This past weekend I participated in my first Obstacle Course Race (OCR), Polar Rush. An exciting experience after my first OCR event was only a couple months ago when I went with Tribe to check out The Pursuit, an indoor obstacle course facility here in Toronto.
Since I’ve never done anything like this before I was getting nervous over what to expect. I was wondering how “serious” this race would actually be, what obstacles would be there, and could I handle it.
Prior to the race I messaged a few folks from Tribe who were literally the face of this race, appearing in all of their promotional material, for some tips and tricks. I was given the following advice:
- wear winter run gear
- wear “grippy” glove or snowboarding gloves – anything with stick.
- wear trail shoes or shoes with lots of traction
- have fun!
We arrived to Horseshoe Resort very early on Saturday, as per the race directions. The package pick up was simple, we signed our waivers and waited in short lines to receive our timing chip, Polar Rush branded toque, and a sample of Kellogg’s Vector Granola. The elite’s were on their way back towards the finish as we went outside to scope the start/finish line, and they we’re flying (almost literally) over the final obstacle, an A frame.
We met up with some crew from Tribe, took photos, and had a snack as friends from an earlier wave took off. It occurred to us that there didn’t appear to be any monitoring of the waves and we decided to move our group up by 30 minutes. I was glad we did as the course was already getting very icy in some patches, and slushy in others, so I’d imagine it would only get worse with more bodies hustling through.
To the first obstacle was one of the longest stretches of straight out running in the snow. It was certainly challenging and my heart rate was sky rocketing from the intensity. We started very back in the coral, so spent a significant amount of time here “ratting” around people who were walking the course.
The course consisted of 15 obstacles which ranged from crawling through tubes, under/between string strung between trees, crazy carpet riding, climbing over a wall, and slipping down a slide. Two of my favourite obstacles were the tubes and the rings.
The tubes did require us to wait in line as the course brings you to the top of the hill and their staff would need to bring the tubes up to the top. You also needed to wait for the other racers to get out of the way before your turn, so there was a build up.
The rings provided an “easy” and “hard” option. After my experiences at Pursuit I was pretty confident in my skills although uncertain in how the would hold in this environment. With advice from Cliff from Tribe, an OCR regular, I ditched my gloves and got in the “hard” line. What made these rings “hard” was that there were only 2 foot rings vs the easy which had three, a foot ring also meant a lack of hand ring. You can see the foot ring strung across my chest. I chose to leverage my swing with some momentum and didn’t use them. It is almost at this exact moment of the obstacle I realized that I was going to rock it. I had great momentum, my swing was steady, and my grip was solid. I felt incredibly proud to make it through this obstacle and this was certainly one of my favourite moments.
Polar Rush was a lot of fun. It is a great race for all levels of participants. There is no pressure to complete obstacles and every obstacle, including the tubes, had an opt out. Participants could take as much or race for as little time through the course. I would definitely suggest pulling together a team and rocking this race together.