In late April, I agreed to join some friends for my 2nd ever OCR race. For the most part, it was the same group that I ran my Spartan Sprint with last year. They somehow talked me into running the Terrain Race which was held out in Wampum, PA. The race itself was on sale at the end of April, which helped in my decision. However, when you went to go sign up the fees and mandatory insurance you had to buy pretty much doubled the sale price. I also added a Terrain Race head band though ($7.50), so for a race that was $20, I ended up paying $51 total.
I certainly was pretty nervous going into this thing, but luckily the group planned to take it easy. Their easy was walking for the most part since one person was just 3-month post back surgery and another was 6-months post open heart surgery. To say they were bad asses is putting it lightly. All in all there were 11 of us doing this race as Team More Mud. For me, I think I was nervous because I knew as compared to the Spartan race the year before I was 100% times out of shape. It was’t the trail running I was worried about, but the obstacles. I didn’t want to fail.
Come race morning, we all met at Jeff and Jody’s house and carpooled out to Wampum. I have to say, I’ve never been out that way, so this was a first. The race was at the Mines and Meadows ATV Park. We had the 10:30am time slot and go on site around 9:50am. Parking up there was an adventure itself! Luckily Jeff had 4×4 in the truck and while we saw several struggle, we seemed to do just fine. Getting our bibs was pretty easy. They also made bag check pretty easy. You put it anywhere you want and then get it yourself at the end. They have volunteers at the gate to ensure your bag matches your bib. Pretty flawless.
Right at 10:30am we headed over to the start line. The guy said we had to wait until the next wave since we missed ours. About 4-5 of us shoved our watches in his face to show it had *just* turned 10:30. He was reluctant, but luckily he let us through. To start this race we had to go through a pool and then cross the start line. As we were finishing the race, I saw another wave start and I am so glad we got to start the way we did. The real start is that they load you into the pools, wait and then you have to wait for everyone to get out of the pool for you to start. So if you’re loaded in the back, you’re waiting in there for a few more minutes.
We had originally signed up for the 10k, but about 3/4 into the first loop we realized the second lap for the 10k was just the same one. We were all hungry and came to the decision to bail out after the first loop. I don’t think anyone was upset by this. If it has been a second loop with all different obstacles, I think we would have sucked it up and would have gone for it.
The course was technical at times, but not hard enough that you it was the real struggle. If anything, the massive amounts of rain before the race caused major mud pits and large pools of water. On some of the flats, it really seemed like swimming through the pools was better. I tended to gently walk through them, but the guys and kids (well really, the same, right?) thought otherwise. If there was an inch of water, they were jumping in it. If there was more than an inch, they were even happier! I found some of the downhills to be the hardest, but at the same part the most fun. I either went running down or slipped and fell right on my ass. Both happened often. The other part of the course that I liked was the creek. For just over a quarter of a mile, we actually ran through the creek.
The great thing about the group I ran this race with is that they made sure no one was left behind. Some would get ahead, but we’d all get to some spot and make sure everyone was still together. We mixed a light run with some walking and prancing but there definitely wasn’t any speed. Truly everyone was there for each other. When you needed a boost over the walls, it wasn’t just the guys there to push you ever. Everyone helped.
For the most part, I did the obstacles. A few I did try and just couldn’t do it. The rope wall got me and then of course the rope climb. I got over most of the walls. Some on my own and some with help. The obstacles that has my flailing were the cargo net ones. There was one that you had to climb up on some bars, cross on the cargo net and then down again on another set of bars. While I was up on the top of the net, I literally was just rolling into everyone. It wasn’t pretty.
My favorite obstacles involved the tires. At some point we came into an old mine and in order to go through, you had to slam a tire to a certain point and come back. Lots of fun, unless you missed and your hammer went out of control. Oops.
The only bad part about the race itself was cleaning off at the end. Like it seems all typical obstacle course races, there is a changing tent and hoses to clean yourself off with. While, you don’t get squeaky clean, it’s clean enough to put on some clean clothes and get home. However, the hoses just weren’t working. Everyone really struggled to clean themselves off and it was annoying. I certainly didn’t get as dirty though at this race as the Spartan race I did the previous year, but I was still hoping to get a little cleaner.
The other interesting thing is that the race shirt was a white t-shirt. Not sure whose bright idea that was to give out at the finish line with every runner caked in mud. You did get a medal for this race and while we did drop, it was a general medal, so that wasn’t an issue. It was a cute shape of the Terrain Race monkey. The folks who did the race last year said the medal was much better last year.
Overall, the Terrain Race was the perfect intro OCR. I saw people out there of all ages. It certainly wasn’t as hard as the Spartan Sprint I did. And there was no pressure about the obstacles as there are in that race. No burpees were mandated. If they made the loops different (apparently they were last year), I’d be up to do the 10k next year and actually do the full race. It just doesn’t make sense to me to do the same loop twice. They certainly have the area to spread out at that race location. This was my second year in a row doing an OCR with primarily the same group and I’d love to see that continue on next year. We took our time for sure and finished in 2:04. Although I’m still a newbie in that field, unless you’re off trying to win an OCR, the race is truly about the people you’re with and I’ve been lucky to sneak into the group I have.