Race Recap: Savage Race Central Florida
When the opportunity came up to travel to a Savage Race, it was one I jumped on. For years, I had heard glowing reviews of Savage Race. The one hitch was the only race that fit into my schedule was in Florida, a place I had avoided at all costs since 2012. However, it was time to put my past experiences aside and head back to Central Florida.
I arrived at the race venue on Thursday and implanted myself with the Savage Race operations team. This was a work trip, with a race as the extra bonus. I lived and worked along side the Savage Race team I was immediately impressed with the vibe they gave off as I wrote in Mud Run Guide, Profile of a Company Doing it Right.
Race day came and as I ran around trying to capture sunrise, the atmosphere, and the people then I realized I had no idea my bib number and had only registered the night before. Luckily, a member of the customer service team, I would later find was co-founder Sam Abbitt’s wife, helped me by looking up my number as she did with all racers.
As the start time grew closer I connected with Holly “Muddy Mommy” Berkey (her recap of the event). We had known each other for a couple years virtually but I was excited to connect in person and was hoping to spend some time together. We were both signed up for the new SavagePro heat, meaning we would have mandatory obstacles. In the starting corral we chatted and basically agreed we would run the race together, although I am not sure the words were ever formally said.
As we set off down the scenic turf track, the race venue is an old steeplechase track and cattle ranch, we began chatting and would continue chatting until we crossed the finish line. In our world of OCR there are not many women who write about the sport and I am always thrilled to get spend time with much respected female peers. Spending time with Holly was a highlight of the course.
We climbed over walls, crawled under barbed wire, jumped into ice baths, made our way through muddy swamps. The highlights of the course for me were Pipe Dreams, Colossus, Sawtooth, and Davy Jones Locker. I had been given a UTV ride around the course on Thursday these were the ones that stood out.
Pipe Dreams is a staple of Savage Race, now it’s familiar in other race series as well, a hanging pipe you traverse across with your hands. Seems simple enough but in the past obstacles like this have tripped me up. Davy Jones Locker is a 15 foot(ish) jump, and just plain fun. Colossus is their marque obstacle; a quarter pipe with ropes hanging down, and then a huge slide back down on the other side. This was one of the most intimidating obstacles on course visually.
As Holly and I progressed through these obstacles we both remarked how we either loved them or had a bit of anticipation as we reached each one. Although we were not a team and completed obstacles alone, we high-fived and cheered each other on at each obstacle. At one or two obstacles I definitely put in extra effort not wanting to look stupid in front of someone I greatly respect. Who wants to fail in front of a peer?
Both of us had conquered all the obstacles until we got to sawtooth, this obstacle a challenging set of monkey bars that took you up, down, up, then down again would be the undoing of both Holly and I. I would be the first to drop on the second up, and watch her seconds later fall at the exact same spot.
We both looked at each other and knew neither wanted to do it again, and instead gave up our bands. We had long left contention for any awards and it was not a hard decision. We continued along the course, chatting about racing, life, family, career, really everything. I reveled in the chance to get to pick her brain.
As we jumped the fire together just before the finish line, we both got hit by a bit of competitiveness and sprinted to the finish, crossing within 2 tenths of each other. The day was perfect, the course had been a mix of fun and challenge and most of all I got to run with a friend.
As a whole Savage Race was outstanding. Everything from start to finish was well organized and professional. As I walked around the rest of the weekend trying to capture it all I saw people of all ages and abilities laughing and enjoying themselves. One woman told me she wasn’t planning to take her medal off for a week after competing the race, even noting she would wear it out to a club that night. Savage Race is one I definitely want to go back to again in the future and worth all the travel.
Special thanks to the team at Savage Race as well Holly for a running buddy on race day.