I wrote about The Battlegrounds obstacle course run in an earlier post, but I love it so much that I am writing about it again. This past weekend Jason and I participated in the Battlegrounds for the second time, the first being this past May. It is a 5 mile, 30+ military style obstacle course mud run. It is challenging, but it is such an awesome event.
Jason and I signed-up for a morning wave this time because we wanted to participate in the timed competitive waves, and this decision had its pros and cons. Both the competitive and the non-competitive waves do the same course, but the untimed afternoon waves definitely draw a larger crowd. The smaller crowds in the morning meant that Jason and I never had to wait for an obstacle. We also never felt like we were held up waiting to pass people in front of us and there were no lines for the showers once we had finished. Cons, there was only Jason and I to help each other out and the caliber of athlete competing at our same time was much higher which isn’t necessarily a con, but intimidating nonetheless. All in all, I would definitely stick with the morning waves if we decide to do this a third time.
As our start timed neared, I did my usual three bathroom breaks (I’ve got a ridiculously anxious birthed two children kind of mom bladder) followed by pacing. I’m not the most fun person to be around before any type of competition. Our 10am wave was upon us and before I knew it we were off. Although we had run this course in May, it was so different this time. The four inches of mud that we had run in May (that we thought was normal) was nowhere to be seen. The running paths were a typical cross-country grassy trail and it was fantastic. No more sliding around cautiously navigating each step. Once we got going, we hit our stride.
It was hot, so very hot for a late September day and every disgusting mud pool felt refreshing. As each obstacle arrived, we cleared them together. There were a few obstacles that gave me concern and I was beyond thrilled to clear both of them by myself. The first being the quarter pipe wall and the second being the gauntlet. The gauntlet had the chain link fence that left me with no feeling in my pointer finger for over a week the last time. In May, I didn’t make it through the gauntlet. This time I scaled the fence and cleared to the other side. I was not letting go of that fence….and no matter what I was not going into that water. I have never been as impressed with my strength as I was holding on to the fence with only my upper body strength as my feet lost their footing. Once the gauntlet was past us we knew we were close to the finish line. We crossed together, muddy, legs cramping and exhausted but it felt so good. So what can I share with you about my experience with an obstacle course run?
1. Decide in advance how you want to approach the event. Are you going in super competitive or are you doing it for the experience(keep in mind this is a spectrum and both can be achieved simultaneously). For me, being competitive is having fun so I was going in for the competition. My competition was not with others though…it was with myself. I knew that some of the obstacles would be damn near impossible for me, but I was going to use everything that I had to overcome them. I let myself pass by only two obstacles and they were the type of obstacles that I hate. I hate them not because they are overly challenging but because they are dangerous. They involve throwing yourself up over a fairly high wall (which isn’t really that terrible) and then essentially falling to the ground on the other side of the wall (this is the bad part). I am not about to blow my knees jumping over a 6 foot wall only to fall 6 feet down on the other side. That’s just stupid.
2. Acknowledge that no matter how fit you are, you will feel like you have the body of a 90 year-old within three hours of completing the course. You do not want to schedule anything major the rest of the day because you will be walking around like Betty White by dinner time. Your bed will never feel as good as it does that night when your head hits the pillow. I’ve also come to realize that since I do not have access to an obstacle training course, there is no real way for me to practically train for this other than to build endurance and strength and just go for it. No matter how fit you are…it will be challenging and sometimes it is just challenging because the pool of water you just slid into is freezing cold and your muddy shoes are making it really difficult to swim.
3. Do not wear your best shoes or really any shoes that you want to keep. Both times I have left my shoes behind. They served me well during the event and went out on a high note. Even more important, make sure your shoes have decent grip and tie them tight! I almost lost one of my shoes during the very first obstacle. Luckily, both of my shoes completed the Battlegrounds with me.
4. Expect strangers to be super encouraging and supportive. While it is competitive, you are really only competing against yourself. The last race, I had strangers helping me over walls. Everyone is struggling together towards the same mission of completing the obstacle and crossing the finish line.
5. Finally and most importantly, you will feel an amazing high once you cross that finish line, and will immediately want to sign-up for the next one. You will be beyond impressed with your abilities and wonder how in the heck you managed to achieve what you just did. No matter what I write, you really wont appreciate how amazing it is until you experience it. It’s kind of like childbirth in that sense, but instead of leaving with a baby you leave with a t-shirt and legs covered in bruises.
The next Battlegrounds is on May 19, 2018….it’s only one hour from the St. Louis area, includes free parking, pictures, bag check, shirt and post finish beer. I am not getting paid to write these things, but it really is a great value for the experience and you don’t have to drive that far. Hope to see you there! Battlegrounds Website
(I feel like I need to include a sixth lesson that you will expect your pictures to come out really badass and then these will be the gems that you get….)