What endurance season would be complete without at least one Obstacle Course Race (OCR) mixed in?
I found the Atlas Race OCR series on Facebook, and the timing, distance offered and early bird pricing was just right. The race offers the "Boss" (3 to 5 miles) or the "Ranger" at 7 to 9 miles. I was looking for something a little longer than the Warrior Dash or Ruckus Run to make the time to drive out to Lawrence worth the effort (named Atlas Race Kansas City, but actually held in Clinton Lake State Park).
So, Atlas Race KC it was for 2015 racing the Ranger course.
This will be a more about my experience racing the course, if you're interested in more of an event review, check out my Examiner article for the Event Review.
IT WAS AN ENDURANCE EVENT JUST TO GET TO THE START
Previewing my event review, I expended a lot of energy trying to track down check in, race bib pickup and event logistics in general. Had a been a lesser driven person, I might have just chucked it. The short of it was, the Altas organizers ran a loser ship than I'm used to with endurance events and organization. It was a process just to track everything down and find a parking spot when I got there.
AND THEN IT RAINED 40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS
Not really... but we had some significant rain the days before the event and mist off and on race day. It made for some sweet mud at the event, of which we would have had none without the rain.
After figuring out what the order of events were, I made my way to the start at the 10am wave after some well timed port-a-potty stops. All you endurance people know how key that can be when not swimming first off... It was also disappointing to learn I could have raced an earlier wave and got back home sooner to miss less on the home front since I didn't see the need to drag the Mrs and the kids to this event. But hey, it's all a part of the experience, right?
After racing 4 or so OCR events, I have learned it pays off to start in front and at east get out ahead of the large groups. After you get 6 to 7 people waiting at an obstacle that only allows 2 at a time, you spend a lot of time standing around. I wasn't interested in that. I'd rather race unencumbered at my own pace. So, I sprinted my ass off for the first 100 yards to get over the wood walls in the few first guys and pretty much stayed at the front for the entire heat.
THINGS WERE GOING SWIMMINGLY
I was doing well only trailing to one guy after the first mile. Was I an OCR rock star? No. This race lended itself to cross country endurance runners more than OCR warriors. There were only maybe 15ish real obstacles with only the end really involving any upper body effort. Again, reference my event review and you'll see how most of the course was about trail running, which favors a long course runner more than an OCR meat head (no disrespect, maybe).
I took the lead after two miles and eventually got passed on the second loop. What's ironic is that I passed the same guy because of confusion at the second lap entry and I think he did some obstacles he shouldn't have... or the volunteer told me to go the wrong way. Either way, I was back in front and eventually he caught me again at the finish line. Good competition.
IN THE END
I ended up coming in under an hour. Pretty sweet for a 7-9 mile OCR event! Too bad it was only 6 miles on the 910XT GPS. So, I either skipped some course or someone got a little lazy making the course. Even if I went around some extra obstacles, there's no way I would have added another mile.
BY THE NUMBERS
Here's how I stacked up vs the competition.
59 : 24 official time
17 / 186 Ranger Course Racers
3 / 28 Age Group
I kind of wished I would have signed up for Elite waves. They were racing for money and I was pretty competitive with their results. It was also key that attendance was probably throttled due to a first time event, questionable marketing outreach and the race was the same day as Warrior Dash.
I enjoyed getting out and doing some endurance outside of the normal swim, bike and run. Trail running is good cross training, and OCR makes it even better. I wished I would have gotten more course in. 9 miles for a 50 minute drive to the race would have been a fair trade, but at least I got in early bird and avoided paying an outrageous price for a short long course. My review and this recap would have taken a different tone had I paid over $100 at race day reg.
I'm happy with my "performance". As I mentioned with Rock the Parkway, my focus is Ironman Boulder and getting the work done for that. I did not come into Atlas with any real goals other than a hard run and wasn't tapering or resting for a race effort. Something to mix it up. I wanted to get the heart rate up and not get hurt. Those goals were met, no problem. I do wish I would have looked at Elite a little harder, but since this was the first time racing Atlas, I wasn't sure what to expect.
Stay tuned for more recaps and previews as race season is in full force!