Hello fellow Obstacle Racers! I’m new here. My name is Anthony and I’m an obstacle racing junkie. I want to just jump straight to the point of this post but if you want to know more about me, my training, or anything else just check out my personal blog, Legend of the Death Race. Friday night I traveled to Wisconsin with my friend Matt. We stayed at Olympia Resort where the inaugural Tundra Challenge was being held so we could get some good rest and relaxation in before the race the following morning.
When morning came we weren’t exactly well rested but that’s besides the point (next room over was noisy on and off all night until we woke up at 7am). Registration pick up was supposed to be an hour and a half before race time. We arrived at the location for packet pick up at around 7:45am, it was pretty empty (not the best sign). We got to talk to whom I assume was the race director. Since there wasn’t going to be a bag check we decided to bring our stuff upstairs and came back and now there were people starting to fill into the area. I met up with some people I had met through the Spartan Race Street Team and we chatted about the race while we waited for things to get started.
Now for the important part of this post. 9am was approaching, the race director gathered us all in the tent near the starting line and began to explain some things about the course, which direction we’d be going and showed us the small orange markers to look for on the course. I decided to do some burpees in the back of the group while he was talking, ya know a nice little warm-up. We then all headed out to the startingline. I really wanted to push hard in this race so I secured a spot up front with some of the guys I had met up with. The countdown started…3…2…1…and the blow horn malfunctioned and off we went. We quickly ran down a slight slope, across a bridge, and approached the first set of walls to climb over. I was unimpressed they were no taller than 7ft at most. First disappointment, check. Then we started to run around the ski hill like we thought we were supposed to but instantly we were all confused where to go and as we approached the next obstacle it was very evident we made a wrong turn, too late now! This was a wall with a slight slant (maybe 10-20 degrees?) and a rope that was not on the side we were approaching but on the other side, we said screw it went around and headed towards the ski hill because as we understood that was supposed to be towards the beginning of the course. Second disappointment, check! We ran up this hill to retrieve our sleds which we’d have to take to the bottom and then return back up the hill to where we got them. As we ran up the hill I was shocked by the fact that half way up was where we got the sleds….really??? only half way up this hill? Third disappointment, check! Not gonna lie it was fun as hell to go down on the sled but going back up again just to run back down was kinda strange, not to mention the need to dodge people on foot and sleds now. From here on out it seemed like we were more or less on course probably a little off but they didn’t have people stationed at the obstacles or key turning points so who knows. Many of the flags were also non-existant. I later found out that many of them either got buried under snow drifts or the wind took them away.
The race continued to disappoint, there were less obstacle than advertised. Like I said none of the obstacles had anyone at them so it was uncertain on some of them what was intended to be done. They had a set of zig zagged ropes that I thought we were supposed to quickly run through like you do tires….someone had told me later that they thought we were supposed to crawl under it like barbed wire….really? Who knows… The hardest obstacle was a balance beam that went up on an incline and then back down (there were only two side by side). There were a couple more walls I think and a couple tunnels one of which was from what I heard a maze…well the way I entered it just went straight through so again….who knows. The most difficult part of this entire race was the snow, I like to keep a short, low stride so the drag coefficient of the snow is what really got me. For the finish line as I approached I noticed something on the ground…what’s that I thought? Oh they are fire logs…that were NOT lit…come on guys! Get it together!
All in all I think the Tundra Challenge has a lot of room for improvement but it has the potential to be great so long as they take the feedback they requested and utilize it to improve everything. How can it improve? Make the obstacles more challenging, and simply add more obstacles. Make the markers more visible and able to withstand wind or being covered by snow. Recruit volunteers to help at the obstacles and various points throughout the race so you know where to go or what to do. The race seemed like it was half baked. Leave it in the oven a little longer and I think they can actually have a great winter race series on their hands. I will be attending again next year most likely just to see what they are able to come up with.