Savage Race Georgia Prologue:
Friday, April 17th – I am trapped in the office. It has been raining for 5 days straight. I fear I shall not see the sun again.
Saturday April 18, 7:45 AM – It’s a grey, Pacific Northwest kind of grey, foggy day. The beautiful horses are resplendent in their grass munching indifference to the stream of cars pouring into the verdant grounds of the Moonlight Stables. As I am directed to my parking spot in the middle of the wet, hilly, and rutted grass field in my small low clearance car, I start to think Colossus may not be my biggest problem today. The registration is long at the Savage Race Georgia’s Pro™ bib numbers line. This is not surprising given our heat goes off in about an hour. This affords me the opportunity to have a nice chat with an OCR luminary; The Humble Hero, holder of eight axes. A nicer, faster guy you will not meet. The prerace Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (2 creams, 2 sugars. How do you Dunkin’) kicks in and I realize my Savage Race bib number sequence is the next line over. Boom! No line, and I am quickly in. And……….it’s a fucking mess. The mud is thick and squelchy, clearly showing the paths of all the heavy vehicles and equipment used during set up. I fail to grasp the significance of this obvious foreshadowing.
Saturday April 18, 8:10 AM – Once again, wonderful early rising magical GORMR elves have set up a fantastic tent area within the festival zone. The tent is electric with the buzz of the new SavagePro ™ concept and the blue rubber bracelet that will either be a boon or a bane once the finish line is crossed. Somehow I manage to get my gear on, have some pleasant conversation, body number myself and others, see a guy named John, get in a warm up run, and do some stretching all under an hour.
Saturday April 18, 9:00 AM – It’s Pro Go time! Giddy up!
Savage Race Georgia Observations on the run;
- I’m strangely subdued as the MC whips the Pro corral into a good Savage lather. I wonder if I should be concerned. “What’s that twinge in my knee”? “There’s some OCR heavyweights here!”, “Isn’t J.D’s kilt pretty?” “Hey look a Drone!” Jesus! My mind is all over the fucking place!
- Blue smoke is cool. Blue smoke does not taste like blueberries. Blue smoke tastes like a nasty fucking combination of burning crack house and exploding transformers.
- And SQUISH! The open field is immediately a foot sucking, ankle inhaling mess. Sloppier than the stables of King Augeas, and I’m no Hercules. But no worries, a majority of the running will be on easy wooded trails…….right?
- A quick barbed wire crawl after a ¼ mile slog (oh legs, don’t start crying now!) starts things off Back to back to back to back……..fuck! Would it ever end…..5 foot walls separated by a quick roll (ouch! That knee went a bit too high! Zing!) under barbed wire got the blood good and pumped for the upcoming Shriveled Richard.
- My Richard and his two sons survived, having taken refuge to a pre-puberty safety zone.
- A sloppy crawl at Prairie Dog and then it was into the woods where surely this fucking mud would end.
- The creek to my left was moving at a good clip, swollen with a week’s worth of rain. I on the other hand was moving in the opposite direction at a more modest pace; slowed by the mud from a week’s worth of rain.
- That creek would make a good obstacle.
- Shit! Huge branch! I stumble as the branch kicks up and completely takes out the guy close behind me and to my right! Great…..I have gone from solving my face planting problems to now causing them. “Sorry man!” At least the mud is soft.
- First steep hill. This is Savage so it certainly won’t be the first. I take the advice from my friend Richie, during a discussion at a race a week prior, and power walk up that fucker. This will be my modus operandi for the day; conserve energy on the ups; King of the Crips of Cruisertown on the downs.
- Damn! These trails are fucking muddy! Cross slope running is pushing the limits of my ability to avoid clumsiness.
- So the twig and berries were just about to remerge when Thor’s Grundle appears like a blue painted mirage from hell in the middle of the forest. “Fuck this!” they say as I drop in. “We’ll see you at the beer tent!”
- With nary a dry anything to wipe my hands off with, I approached Pipe Dreams with a healthy dose of trepidation. The large diameter pipes, slick with wetness from the early morning dew and rain made for a sketchy, always on the razor’s edge trip across the water. Using the sideways shuffle technique allowed me to cover more distance in less moves (having a big wingspan helps) while also using the movement of the pipe to my advantage.
- The Universe likes balance: Ying & Yang, Action-Reaction, Peanut butter and Jelly. And so it was on a downhill cross slope going full tilt, my legs slipped out from underneath me. The mud and wet leaves cushioned my fall as a girl right behind me stepped directly on my ankle. Luck was on my side. A fine combination of being in the right position for the wrong reasons and a girl who was smaller than one of Cranky’s rucks. No damage done.
- Time to settle in for a long trail run until the next obs.
- Fuck these hills! Fuck it’s muddy! Writer’s note: I am pouring myself 3 fingers of bourbon just thinking about it.
- It’s thinned out pretty good by now. The leaders surely ½ way complete by now as I pace a couple of guys behind me and chase a couple ahead of me.
- A wall. Small rock climbing holds. Manna from heaven for a boulderer.
