I started my review of the Spring 2014 Savage Race in Georgia with “Savage Race will return to Georgia in the fall of 2014 and I can’t wait.” Well, on September 27, Savage did return to the Moonlight Stables Equestrienne Center in Dallas, GA, and I was not disappointed.
The six mile, 25 obstacle challenge continues to improve and the overall race day experience is top notch. This edition included a better parking plan, a better course, a couple of new obstacles, and (for better or worse) the elimination of Tazed, the electric shock obstacle.
The traffic flow into the parking lot was simplified from previous events, eliminating traffic backups, long waits to park, and the need for pedestrians to walk through lines of traffic to get to and from the parking area. As in the past, the “parking lot” was an open field (pasture?) with uneven surfaces that resulted in a bumpy, jarring car ride in smaller vehicles, but it is on site, close to the festival area with no need for shuttles.
The race was once again run on the rolling hills of Moonlight Stables. As usual the terrain was among the most challenging obstacles. The course wound up and down the hills, in and out of the woods, but this year the trail followed steeper trails and was more technical and challenging. The tougher running course increased fatigue and drained the energy of racers, making obstacles seem that much more difficult.
The obstacles of Savage Race feel sturdy, safe, and professionally designed and constructed.
There were the good mud crawls, ice baths, wall climbs, platform jumps, and log carries that we’ve come to love and expect in OCR, as well as some unique favorites that we’ve seen at Savage in Georgia before, including:
- Saw-Tooth — A savage take on monkey bars over a cold water pit.
- Missionary Impossible — An uphill, reverse crawl, with your back to the ground on a wet tarpaulin.
- Pipe Dreams – Set up similar to monkey bars, but with a single pole extended parallel over the water pit.
- Colossus – One of the tallest, if not THE tallest, quarter-pipe type obstacle wall in obstacle racing. Climb up one side and waterslide down the other to the finish line.
This was the first race in the Savage series that did not include Tazed, a belly crawl beneath barbwire that also included dangling electrical wires. Some of the wires carried a charge and some didn’t. Touch a charged one and you got tazed, bro.
Tazed was replaced by the rather pedestrian Block Party. Here cinder blocks were tied to ropes and you first pulled the blocks up a small hill, then picked it up and carried it back down to where it started. This obstacle should have been more challenging — the single blocks (or parts of blocks) were too light.
An obstacle that seemed flawed was Kiss My Walls. This obstacle is a traverse wall where a series of small blocks are attached to a wall at random intervals. You move your hands and feet from block to block, climbing laterally across the wall. If you touch the top of the wall or the ground, you fail.
The blocks of Kiss My Walls were placed too far apart, making the obstacle impossible for many shorter participants (especially women) to even attempt.
The atmosphere of the pre- and post-race festival area was positive. Spectators were free to roam the course or stay in the festival area where they could watch participants attempt Colossus and finish on the water slide.
Savage Race features a Junior Savage kids race and invites kids 12 and under to run a mud filled course with smaller versions of some of the climbs and jumps used in the adult race. Kids love it, it is fun to watch, and it gives kids something to look forward to and be proud of on race day.
The kid’s race attracts and is appropriate for kids as young as 4 or 5 years old. However, the smallest t-shirt available is a Youth Large (Size 14 – 16), which is useless for many of the kids who have paid to enter. (This should not persuade you to not let your kids enter the Junior Savage Race. It is a great experience. Kids love it and are excited to get a race bib and a real Savage Race medal at the finish line, if not a shirt that fits.)
The biggest complaint heard regarding Savage Race is about official photos. Official photographers were on the course taking photos of participants. You have to pay money to get a full-size digital download of any photo you would like to have from the race. A single photo will cost about $20. Many OCR series have moved to offering race photos for free, including Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, BattleFrog, Rugged Maniac, and Warrior Dash. Savage Race should find a way to move in this direction as well.
Savage Race is consistently a great event and the positives of Savage Race Georgia Fall 2014 strongly overshadow any negatives.
Savage Race will return to Georgia in the spring of 2015 and I can’t wait.
*Photos By: Jennifer Barry with Obstacle Racing Media
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