In June of 2011, my husband had his first obstacle race – the Rebel Race. I didn’t think I was ready yet, so I skipped it and vowed to do it in 2012. Over the last year though, I have done a lot of really great races and the hubby and I thought that the Rebel would just be boring and not worth doing. We decided not to bother.
But then I got a great Groupon deal and decided to do it anyway with my husband and my brother.
For $30 and a mere 15 minute drive into New Windsor, it would be totally worth it now. Right?
The obstacles were pretty good for a minor race. But that is about all the nice things I can say. If this was the first time that Rebel Race had ever been done, I’d have maybe been able to excuse its suckiness. But they have been holding these things for over a year and should really know better.
Crappy thing #1 – Cheap Swag
I really shouldn’t complain about this considering what a small price I actually paid, but I am going to anyway because other people paid a lot more than I did and got the same cheap white T-Shirt with black writing and ho-hum drawstring bag.
Crappy thing #2 – Huge Waves
According to the website, there were 500 people per wave. If this was taking place at some huge ski resort, this may possibly be ok (but not really but even at Spartan Races there are only 300 people per wave.) But at a small paintball field? Not so much. There was a giant mob at the start line. I didn’t even hear anyone say “Go” at the beginning. I basically just started going when the big crowd started moving.
Crappy thing #3 – Bottlenecks
The tagline of the Rebel Race is “Escape the WEAKday.” We rebels were supposed to be breaking out of our everyday lives of sitting in traffic and waiting at line at Starbucks to go to our crappy jobs. WHY THE HELL WAS I WAITING IN LINE STUCK IN TRAFFIC AT MY RACE?!?!?!?!?!? That giant mob of a wave in Crappy thing #2 became a giant mob all trying to jump over a 4 foot wide mound of hay bales. It then became a giant mob trying to go down a 3 foot wide trail in the woods. It was like trying to drive into Manhattan when they close 2 lanes of the George Washington Bridge and then close a lane on the Major Deegan just for the fun of it during a Yankees/Red Sox game.
Once we got through that spot we landed at the foot of some monkey bars. Only 3 sets of monkey bars (actually there ended up being 2- more on that later in Crappy thing #4.) For a few hundred people. The designers must have been rebelling against math. We stood and waited in line again.
After the monkey bars we ran up a hill (backwards – they counted it as an obstacle) and ended up heading back into the woods were we slammed into the back of… you guessed it! another line! There was a queue of people winding through the trees. We couldn’t even see what we were waiting for. It could have been an obstacle, a hipster night club…
No one had any clue. At this point we were maybe a half mile into this race but nearly 40 minutes had already passed. We could see people running off in the distance, though. We debated for a few minutes then made the decision to cut through the woods and skip the obstacle- whatever it was.
We got a good groove going after that. Running and passing people like good Spartans do. Got slowed down a few more times by some obstacle racing newcomers who hadn’t yet mastered the fine art of running on tree roots and loose rocks with twisting ankles. And then we came to another screeching halt at the downhill slip n slide. I should emphasize the word the. There was one slide for the mob of 50 or so. Another 20 minutes lost.
Next hold up: a rope traverse across a pond. They had 3 ropes so that was good but it was a hard obstacle so people took a long time do it, if they could do it at all. I didn’t. My brother didn’t. My husband, of course, did because he is part spider monkey. All in all we probably spent another good 20 minutes waiting for this obstacle.
Crappy thing #4 – Safety Hazards
I’m not going to be the stick in the mud that complains about jumping over flame or crawling under barbed wire (I overheard people complaining about this.) I’m talking about poorly designed obstacles and ambulances.
First off, let’s revisit those monkey bars. When I got near the obstacle, I saw a bar fall off. Yep. Off. What? Then, on another set, a woman fell off and landed very wrong. Over the chatter of the mob waiting their turns, everyone heard the tree-branch-snapping sound of her ankle deciding to form right angle in the wrong direction. This really wasn’t Rebel Race’s fault. What was their fault was that the staff along the route didn’t have walkie-talkies or the intellectual prowess to dial their cell phones to communicate with the medics out by the beer tents. This poor girl sat clutching her leg under the bars for a good 20 minutes. We were in the back of the line when she fell and saw the medics finally driving up when we were up the hill getting ready for our next traffic snarl. It is a small course and they had a golf-cart. They really should have been there faster.
At another obstacle, some large stacked logs that had to be climbed, we heard another girl fall. It was after we had passed so I honestly don’t know what happened, but I do know that there were no staff members in that area so friends of hers had to go run ahead of everyone to the finish line to get help for her.
Shortly after the logs came the slip n slide. The bottom of the slide was just a small mud puddle. Underneath the plastic that we slid on, was a LOT of rocks. It made the Spartan Sprint Tuxedo water slide feel like a Angel Soft toilet paper commercial.
They had a couple of race workers supervising the sliders. They were useless though. They were letting people go down one right after the other so people were hitting each other at the bottom. They also let people go down riding on top of each other like fleshy inner tubes. Seriously? That just looked like a lawsuit waiting to happen. There was another serious injury here, too. An older man, maybe in his 50s, stepped out onto to the slide and slipped. Each leg went in a different direction so he did a split that gymnasts would envy. Not being a gymnast, he tore something in his leg and spent a long time curled up in a ball on the side of the slope waiting for the EMTs for a very long time.
And then there was the injurious location that snared my little group. The rope for the pond traverse was not the kind of rope that you want to slide your bare skin across. It was 3/4-inch twisted poly rope that is fabulous for boating or camping uses, but definitely not climbing. That rope had zero give and was about as frictionless as 40-grit sandpaper. My brother and I felt our ankles being shredded and dropped into the pond. My husband, being determined to do the obstacle, ignored the pain.
In three Spartan Sprints I’ve never seen so many injuries. Black and blues here and there, scrapes and bruises are expected. In fact, I get very disappointed if I’ve got no bruises to show for my efforts! Broken limbs, torn muscles and eroded flesh should be a lot less common.
Crappy thing #5
The singer for the band at the after party butchered songs by Melissa Ethridge, the Cranberries, Heart, and 4 Non-Blondes (among others.) Tha’t just not cool.
It took us nearly TWO HOURS to run this race. The last 5k obstacle race my husband and I did took about 45 minutes – and we goofed off and stopped for photo ops and whatnot. 118 minutes for a small race is completely unacceptable. We will definitely not be running this race again no matter how cheap the registration fee is.
Beware the Rebel Race.