Savage Race Dallas 2017: Lots of Sun, Mud, Water, and Some Pretty Tough Obstacles

Savage Race Dallas 2017: Lots of Sun, Mud, Water, and Some Pretty Tough Obstacles

On the weekend of Oct. 14th, I went up to Dallas and participated in the Savage Race, just as mentioned previously in other posts. First off, the weather couldn’t have been anymore amazing than what we had. It was a bit on the hot side, but I’ll take that over the cold any time. I’m a warm weather, shorts and flip-flops kind of guy. It was beautiful weather — perfect day for an obstacle course race.

When we got there, we were pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to park. They had several attendants directing cars into multiple pay lanes. Money was taken very quickly and cars were directed to the next point where the attendant pointed you either left (general parking) or straight (the VIP parking section). I opted for the extra $10 to park in VIP. We were super close to the front gate, but in retrospect, we wouldn’t have been that much farther out if we’d gone the economy route. Nonetheless, I usually go with the “when in Rome” approach and go all out since it’s a special occasion.

The process for picking up bibs and timing devices was quick, simple, and well-organized. They had multiple lines broken up by ranges of bib numbers. I was pleasantly surprised at how few people were in line. I zipped right to the front of my line, got my packet, and was in very fast. Note: to get your packet with bib and timing device, you had to show an ID — so do not forget your ID. It’s one of the items I listed in previous post on preparing for obstacle course races.

Once we got through and into the main part, we were way early, so we cruised around a bit and checked out the scene. The usual stuff was there: t-shirts and souvenirs, food trucks, a few vendors, and miscellaneous other attractions. We took a few pre-race pics at the Savage Race portrait wall. There was an official race photographer there taking pictures of everyone, so we had him snap a couple quick ones. In the 20 or 30 minutes or so before the race, I took the time to sit down and do a final check to make sure I was race-ready. Tightened up the shoes, took some salt tabs, ate a Gu, and drank plenty of the Pedialyte water mixture I had in my hydration pack. I was as ready as I could be.

Our start time was 11:20. About 5 minutes before we slowly made our way over to the start line. There was the usual pep talk and some group activities like jumping up and down, yelling, grunting, squatting — all while locked arms with the people next to you. It got the blood pumping and I was hyped to get my race on! The speaker counted down from 10 and then when he said “go”, we all took off like a herd of buffalo.

First few obstacles were simple. A couple of fences, some over-unders… nothing overly taxing. The one I had dreaded the most, “Shriveled Richard,” was not that bad — it was actually refreshing, as hot as it was. Shriveled Richard is basically a giant ice bath. You jump in, wade to the middle where you have to duck under a wall, and then wade to the other side and climb out. The best way to attack that one is to not even think about it. Don’t stand there psyching yourself up… just jump in! That’s how I did it and it was easy.

I wasn’t really challenged by any obstacles until I got to the Wheels of Steel. That obstacle has taken me out in two different races. One of the main problems this time was my gloves had gotten wet and made it hard to grip anything. I was fighting that little complication and trying to navigate the obstacle at the same time. I spent way too much time spinning around and wasn’t able to effectively transition from one wheel to the next. Ultimately, my grip gave out and I went splash in the water!

Another lesson learned: secure your GoPro tightly, so that if you fall into the water, it is not going to come loose. Also, use a flotation attachment, if you have one.

I was using the head strap with my GoPro and when I went into the water, it came off and went straight to the bottom. Waves of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) immediately rushed through my body! F@#$!! I just lost my $400 GoPro!! No way I was leaving without it. I felt around the bottom of the murky, brown water with my feet for several minutes, sliding all around hoping to feel something. Other racers were swinging around above my head and if they would have slipped off, they would have landed right on top of my head. It seemed like I was there for 10 minutes or more, but it was probably only 2 or 3, at best. Luckily I was able to find my GoPro, hook it around my foot, and pull it up to where I could grab it with my hands. Whew! After a big sigh of relief, I climbed up the ladder and exited the water. That’s one obstacle I’ll most certainly be better prepared for next time — and make certain my GoPro is very well secured.

The heat definitely took its toll on me during the race. I started cramping up on one of the easiest obstacles, “Kiss My Walls.” It’s just hand and footholds on a wall that you have to get across. Nothing major and I usually have no problem with this obstacle. But this time, as soon as I cranked my foot sideways and put it on the foothold, the back of my leg around the lower area of the calf locked up and the pain was too much to continue. I got off and rubbed the aching area for a minute and then tried again. No go! Still cramping and too painful to move through it. So I took a mulligan on that one, which is highly unusual and didn’t make me happy at all.

From then on, I battled cramping issues, even though I had pickle juice on hand and probably drank 3 or 4 of them during the race. Nothing seemed to help. It would ease up temporarily long enough to start running, but by the time I got to the next obstacle, I was cramping again. Horrible! It definitely slowed me down significantly, but there is not much you can do if you’re trying the normal remedies and nothing is working. My advice here… just power through it and finish the best you can. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way or risk injury, but try to finish for sure. After all, it’s what you came for.

Pole Cat was another one I was dreading a little bit. I’d never done an obstacle like that one and it actually looked pretty tough when I was previewing it online before the race. It turned out to be pretty easy. The transitions are definitely a little more difficult, but take your time and make sure you’ve got the next pole wrapped securely with your arm before letting go of your current pole. This is another one where I realized wet gloves are of no use. I had to take my gloves off in order to get any kind of grip, but once I did, I was able to climb those poles with ease. This is a great obstacle and I look forward to facing it again.

Lesson learned: if you’re going to wear gloves, it’s imperative they stay dry. Take a plastic bag or something waterproof that will keep them from getting wet on the water obstacles.

After Pole Cat, I had decided to take off my gloves for the rest of the race, so I’d be able to get a better grip. The next obstacle up was the Savage Rig. This one was a pain (literally). Some of the hardest transitions I’ve

The Savage Rig

experienced in my short obstacle course racing stint. It started with some rings, which were no problem. Next a straight hanging rope, then back to more rings, but still no problem. Then it went to a drooping rope, like a D shape. This one proved to be a little more difficult. Then for the finale, a transition from the drooping rope to an upward-angled metal bar. When I got to this point, I was swinging back and forth to use my momentum to propel myself up the bar. I reached the end and rang the bell, then jumped down and immediately felt a sharp, intense, burning sensation in my hands. I looked down and blood was streaming from my palm and dripping off my finger tips. I had rolled the skin back really good in two places. It was extremely painful and my only choice was to put my gloves back on (also painful).

Luckily we were nearing the end of the race by this point. I only skipped one other obstacle at the very end. It really made me angry that I was not able to do all the obstacles. I love this stuff, wait so long for the races to come around, and then stupid cramps and cuts on my hand keep me from getting everything out of it that I came for. But like I said earlier, when your body tells you that you are done, then you are done. Don’t fight it and don’t push yourself to the point of senseless injury. Accidents are one thing, but if it’s something you bring on yourself, then that’s not smart and could knock you out of the next race… or even worse, permanently.

The finish line was the usual fire pit that you had to jump over. Under normal circumstances I’ve got a pretty decent vertical jump and finish with added flare. With the legs cramping, when I launched, I was just praying that I made it over. I jumped, but the legs weren’t agreeing with me. I did make it, but no special in-air poses this time. Regardless, I had a great time and can’t wait for another crack at Savage. I’ll definitely be there again next year… and next year I’m going to kick Savage’s ass!

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