Last Saturday, I completed the Terrain Race, a 5K obstacle course at the Spyder Mx Action Sports Complex in Wildwood, about an hour’s drive west of Orlando. It was my third obstacle course race since I started dabbling last year, and, while I didn’t get as filthy as I did at the Spartan Race, I still got a little muddy and had a lot of fun.
As mentioned, the course was a 5K, and the website stated that there were over 20 obstacles. Although I didn’t count each and every one, I would say that’s about accurate. The course itself is on a four-wheeler/dirt bike course, so it wasn’t flat, but it wasn’t so hilly that your flat Florida legs were screaming due to elevation change. It was also marked really well, which I appreciated; because of the nature of the complex, it would have been so easy to get off the beaten path and lost. The obstacles themselves were challenging, but not impossible. While I skipped the monkey bar variations, rope climb, and Tarzan swings (upper body strength LOL), I was able to complete the rest fairly easily, which brings me to my next point: this is a great race for someone who is interested in trying obstacle course racing, but intimidated by the idea of doing a Spartan, Tough Mudder, and the rest of that ilk. It’s just challenging enough to where you’ll have a good race and feel like a badass when you cross that finish line and snag your finisher’s medal. I myself completed the cargo net climb, an obstacle that was also at Spartan, but way higher. I remember gripping the net and trying to climb, but the height and the fact that the damn thing was shaking from everybody scaling it caused me to nope the fuck outta there. However, the one at the Terrain Race was a little shorter, and while I was still a kind of terrified of climbing it, I did it anyway. Now I have the confidence to complete the one at Spartan this winter. Also, this race is not timed, so that takes the pressure off of having to finish in a certain amount of time (unless you’re competitive with yourself and just want to see how fast you can complete it – or beat your previous OCR 5K time). You can just relax and enjoy being outside, getting muddy, and completing obstacles.
The one thing that I absolutely dislike about obstacle course racing is the nickel and diming – paying to park and paying for gear check are par for the course. Coming from a road running background, this surprised me, as obstacle course races are often way more expensive than road races, and in road races, you rarely have to pay for either of those things. The Terrain Race is no exception. While I got in on the deal where the registration fee was waived (it’s regularly $60), it was still $15 to park, $5 for gear check, and – if you didn’t pick your packet up the day before the race – $5 for packet pickup day of. This last one really annoyed me. Look, I know the nature of obstacle course races makes it to where you may have to travel a little in order to get to the race. Sometimes, hosting one in the actual city that the race is purporting to be in just isn’t feasible. It’s out of the race organizers’ control. But you know what IS in their control? Deciding where the packet pick-up will be. In this case, it was also at the Spyder Mx sports complex. Which is in Wildwood. Which, as I stated before, is an hour’s drive from Orlando. For a race claiming to be in Orlando, the least the race directors could do was throw us a bone and have the packet pickup IN ORLANDO. Why make people drive two hours on Friday to spend all of 10 minutes picking up their race packet and then have them AGAIN drive that very same distance the next day? The organizers really dropped the ball here, unless it was intentional, and just another cash grab, in which case – SHAME ON YOU.
Speaking of parking, the parking situation Saturday was a real shit-show. Not so much in the morning, as my friend and I were scheduled for the 8:15a.m. wave, so finding a place to park was a breeze – it wasn’t yet crowded, and volunteers smoothly directed us where to park. AFTER the race, on the other hand, was a completely different story. We finished the race at around 9:30, and after taking post-race selfies (if you don’t put it on the ‘Gram it don’t count, AMIRITE?!) and rinsing off, we made it to our car around 10. At this point, it had gotten substantially more crowded, with people from the earlier waves leaving and people from the later waves coming in. A couple of times the way in and the way out were the exact same route, which caused a bit of gridlock, and was not helped by younger volunteers who had no earthly idea what they were doing, and were waving vehicles any which way. That, coupled with trying to avoid hitting people who were either walking to the race site or walking to their cars, made getting out of the complex an obstacle course in and of itself.
My last criticism deals with the volunteers at each obstacle. While a majority of the obstacles were staffed with at least one volunteer, there were a few (the more dangerous ones, in my opinion) where I didn’t see any. It’s concerning, as one of the obstacles that had no volunteers was a cargo net variation, where you climbed up a cargo net, then climbed across a horizontal cargo net to the other side, and then climbed down. What if someone fell? Or twisted their ankle? If you don’t have enough volunteers to station one at every obstacle, then prioritize the more dangerous obstacles, you know?
Overall, I did have fun at this race. The nature of the obstacles are great for beginners looking to get their feet wet in obstacle course racing, and it being untimed means you can just have fun without the pressure of finishing in a certain amount of time. This race was also one of the more affordable obstacle course races, as I signed up during the time period where the registration fee was waived, so I only had to pay $17 for insurance and other fees. But once you add in fees for parking, packet pick-up, and gear check, the amount you end up actually paying does go up. Still, without the registration fee, it’s not nearly as expensive as some of the other OCRs out there. And you do get a finisher’s medal and t-shirt. Is it worth paying the regular registration fee of $60? No. But if you can snag a deal like I did and want to see what OCRs are all about, it is worth checking out. And if you bring a friend, it’s all the more fun.