- If there be photographic evidence of me at the Sawhorses, I will scour the earth to make sure it is eradicated. Imagine a fish. Imagine a fish with legs. Imagine a fish with legs out of water. Imagine a floppy, gasping fish with legs. That was me humping over those damn poles. I have the grace of a hippo in ballet slippers.
- Back in the woods……the fucking wet, muddy, hilly woods.
- Mile 3 vibrates my watch. The elapsed time showing of 35 minutes is a wondrous surging kick of confidence. My legs are all like “so fucking what!” There is no storybook surge of power and speed that follows.
- Did I mention it was hilly……..and muddy?
- Me So Thorny was a bit of a downer, even as it gave me a sweet “kiss” just before I exited. Last year it was an eye tricking zig-zag. Now that was cool! But, it was still in the middle of the woods which is always good.
- I’ve been pretty much on my toes all morning and looking down to make sure said toes weren’t going into a bottomless hole, a soul sucking mud pit, an ankle snapping creek/gulley, etc., etc., …..So, in one of the rare moments of looking up I find myself at a “T” intersection. I look to my left and there are racers coming at me, and then go by me! I am baffled, befuddled, and bewildered. A feeling of dread comes sweeping in like the Santa Ana winds. Their gale force winds stoking a wild fire of confusion and anger. FUCK ME! I am lost!
- For a fraction of a second; the kind of minute time measurement that can only be quantified at a place like the Large Hadron Collider, I thought about just blending in and continuing on. I shook off that awful thought and backtracked the 100 yards from whence I brain farted. At least six people have passed me! Writer’s note: This happened where the trail after Sawhorses (obs. No.8) comes very close to where the trail exits the woods on the way to the Great Wall (obs. No.10). If I had followed through on that fleeting thought, I would have repeated a long part of the course I had already run and the OCR gods would have had one hell of a laugh.
- I break free of the woods at last and run straight into a field of wet, tall, heavy grass! Oh and muddy too. And rutty. And riddled with equine landmines.
- E.T. and his Reece’s Pieces decided to reappear just as I was approaching the Big Wall. Bad timing. Somehow I managed to pinch…..ummmm….the tip of the spear, and this wasn’t Battlefrog. Is there no end to the ways I can inconvenience my body?!
- The grass was endless. The muddy ruts endless. And then there was the game of horseshit hopscotch. If I was on my toes after 3.5 miles, I was positively En Pointe at this point. Fuck! Who doesn’t love some ballet humour!
- Fucking hills.
- I didn’t learn my lesson last week at Macon Mud Run regarding balance obs. I did not take a moment to find my inner Nadia Comaneci at Nuttsmasher. Two steps in and I had to make a quick jump back to the platform to avoid going in the drink. Back on and halfway across, shuffling like Tim Conway, I lose my balance. My instinct commands my right foot to go to the adjacent beam. So, there I was, one foot on my beam and one foot on my neighbor’s beam, and I was about to really find my inner Jean Claude Van Damme. The gigantic lens of a GameFace Media camera (great choice SR! great choice!) was pointed at me. There was no choice but to stick out my tongue and throw some metal horns; then I fell in. Shit! More people are now passing me! 3rd time’s a charm and it’s back on!
- Fucking tall, wet grass. Where’s a herd of hungry goats when you need them?!
- A cleansing 14 foot jump at Davey Jones was the pause that refreshed. With the course map in mind, I was ready for the onslaught of obs to come.
- A quick ladder climb. Great view. Well executed flip move.
- Will this grass/mud combo never fucking end!!?
- “Why are these culvert pipes set up like seesaws?” “In and up you say?” Wheeeeeee! A sudden and unannounced tip downwards has me squealing like Matt B. Davis finding the next new running section on the Beltline.
- Sometimes you need to keep this sport in perspective. An obs that makes you giggle is just the thing to do that.
- Missionary Impossible comes into view. I love it for two reasons: It’s not running, and it gets the shoulders loosened up for Sawtooth.
- That magnificent beast, Sawtooth, menacing in its assemblage of wood and steel, was there…….at the top of a fucking hill. Aggressive angularity ready to chew up and spit out even the most seasoned OCR racer. I hop up – ok, shuffle- to the launch deck. Take a deep breath (where was that at Nuttsmasher!?), grab the first bar, and “what the fuck?!” “textured paint on the bar?!” Oh, it’s on now! Giddy up.
- “Oh for fuck’s sake! More log hurdles!” They are in mud/water pits this time. Well if I take a digger at least there’s mud and water to break my fall, and spectators to enjoy the show. My form that has no form is floppingly flawless and I make it through.
- Back in the woods! I didn’t think I’d be happy about that after those first three miles, but let’s just say I won’t be doing a Julie Andrews number in an open meadow anytime soon.
- My wood for the woods doesn’t last long (getting old sucks……hehehe) as Big Ass Cargo Net comes into view…..sitting in a grassy field. I finally execute a flip move at the top without binding, pinching, or nipping any body parts. I crab walk down for the first time. This is a wondrous technique.
- Inverted walls (Venus Guy Trap? really SR?)! Cool! Ohhhhhh, no boards on the invert side. Smooth as melted chocolate with nowhere for the feet like in other races. Standing in the squelchy mud, the lip of the wall looked a mile up. A big jump, and BIG ol’ honkin’ heel hook, some ungentlemanly noises and I was up and over.
