Sunday, October 9, 2011

Run the Gauntlet Boone, NC

So many of these obstacle/mud run type events love to throw around words like "extreme"and brag about how "macho" and "crazy" they are, that I glaze over these descriptions without really paying attention to anything other than distance and number of obstacles.  Now if I was smart I should have taken the course map for this run and overlaid it with the elevation chart for the area, but if I did that I would have probably stayed in bed this morning.  One of the articles I saw online mentioned a "211 foot hill with a 33% grade", to which I thought wow that's a tough hill but it's only 211 feet.  The article neglects to mention they have you running up and down this same hill or one of it's many cousins for almost the entire 4.5 miles.  I've never been so happy to see an obstacle in my life and there weren't many and they were almost exclusively things to climb over, but I'm totally okay with that as the terrain on this course was ridiculous.
up, down, repeat

If you enjoy being able to reach out and touch the ground in front of you due to the steepness of the climbs or having to descend sitting on your butt or backwards in order to avoid doing a barrel roll down the hills, then this is the course for you!

We arrived in time to see the individual winners finish.  These guys looked like they would be REALLY fast, but the winner stopped the clock at around 45 minutes.  This was my first inkling of trouble.  I hadn't really given this race its due and looked at it as more of a tune-up precursor to Medoc and Tough Mudder.  We had signed up in two person teams consisting of myself and my #INSANITY friend.  I figured I had probably logged a few more runs, but based on his tweets, he was burning something like a thousand calories a day doing Insanity workouts, so I figured we would make a good team.  My lifting partner was teamed up with his wife.  The course starts in a field and then we head uphill down the road, while the individual competitors are returning at about the same time on the other side of the road.  This is where I really got worried, some of these people looked like high level athletes and they looked exhausted!  I remember seeing the first woman coming down the road, she looked like a serious fitness competitor, but the look on her face indicated she was running on willpower only at this point.  Soon we reached the turn off from the paved road and up the first of many steep logging roads.  This is where our two teams separated.  I paced myself up the climb and many of the other competitors who started too fast began to walk as the climbing went on and on.  I was thinking my teammate wouldn't have the hill running experience to keep up, but I looked back and to my surprise he was right there!  So we decided to keep pushing and then wait for our other team at the first obstacle.  Well, by the time the first obstacle rolled around we knew the gap was too large and decided to just push the pace and see what we could do on the course.  The hills seemed to keep coming and they kept getting steeper and steeper.  I was the one struggling and #INSANITY was whooping my butt up these things!  He really helped pull me through.  I finally found my groove toward the end of the race and I think he started to fade a little so we really did make a good team, pushing each other at just the right times.  This is probably my best finish so far, as we were the 6th place two person team out of a small field.

steeper than it looks
This is a great race for someone who can't get enough hills and really wants to test their willpower.  Quite a few are completely unrunnable and barely walkable.  The descents are just as bad, if not worse, due to the thorns and poor footing.  I found I did best descending backwards, while many would try to scoot down on their butts, which had to really suck with all the thorns.  The creek portions are great, as the cool water helps the feet feel better, although the footing is quite treacherous.  There was no mud, unless you stepped in a cow paddy or hit a naturally wet spot on the course.
feels like a prison break

I really enjoyed the race, although if you had asked me at the finish line, I would have said never again.  We plan to do it next year and I think we have husbands versus wives teams.  I'd like to do their Uwharrie Gauntlet, as well.


  1. Good grief those are some nasty "little" hills! That fact that you went down backwards better than forwards tells me all I need to know. If I wasn't such a pansy, I might try one of these crazy races, but I'm afraid I would leave body parts scattered along the course... See you at Medoc!!

  2. Dude, that's awesome! Thorns?!?!? I mean, how can you beat thorns on an obstacle course? Kudos and congrats, Andrew!

  3. Der Scott:
    Hah, this coming from the guy who is about run a trail marathon in moccasins! I think you would do just fine.

    thanks! One of my friends ended up with a rash on both his forearms from some kind of vegetation on the course...

  4. Hey Andrew, I didn't see you at Medoc, but I think I saw you in one of the photo sets. How did it go?

  5. Der Scott:
    Hey! I was there and managed to finish the 10 miler in a pretty good time (for me), but apparently I'm going to be DFL to write the race report... and then I had Tough Mudder the next weekend and I don't even know where to begin on that report! Hope you had a happy halloween.