When I woke up Saturday morning, I never had a single thought go through my mind that I wouldn’t be an official finisher. I had no expectations of winning by any means, but being at risk from being pulled from the course? Not a chance. But then again, I didn’t expect to be handed a ~10 lb tire as my “bib” for a half-marathon distance OCR either…
Located just outside of Disney World in Winter Garden, Florida, Rock On Adventures Ranch (ROAR) has grown to be one of the go-to locations for obstacle racing, hosting an impressive collection of permanent obstacles while still having plenty of space on the enormous ranch to accommodate big name race series events. This particular event, the Extreme Intimidator 13.1, is hosted only by ROAR, and was billed as an event only for elites to even consider trying. It was repeatedly explained with event descriptions on their FB and registration pages as well as emphasized during the pre-race briefing that in order to officially finish and be eligible for prizes that all racers maintain a 19:00/mile pace, as well as be able to safely swim ½ mile and climb a ¾” rope without knots. The 180ish obstacles to be completed on the course sounded tough yet doable with those stipulations, but then the tire was added. By the end of the day, only two competitors out of 73 completed the course by the official cutoff time: OCR power couple Ken Corigliano and Rachel Corvington, earning monstrous trophies for top (and only) male and female competitors.
A little more about the event worth mentioning is in order. Registration was quick and simple, signing the waiver and getting an assigned number and “bib”. Race Director Johnny Simpkins was very clear and thorough during the pre-race brief to make sure everyone knew how to stay on course and what it would take to not be disqualified. The course was smartly mapped out to re-use several sections of the course and keep water stations within reach. The course used just as many natural obstacles (e.g. tree branch climbs and navigation through thick brush) as it did man-made obstacles. There were many balance beam crossings, a variety of walls, a multitude of rope climbs and traverses, a big water slide with faint images of an extinct caped crusader logo on it, and other creatively fun obstacles to break up the difficulty. One obstacle that really stuck out to me (and we got to do twice on the course) was a golf chipping obstacle, where you had to get a golf ball into a ground-level five gallon bucket using a pitching wedge from a few yards out.
The course did have some bottlenecks that caused time-killing waits though, such as having only a dozen sets of cinder blocks for a double tractor pull. I personally had to wait over 7 minutes to get my hands on a set once I got in line. Another issue came from what wound up being some confusion from the directors to the volunteers and racers: everyone understood that a certain time must be met for “official” finishers and that at certain check points in the event racers would not be allowed to continue on after a set time; however, after passing through the bag drop/aid station approximately 8.5 miles into the race it wasn’t believed by racers that they could be sent in from the course and be a DNF. We all understood and acknowledged that we might not get any overall or age group prizes, but not getting to do the final stretch of obstacles that included a zip line and final pass-through of their infamous “Battle Dash” to the finish line was very upsetting to competitors.
This wasn’t necessarily the plan by event coordinators, though. Course builder and property manager Chris Rock talked about how they had to improvise due to the fact that they had a significant shortage of volunteers for the event, having nearly 60 back out a month before race day. By keeping it both fair for the volunteers and safe for racers to be on the course, more pulls had to be made essentially. “It’s a real shame and sucked to have to tell people”, stated Rock. As the day progressed and it was realized “the race was too tough”, RD Johnny Simpkins had to improvise and try to help. “I actually pulled a few obstacles to help” added Simpkins.
Although it isn’t clear whether the Extreme Intimidator 13.1 will make the ROAR schedule in the future, the property will definitely still be a host for various events. This Tuesday the signature “Battle Dash” will be featured on USA Network for the show WWE Tough Enough, sending potential pro wrestling stars through the challenging gauntlet of obstacles.
*Photos By: Kimberley DAngiolillo
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