The inaugural Big Red Challenge presented by Men’s Health kicked off in Lincoln, Nebraska on April 26th with two parachuters from the “GoPro Bomb Squad” plummeting from 4,000 feet above the crowd, only to open their chutes and land gracefully at the start line. The crowd cheered in excitement before the gun went off, and a few hundred runners ventured out to cover the 5k or 10k obstacle course at Oak Lake Park. The race benefited wounded veterans and children of fallen soldiers.
The 10k distance offered 12 obstacles, with only about half as many in the 5k race. The obstacles were quite simple in nature, consisting of challenges such as:
- jumping over a couple of stacked hay bales,
- climbing a few six foot walls (with a step on the wall to use if needed)
- climbing over a few hay rolls
- crawling through a tunnel and army-crawling under horizontal rope
- balancing on 3 thin pieces of wood a couple inches from the ground
- weaving around garbage cans
- stepping through tires (on the ground)
The race organizers stated that they’d like to have more complex and challenging obstacles next year, but they needed to prove to the city council they could host a safe event, which they did. Overall, the level of organization for the race was impressive, given it was in its first year.
The University of Nebraska baseball stadium parking provided far more parking than was needed and the baseball stadium restrooms worked far better than usual race-day port-a-potties. The finish line had medical personnel, poised and ready for action if needed, along with a cheering squad handing out dog tags to each finisher in place of medals. A few glitches need to be worked out, however, if the race organizers want to fulfill their desire to grow this event into one of the biggest races in Lincoln. Before the race, for instance, a few of the volunteers and media crew didn’t know where the start line was and/or which direction the race went. Arrow markers and volunteers could be found fairly well spread throughout the course, though there was a section where the volunteer didn’t know where to direct people. (I was the second person in the race and I made the mistake of following the cones that the city had put up to block half of the road as opposed to the much smaller cones that the race organizers had put up to mark the course). The only other confusing section was where the racers came upon about twenty big pink garbage cans spread out in a parking lot. It would’ve been helpful to have had a sign stating, “Weave in and out of the cans” or a volunteer at the very front of the obstacle, clearly yelling that same information. Better communication between the race organizers and the volunteers will do a lot improve this event.
As for the post-race after-party, the Big Red Challenge hit a home run. The rock band American Hitmen, composed of friends who began playing together while in the military, brought fantastic energy and music to the crowd while people milled about, grabbing free bananas and visiting with friends. Celebrities Lydia Cornell and Richard Pryor Jr. thanked everyone for coming and thanked our troops for their service to our country. The Big Red Challenge not only had an impressive day-of-race payout of $1,000 for the first pace male and female, but its trophy consisted of a big, beautiful 40 lb. shield everyone in the crowd oogled over.
Next year’s race is sure to be a hit, so stay on top of future dates with this race.
Entrepreneur and Spartan Pro Rose Wetzel-Sinnett lives in Seattle, WA (with her Superman husband), where she trains hard on beautiful local mountains. A RoseRunner Sports & Fitness personal trainer by day, she often wanders off into the night in Wonder Woman pjs, pretending to fight bad guys.