I’m sure I’m going to miss some pros and cons, but here is a quick list and then we’ll get into the meat and potatoes of the review.
Ample free parking right next to the venue
Nice t-shirt and medal
Comfortable ankle timing band
Wristbands identifying correct waves to prevent wave jumping
Lack of signage to direct people to registration
Lack of barriers preventing people from entering the actual race course
Lack of direction in certain areas, especially during the Elite wave
Vendors all packed up and gone before last wave was done
Lack of trash receptacles
Extra fees for t-shirt if registered after 4/11
Needed to go to 4 different areas to take care of registration, transfer, sharpie and t-shirt
Let me just state that while it may seem there were a lot of cons, I would still probably give this race another try in the future.
I mentioned before how I was sort of a “last minute” registration for this race. Originally I had another race already registered months ago, but they changed the date only about a month out from the race and I couldn’t run on the new date because I was volunteering that day. This left 5/3 now open for me and when BoldrDash came to Unleashed I decided that was what I wanted to do. When I signed up, the race director never said anything about the t-shirt date, but apparently if you didn’t sign up prior to 4/11 you had to pay an extra $5 for the same t-shirt everyone else was getting for free. They hadn’t come to Unleashed until 4/19, so I ended up paying the extra $5 on race day. The race director that signed me up that day did hook me up with an awesome last minute discount, and then I just needed to pay $15 for a guaranteed transfer into the Unleashed heat at noon so I could run with my team, which I thought was fair since that wave had been sold out and I did get that awesome discount.
Saturday morning arrived and I was a bundle of nerves since it’s been almost a year since I’ve run an OCR and I’d only done two of them last year. I also ran those alone and didn’t have any other people I knew who did these sort of races (or run in general). This year, I had my friends from Unleashed plus I saw quite a few of the New England Spahtens there as well, including one that became my course mate on his second lap (yes, SECOND lap of the day).
My wave was at noon, but I wanted to see my friends run in the Elite heat at 9am (first heat) so we ended up getting there about 8:45. The beach parking lot is easy to get to, but once you were parked there was nothing showing you where to go for registration. We could see lots of obstacles, plus the finish line, but didn’t know where the start line was located. We finally figured it out by walking around a bit, but then we didn’t understand which way the course was going to go. I asked two separate volunteers and neither one of them knew either. This was only the start of the directional problems.
Since we didn’t know where they’d be heading off to start, we opted to go down the beach a bit to around the 2/3 mark of the race to await their return. The course was great in that you could see 80% of it, which Tara loved because she got to see me do a lot more which isn’t typical of any races I’ve done. Shortly after we picked a spot, we saw them swarming the beach. They ran past us, down to the fishing cove area where there are some trails. From that point, we had to wait for them to run back for us to see them do anything.
My trainer Kevin in the front
We saw the lead two men come back, but they skipped at least 4 obstacles (that we could see just from our vantage point) plus I’ve heard from others that they skipped probably ½ mile through the trails by taking a wrong turn. This led to them winning with more than a 5 minute lead (at least!). They were all really tight prior to this so I knew something was up. The volunteers had no idea where to send them, or if they did, they didn’t tell them as they passed by. It was a mess and I felt really bad watching them struggle with where to go and what to do. This problem seemed to ease up throughout the morning, but it was a VERY rough start. We were even helping direct at one point as people came off the beach onto the grass obstacle area because of the lack of course markings and poor volunteer placement.
Once I watched the Elites and got some pics of them, we then met up with the mother of the family that Tara used to nanny for, who we didn’t even know was running it until she commented on my Facebook status about it. We took our position again to watch her run through and then, once we saw her head down the beach, we went over to registration. I got in the line for my bib # and told them I had the email from the race director to guarantee my transfer, however that was another line I had to get in next table over. I waited a moment in that line to get my wrist band changed to the right color for my transferred wave and was then told the tshirts were in another line around the corner of the same building. We then went over to that line, got my shirt and I opened up my packet to put my ankle timing band on. It was until later when we asked somebody where the “sharpie station” was that had been advertised in the race email. It was really just a couple of girls standing off to the side to write people’s numbers on their arms and/or legs. Like I said, highly disorganized.
Had it not been such a gorgeous day (bright sunshine, warm temps, little wind) these issues might have bothered me a little more but I just tried to grin and bear it. After I knew I was all set to run, we just kind of meandered around a bit. I grabbed a temporary Unleashed tattoo from the booth they had set up so I could look like a part of the team since I didn’t have a team race shirt and this would prove to be a very interesting sunburn later that night. See, it helps to bring sunscreen with you, but it helps even more if you remember to APPLY the sunscreen.
