The Dead End Race was a lot of fun. I traveled to the race with a knee brace on, having torn my MCL only a week prior. I was unsure of whether I could race at all. Some of the obstacles looked risky and loomed before me at the start line. If I slipped or smashed my knee into something, I could be down and out for a long time. Taking a low grade tear and turning it into a high grade tear could mean the end of my race season. But I wanted to race and every race has risks – sometimes you know the risks before you head out.
The OCR team had two races planned for the day. The 12km elite heat in the morning and the 6km team relay (of which I would only be responsible for 3km’s of it because each member of the team had a km on their own as part of the relay).
The event setup was pretty good. It happened to be -25oC that morning, which remained the coldest day of March. That kind of cold, mostly out of nowhere, can make it pretty tough to get properly warmed up. I still didn’t want to dress in too many layers, but I needed to survive the staging area. I wore a white sweater and long sleeve beneath – not a lot of clothing but by the time I was racing it worked out great. My knee brace did a fantastic job.
I’m not a big fan of the amount of technical terrain in deep snow there was, especially to start the race. Perhaps more especially because of my knee and sliding or falling with a twisting motion was dangerous. In my second lap (the regular heats had been let out by my second lap and I had started passing people), I saw dozens of people falling and walking. I helped one person back to his feet after a spectacular fall that I thought surely had hurt him – but he was fine.
The obstacles were fairly simple for the first half of the race. The rig was the toughest part of the race. Sadly I failed it twice before successfully completing it the third time (mostly strategy). If I was at a Spartan race I would have done burpees. But at the Dead End Race you only lost your bracelet if you couldn’t complete the obstacle, and you were allowed to try unlimited times. I’m happy to say I didn’t end up losing my bracelet. I raced a solid race and pretty maximum speeds for me and place somewhere in the 20’s overall.
The team relay was awesome. I enjoy going full speed and trying to crush a race doing my personal best, but it’s also a lot of fun to do a race with the guys. I think I liked that part more than the individual. We had one big team work requirement when we had to traverse a high angled ramp wall by climbing each others shoulders. Then we tried to get the last person up the wall. With team work we were the second fastest up. Due to a lack of tape and direction we mostly lost that lead when we ran 400 meters in the wrong direction after the ramp.
In the relay we each complete a leg on our own (after running a couple of km’s together). I had the monkey bars and some small toboggan hills. Stephen had to do an angled wall with ropes hanging down and Shawn had the rig. We met back up with a spear throw and continued the race.
A very frustrating moment hit us when we had to stretcher rescue one of our team members on a short loop. Between our weight and the deep snow, we couldn’t take a single step forward without falling into waist high snow. This continued with each step we took. Normally I don’t mind the stretcher at all, but the deep snow made it really tough. In hindsight we should have all run forward packing down the snow, then come back for the stretcher. The teams behind us had a much easier time. Despite those struggles, we finished 3rd overall.
What I took away from that race was this:
- Cardio always needs work. OCR is more of a running event than anything
- Grip strength still needs work, especially with the wrist flexors. I recently discovered that my wrist extensors (pull-ups, water jug carries) are strong, but my wrist flexors (chin-ups, reverse water jug carries) are not. I think that plays a big role in my one arm hang struggles
- Muscle-ups can be a game-changer in regards to how much time you save going up some walls. Throwing a leg over is pretty quick, but if you can do a quick muscle-up, you can save at least 10 seconds or more per wall. That counts for a lot in some races.