I’ve got to fess up here, and say that I didn’t even run X-Warrior Challenge properly. Here’s my excuse – I was sick. In this picture you can see that I’m smiling, but on the inside I was losing a battle with winter’s last gift – the final supercharged cold of the season. I’m the one without the heavy bag with the shirt on #stuffedcrust. It’s a tough deal for me because I was really looking forward to running this one properly, but it wasn’t to be. Instead I walked the course with these guys and I’ve reached out to the Ocrguychallenge community for thoughts on the event!
About X-Warrior Challenge
X-Warrior represents the start of the OCR calendar in Western Canada, and after a really long hard winter in Alberta Canada, everyone is excited to get started.
X-Warrior Challenge began as a fully independent stadium race in 2016 (which I missed), but I reviewed the excellent 2017 race myself here. X-Warrior challenge has now grown to become a stadium event, with the increasingly popular titan multi lap event taking place on the same day, and a Wilderness OCR later in June held at the ‘Boneyard’ OCR compound North of Edmonton. For this year X-Warrior has added a new 12 hour overnight Black Ops multi lap event at the Boneyard event. There are usually kids races available too at X.
One great thing I didn’t realize at first is that there is a free lap included in each race entry! It’s amazing to get out and see the course twice, especially if you failed an obstacle the first time around.
All runners get a t-shirt, medal, and snacks for finishing. Outside of races, X-Warrior also offers virtual runs and races throughout the year, and a weekend long training boot-camp.
The venue has access to the facilities of the Calgary Stampede ground grandstand (read: no mud and soggy waiting for spectators). Parking is convenient, and access to the race ground is simple. There is no need to shuttle, and downtown Calgary is pretty quiet this early in the morning. The course itself isn’t all stadium stairs and suffering. The actual stadium/grandstand stairs are just a small part of the race. The course winds its way through the sprawling stampede grounds, across the river via a bridge, through the stables and outbuildings, and over the race track itself. It’s a fast running course as a result, with only a small amount of elevation change. Not that I ran it fast!
- Wall – 6’ and a 3’ wall
- Stairs on the interior of the stadium.
- Spider net climb up the stairs
- Stairs crossing the grandstand of the stadium
- Spider net climbs again.
- Wall – 6’ and a 3’ wall
- Monkey bars
- Bucket Brigade
- Tarzan ropes (swinging across a gap with 3-4 ropes)
- Wall – 8’
- Under a hurdle
- Tire Town (heavy tire flip
- Timber (log carry)
- Under a hurdle
- Wall – 8’
- Sandblast – A heavy sandbag carry that turned into a double sandbag carry (thanks Austin Azar)
- Rope a Dope (rope climb)
- Climb (Z wall)
- Inverted wall
- Tip of the Spear ( Pyramidal traverse)
- Ax throw (one shot only)
- Dragon (Dragon’s back obstacle)
The race features a mixture of concrete, asphalt and hard packed horse racing track. I suppose it could get muddy in the rain, but it’s usually fairly dry and well kept.
Regular running shoes would be fine for this event. There is no need to be obstacle race specific with your gear.
From my pitiful lap, the Tarzan ropes stood out as something new, allowing participants to swing across a big gap between two scaffolding platforms. I haven’t done that at an OCR before and it seems like such an obviously fun and challenging thing to include.
Safety was great in this race too. The Axe throw had been moved into three or four protective cages, almost like a firing range. Participants had one chance to throw an ax into a log from a distance. Failure rates are higher than the Spartan spear throw, but it’s a really rewarding sound when it sticks.
There were also crash mats below each obstacle where there was a falling hazard. It was really one of the safest races I’ve been to. That’s a great thing, but it won’t suit those who want that danger and need the most adrenaline possible. Stadium races are a little safer and a little more sterile than some would prefer, but for those wanting to dip their feet without getting head-to-toe in mud, this is a great place to start. For those seeking muddier thrills, X-Warrior does offer wilderness events too, as mentioned above.
X-Warrior is generally for everyone
I feel like one of the strengths of X-Warrior challenge is that it caters for the full spectrum of abilities, from the endurance athlete to the trained elite competitor, to the strength based athlete, to the casual participant. There was nothing extremely difficult at X-Warrior challenge, but for the Titan race, those obstacles get tough pretty quickly (or so I am told). You can run your own race. Oh, and I should mention that X-Warrior also offers an opportunity to run a ‘Heavybag Strong Lap’, with sandbag drop zones near each obstacle.
Development and improvements
There were only a few minor complaints about the layout of the course this year. There were occasional moments where it wasn’t immediately clear where the course was going, especially for faster runners in the competitive heats. A couple of well-placed arrows or extra course tape could have helped at times, but otherwise, it was very well laid out.
Race entry includes a second free lap for fun, and spectators are FREE! Prices are here in USD.