We picked out the spot that Tara would wait for me so she could get pictures of me on the most obstacles and then she decided to wait there for me and I went back to warm up and get ready to run. At the last minute we were taking some team pics and one of the owners realized I didn’t have a shirt so she ended up finding one for me. I was frantically taking my bib off my other shirt and putting it on the new one as we walked over to the starting corral and I ended up running in two shirts, but it wasn’t entirely uncomfortable.
For the start of the race, we had to grab a “boulder” from just outside the corral. I picked what I thought was a smallish rock, but unfortunately for me it didn’t feel small while I was running with it! We had to run down about 200 yards (?), around an orange cone and then come back to the start where we left our rocks. From here, we ran down one of the paths that leads down to the beach and ran for a bit until we reached the first obstacle – Wreck Bag carry. These are bags loaded with sand that you had to carry with someone else.
From Unleashed’s Facebook page
Just before I reached this obstacle, one of the NE Spahtens was trudging along pretty close to me. I struck up a conversation with him since he was going about my pace and learned he was on his second lap and was wearing a 45 lb weight vest. He had just finished his first lap when our noon heat started so he came with us right away instead of getting to rest at all! We would end up sticking together through the entire race and I am eternally grateful for his help calming me down going over the taller obstacles.
One of my other trainers, Janine, running in the Elite wave. Here is a shot of the Wreck Bags I was talking about.
So now we reached the Wreck Bags and four of us ended up grabbing one and walking it down the beach together. After that was the potato sack hop, which I thought was funny. We just had to hop down a bit, around a cone and back – easy enough, but tougher on sand. From there, we ran further down the beach where we had to do a water carry. We all had to grab buckets (which there was a shortage of), run down to the ocean, fill them up and carry them back up. What I didn’t realize is that we were supposed to do this twice. I ended up doing it only once, so I waited and walked back with M who was already coming back with his second bucket.
From here, it was all just a run on the beach until we reached the trails. We then had to walk over what I estimate to be probably ½ a mile of rocks. Just rocks. As far as the eye could see. Rocks. Just when you would round a corner and think you were done, more rocks. When we finally got to the end of all of these stupid rocks, there was a really steep rock wall we had to climb. And when I say steep, I’m not exaggerating in the least. I’m talking like rock climbers climb, you know, using cracks as hand and footholds. Crazy! I was really scared of doing it because if my sandy shoes slipped or something I’d probably crack my skull on the rocks below, but M coached me through and I got up to the top virtually unscathed.
After running through more trail to get back to the beach, we came across our next obstacles. I don’t remember exactly what order they were in, but we had to jump across some tires that were set up in stacks with a wood plank across the top. It was basically like hopping across columns, but very, very wobbly columns. Then there was a suspension balance beam. We had to climb over a board onto the balance beam, which was hanging from chains to make it wobble. I ended up climbing through since I couldn’t get over and then we paired up with two girls that had been sticking near us throughout the first half of the race. We each paired off with one of them and held hands and moved at the same time and it kept us steady so we never had to step off or fall off. Good technique to remember! We also at some point climbed through a tire, under some netting, through a tube and out.
From this point on, all I can remember is a LOT of walls. We had to climb a ladder like wall (straight up and down), a chain wall, an inverted wall (which I opted not to even try and did 10 jumping jacks), over/under walls where we had to carry a weighted (35 lb I heard) buoy with us the entire time, a small wall, a tall wall and then it was off the beach and up on to the grassy area.
First over/under wall
Looooots of over/under walls
Stupid sand kept getting in my eyes
We had to shimmy sideways across this whole wall on that little board
And yes, to more walls! First up was a tire wall, then we ran over to an A-frame wall, on to a cargo net climb (which I would almost say was the most difficult obstacle of the day for me), a slosh pipe balance beam (the pipe contained water that sloshed back and forth while you were trying to walk up the balance beam) and finally a rope tire swing that you were supposed to go from tire to tire but I couldn’t do it. Just a sprint to the finish after that and it was over.
I finished in 1:23:01, 834/1032 overall , 400/556 in my age group (although it looks like there were only 2 age groups – over or under 19). I would say, of the 3 OCRs I’ve done so far in my life, this was by far the most difficult due to the amount of walls plus running in beach sand. I can only imagine what’s coming my way when I do my Tough Mudder in a few weeks!