by Cerus Pro- Dr. Steve Gaborik

This was my first race of the season and my first race as a Cerus Pro. I had nerves, excitement and pretty much everything else Friday night, but was feeling mostly excited the morning of and right before my race. I was pumped to see how I could perform given the training I had done in the off season for the past 4 months or so and how my strong focus on nutrition would affect things since I started working on it at the beginning of the year. 

I reviewed the course map and had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I was both happy and a little disappointed that the tire flip wasn’t here and mostly bummed when I saw that 2 of the new obstacles were also missing (helix and the box). Neither seemed too difficult, but I was really hoping to have a chance to try them out. However, I knew that my nemesis Twister was there and just before it was another new hanging obstacle, beater that I would be trying for the first time.

Before entering the starting corral, I warmed up a bit, but probably not quite enough to be ready to shoot out of the gate with guns blazing right from the start. I still need to figure out a better warm up routine to make sure I’m set to fire off from the start. I was able to start out fairly strong and definitely hung with the top 20 or so as we got going. This was a mix of both the 30-34 and 35-39 age group. The leaders had a really fast pace and I didn’t feel like I would be able to maintain that and decided to trust in my training to run my own race at the pace I could sustain. I also knew I could pick it up a bit once I found my groove. 

The beginning of the race was about a mile of technical trails on some gentle rolling hills and flats which included pretty much all the wall type obstacles you had to climb over. The first mile wrapped up with the vertical cargo net and then the bucket carry. Not too long into the second mile, we dropped down into a river bed/creek bed and traversed through this for about half a mile before coming back up and out onto the trails. This had running water anywhere from ankle deep to almost waist deep in certain spots. After the creek came the Z-wall which was a little bit slippery, but there was enough around to dry off after running through water. There was then a bit of trail running again until we finally split off onto the Super only course.

The back part of the course was about 4.5 miles of trail running on continually technical and freshly made trails with obstacles spaced out pretty well. I was able to get going and maintain a solid, yet manageable pace and used some of this time to catch up with a few other racers. We hit the highest elevation around mile 4 which was only about 300 feet from the starting elevation. Most of the gains were short and steep up and down the Texas rocks versus any real hills. After a few of the other climbing obstacles (Bender and Stairway to Sparta) we started to get to the grip focused obstacles. Up first was Twister. It was the shorter version with only 2 sections. 

I started this off strong, but during the middle transition, I had a mental mistake and missed my hand position and slipped off. Surprisingly, the penalty was an extra running loop and not the 30 burpees. The loop was only about .25 miles so to me, that was a welcome trade off for a mistake I shouldn’t have made. After Twister came Olympus, which wasn’t very wet and I passed through relatively easy using the holes and climbing grips to stay up high. A bit further along the trail came my first new obstacle, Beater. This was setup with 2 monkey bars, followed by 3 of the beaters at various heights, and then 2 more monkey bars to the bell. The beaters are 4 bars setup in a square that rotate. I found this one pretty simple if you kept up your momentum. I did this by using my back hand on the bar or beater behind me and then using this to drive a good swing to the next beater that was either higher or parallel from where you are at. 

After Beater there as another half to ¾ of a mile until we connected back to the Sprint course. The next obstacle was the rig, setup as 3 or 4 rings, a horizontal bar, and then another 3 rings. Once again, the bell was lifted up high at the end, so you had to have a solid swing to get up to it unless you had pretty long arms. Momentum is key for this one too. Keeping good swings on the rings using your back hand to pull back and then reach to the next grip. This works well for me on both the rings and the bar. I think I moved ahead a few spots at the rig and there were a few people in the burpee pit too. After the rig was another half mile of technical trails with tons of branches strewn across the trail and then the sandbag carry and barbed wire crawl.

When we finally came out of the trails, it was into the groomed area of the ranch and the last half mile of the spectator friendly gauntlet of obstacles. This started with the rope climb and then came the atlas carry, spear throw, dunk wall, and slip wall. If that wasn’t enough water, we crossed through the creek one more time before we hit the A-frame cargo net. I made up some ground and at least a few places during this gauntlet, especially at the spear throw and the A-frame. I used the flip method at the top of the A frame for the first time, which ended up being much quicker, even though it took me a couple seconds to reset my feet after. I think by figuring out the roll down the cargo net I can improve even more. 

Next up was the herc hoist, which was heavy like usual and the ropes were a bit damp from the dunk wall and creek that we just did. The last obstacle (I don’t consider the fire jump an obstacle) were the monkey bars. Coming up to these I was worried. I had been pushing hard and fast this last half mile (and the rest of the race) and these were still a bit damp from some misty rain that was on and off during the morning and from the water crossings we just did. Unfortunately, after a few rungs I made it to a spot where they had them spread 2 of the monkey bars surprisingly wide, and my hands slipped off. Into the burpee pit I went. Pretty sure this cost me at least an extra 3 minutes before I could take off, jump the fire, and cross the finish line.

Overall, I was happy with my time and performance, even with the couple mistakes I made. It just goes to show I still have training to do and areas that can continue to be improved upon, but I’m seeing some good improvement with the training I’ve been doing.