This past weekend I had the pleasure of experiencing my third Savage Race; a race with which I continue to hold in high regard as one of my absolute favorite OCR events. I ran my first Savage Race back in late 2012 as part of a “Double Race Challenge” with Matt B Davis of Obstacle Racing Media and Damion Trombley of MudRunFun (Shout out to the “Triangle of Awesomeness”!!), and then returned last spring to run the competitive wave, finishing 3rd in my age group.
It was a no-brainer for me when the opportunity to run Savage Race again presented itself, and I happily added the event to my racing calendar, excited to see what Savage had in store for the multitude of runners who planned to attend their Central Florida race. An event with an already great reputation and stellar track record, Savage is a race which, for many, has consistently been held in high regard as being well-organized, well-branded, well-constructed, and well-executed. I had no doubt that once again I was in for a treat.
Little did I know that this year, this race would prove to be particularly special as I had the pleasure of taking on the experience alongside someone who I consider to be a fantastic OCR and blogging peer. This someone also happens to be a person with whom I’ve greatly admired for a few years now, someone who was actually pivotal in my own inspiration when it came to creating this blog. I ran this Savage Race with none other than Margaret Schlachter, founder of Dirt In Your Skirt and Editor and Chief at Mud Run Guide.
When Margaret announced that she would be attending the Central Florida Savage Race, I had the hopes that we would be able to connect face-to-face and “talk shop” a bit. Although we’ve gotten to know each other on a virtual level over the past couple of years, we’d never really had the opportunity to connect in person. Having now been writing about OCR for nearly 3 years, one comes to learn just how small our niche world is, so it seems only natural when the handful of us who tackle the social media world with regards to OCR eventually get to know one another. And despite the fact that Margaret and I have talked here and there, she continues to be someone who has inspired me, and who I’ve admired as I have progressed in my own journey.
Race day arrived, and early morning was crisp and cool as those of us who had attended last year’s event were pleasd to see that rain was nowhere to be found in the weekend forecast (last year’s event suffered an early end to the Saturday race due to a massive thunderstorm which rolled through). Over 10,000 racers were expected over the two day event, and the festival area buzzed from the moment it opened till late into the day.
I had signed up to race in the SavagePro wave, and was interested to witness the competition due to a recent press release which is sure to set Savage Race on the map as a major contender in the OCR world. Not only does the SavagePro wave now require obstacle completion (Thanks goodness! Remember my post last year about cheating witnessed at Savage Race?), but those who are able to complete all obstacles qualify to win cash prizes for top placement.
And when there is money is on the line, the elite racers show up in force.
Margaret and I connected in the starting corral as we awaited the final countdown before the first racers of the day exploded onto the course. We speculated who might take the win for both men and women, as Brakken Kraker, Ken Corigliano, Rachel Covington, and Angela Cobb toed the line, eager to claim a podium finish. As we chatted, it seemed as though we came to an unspoken agreement that we would run this race with a greater emphasis on the enjoyment of racing, instead of focusing on competition.
We embarked and began ticking away the miles. Time flew as we chatted about life, blogging, the future of OCR, our favorite races, and everything in between. I giggled at a racer attempting to do the worm through a barb wire crawl, confessed my hatred of jumping from heights (dang you Davy Jones Locker!), and celebrated conquering Pipe Dream, the one obstacle I was unable to complete last year. We both nervously approached Colossus, then successfully climbed the ominous quarter-pipe, happily celebrating our accomplishment. Shortly after we found ourselves splashing into a pool of water after unsuccessfully attempting Sawtooth, a jagged set of insane monkey bars. The time flew by, and before we knew if the finish line was just a short fire jump and sprint ahead. We had run Savage Race, and had a great time chatting like old friends in the process.
As expected, Savage Race did not disappoint. Wave after wave was sent out as the day progressed, and thousands of satisfied racers earned their medals. In addition, the Savage Junior helped create many new mini-mud runners, and the festival area bustled with a happy hum. The entire event was as exceptional as expected, and I truly feel that running alongside an OCR collegue made the miles effortless and fun.
I came away from the weekend with a true sense of delight over this great sport which I’ve come to love so much, and with a pride in the people who make it so worth waking up early on a Saturday to go get muddy and bruised with. Building solidarity among fellow OCR enthusiasts is not only a part of what makes this sport so wonderful, but what also helps OCR continue to grow and thrive as we create a family of passionate racers who truly love the races which bring us together. We build teams, run with friends, and surround ourselves with like-minded folks, and it is this unity that is what truly makes the race experience that much sweeter.
Thanks Savage Race for yet another stellar event, there’s no doubt I’ll be back again soon! And Margaret, it was a pleasure running with you! Perhaps next time I’ll come tackle the terrain in your neck of the woods.