Last week was the second SuperHERO Scramble held in Oleta River State Park, the same place as the grueling 2012 FL Super Spartan. The first race from back in November was a ton of fun, so I’ve been looking forward to this race for months now. Well. Sean and the rest of the team did it again, this race was more fun with great obstacles. We even had the legend himself Hobie Call join our race…and dominate it, predictably. This race completes my spring race season, so now I’m just training up for Tough Owl and fall races.
The race was pegged right at 4 miles and my Timex clocked 3.98, no doubt due to dropping GPS signal in the nice swim we had to take. Since I was coming off a few other races and a blistering workout from last week, I was definitely curious how I would fare on a course that, for the most part, I’d run a month earlier and I did much better than I had anticipated. I finished with a time of 1:17:34 to snag 406th overall and 71st in my AG, and my Athlinks profile has more details on other stats and stuff. I was proud to finish so quickly, but I was even happier to cross the line smiling, unlike at the Spartan where I thought I was about to pass out and/or vomit, haha.
Overall, the course itself was not much different from the Super Spartan. The first two miles or so mirrored the Spartan’s race course fairly closely, only deviating a few meters to take us from one singletrack to another. We even got to take the same long ass swim too! The only difference was this time, rather than leisurely wading into the water, we got to take a trip off the 25ft+ tall Leap of Faith obstacle and then swim over to the lagoon’s designated boundary line, which added a good 40 or 50 ft to the swim overall. I was fortunate enough to get through the massive 100+ person queue rather quickly but then once I jumped, I spent another 5 minutes looking for my now-sinking-to-the-bottom GoPro. I have no idea how I found it since it doesn’t float but somehow, I managed to kick it underwater and swam down to find it. I forgot how much salt water in your eyes hurts. Bad. Now I need to get a floating back for my camera housing, I’m not doing that crap again. The race director managed to have us do three water crossings in total, but only the first one was long and arduous, the others were less than 50 yards and could be crossed without swimming, for the most part.
I’ve got to say, I wish Oleta was closer, it’s a beautiful place to go run. During one set of wall climbs, I overlooked an area that was recently planted with some new saw palms but was also very obviously recently fire-cleared to plant those palms. The trees were so out of place in this section of forest that was so dry and desolate, almost post-apocalyptic. Some places of the park are also pretty gross, like two creek crossings we did. The RD was nice enough to make us have to go down and through two stagnant water pools, back-to-back. I’m not sure how long it has been since the water in those sections had moved or been rained on but both pits smelled like dead animals and mold. It was horrible. Nice of them to make us run for another two miles smelling like death.
I loved some of the new obstacles they threw at us, such as the almost-vertical wall and a rope swing over a mud pit. The wall was near the end and was, from what I can gather, the obstacle almost everyone hated. Here’s why.
While slightly distorted from the fisheye lens, it’s almost a perfect picture of the wall. It was approximately 20 to 25 feet tall and at least a 75 degree angle, nearly straight-up. If I thought the mud-covered walls from the Spartan Races were tough, I was seriously wrong. Sure, a 20 foot slog up a 35-40 degree graded wall is tough, but when met with a nearly vertical wall of equal length, you realize how puny those other walls were. Of course, the trick to doing any of these wall climbs is to get a low center of gravity while still allowing for adequate forward movement; needless to say, most people were almost standing up and wondered why they’d get five or 6 feet up and slip off. I got all the way to the top but managed to slip at the rope-to-wall hand transition, I haven’t reviewed my race video but I suspect that I ended up standing up a bit for leverage and that’s how I slipped. That was definitely a fun obstacle, it required a little planning, something antithetical to my course ideology: don’t think, just do it. 90% of the time, that’ll get you over or through nearly any obstacle. The rope swing was fun as well, I know this is a staple at other obstacle course runs. I just wish it had been BIGGER. Overall, it was probably an 8 foot swing over a tub full of grimy green water.
Sean and the rest of the SuperHERO Scramble team put together a course that was not only just as fun as the first race back in November, but threw enough wrenches into your game plan to give it a good challenge. I’d love to see the taller Leap of Faith, the Vertical Wall, and tougher USMC obstacles at their other races in the future, they’re definitely the equalizers in the course. While I do think that some obstacles either need to be made larger or the obstacle volunteers need to be given better instructions on what to do with people who are holding up the other races. Case in point: Leap of Faith. Even before I got to the platform, there were perhaps 100 people in line waiting to jump, despite the fact that the platform itself was large enough to hold about 6 to 8 people comfortably at a time. The problem wasn’t the number of people, it was the people standing on the platform that were hesitating to jump, for whatever reason. I suggest that they allow for no more than 15 to 20 seconds on the platform before you jump (i.e. you have to wait for people to swim out of the way or lifeguard clearance, for safety reasons) or they make you get down, go around, and do your penalty exercise. That would clear up major hold-ups at most of these obstacles. Of course, there are others where this is not feasible (cargo net climb, up-and-over cargo container climb) but for the most part, the queues would go much faster.
Other than that nitpick, I think the race was fantastic. It was a quick 4 mile run with three adequately stocked water stations, excellent trail selection for both technical and non-technical runners, and a good variety of obstacles. I managed to cross the finish line with a huge smile on my face, tired but not exhausted, and I had one hell of a time, it was so much fun. I hope Sean & co. come back to Oleta River State Park next year and expand the course to include a few more upper body-centric obstacles and incorporate some of the infinite switchbacks that I experienced at the Super Spartan. From the looks of it, their future course offerings include their first night race in Waldo, FL in July and the possibility of a longer race, probably to keep up with the likes of the Super Spartan and Tough Mudder, although I do not think it’d be as long as the typically 11+ mile Tough Mudder races.
And now, let’s see some shots!
Just came off the 30ft tall cargo net climb
I told you I was smiling!