Monday, May 21, 2012

GAC: An out of the ordinary adventure

I try plan my hikes and rides so that they are somewhat efficient and gentle to the equipment and me. This means that I hike along hiking trails and ride asphalt roads with little traffic. I put some thoughts into it to make it enjoyable. But this weekend all that got thrown out of the window. My wife convinced me to participate in the Gladiator Assault Challenge, a 5.3 mile cross country run with 30 obstacles. Basically we paid $49 to run up and down a hill, get extremely muddy, climb over things and wade through water. Now what's not wrong with that picture?

The issues are that you'll get soaking wet and muddy, need to crawl on dirt with rock and water, overcome wooden walls and other structures. Naturally I wanted to wear long pants and shirts that would protect my elbows and knees while crawling and with other things. My nylon hiking shirts and pants would have been good candidates but I really didn't want to ruin them since neither are cheap. I checked out Goodwill, a store that resells used donated clothing at low prices, for nylon pants and shirts. Unfortunately the plastic clothing from the 70s are out but I found pants and shirt that were close to my needs. It sadly looked very close to what I wear every day to work. I added a tie just for fun although I ended up using a really old tie I had at home because my wife liked the other tie better. For safety reasons I cut the tie in the back and added velcro to it to ensure that the tie would come off should it get caught somewhere. To get off the work cloth I spiked my hair crazily with gel and added a bug tattoo that one of my kids had lying around.

My wife and I ready to rock.

I was surprised that nobody else really dressed up funny for this race. Most wore shorts and shirts that would emphasis their athleticism. So I wasn't surprised that lot of people commented about my outfit. "You going to race in this?" "Did you just come from church?" "I like your outfit." Etc. I myself wasn't sure how well this outfit would perform through the course beforehand but it turned out the best thing to wear. I could easily slide though the mud without scraping myself and finished the course without any scrape, bruise or other thing to complain about. Plenty of other people showed off or complained about their scrapes and injuries but I'm not surprised considering people were wearing short shorts that exposes half their but cheeks. But I guess it's just like high heels, nice for me and bad for them. :) I never felt constricted by my clothing but then I'm also used to go hiking and biking in long pants and shirts. Surprisingly the tie didn't cause any issue either. I did wear some ultra short and thin sports shorts under the pants which made showering under the garden hose after the race simple as I could just strip off most of my clothing.

The mud wall and water pit obstacle (#2).

The race started at the top of a skiing hill and went straight down (#1). At the bottom was the first real obstacle (#2) that consisted of three dirt piles each followed by a water pit. The key to that obstacle was to run through it and not to slow down. Of course this obstacle also ended your day of staying clean and dry. Of course next we had to go straight up the slope again and jump over a small fire (#3) which I found somewhat lame. Then we climbed a steep slope banks on ropes (#4) which turned out to be easy, probably because they used some good and well gripping rope. I tore off my number crawling under the barb wire of the next obstacle (#5). I took the safety pins off and stuffed it into my pocket. Next was another but longer rope climb up a steep slope (#6). Just like the previous one the end had a short vertical ascent. The two wooden walls (#7) was an obstacle that I could not cross by myself. I helped my wife over and then she came around and helped me over. Great team work. And again it went down the steep skiing slope (#8). Amazing how wimpy these slopes are for skiing yet if you run them up and down they aren't. First the race went over a large dirt pile and into a water pit under the A-frame structure (#9). I went up it full speed and got insecure about the large drop of and slowed down and caused myself to enter the water a bit uncontrolled. As a result my face went under water. Not the greatest thing since now I had mud in my face annoying my sight as we went around and over the A-frame structure (#10). We had to climb on a rope netting up and down the other side. Doing the transition over the peak did scare me a bit as it usually does when I have to climb anything and transition to something else (e.g. from a ladder to a roof). Yeah, it's one of my weaknesses.

The first A-frame obstacle (#9/10).

And again the route went up the steep slope that this time also had some netting we needed to go under it (#11). It was staked loose enough that you could walk under it bent and let it slide up your arms and over your back. The slip and slide into a pond was my funnest obstacle (#12). I regret that I didn't just go around and did it again. We did take our time though swimming in the pond. I haven't seen anyone successfully cross the rope net mokey bars without cheating (#13). So neither did I. The next one was a simple crawl though a tunnel of muddy water (#14). After a longer stretch we arrived a log pile where you pick up a log and run a loop before dropping it off again (#15). After my wife got a sizable log I picked up the tiniest wig as a joke. The bystanders found it so funny that they took a photo of me before I got a log for myself. This wasn't very difficult either. The log where well dried and therefore quite light considering their size. Next was another mud hill and water pit (#16) under the A-frame net structure (#17). The high horse hurdles were easily climbed (#18). The last couple of hurdles were lower so that I could just jump over them. The paintball field had wooden spools to conquer (#19). The nasty part was that they still rolled a bit forward and backward. The smaller ones I crossed with a running jump and the bigger one, well, I struggled my way over it. Crossing the telephone poles that covered water pits (#20) was quite easy as long as you don't think to much about it. The asphalt pile crossing was kind of lame (#21). Another web to walk bent underneath it (#22). This time not on a slope which made it seem to be harder. Next was another but longer rope climb up a steep slope (#24). Just like the previous one the end had a short vertical ascent. The walk though the creek was nice and long (#25). Seven Oaks has some nice land that I never was aware of. The ski area only covers a small fraction of it. The netting on the stream must have been missing (#26) as we never encountered it. Getting to the end we wanted to take the slip and slide into the water (#28) nice romantically hand in hand but it turned out that it wasn't on steroids and we had to help pushing us down the slide. Climbing on the A-frames rope netting turned out much easier than on the next obstacle where the netting barely had any slope (#29). The last obstacle was to slide down inside tubes and then crawl under barb wires (#30). After that one I started a small mud fight with my wife before crossing the finish line and getting our beer.

The tube and barb wire obstacle (#30) just before the finish line.

After the race by the pile of discarded shoes.

Rear view.  The mud fight added
some extra big globs.

It's a silly event for adults that want to become crazy kids for a little bit. The "race" was quite fun and I was surprised at how easy it was. We took it easy and our speed was between fast walking and a pleasurable jog. There weren't many people on Sunday and we got a really close parking spot. No waits at the obstacles either. If I'll do one again next year will mainly depend on the persuasion of my wife and the cost. I do wonder how much different another race will be and when it would become boring and the same old thing.

Map of the course.

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