Fifty Shades of Clay

Before I get into the nitty gritty of completing the Savage,  I thought I would start with a serene picture of the natural beauty from the morning of the race:

And the course looked nice too:

It took place on a beautiful horse farm in Dallas, Georgia. The course was just under 7 miles and had 25 obstacles with a lot of the running taking place on really steep trails.

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Our wave started at 10:20 in the morning, and by that time it was already miserably hot. So I MISTAKENLY thought that the ice bath – which is the very first obstacle – would be refreshing. And it was! Until I had to go all the way under, which you are required to do in order to get under a wooden partition in the middle. Once my head was submerged I was so cold I lost some of my muscle control. There was no ladder  – you just kind of hoisted yourself out. Then, there was a wooden ladder off the back you climbed down. Normally, this wouldn’t have been a problem. However, my feet kept slipping and I couldn’t get my hands to grab where I meant to so I almost fell several times. I thought, “If I’m already almost injuring myself on the first obstacle, THERE MIGHT BE A PROBLEM.”

Plus, it was exacerbated by the fact that my husband was beside me splashing around happily like a seal incessantly barking, “This isn’t cold!” as he giddily poured handfuls of water over his face. At some point he grabbed a HUGE chunk of ice the size of his head. I don’t know if you’ve met Ben, but he has a very large head. My teeth were chattering too much to be able to tell him to shut up already. (And as I type that sentence it suddenly occurs to me why Ben always keeps our home so cold.)

Some of the more memorable obstacles:

The Colon Blow 5000:

colonblow This was the worst one for me, although if you don’t have a problem with tight places it would have most likely been a breeze. First off, the stench alone was enough to induce a panic attack. You start off by a low crawl through the nastiest smelling mud into these small tunnels which are NOT corrugated on the inside (so there is no grip). First, you go up hill. Then you go through a different tunnel down hill. On this one, I was very thankful that Ben was there. He waited for me at the top of his first tunnel, which was beside mine, and talked me through it. (He also gave me the very helpful advice to go through the downhill tunnel feet first instead of head first. Not only was it easier to make it through but I would not have wanted to in head first into the fetor.)

As soon as I got in the first tunnel I tried to go up, and instead of making progress I just slid down. I started to panic and thought, “Ok, I’m just going to get out and skip this obstacle.” Then, I remembered that putrid smelling mud I would have to go back through so I just slowly started to inch up. (The tunnels were not big enough for me to crawl on my hands and knees. Or maybe they were if I had enough patience to kind of wiggle around enough to make it work. However, that just made me panic more so I gave up and just slowly inched up on my stomach.) What really made it the worst was this is where I suffered my only calf cramp of the race, and it was debilitating. It just seized my leg and I couldn’t move. It happened at the end of the tunnels so I was flailing around in this muck like a crippled pig. Here is to hoping no one got a picture of that!

The only good part of this is that the tunnels were not nearly as long as the looked. However, I do think that this is one of the obstacles which I will be able to do MUCH faster next time. It was mentally much worse than it was physically.


The Sawtooth:

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The infamous incline and decline monkey bars. I wore gloves specifically to have a better grip here, and it didn’t help AT ALL. (I’m still glad I wore gloves because they were useful overall and protected my hands, but they were useless on this obstacle and on the rope on the Colossus.) My goal was to just make it halfway across. (I dream big.) That didn’t happen. I dropped immediately which I was fine with, but next time I vow to get further.


The Nutt Smasher:

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Our team was not as talented as the one in the bottom picture or, to be honest, this team oriented. (SOME of my team members motto was, “Leave the Weak Without Hesitation!”) However, it is a nice thought. This balance beam doesn’t look that difficult, but it was too darn wobbly for me.




In other races this one is called “Electroshock Therapy.” It’s a low crawl under barb wire which turns into a low crawl underneath live wires hooked up to car batteries. Not pictured is the pack of men standing there yelling at you to hurry up and go through because otherwise people hesitate and back up the line. I decided just to plunge through this one because it would be worse the more I thought about it. I got zapped once, and it hurt. However, it didn’t knock me out which is what I was worried about. In the following promo video for the race on the same course from earlier this year, they show footage of this obstacle and in the background you can see a guy just laying there passed out from the shock. (It’s 57 seconds in.)

The New Obstacle:



This was the first time for this obstacle at any savage race. You can’t tell from this picture but this was going up hill and quite the incline. We had just gotten out of the lake so we were all soaked and moved quite fast up the slippery liner. It was pretty fun, although at this point I was too tired to work out any strategy on how to do an obstacle I hadn’t seen before. So I “cheated” by looking over to see how one of my teammates was doing it and just followed their form. (He was using his feet in the net as well as his hands.) That helped my speed but what REALLY helped my speed was when a HUGE guy started below me as I was more than halfway done. I just grabbed the net at the same time he did and as he jerked it to pull himself up it shot me up the hill. I repaid the favor by waiting for him to get finished and warning him not to smack his head on the huge piece of wood that was at the very top of this obstacle. (Hopefully, they’ll fix that design flaw in the future.)


The Colossus:


This beast is 40 feet high. No picture adequately shows how TALL it is. Or how slippery it is. Or how when you grab the rope there is no grip – just muddy water pouring out of it. Or how if there is no one at the top to help you up it is nearly impossible to use just the rope to get up.  Or how brutal it is to slide down the thing on your face. Sigh.

The Colossus (back side):


The back side of the Colossus is an AWESOME water slide. Again the picture doesn’t do justice on just how steep it is. At the top it goes straight down, and according to the race’s website you get up to 32 mph on this thing. It was BY FAR the most fun obstacle. Plus, it basically spit you out onto the finish line.

Overall, this was a really amazing and well organized race. People were SO nice to each other, helping others over various obstacles. I guess it was the shared adversity of all being in it together. I left the event feeling much better about humanity and the kindness of strangers. (The people I knew, on the other hand… Well, I’m going to have to add their souls to my prayer list.)

My race goals were:
1. To do it in 2.5 hours or less: SUCCESS! I plan to do it again in the spring and my new goal time is 1.5 hours. Surely, I can cut my time by an hour. Surely!

2. To be able to do all of those walls by myself. (Not the huge colossus wall but the smaller ones that they line up one right after another.) FAILURE! I did some of them on my own but the last couple I needed help on. This will be a goal again for the next race.

3. No injuries! SUCCESS! Unless you count bruising as an injury. Then, I’m a FAILURE! A bruised, ugly, hurting, and very swollen failure!

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4. Not to end up like this girl:


Much to everyone’s delight – Success! We can’t all look like the Coppertone Baby all grown up, and I wouldn’t have been nearly as pretty as a picture as this lady.

5. To get my medal and rub it in someone’s – anyone’s – face: Success!


Suck it!

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