For those of you who don’t know Hammer Race is a beloved local Minnesota 10k OCR that requires each runner to carry an 8lb or heavier sledge hammer through some of the Midwest’s toughest terrain. If you know me you know that I’m a rig guy, I love monkey bars and rope climbs. Bucket carries and Atlas stones are my worst enemies, so it took some convincing to get me to this race where 90% of all the obstacles were strength based but I saw it as an opportunity to work on a weakness and have some fun. After all according to the Hammer Race finisher shirt “Weakness is a Choice” but not a choice I nor any other Hammer racer would make.
So you think the Midwest is flat?
Nope! We may not have mountains but we do have some pretty amazing hills. Over the 10K course, my GPS recorded 1,400 ft of vertical gain and descent with a maximum grade of 77%, and that crazy steepness was seen climbing, descending and even traversing across for one section.
The race started with a short quarter mile run up to a tire flip with various sized tractor tires all filled with water from the previous day’s rain. 10 flips later it was another short quarter mile to another heavy flip. This time it was 200+ lb railroad ties for two flips. 2 brutal obstacles within the first half mile of the race, this was going to be a sufferfest. A quarter mile later and we were in the woods facing the first steep hill 150 ft up and then right back down, hammer in hand.
The obstacles became a blur in my mind, each one coming right after I thought I had recovered my strength from the last obstacle or brutal hill. There were many “Bangers” with a cut piece of railroad tie or sometimes a tire you had to smack with your hammer down and back a certain distance. Your hammer was used on almost all obstacles either as a smashing tool or handle to drag or carry some heavy object.
For the elite “Burden Carry” you had to carry a piece of railroad tie as well as your hammer up and down a hill. The suffering was intense and the last half of the course while not as obstacle dense was loaded with constant ups and downs on steep ravines. The course ended with the only two non-strength or crawl based obstacles. A traverse wall with hammer holds and a final wall without your hammer
Having fun through the suffering
Knowing that this race was going to be a test of my physical strength and mental fortitude I knew I needed to do something that would add some fun to the suffering. I decided to put on my best warrior gear and wear a kilt because what is more fitting to wear while running through the woods with a giant hammer than a badass kilt? After a bit of research I found a “running kilt” by JWalking Designs that was made of recycled plastic bottles (basically your typical stretchy performance polyester) It was super lightweight and didn’t slow me down in the least, while attracting plenty of compliments and imbuing me with the strength of my Scottish ancestors, which was greatly needed for the tasks at hand.
Other people were also having fun with this brutal race like this force-wielding gentleman who decided to carry his Jedi master through the course with him.
This was by far the hardest race I have ever done. It pushed my physical and mental fortitude to the limit. If you want to improve your heavy carry skills/strength, or you are just a masochistic glutton for punishment, put this race on your calendar. If you are looking to have fun or increase your manliness without sacrificing speed or comfort get yourself a kilt.
Photos courtesy of; Rick Aske, Justin Smith, David Razidlo
Kilt courtesy of JWalking Designs