We all compete in OCR because of the obstacles, right? If not, we’d all be signing up for road races. What if you learned there was a race out there where 50 obstacles were packed into a 2-mile course? Did I manage to get your attention? What if I also told you that this race would take place in the Midwest in the middle of February basically guaranteeing a frozen track? Well, Team Hydra and the Hazelwood MO. Park District pulled off such an event this past February 15th and I was lucky enough to take part in the brutality. This was year two of the St. Louis area event, and I felt honored to have covered both. This gave me the opportunity to see how the team drastically upped their game from year one to year two. There is a certain down-home hospitality feeling that you’ll notice at any event run by Team Hydra, the community really seems to get behind them. They actually had a volunteer at each and every obstacle giving instruction and praise along the way which is unheard of. Photographers were all over the place taking action shots and the concession stands were opened up offering anything a racer or spectator needed. Oh, and the shot shack! Yep, this event offered free shots to all racers post-race! This perk was an awesome idea as that Fireball shot I took after the race helped warm me back up quickly!
The race itself started at 10;30 a.m. by releasing the elite waves first, three racers at a time, three minutes apart. This proved to be a great way of keeping racers separated along the course while getting everyone out onto the course quickly. Athletes started out by racing out of the parking lot at the Hazelwood Sports Complex, crawling over a few picnic tables, and climbing under low crawl tubes. Wooden pallets served as your ladder leading racers up to the top of the baseball dugouts, the landing pad for your descent was borrowed from the high jump pit. The baseball field backstop was also well utilized and brought into play as another climbing obstacle. Large plastic tubes were buried in the ground and provided the next “hurdle” along the course, followed up by the semi tire drag. Bucket carry, yup, placed right here. Team Hydra built some unique mid-sized walls and topped them with a 55-gallon plastic barrel that spun, they set two of these along the course and required athletes to haul a car tire with them as they traversed the obstacle. Atlas Stones on a rope provided the resistance during the farmer carry while a short distance away heavy tractor tires were stationed for multiple flips. The last challenge on this third of the course was the triple rope climb. The three ropes were separated by two high jump style landing pads requiring an athlete to hop up onto and over a pad between rope one and two adding to the difficulty.
The second section of the course started out rather tame, as a few wall climbs and an empty 55 gallon barrel roll were all that were required. But this is where things turned nasty. After scooting up a warped wall a 50-foot rig traverse was looking you right in the eye. Now this was no ordinary rig, there were ropes suspended down, a wall of skulls to cross, rings, a low hanging wooden suspension bridge, AND to finish it off a series of the ever-popular Gibbons. Now, I don’t know if anyone actually finished this rig or not, but it was the toughest rig configuration I’ve seen in over 100 races, and there was a 40 burpee penalty for those who didn’t finish. If you managed to have any grip strength left or gas in your tank after all those burpees you were going to need it as a four-section of floating wall was the next obstacle up. Team Hydra did nobody a favor by moving the grips and footings closer together than in their previous races, making finishing it much harder. A 20 burpee penalty was the failure requirement here. A sandbag weighted Herc Hoist led racers away from the floating walls along a track featuring a series of 4-foot walls. Team Hydra then lined up some functional tests for athletes starting out with the yoke carry. The yoke consisted of a wooden plank with sandbags suspended off each side. Now, this wasn’t a very heavy carry, but it did take quite a bit of core strength to balance it out as you walked the required distance. A car tire and sledgehammer were waiting for you next, an athlete used the sledge to smash the car tire a short distance before moving on to an Atlas Stone carry.
A spear throw started off the third and final section of the course, multiple attempts were allowed here thank goodness! A Spartan Race style Olympus traverse followed leading to a cargo net low crawl. One last rig and a fire jump were all that now stood between you and that precious medal! But once again the rig was no joke, consisting of ropes, bungee cords, and a section of twister with a 20 burpee failure penalty. This led to many a racer doing burpees just a few yards from the finish. I found the Valentine’s Day Massacre to be a truly badass event, although it was geared a little more towards the competitive level racer. Team Hydra used everything at the park to their advantage giving racers a ton of bang for their buck. The race swag was great and who wouldn’t love free shots at the end of a race? The Hazelwood community did a great job supporting the event, everyone was cheerful and helpful despite wind chills in the 20’s.My final word on the event is if you like racing during the winter months than you must leave the middle of February open for the next Valentine’s Day Massacre.
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