SOLO The Obstacle Racer Next Door


Vermont (Ultra) Beast 2014 – my prophecy

Posted on September 15, 2014


With Vermont championship coming up on Saturday, there’s been a lot of discussion as to what to expect. What will Norm do this time around? What to expect? What surprises will be waiting for us along the way?

I would argue that if you have done the race in the past, you actually have a pretty good idea of what to expect from the course, and the race.

Here’s what I predict will happen:


  • It will be cold and damp.
  • At the start, a ra-ra-ra speech will be given, and 10-20 elite athletes from different countries will be called out one by one, as they tackle the first small wall (was this idea stolen from Tough Mudder?) and line up at the start line, waiting in the corral.
  • The gun will go off. Elite men will start first, followed by elite women.
  • After a couple of inconsequential walls or hay bails, your first main obstacle will probably be a mountain climb. It will separate the racers very quickly. Expect to climb the mountain multiple times throughout the day.
  • The trail will be slippery and technical. Especially downhill, and, especially, if you are 1) slower, 2) racing later in the day, or 3) racing on Sunday.
  • There will be multiple sets of barbed wire. Some, possibly, uphill.
  • There will be a spear throw close to the end, and, perhaps, one in the middle also.
  • You will carry heavy shit at least some of the time. Given this picture, that Norm posted last week – yes, there will be sandbag carry. Again.
  • You will return to the lake close to the start line at some point, and go in. You’ll probably have to swim to the middle, do a rope climb out of the water, then attempt the rope swing traverse and fail. Because over 90% of racers do. Then you’ll get out of the water, shivering like a homeless dog, and perform 30 ugly penalty burpees. This will be one of the few places where you will be watched – no cheating here. If you are skinny or fast, or both, you may have trouble here with cramping and hypothermia.
  • There will be a Tyrolean traverse across the lake. Some racers will attempt to go over top, because they heard it’s more efficient. However, having had no sufficient practice at this obstacle before the race, many will end up in the water. Some will attempt to go under, because it’s a more common sense approach that requires less technique. However, after running for hours, and swimming in a cold lake, many will cramp up and end up in the water. Burpees.
  • The average finish time will be close to 7 hours.


  • If you are used to placing, expect to place anywhere from 10-50 spots lower than usual. The field will be competitive.
  • A fairly large subgroup of overconfident racers will attempt to complete the Beast on Saturday, and the Ultra Beast on Sunday. Most of them will not show up at the start line for the Ultra Beast on Sunday. Again.
  • There will be international non-obstacle racing athletes again. Most of them will seize up and cramp up, and drop out. Again.
  • People will cheat. Because they do every year. Some will skip the burpees. Some will cut the course short.


  • The last week of September and most of October, my Facebook feed will be filled with race reports, people rehashing the details of the race, and DNF laments.
  • A redemption club will form almost immediately after the event, comprised of racers who DNF this year’s event, and vouch to go back and “finish what they started” next year.
  • Many will claim to start training for the next year’s Beast the week after this one is done. This will be akin to New Year’s resolutions, and last about two weeks.
  • I will roll my eyes at the predictability of the above, yet write another race recap, dripping with self-deprecating humour and register for next year’s event any way, because I love you all, crazy idiots, so much.

Norm, how did I do?

YOUR TURN: What do you predict we will see at the Vermont course? Will you be willing to bet that certain obstacles will make a re-appearance?

Your favourite obstacle racing prophet,

If you like what you read here, please SHARE with a friend.
Also, SUBSCRIBE, and you will receive the new blog posts delivered directly to your mailbox!



the last minute guide to DNF your first endurance obstacle race – 5 essential steps

Posted on September 12, 2014
Congratulations. The fact that you are reading this blog post means that you are taking your DNF very seriously, and that you will not stop at anything in order to achieve that coveted three letter status. Today, I will share some key strategies to ensure a DNF in any...
Read Full Post

SOLO at 8:44 pm Sep 12
Hey, Mindi. I would still maintain that it would only be beneficial for ONE of those people. It's very hard to find people who run at exactly the same pace as you. And even if you did, some people are stronger starters, some stronger finishers, some will have digestive issues etc etc. If you are confident in your chances of finishing - sure! I can see doing that for a Beast. However, if you are concerned about making cut offs, like the case with the Ultra Beast - having a buddy can cost you.

how big is YOUR world? Joe DeSena, Hobie Call, and Ryan Atkins on what makes an event a world championship.

Posted on September 8, 2014
Do you know what pops up, If you Google “obstacle racing world championship”? If you said “Vermont Spartan Beast”, you are correct. Various “OCR world championships” notwithstanding, this is the mother race of any other event that calls itself an obstacle racing championship. And probably rightly so, this mother...
Read Full Post


king (queen) of the hill – 7 tips for running downhill in obstacle races

Posted on September 5, 2014
“Walk the uphill, jog the flat, sprint the downhill” is an old adage of ultra runners. While I will let you decide whether you, indeed, want to walk the uphill or sprint uphill in an obstacle race, sprinting the downhill is a key skill in improving your race time. Once you...
Read Full Post

SOLO at 11:34 pm Sep 9
I'm not sure I 100% understand your question. You would usually want to land on mid-foot. There may be a bit more front foot action as you run down a steep downhill, and I am not sure how you even COULD land on the heel while running down. In fact, if you are landing on the heel while running down, that means you are leaning back. You want to minimize the pounding of the downhill by leaning forward and minimizing heel strike. Does that help? :)



SOLO on Facebook