- $70 for competitive
- $60 for open
- $103.91 for the titan event
- $23 for little warriors
- $30 for the junior race
You’ll find that compares very favorably to other races of this type. Parking was $15 Canadian per vehicle, or you can park elsewhere and use the C-Train. X-Warrior is pretty good value.
So anyway, that’s my take. To round out the recap I thought I’d gather some more from the participants themselves.
Christine Dumont Barr This event is pretty unique for Canada, at least in the West as its the only stadium race (No mud ?). I feel I get great value for what I pay, because you can run a second lap for free when you sign up for a sprint. The organizers and volunteers set the stage for an amazing day because of they’re energy. Each year they tweak the obstacles a little and try to scare everyone with a challenging new one (or two). This race is built so that people of all fitness levels can partake and enjoy! All in all, xwarrior is a stellar event to take part in. One that I come back to every year. And the new battle ax series this year is going to be epic!
Lisa Langlois My very favourite was being able to run my last Titan lap with my 12 year old kiddo. He was in the junior race. What an unexpected treat for him and I. I have a passion for OCR and have had him participate in kids races… which are always on the sidelines and never part of the adult course. This was truly the best race I have ever done based on that experience alone. I was so proud of him.
Brandy Conlin I was so surprised to see the junior heat being the same as the adult course minus 6 obstacles. I loved that the kids even did a bucket carry and tire flip too. My 10 yr old was very much challenged but felt so accomplished to find out she just did the same course as I did. The volunteers helping the kids were awesome (okay all the volunteers were awesome). The whole event was very well run.
James McLean I’m excited that Sandbag ‘Heavy Lap’ so quickly gained legitimacy in one weekend through the help of X Warrior – after a year of people looking at me like I had 3 heads. It was amazing seeing so many people try out the concept and genuinely really enjoy the experience. Before the weekend, most people brushed it off as crazy, now it’s truly legit. It’s the genesis of a new type of challenge, something us non-runner, strong, types can thrive at!
Karen Bailey I loved the fun lap. Being able to run with friends who you competed against in competitive and cheer on new comers at the same time was a blast. This was my first x-warrior and it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. The OCR community is awesome and this event really show-cased that.
Scott Ceminchuk 1st and foremost what an amazing event to kick off the Canadian season off with. X-Warrior stadium was my 1st OCR race. I decided to try OCR last fall. After 10 months of training from scratch, I felt the course had the perfect amount of challenge for a newcomer but I didn’t feel overwhelmed at any point either. I only failed the 2 rope obstacles. The community is amazing such amazing people willing to help you at any point in the course. I will definitely do it again and will be trying out a few of the other races along the way.
Ally Ash (TITAN)I totally agree with “the community” ?? Such a great group, everyone willing to help out! Well organized event, even if you are confused or have any questions about anything you are 99.9 percent going to get a response and not wait days or weeks for one. I also love that it’s not in the grass or trees as I have bad allergies this time of year. I completed 4 laps and came out in perfect condition sinus wise ? That is a huge win for me! Can’t wait to purchase next year’s ticket!
Jaclyn Pruett Ung (TITAN) This was my first Titan and it was amazing! The people, community and cheers were the best. I am glad I started working on my cardio endurance a month or two before, definitely need to keep working on that. I loved the rope a dope climb, the first lap I was nervous to try it (heights and my injured torn shoulder/rotator cuff) but I did it on lap 2 and it was so fun! I ended up doing 240 penalty Burpees and I was grateful that some obstacles had mountain climbers instead because by lap 4 I was running out of steam ? I ran 4 laps and will be back next year to take on more! I love the grass roots community feel of x Warrior, much more welcoming than how I feel at Spartan.
Colleen Ludwig This was my second year attending X-Warrior, I absolutely love this race, the obstacles are great, there’s always at least a couple of them that humble me again and make me realize I have to train harder and or smarter. The camaraderie is by far the best in OCR races. There’s the competitiveness in all of us but there’s always cheers and encouragement from so many racers during the event. Often I pick someone in my heat to challenge myself to keep up too, this year this person noticed, she encouraged my to push harder, and was literally waiting for me at the finish line with a cup of water to congratulate me. I didn’t know her from Adam but we made the finish line knowing we did our best and said cheers to that. That’s cool. One thing during the last 2 years is that there is always a part of the race where I feel lost, did I go the right way? Maybe better markers in some areas. And maybe I missed something but where do you get your race times?
Darcy Barrett – X-Warrior was the best ever, with some great new obstacles. Just wish he (Darcy Chalifoux) would make it mandatory obstacle completion for elite and Titan elite. But it was a great fast course.
If you’re in or near Alberta in early May and you love obstacle course racing or fitness in general, you should definitely attend X-Warrior Challenge. It’s a great version of the obstacle race format that covers everyone from beginners to experienced athletes. You can visit X-Warrior Challenge to see the schedule of races and events for this year.
Photo Credit: xwarrior challenge and Shotsee.com