Often times, the best part about a brand new race is the anticipation of getting in on the inaugural event that could kick off years of future events. Imagine the pride of those who said, “I did the first Spartan/Tough Mudder/Warrior Dash EVER!” There are a million great ideas out there, and some brilliant marketing gurus who make these new events look shiny and tempting. Sadly – most of them reach their peak at a great website and flashy flyers left on your car windshield. I regret to say, that FUSTERCLUCK HILLBILLY 5K falls into that category.
When the Weeple Army and Team SISU first got wind of what was being touted as “The most outrageous event in ‘Merica”, there was some initial excitement. Scouring the website, we got the idea we were looking at a RFYL’s with Hillbillies replacing the zombies, a strong idea. Myself and a couple other teammates jumped on it right away, and put in on our race schedules. We felt better and better about our decision, when my racing partner Steven and I kept running into the heavily bearded and charismatic originators of Fustercluck at every event we were at. Their grassroots marketing and insistent charm and dedication to spreading the redneck word seemed like a good foreshadowing of what was to come. That foreshadowing took a bit of a beating however, when a week or so before the event, we received emails saying that the later heats were being cancelled, and everyone would need to pick an earlier one – any up until noon. My immediate thought was that they were suffering from REALLY poor registration numbers and did not want to spread out so few people over and entire day. It turned out I was right.
On 10/5/13, upon arrival to the beautiful Vail Lake Resort area of Temecula we all know and love so well we found a disturbingly small number of vehicles in the lot. We parked right up on the event (not such a bad thing) and walked up to registration. We could see right away that the event was definitely hurting from a lack of participants, but the staff kept their smiles on and were helpful and fun. We were fitted with flag football type flags, similar to those at RFYL and wandered around the small race site while we waited to start.
There were only a handful of vendors, and they were uncomfortable to make eye contact with. They were bored and fidgety, and aware it was going to be a LONG day. The majority of the racers who were there, took the redneck dress code very seriously, and had a lot of fun with it. It was hard to get too down looking at how much fun people were having, just dressing up and being silly. The band, TMRC, added a great hillbilly-hipster feel, and the Emcee was funny, engaging, and worked very well around the fact that his audience was so slim.
We began the race and started up into the beautiful Temecula hills. We became quickly aware of the fact that despite a few references to obstacles on the FAQ page, there were to be NO obstacles of any kind. We resigned ourselves to a lovely trail run with friends and chose to enjoy it for what it was. The Hillbilly Zones worked very similarly to the Zombie Zones at RFYL, except that due to low attendance, some of them chased us WELL outside the zones, giving us a bit more run for our money as it were. Of course, with a fair amount of the “Hillbillies” being Weeple Army members, they may have been trying to get in a little workout themselves. ( :
The race was less than 5k – and we quickly reached the finish, where if you had no flags left (which most of us did not), we were put in a large cage, with a can of PBR (nice touch) and our “Medal” – an actual beer koozy on a rope. Points here for creativity, but being nose-to-armpit with a bunch of sweaty strangers on a hot day lost its charm pretty quickly.
We did not stay for the “Redneck Games”. With less than 100 people milling about, it was a slightly uncomfortable and awkward party atmosphere. Those who did partake however, seemed to be having PBR-fueled fun, but we were off to go get our obstacle fix at Rugged Maniac.
As a business owner myself, I do not see how this event can come back from such a meager showing. I do hope that the organizers were able to recoup some money, as they seem like great people, but myself, I will chalk this up as a well-learned lesson to be more careful before shelling out my hard-earned money on new events that do not deliver.