I’ve blogged before about adventure racing but admit that I was always a little nervous to actually do one myself. But now that I’ve been a member of Seal Team PT for nine months and have bought in to the Kool-Aid, I decided I would sign up for the group’s obstacle course race called the Big Hoo Yah!
I clearly spent most of my summer preparing for the triathlon with little thought about preparation for the Big Hoo Yah. Only that it would be a fun change of pace from the traditional races I’ve done thus far. So less than a week after my triathlon, I had a new adventure to face. A 6+ mile (we learned later it was actually closer to 9) obstacle course race. There were individual and team categories and I chose to do the race with two friends—Nicole and Karen. So we named ourselves Team SNK or Swim. Cheesy but it worked.
We left early that Saturday at 5:15 am and made the trek south to Goochland, Virginia. Destination—a Methodist youth camp in the woods that would become our race course! Overall it was a blast…some obstacles much harder than others.
I was going to post the list that Nicole and I rattled off while driving home after the race, but then figured that just takes the allure out of it…and I wouldn’t want to give every single one of the secrets away for next year! But I’ll give you the highlights:
The race began with quite a bit of running. There were only a few obstacles at first (bear crawl up a hill, crawl under some barbed wire, carry one of your teammates (me!), crab soccer with a sandbag on your stomach, etc.) Then it was into the woods we went. Most of the run was along a narrow trail where we were constantly making sure not to twist an ankle on a root or trip in a hole.
We’d come upon a clearing from time to time (after what must have been stretches of three miles at a time) where more obstacles would greet us. An open field off the trail brought us to unwieldy bales of hay that needed pushing. At first I was looking forward to an obstacle to break up the stretch of running, but they got progressively more difficult as we continued. And soon my mentality switched and I found the running to be a welcome reprieve. One of the most difficult obstacles, in my opinion, was the pipe carry relay. Each of us had to take a turn carrying a long pipe around the field. And these weren’t just any old pipes–they were awkward, heavy and filled with water! I wanted to cry. As soon as I felt like I was in a rhythm, the water would swish to the other side and my whole focus was turned asunder.
I also went swimming again…but this was a different kind of swimming than that of a triathlon. We all wore lifejackets and had to run into the water (yep—shoes and all) and linked legs with our teammates and swim backwards (talk about awkward); then swim individually and try to swim under a kayak (did someone forget to tell the course monitors that you can’t really swim underwater with a lifejacket); and then the last leg was to swim one partner (that was me again) as dead weight in to shore. That was good for me, but not so much for my teammates (as you can see I’m all smiles!).
We made it through a number more obstacles—slithered through mud pits, slid down soapy slides, and crawled under electrified wire (it does pay to be small).
We made it through most things relatively well, until near the end. We had to climb up a muddy hill with ropes and sandbags. I’d venture to guess we lost about 15 minutes getting everyone up. Other teams were helping each other and eventually we were able to continue on…only to get shot by stealthy paintball shooters in the woods.
And then finally out of the clearing with only a few obstacles to complete, we were in sight of the finish line (and a fire hose awaiting to hose our dirty bodies off)!
The entire race required a bit of discipline (and maybe craziness in each of us) to get through the race. There was some strategy involved—whether it be how to get your teammates all over a wall, or more brain smarts like answering trivia questions along the trail that would take us one of two directions (a long or short route).
Our overall time was 2:42:47 and as you might imagine I was more sore from this race than the triathlon the week before. I had a nice bruise on the side of my knee for a few days, three paintball markings on my back and rear end, and much soreness for a few days. But come the following Monday morning, most of us who participated still made it to morning bootcamp.
Medals for the proud winners.
I had a great time with the girls and in spending time with my DC workout buddies afterwards. We proved ourselves worthy of completing not the Little Hoo Yah, but the Big one!