Whether you are planning to be a ninja or a spartan, Goliathon is an event you don’t want to miss for either conquest. Being one of the newest and, quite honestly, hardest events I have participated in, I find this event to be one of the most incredibly challenging and entertaining. Goliathon is an event that brings a different take to obstacle course racing and ninja training events. Its mission is to raise money for Charity Water: a non-profit that funds projects to distribute easier and more efficient means of sanitary water conditions all over the world. To date, they have raised over $60,000 and for this event alone, approximately $25,000.
Over the course of four miles, I had to take on twelve obstacles, each with three tiers of difficulty. Many kinds of people attended the event. Some were elite OCR runners who you may see at a Spartan or Battlefrog event while others were beginners who do these kinds of events for fun or with family and friends. We also have our “Davids” who have completed all twelve obstacles at the G3 (expert level). We were also lucky enough to have some American Ninja Warriors and past “Davids” attending such as Captain NBC (Jamie Rahn) and Jedi Markowski.
After interviewing one of the twelve co-founders of Goliathon, Doug Horton, I found out a little bit about the history of the event. The event initially took off in April 2014 and brought in 550 people. They had set the event for April and November but decided to keep the dates closer to warmer weather in May and October of each year going forward. Doug and a few of his pals had done a few obstacle races like Spartan and Tough Mudder and, as part of their training, they decided to start building obstacles in their backyards. They actually decided to make them harder and more complex than what you would see on course. After a while, they got the idea that they could create their very own obstacle race. Doug also stated that almost every week, the bunch would have a meeting to discuss what the next steps would be in developing the race. The direction of the obstacle building was done by Paul Stone, a co-founder of Goliathon and the owner of the company, Emerald Windows. Eventually, they came up with the idea of tiered obstacles (G1, G2, G3) from easiest to hardest respectively. It took a lot of imagination, creativity and hard work to make these obstacles. Thanks to Paul and the rest of the co-founders, we had a terrific event. Considering that Pinnacle Parkour, a ninja training academy where people go to work on obstacles you may see on American Ninja Warrior, is in the same neck of the woods, people like Jamie Rahn and Jedi Markowski were also able to build the PPK Ninja Killer obstacle that you can see in the video posted further below.
Just to give an example, one of the obstacles had you climb a rope. For G1, the rope was knotted and the bell was about halfway up the full length of the obstacle whereas G3 you had to climb an unknotted rope with a 45-pound chain draped on your shoulders and once you reached the top, you had to hit the bell with the chain…the point being that it was a lot harder than the average obstacle. That was just a taste of the range of obstacle difficulty but I will get to that later on.
Another cool topic they had discussed was a “Try the Obstacle Day” approximately one month prior to the event. On these days, you would have local athletes and staff helping you through the obstacles so you get a chance to practice on them…something that you can’t do on race day as one of the rules is that if you fail on your first try on any level, you do not get a band that signifies points that would be tallied at the end of the race. On these practice days, they normally get about a hundred to two-hundred people.
Now on to my personal review.
All in all, this was an amazing experience. This was the fifth event to date dubbing it “Goliathon V”. Me and my team, Scruffy Mudders, were hyped up to get through this event with the best score possible. I will say it was a little different for me as I am used to running hard through the course but as this was an untimed event, we took our time and it probably took us close to 4 hours to causally walk/jog to each obstacle. One of the first obstacles was a 40 to 80 pound water jug carry around a closed loop. It wasn’t as hard as you would think but the fact that you had to balance the two 40-pound jugs on a metal bar and avoid touching them to the ground was something that made it a little trickier. Next up was the Slippery Wall Monkey obstacle as we had to basically rock climb from one floating wall to another and get though a bunch of monkey bars. Unfortunately, I slipped off the last one before getting to the end which cost me a band. We had a rope climb with varying difficulties but I picked the G3 one which required climbing up a rope unassisted with a chain draped on my shoulders. From there, we approached Circus Maximus 2.0 which was kind of like being at a circus as you had to swing from ring to bungee to ring to more bungees to rope swing over a trench of water to the finishing platform. This was definitely one of the hardest obstacles. Only a few people from our team made it through to get the G3 band. We got to the PPK Ninja Killer obstacle that had some ANW crew there to help people get through it. This was definitely one of the more advanced obstacles to take on in G3. I actually decided to do the G2 version as it looked a smidge easier. The Ninja Killer is three slanted boards that you have to jump on and stay on without touching the floor to a bunch of platforms where you have to balance on to a rig that depending on your level would have different obstacles on it. One of my favorite obstacles was the Hangman obstacle that had you climb up an 8-foot wall and swing about 5 ropes to devil steps. If you have a chance, look up Goliathon on Youtube as every year this obstacle varies in how it is set up. I can talk all day about how awesome the obstacles but I can leave that to you.
If you go onto their site, they have a bunch of videos with tips on how to get through all of them.
Moving forward, I would love to see the company evolve while also keeping the mission of helping people’s lives. Goliathon is also a qualifier for OCR World Championships and will have their next event October 1st, 2016. If you sign up by May 31st, you can get the early bird special using the code SUPER.
PROS: Great cause, great obstacles, reliable staff, festival was enjoyable.
CONS: Only have one chance for a band at each obstacle (doesn’t mean you can’t still play on it if there isn’t a line of people)
All pictures by Alexander Sallahian.
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