Man Games – Event Review
On Saturday as the Wasatch 100 runners were crossing the finish line at Soldier Hollow another group assembled a few miles down the road at the Wasatch Rodeo grounds and fair grounds for a different type of competition, the Man Games. The Man Games was a much anticipated event of the summer. The website boosted the event would entail ten different events which would all be scored to find out which individual and team would prevail.
I was intrigued when I saw this event, even more so when I found out it was a 45 minute drive from my house. So over the summer our Dirt in Your Skirt Team assembled to take on the Man Games. Our team consisted of myself (Margaret), Irene Call, Ashley Swallow and Alex McKeown (as the lone male on our team). Alex flew in from California on Friday evening, and we met Irene and Ashley (who came in from Colorado) at the event Saturday morning.
This was very much a first time event, and with that there are always kinks along the way. As Alex and I drove to the race, directions in hand, we arrived an hour before the “Pro Division” was to start. We had a little trouble finding exactly where we needed to go as signage to the venue was minimal. I passed the street then passed the entrance, thankfully I hate to be late and planned in a cushion of time. When we parked, no fees, a thankful change in the OCR racing world these days we wander to the festival area which still seemed to be setting up. Chalk this one up to first event kinks, it seems we didn’t in fact need to be there an hour before our start as they were still getting ready when we arrived. We checked in, which was easy, handed our bibs and were told to wait around until 8:00.
At 8:00 the DJ announced that all the racers in the “Pro Division” were to stand below a group number and we ended up in Group 1. As Groups 3 & 4 headed the bus to the water sports first our team was happy we could start the day with land sports. We had about 4 other teams in our group and moved from event to event all morning together. Our first event was the “Man Run”. Not really sure what to expect we lined up and were sent out in groups of four. As we ran over some sand dunes, climbed over horse fences, through a ankle deep mud pit, up onto a cargo container, crawled under some LOW barbed wire, ran through tires that seemed to end the obstacle part of the run, then we continued running through this course, tried to sink a basketball (fail), shoot and arrow into a target (close but no cigar), Throw a football over 50ish yards (almost made it), throw and axe into a target and get it to stick (fail), flip a tire and do 10 burpees (success!), Caber toss – think highland games (fail), bunt a football (success), and kick a soccer ball into a goal (success).
It is safe to say our team of OCR racers were well adapted to obstacles but less adapted to the rest of the events in the Man Run. Alex was the most successful of the group only missed two of the challenges. The entire course was less than a mile over a grassy field. There were no modifications for women in this course, everyone was on the same playing field, which made a few of the challenges pretty, well challenging. As we finished the Man Course, instead of all the events separated we had just concluded the Sprint Obstacle Course, Sportsman’s Challenge, All Sport Challenge, and the Cross Training Challenge all at once. Not exactly what we thought it was going to be but still fun. We told the scorekeeper our fails and our successes, they marked it down as their were penalty times for each one you missed. We headed as a group over to the next two events.
It was time to throw spears and the controversial pig wrestle. Our group opted to throw spears first. This was not your ordinary spear throw like we see in a Spartan Race. This spear throw had us on horseback. Irene, the most experienced rider of the group was first up and she nailed the spear into the center of the target on the horse at full speed. I thought ok, this would shouldn’t be too hard, even through I hadn’t been on a horse since I was about 13 years old. I sat on the horse, legs too short for the stirrups held on as the horse went! Hitting the hay but not the target, meant no points for me. Ashley and Alex followed suit and Irene was the winner of the day on the horse. Next came the most controversial of the events at the Man Games, the Pig Wrestle. As we talked past the group of pigs we decided as a team to try it. Well I can say we are definitely OCR racers not pig wrestlers. Our pig definitely weighed more than me and could run like the wind. I don’t see pig wrestling again anytime in the future.
After our land games were over we boarded a bus and headed the few miles over to the water sports part of the event. This was my wheelhouse as we approached the water. The first event was a multi-sport water race. Each of us competed in it as individuals and our scores were averaged together (I think). The first leg of the race was a short swim out and back to the beach, then we grabbed kayaks and paddled out and back, then picked up our stand-up paddle boards and paddled out and back. This was by far my favorite event of the day, not just because it played to my strengths but also it was the event you could cheer for others the most. We strategized as a group before setting off. When we were in the water it was on Alex and I battled back and worth, I crossed the line 4-6 seconds ahead of him, my pace just 2 seconds off of the fastest of the day. So close! Definitely helped to be comfortable in and on water! Irene and Ashley came in with respectable times as well boding well for our team.
We headed over to the last two events that weren’t scored and were purely for fun. The giant rope swing anchored off a crane was a lot of fun. Holding on until the last moments then dropping into the lake. Finally the most anticipated part of the event, flyboarding! Flyboarding is awesome, pure and simple. Learning how to balance on the board with one healing ankle was interesting, but once I found the balance it was fun. I even managed a dive and pop back out of the water!
After we finished all of our events, an announcer was saying we had to get back on the bus and head back to the festival. We rushed but found out we didn’t need to rush boarded the bus and headed back. The event had been fun and it wasn’t even noon yet so the whole day was still ahead of us. As we got back to the main area, the only real bummer of the day happened, the festival was dead, the vendors sort of milling around, no one hanging out, the DJ’s music was barely on and he must have been on a break. It was anticlimactic to say the least. No one really knew what to do next. We found of the race officials and asked about results and awards, he said it would take a few days to get it all sorted out. Sort of a bummer not to know that day. Also on the website it said we would receive a Man Games medal of honor for completing the event which we did not receive. Also the human slingshot ended up being taken out of the events due to safety concerns. So after a really fun morning of activities it was an anticlimactic end of the day, one which I am sure they will work on in the future!
Overall, this isn’t exactly a race, not an OCR, not a mud run, but something completely different. As I pondered what to call it the only thing that kept creeping into my mind were the field days of elementary school. This sort of had that field day feel to it, the multiple events, shuttling from place to place. So instead of Man Games, I like to think of it as Adult Field Day. Would I do it again? Yes! It was a blast with a couple friends. Do they have much to improve upon, yes. But every new event has kinks, I think this one could really develop into something. The other upside was they didn’t end of charging for spectators, and two of Irene’s kids and one of their friends was able to follow us around all morning, and even got to on the rope swing. So it was a fun event for family and friends to watch. I am sure the guys are brainstorming for the next event already and look forward to watching this one grow.