When I paid $35 to run the Terrain Race in Portland (Competitive wave) I wasn’t expecting much of the event. I looked at last years finish times and saw that men were finishing the 10k in 50:00. This is fast for a Obstacle race and means the obstacles are few and lacking difficulty, and/or the course was just really flat.
Surprisingly when I showed up, the place had the look and feel of a quality event. What you would expect from BattleFrog or Spartan. The event area had all the vendors and miniature obstacles for kids to play on, plus a highlight of the bigger obstacles which featured their version of the rig called monkey balls (hanging rock hold traverse to ninja ball traverse) and a weird finishing obstacle where you had to walk up a balance beam, crawl across a net, and slide down a fireman’s pole.
The race also had a tire pull, tire flip, rope climb, 3 rope traverse (you could do with a running swing), teeter totter balance beam (which broke), and plenty of walls.
Anyway, for $35 you got the same quality race as you would expect from the $100+ BF and Spartan….Well done Terrain Race, you are the “budget OCR”.
The course was 5k long and all obstacles were mandatory completion, though most obstacles did not have anyone verifying the actual completion. For example, monkey bars = no verifier, tire drag (very heavy)= no verifier…probably a lack of volunteers. If you failed an obstacle you lost your brown bracelet and you were out of the money = same as BatttleFrog. There was a 5k and 10k race for both genders. Money to top 3 of each category.
The race started at 0800 for the men’s competitive and the women’s competitive starting 5 minutes after that. There was a 5k and 10k option and I believe the 5k started right after the men and women’s 10k started……with that said, TR did a really dumb thing and released the open waves immediately after the competitive waves…so no matter how fast you ran your first lap (under 30:00 for me in 2nd place) you were dodging kids and parents during your second lap. I understand you make your money on the open waves and I love those people for getting out there and pushing their limits, but giving the competitive wave a bit of time to finish.
I lined up with several faces from the WTM and some notable names from the OCR circuit in general, a majority were locals so it felt great to connect with the community. I usually travel for OCR events and this was my FIRST local race. I wanted to finish well but wasn’t taking the whole thing too seriously. I had signed up a week earlier and just wanted to have fun.
From the start I let everyone take off sprinting and fell comfortably in about 10th place. I knew I’d pass them all back about a mile in when they gassed out, but sadly the course went into single track in the woods and passing became difficult. Several times I yelled “left” to pass but guys wouldn’t budge, this set too me too far back from 1st place to ever recover.
About 2 miles in I had worked my way up to 4th or 5th when we came to the “monkey balls” rig obstacle. It looked like 1st place had made it through but the rest were stuck. I struggled across but made it my first try and the next volunteer I saw said I was in 3rd place. Excited and with the hard obstacle behind me I picked up the pace and tried to reel in 2nd.
Next obstacle I came too the volunteer said I was in 2nd place and was cheering for me to catch 1st…..Wait, I didn’t pass anyone in between so I figured they had miscounted….but reflecting back, I think 2nd place (Matt Hallett) got lost.
Anyway, I was running alone (noone passing me or hanging behind) and felt I had 2nd place secured. I still wanted to catch 1st though so I did my best to weave through open wave runners to get through the course as fast as possible. Dodging people was an obstacle in itself and at one point jumping a wall I almost landed on a kid who was hanging out underneath. The open wave runners were nice though and kept their eyes and ears open for me as I approached from behind. All of them were eager to move aside and volunteers did a great job of looking out for those bracelets.
When I got to the monkey balls/rig the second time, I don’t know what happened, maybe I psyched myself out, maybe I was tired, but I couldn’t get across….my fingers would not close around the grip, my grip was gone. I lost 10 minutes trying to get across the damn obstacle, in which time Matt Hallett caught up and passed me, and 6 tries later when I finally made it across he was out of sight.
Pissed off I had thrown away my second place finish and motivated to get it back I ran the last mile faster than I wanted. I was red lining to get it back but it wasn’t enough. I finished the race in a crowd of open runners finishing their 5k which made keeping track of the top 3 finishers VERY difficult.
Though I was the 3rd guy across 2nd place Matt Hallett couldn’t recall which of us came in first. Some guy named Daniel came in a few minutes behind me and congratulated me on passing him (I guess he had passed me for 3rd on the rig but I passed him back). I didn’t know where I had finished because there were 5k competitive winners and open runners mingling in the finish area. The male 5k winner told me to stick around because I most likely podiumed and would get a check.
So I hung around and got my picture taken with 1st place Victory and 2nd place Matt Hallett, Daniel (4th place) jumped in the picture too because at that time we were the only 10k finishers with bracelets left.
Sara knight took the win for the women’s and my Fiancee Alisha Miller came in shortly after taking 2nd place. Super proud of you girl!
During the award ceremony they called Daniel’s name instead of mine for 3rd place. I knew I had beat him but seeing his family there taking pictures I couldn’t take it to make a scene, or even talk to management. It was $50 and he could have it.
After the ceremony I went to the beer garden and hung out with the WTM family. Some guy came around and gave us free beer tickets and that is a win to me :).
My Strava from the event
UPDATE: I checked the website results. I do not appear. I did not run the race. Must’ve been a broken timing chip. I notified TR.
What I thought about Terrain Race
PROS: I think TR is an awesome event with challenging obstacles. I love that they have MUST COMPLETE obstacle format. I love that they have a 5k and 10k option for both types of runners. I love that they pay top 3 for each gender in both 5k and 10k. I love that the entry fee is soo000 cheap (the business degree in me says they won’t last because of this).
CONS: They released the open waves too early and therefore crowded the course, endangered children lol, and made keeping track of competitive runners WAY difficult. You can’t always trust the timing chip, I wore one and didn’t even show up in the results day of or a week later.
Several obstacles that should have been verified of completion had no volunteers to verify. People could have easily skipped them in the masses of open wave runners. Obstacles like the 10 foot walls, heavy ass tire flips/drags, and monkey bars.