliss charm from the morning.
I need an ice bath for my nuts.
Photo credits: Patti Milio Behrend, Kimberley Williams Blake, BattleFrog