- The next inverted wall is reversed. Finally the mud becomes an asset as I jump straight down from the 8’ lip.
- There’s Slippery Incline. Fuck! Will these hills never end?!
- I get wood back at Lumberjack Lane.
- Fuck! Why must every major obs be majestically placed upon the peak of a hill, as if set up by Ingmar Bergman for a gloriously silhouetted scene straight out of The Seventh Seal?!
- Colussus, that fucking beast, gave me fits last Fall. This was the first obs I ever needed help on. Today there would be no help in the SavagePro ™ heat. As I had caught up to a guy, who I had chased down since being passed at Nuttsmasher, I had no time for reflection. He hits the pipe first, so I gotta giddy up! Good approach, shitty attack! Good grip on the rope! Lean back! Fucking climb! Commit to the lip! SHIT! not much of a lip! No turning back! I AM keeping this blue rubber bracelet today! Heave! HO! I’m up! A high jump onto the slide for maximum thrills and it is enema time!
- Getting out of the Colossus pool was one of the hardest most awkward tasks all day! That plastic was slicker than two slugs fucking on a marble floor. I’m out and passing who I need to pass.
- Finally! Finally! Finally! I get flames to jump over and not just smoldering smoky ashes! Not roaring righteous flames of OCR badassery mind you, but flames nonetheless. I don’t have enough gas in the tank for the epic photo worthy jump.
- I can see the finish line and it’s DOWNHILL from here!
- I try two pulling methods at Block Party: hand over hand, and one big pull combined with leaning back. Neither have obvious advantages. Both clearly expose how tired I am.
- Cruising down the hill, I see a young guy about to take the last turn and he’s not paying attention. I feel a surge of competiveness (who knows what place I’m in, where I might land in the standings?!) and I kick it into full on sprint mode. I pass that dude just before the finish line. Stick a fork in me, I am fucking done. And, I have my blue rubber bracelet still on!
- This race was fucking awesome! It was muddy. It was hilly. It was grand. Savage put together a fantastic race. Do this race in the Fall. Tretsch says DO IT!
Savage Race Georgia PostScript:
April 18, 10:30 AM – The beer is cold, the grilled cheese sandwich out of this world, and the post-race camaraderie just fantastic. Stories are told, experiences shared, fellow racers cheered through the finish line.
April 18, 11:30 AM – Unfortunately I have to cut it short and head home back to the family. My podium moment will just have to wait for another race. I don’t bother with a rinse off as I am pretty much dry and mud free (except for the feet of course. The festival area has only gotten worse since the first heat.). Flip flops make for a treacherous walk back to the car, as a feeling of panic starts creeping over my body. I drive a Mazda 3i hatchback. How the fuck am I going to get out of this mess?!
April 18, 11:40 AM – I start the car, more nervous than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. The girl in the 4 runner next to me starts to back out. All I hear is the distinct sound of tires spinning against slick earth. OOO! Boy! I slip it into reverse and ease out. Success. I use the Tiptronic feature and roll the car in first gear. It’s a downhill start, rutted by not too bad. I see some muddy ugliness at the bottom of this small hill. I kick the speed up a bit, go to 2nd and slide through the mud, and then I have to stop! A small pickup is spinning his tires trying to back out and is blocking the way.
April 18, 11:45 AM- I get out to help the guy. My calves have been one twitch away from full seizure since I crossed the finish line (still wearing the compression sleeves), so I am nervous to do some pushing. But hey, I may be in the same predicament at any moment. Many hands make easy work and I’m back in the car. No issues starting back up in this flat area.
April 18, 11:47 AM – I crest over another small hill and see a clusterfuck of mud on the opposite uphill. A couple of cars have stopped on the uphill, so I bide my time still pointing downhill. They manage to get through. I pick up some speed and hit the hill. “Remember Snowpocalypse! No stopping on an uphill climb! Never stop!” The traction is getting squirrely has the car shimmies to and fro.
April 18, 11:49 AM – I am clear of the grass field! Sweet! Nothing but smooth sailing on gravel from here on…….SHIT! it’s even worse! Up ahead is an absolute nightmare of mud. Flat but still deep and thick! Three cars ahead is that white pickup I helped, its rear end moving around worse than a twerking Miley Cyrus. All of them make it through and I hold my breath and go. The mud has got to be half way up the tires in some places. I can feel the bottom of the car being scraped by mud and gravel. I’m shimmying around like M.C. Hammer. Glory of glories, I am out!
April 18, 11:54 AM- My tires touch firm wondrous pavement. After two additional sketchy hills, some cursing and laughing I made it through the last obstacle of the day! The OCR gods were plentiful with their blessings on the race course, but they were downright magnanimous with their miracles in getting me the fuck out of that sloppy mess. By no rights should I have been able to get out of there with my car, and in another couple of hours I’m not sure I would have. I turn right to head home with a smile on my face and mud in my ears.
*Photos By: Gameface Media, Jay Naval, Jeff Milsaps, and Lloyd Parker.