What is Shamrock?
There are so many beautiful things about obstacle racing. However, an abundance of training grounds is not one of them. I live in the Upstate of South Carolina, and there are hardly any places to train. The nearest ninja gym is probably four hours away, and how many other places have obstacles? My training typically consists of low elevation (because that’s all we have) trail runs and Yancy Camp in a traditional gym, with some additional runs, rock climbing, and weight lifting here and there. Although I feel like Yancy Camp has made me a lot stronger, one thing that I lack is exposure to the obstacles. Or, at least I was lacking that until I heard from a man named Donovan Brooks about Shamrock.
Who is Donovan?
Donovan Brooks–a high school English teacher in Spartanburg, is also the builder and owner of Shamrock OCR.
Now, if you are a member of various facebook groups in the South Carolina/Georgia area, you may have seen Donovan post on groups offering to come up to play. If you’re not, don’t worry, you’re still invited to play.
Donovan opens his backyard of dreams to the public on Sundays at 9:00 until 12:00, completely free of charge. I REPEAT: YOU COME HERE TO TRAIN COMPLETELY FREE OF CHARGE. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. When he reached out to me, especially once he made it clear to me that it was free, I couldn’t not go. So one Sunday I popped by a little after nine to check it out for myself.
I pulled in to Donovan’s driveway and was greeted immediately by his girlfriend, who ran over to my car with a really big smile on her face. She made sure to make me feel very welcome before I even got out of my car.
What do they have at Shamrock?
By the time I finally got out and ready, I got the grand tour. I noticed there were many different hand-built obstacles to choose from, including a Herc Hoist (Spartan), a multi-rig, Olympus (Spartan), the z-wall (Spartan), an 8-foot wall, and of course, a target for everyone’s favorite.. the spear throw.
He also had several pre-made obstacles that you may see including tires for tire flips, sandbags, brute force sandbags, a rope, and some spartan pancakes. All of these things were of course surrounded by a single-track trail and a nice, cool creek to jump into after the workout.
One thing that I’d like to say is that, although Donovan is not a certified SGX coach, he’s been in the OCR game for a hot minute. Basically, what I’d like to say is that Donovan knows how to handle obstacles. He is really good about showing you ways to be successful in obstacle completion, without sounding like he is better. The thing is; the obstacles that Donovan builds are actually way more challenging than they are in races. So, when it comes to race day and you’re really tired, you can man-handle these obstacles like a champ. Shoot, I even had Donovan help show me a different way to throw a spear, and I nailed it easily in my race after that!
However, you haven’t quite made it until you have completed the 300 challenge.
The 300 Challenge
Oh, God, this was one of the toughest things that I have ever done. I’m pretty sure Donovan actually does this so that he can laugh at people.
One part of OCR that is a crucial piece of training is strength training. Which means, carrying around a bunch of heavy shit. For what honestly feels like no good reason sometimes.
And, this situation is absolutely no different.
The 300 Challenge focuses on 3 different heavy carries: farmer’s carry, the bucket carry, and a sandbag. For one mile.
I would write about what it is more, but you may just have to come to find out!
What else can you do at Shamrock?
A typical day at Shamrock starts with a little trot around the property in order to get warmed up. After all, safety is important! Followed by that, we will get together and focus on an obstacle. Donovan is usually pretty good about stopping by and showing us around, or, if we are working toward getting through certain obstacles more efficiently, we will discuss form and technique. We’ll spend some time working on the obstacle together.
Followed by this is a workout. Donovan will use the obstacles that are there and try to incorporate them the best he can. One thing that they like to use is called the Warrior Board Game. We’ll play either as a team or solo, and he will replace come of the commands with completing obstacles. Of course, no OCR preparation would be complete without an obscene amount of burpees, too!
Once the main set is complete, it’ll be time to revisit that obstacle from before, or, a different obstacle. After all, you’re not going to hit obstacles while you are feeling fresh. You shouldn’t train that way either.
Oh yeah, did I mention that he has a creek behind all of this? You know what that means?
Yes-you guessed it, you may as well bring flip flops because there is a perfect opportunity to take a little ice bath right there! For free! In nature! WITH FRIENDS! It does not get much better than that.
Of course, Donovan also does not mind if you just want to come and play on obstacles.
The biggest thing that I have enjoyed about Shamrock has been the community. Most of the people who attend are just people looking to make themselves better. Sure, there is some friendly competition, but most of it is that we cheer each other on, even when we really are not feeling like moving forward. Everyone is very positive, and I know that is the atmosphere that I look to be a part of. Going to Shamrock each week really is one of the highlights of my weekends!
So, if you enjoyed what you read, please keep an eye out for one of our posts on Facebook, so that you may join us one Sunday also!