As we arrived to Vermont last Friday, rumour had it the Platinum Rig was going to make a debut appearance at the world championship race.
Canadians said: “Ah, the rig!”
American said: “What the hell is the rig?”
The friendly bright orange contraption has been making an appearance all season at the Canadian Spartan Races. [If this is your first introduction to the rig, you may want to check out my first post on the rig featured in Toronto Spartan Beast here.] While the beast may look quite intimidating, it’s actually quite straight forward. If you can get across a standard set of rings or monkey bars, you can get across a rig.
In this video, I am doing the rig on Sunday. While I did race on a Saturday, I am fairly rested and fresh in the video.
I am playing it safe. There may be faster ways of getting across (if you discovered any hacks, I would love to hear them!).
The Platinum Rig at the Vermont Beast was set up as follows:
initial four rings
three wide square bars
two round bars, hanging on chains
four foot rings
Initial four rings to round bar
Pretty standard transition – nothing tricky. Review this blog post for some ring strategies.
Round bar –> first wide square bar –> two more square bars
This is where I saw most people fall off. The surprise is that it’s hard to judge the width of the second bar, and you reach forward, as you would with typical monkey bars, you realize that it’s much wider than you thought. Hence, you can’t wrap your palm around the bar, but have to rely on finger strength instead.
I almost fell off here during the race, but was able to maintain the hold on the previous bar long enough to switch the grip. Think switching from a pull-up to a chin-up in this transition – palm towards you, not away from you.
Once you realize the most efficient grip, the next few bars are easier, although simply maintaining strength of grip at this point becomes a challenge.
Square bars –> round bars, hanging on chains
This is probably the furthest reach you have to perform throughout the whole rig. Thankfully, these bars did not rotate (but that’s always a possibility).
The fact that the round bars swing doesn’t help. Once again, the undergrip helps to keep the bar close to you and to prevent it from swinging away from you.
You may see me take a tiny bit of a break once I make it to the first round bar. The fact that I am still able to maintain bent elbows at this point really helps. If you relax into a dead hang (straight arms) here somewhere, recovery is almost impossible.
Round bars –> climbing rope
While the transition from the bar to the rope may be tough for some, once you are on the rope, it’s a breeze. Especially, if you are fairly efficient with the foot hold (see the video – I use that technique), as it allows you to take a break before tackling the foot rings.
Most people who fell off here, relied on their arm strength, which was already taxed. Holding on to the rope with their hands, they tried to slide their feet into the foot rings, meanwhile, sliding further down the rope, and ending up on the ground.
If you start sliding down the rope, forget about the freaking foot rings. Recover on the rope and regroup first.
Four foot rings
This was a new piece to me, and I was worried. However, the foot rings are actually easy, if you take your time. You do not have to use your upper body strength or grip any more, and as long as you steady yourself, you can stand on those rings forever.
I played it very safe with the rings, really taking my time to steady myself on the rope first.
I have also grabbed the second foot ring and brought it towards myself, to avoid making a large step, and risking losing balance. Think of trying to maintain the rope, supporting the foot ring you are standing on, as vertical as possible (perpendicular to the ground), so there is no swing.
You don’t actually have to hold the rope of the foot ring you are standing on with your hands at all times. You’ll notice in the video, as I transition, I let go of that rope, and stay balanced, as the rope is vertical, and my body weight is keeping it stable.
Finally, think of shifting your weight from ring to ring. You do NOT want to distribute the weight equally between two foot rings. Rather, find balance with one foot ring, then pull the other foot ring towards you, and once your other foot is safely IN the ring, hold on to the rope, and shift the weight.
You’ll notice in the video that I do get tangled up at the end. I was able to avoid that in the actual race, but as you see in the video, it’s not a deal breaker, as long as you move slowly.
Many of you will not need the last ring. In fact, it’s kind of there to distract you, I think. Just because it is part of the rig, does not mean you have to use it. