Mile 40: Event Day Experience – Pennsylvania Savage Race 2016

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“If you aren’t running a Savage Race then you’re missing out.” This seems to be a very common statement amongst many people who have completed a Savage Race recently. Prior to this year, I didn’t hear too many people talk about this race. It was almost a secret with everyone in the OCR community. Typically, most people only talk about Spartan and Tough Mudder. Well, the Savage Race should be joining this discussion. In my opinion, Savage Race is the best OCR out there right now. They have a variety of obstacles (some challenging, some fun) and great courses. It’s the best of both worlds. The word is getting out about the Savage Race, and everyone should be excited about where this series is heading.

The Course

Treacherous is the word that would best describe the course conditions at Skirmish. The majority of the course was in wooded terrain. There were some parts near the festival area (for spectators to view) and a decent road stretch before Sawtooth. This course was tricky because a lot of the dead leaves and pine needles covered up rocks and other debris on the ground. Instead of keeping my eyes ahead the whole time I was constantly looking at the ground so I wouldn’t trip over anything. I was so focused that at one point I went completely off course and Keith had to yell to me to get me to come back. Good thing he was there or I would’ve gotten lost. I’m a big fan of wooded terrain because it keeps the temperatures cooler and the sun hidden. They also incorporated a couple of different parts of the pre-existing paintball fields. At one point we got to run through a castle (a prop, not a real castle unfortunately). That was a nice feature and a highlight of the course for me.

Even though we were in the mountains the course was entirely flat. It was definitely a runner’s course, which let all of us spread ourselves out. This prevented a lot of bottle necking that is common at races with waves of over 100 people released at one time. We were even able to run in the woods at times. Fancy footwork was a requirement for this though. A bad step could result in a rolled ankle (Keith 2x) or a hard fall to the ground (saw this a few times, but everyone was OK). There was a stretch of woods that seemed to go on forever. Keith and I asked each other if we thought it would ever end. Eventually we returned to civilization, but it was the longest stretch of the day without a water station or obstacle. All of this I felt help keep the lines at the obstacles short or non-existent.

The Obstacles

The majority of the obstacles were the same as the Maryland race. The one noticeable difference was that Thor’s Grundle did not make an appearance. All the other signature obstacles were there though. Shriveled Richard was extremely cold this time around. Kiss My Walls was difficult as always. Squeeze Play was on solid ground this time instead of through a mud pit. I’m not sure which was more challenging, but I did get stuck at this one this time around. Davy Jones’s Locker appeared to not be as big of a drop, but it still intimidated a lot of people. Lumberjack Lane took us through a field of shipping containers we weaved up, through and around. This was pretty fun and a little more difficult than in Maryland. Yes again, Colossus greeted us before the finish line and took everything we had to get up and over.

Teeter Tuber was an obstacle I haven’t seen before at a Savage Race. I had to crawl up a black sewer tube, then once I reached the top I had to use my weight (or lack thereof) to lower the tube so I could slide down. It was actually more difficult than it looked. Keith and I had some trouble crawling up the tube, but sliding down was no problem.

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The Savage Rig was slightly different this time, but I still couldn’t swing myself from rope to rope. This seemed to doom a lot of other people as well. Savage Race changes their rig from race to race so you’ll never know what to expect.

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The highlight of the day came when I conquered Sawtooth (monkey bars with an incline/decline) and Wheel World (rotating wheel monkey bars). I had never attempted Sawtooth before and failed Wheel World in Maryland. I was pretty thrilled about completing both of these. I was so thrilled after Sawtooth that I went into full out sprint mode and almost left Keith behind. Keith completed Sawtooth too. He failed it in Maryland, but he got his revenge this time. The photography company was able to get someone on top of Sawtooth for some great shots. I’m looking forward to seeing the photos they got of us at this obstacle.

Biggest Surprise

There weren’t many lines at the obstacles. The only small line was at Sawtooth, which consisted of a whopping five minute wait. In Maryland there was a huge line at Pole Cat, but this race had no lines in the morning wave. This was definitely a huge improvement from Maryland. I hate lines, but some people really hate lines. I credit the lack of lines to the course lay out.

Biggest Disappointment

This is more of a suggestion than a disappointment. I think Savage Race needs to develop a plan to prevent people from wave hopping. Rugged Maniac and Spartan have both implemented a good way to ensure no one skips ahead to an earlier wave. I’m not sure if there were any lines at the obstacles in the later waves, but if they limit the waves to those assigned to that wave time it could help prevent lines from occurring.

SWAG

We got the same finisher t-shirt and medal as the Maryland race. Sometimes I wish they would offer different finisher shirts by location, but I understand to keep the costs down it’s cheaper to have the same finisher t-shirt for all the events.

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Syndicate Medal

No question it’s the best medal in OCR right now. I saw it for the first time at the Maryland race, but only from a distance. When I got mine I was surprised just how big and how heavy it was. It was actually uncomfortable to wear (but I wore it anyway!). It’s the biggest medal I own and probably will ever own. It spins too! To my knowledge it’s the only OCR medal out there that has an interactive component. While I was walking around after the race a lot of people were asking me and Keith about it. Everyone’s response was the same… “I want one.” Hopefully all those people signed up for a future race. I almost forgot to mention I got my PA and MD state pins too.

Side Notes

The festival area was a lot bigger than in Maryland. They had a lot of picnic tables for spectators to sit at and plenty of porta-potties. The music was good too, and they had some decent food options.

Parking was a little confusing, but eventually they figured out where they wanted me to park. The first volunteer told me to go left, but about halfway down they turned me around to go back to the other side of the field.

Check in and bag check were easy to find and both went smoothly. The bag check area was large and secure.

We completed the race in 01:44:55. This was five second better than my prediction of 01:45:00. The top finisher in the SavagePro wave completed the race in 40 minutes. It was also his 17th top finisher award.

The pre-race warm up was a lot of fun. We didn’t get to experience this at the Maryland race. Plus, the Running Dead could appear on a video somewhere.

I lost my sunglasses at Shriveled Richard. I was not spending the time to look for those in that water.

The course was clearly marked with blue tape even though I went off course at one point.

We couldn’t find the rinse off showers or changing tent after the race. I still have no idea where they were at.

The Syndicate medal is huge and the state pins are awesome. I know I already said that before, but it’s important to note again.

There’s a Facebook group for everything Savage Race related that anyone can join. People will post special promo pricing codes, stories, reviews and questions. I highly recommend joining.

Overall Assessment

This race was a lot of fun, and Savage Races in general are always a great time. The obstacles aren’t extremely challenging and can be skipped without penalty, so the intimidation factor is extremely low with a Savage Race. This is the first series where I completed two races at different venues in the same year. I probably wouldn’t have done this if it wasn’t for the Syndicate medal, but that’s how you get people to do multiple races. Incentives like this are genius. By adding the Syndicate medal a lot of people will attend more than one race a year or pay for two laps around the course. Savage Race is heading in the right direction. However, for them to get bigger they’ll have to expand their schedule to reach places in the Northeast and on West Coast. You can sign up for the Pennsylvania Savage Race 2017 by clicking here. You’ll also get a 25% discount on registration if registered by July 7th.

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After racing for four consecutive weekends it’s time for a weekend off. My next mile will consist of highlighting some obstacles from the seven races I’ve completed so far this season. I’ll pick one obstacle from each race and go into more detail about each one. The more you know…

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