I had been looking forward to Tuff Scramblers for a while because it was going to be my first opportunity in 2012 to compete! As has been well documented here, I love me some challenging events, but until then I hadn’t done one where I went all out! Of course, approximately 1 mile into the race last Saturday, I found the concept of pushing my body to the limits a bit overrated.
For the week leading up to Tuff Scramblers I did a full resting taper – which is fitness vernacular for being lazy on purpose. I love tapering! So when the gun went off I was feeling fresh and took off flying. Since I had never done this event before and I was in the first heat of the day, my strategy was to chase “rabbits” the whole time and hopefully have something left at the end to pass them. Well, that’s kinda how it worked out…
We set off at a quick pace and I rode my rabbit’s rear. We hit an unexpected barbed wire gate right away which caught us a little off guard and led to some confusion, but we agreed it was the way to go and ducked under it. I chased my spandex bunny through the woods for the first mile or so, crossing through about 3-5 more barbed wire gates (accidentally unopened by the race director – but I thought he was just trying to be super intense). Then around the 1 mile marker my rabbit petered out a bit (haha get it?) so I jumped ahead.
After hitting the “ant hills” (large steep piles of dirt), I found myself racing through the woods with nobody really near me. It was kinda weird and I wondered if I was going the right way! Luckily the trails were well-marked. Either I was having a good day or this field wasn’t as strong as I thought (of course I favor the former). Cruising through the woods and scrambling around the rocky trails, I continued by myself for about another 1/2 mile or so popping the cherries of obstacles and trying to smile for the cheerful spectators. Again, this was a weird feeling to be in the lead during an event.
A bunch of hilly and rocky scrambles later, I went back into the woods and was passed by my new rabbit. Let’s call him B-rabbit. B was moving well and forced me to pick up my pace. Note: for optimum dramatic effect of the story we will omit the fact that B-rabbit is over 20 years older than me! Anyway the next 1/2 mile or so went like this: I chased him on the rocky trails, gained some ground on the obstacles, then fell back again. At one point (that weak moment everyone experiences during races) I was willing to concede first place as my lungs were burning so bad! Luckily, I was able to regain the lead at one of the marshmallow obstacles and found a little fuel left to push ahead.
I took my lead to the American Ninja Warrior sized cargo net – those things are harder than they look! At the top was a platform that required a 6-8 foot jump to a large mulch pile. Sounds like no big deal but the platform was about 16-18′ above the ground. Since I was now playing the role of the rabbit, I definitely did not hesitate and flung myself onto the pile tumbling borderline out of control down to the dirt. Having some LbFers cheering me on definitely helped push me to climb up through the waterfall (large culverts set on a steep incline with hoses spraying cold ass water down them), then guide me through the correct route (at this point I was a little disoriented and was flailing down the wrong path at times), motivate me up and over the marshmallow pyramids, and traverse the monkey bars. I went out of site for the last .10 miles through a cold boggy path and emerged to cross the little pond on my way to the finish line. B-rabbit had lost a little ground so I cruised through the finish line as the first one to complete the Tuff Scramblers course! Note: in the interest of full disclosure, I was not the overall winner. There were faster times that day but I met my goal of racing in the first heat (usually the most competitive) and finishing first.
Woohoo! I was completely gassed and relieved it was over! Kinda…roughly one hour after finishing I joined Los Neuty Osos and Team Rack Mania for Round 2! We all completed the event safely and had a great time! Thankfully this go ’round did not involve barbed wire gates so I was spared a second round of slicing! It was fun to do this with an awesome group of people and I was happy to be there with them to cheer them on and help them whenever (though not often) they needed a little assistance.
Overall Tuff Scramblers was an awesome time! It’s definitely a little rougher than your average 5k adventure race thanks to the rocky-as-hell trails and unforgiving obstacles. I felt like this one was a little scarier and more dangerous than previous events I’ve done. Once again, thanks toproper preparation, we all made it through safely!
Here are a few pics from Round 2: