When you think about the word championship, there’s a certain expectation that goes along with it. When it’s accentuated with being a world championship, the expectation is set even higher.
World Championship definition: As a general rule of thumb, world championships will be open to elite competitors from across the world, representing their nations, and winning such an event will be considered the highest or near highest achievement in the sport or contest
While Superhero Scramble set out to have a “world championship” event to close out their 2013 season, they fell well below the standard set forth by the definition itself. From the moment you arrived at Quiet Waters park, nothing felt “championship” like…as opposed to the Spartan World Championship in Vermont in September where the atmosphere was electric the entire weekend.
The first obstacle: Parking. By 8:30 AM the park was full and cars were backed up half a mile outside of it. Having strategically used traffic lights, we were able to bypass that half mile but it still took 45+ minutes to get through parking alone.
The second obstacle: registration. Three lanes were available for people to use, each using multiple people to help pass out bibs, wristbands and timing chips. For a world championship, even the registration was found lacking.
Once into the festival area, it was your standard setup. A few tents with people promoting products and handing out free samples, vendors, a generic tent for people to congregate at and a DJ/MC who for the most part, really struggled to grasp what was going on. He made multiple announcements throughout the morning backwards and was constantly correcting himself. The biggest team tent didn’t arrive in time for this “world championship,” so they were awarded a place situated by a lone picnic table and palm tree.
Once you made it to the starting line, chances are you waited 20+ minutes after your original wave start time. There were delays throughout the day, both imposed by Superhero Scramble as well as the Fire Marshals on scene for “bottlenecking” on the course.
For the course itself, there were MAJOR issues, from staffing, to course markings, and the obstacles themselves. Throughout the day, especially for those running the Villain or later waves of the Intimidator, there were obstacles unmanned by staff/volunteers. I personally saw no one at the rings once (which were low enough to be able to walk along the ground from ring to ring), most of the wall climbs (which must’ve constituted about 40% of the obstacles), the rope climb (with no one enforcing penalties for failed tries) and a handful of other places.
With the course layout, there were multiple places that were either confusing on which way to go or places that many people throughout the day took advantage of to cut the course. Some of these locations were as easy as stepping over a low course marking tape to cut 3+ miles. Having talked with people who ran at various times of the day, I can attest that it wasn’t a few isolated cases. I witnessed a group of four cut course markings purposely and shave 3-4 miles off their race. As many have said, you simply can’t take anyone’s final rankings from the Villain seriously.
Also with the course layout came issues with the obstacles themselves. While there are many people that enjoy running, one of the biggest draws to an “obstacle race” is just that…obstacles.
Superhero had some of their signature ones, like the slime pit and slide, but the difficulty of obstacles was something that was severely lacking throughout the course. As mentioned earlier, most of the course consisted of short walls, eight foot walls, through walls, under walls, rock climbing walls. If you love walls, this was your race. On top of the lack of engaging obstacles, there were sections of 2+ miles where you might not see an obstacle along your “obstacle race.”
Apparently, Superhero decided to compensate for the lack of difficulty by having what has to be the longest, and most dangerous, swim of any race to date…240 yards across a lake that at its deepest, registered at 140 foot deep. There were a handful of life jackets but were either used and not returned, or were reserved for those that were struggling to swim across the lake. Superhero supplied a line across but it wasn’t properly buoyed and many people struggled to gain any help from it. At one point, I heard a panicked swimmer actually stood on the line because they were struggling to stay afloat. Having received such negative feedback about the danger of the swim at the Intimidator in Clermont, you would have thought this problem would have been remedied, especially at a “World Championship,” but it wasn’t.
Lastly, the water stations were both ill planned, as well as ill prepared. Water stations ran out of cups, and ultimately out of water by the end of the day. On a day in Miami where the high reached 82 degrees with the humidity over 90%, this was a potentially dangerous situation that could’ve killed someone very easily. The pre-race documents told people to bring a hydration source, but when there’s six mile stretches with no water stations, particularly in between laps of the Villain, that’s not a racer problem for being unprepared…the onus is on the race.
There were problems with a lack of medals, date issues on the medals themselves and a lack of a showering area (one hose), but those things are relatively trivial in comparison to the other major issues that took place.
In my opinion, Superhero Scramble has one of two options at this point. They can continue to go backwards (even with their customer service) and fade into the Florida sunset or they can actually take themselves seriously, listen to feedback with an open mind and a humble heart, and fix what’s become of their race.
As a direct quote to Superhero Scramble I say this: People have tattoos of your logo on their bodies for life! They believed in you enough to do that. Their lives were changed by your race and in return, you’ve become content with giving them mediocrity, or even less, your scraps. If at the end of the day, it’s about building a name for yourself or cashing in, you’ve lost sight of what really matters to people in the OCR world, the experience. The experience you delivered this weekend was well below a championship, and even farther below a world championship. The MIA race was just that…MIA.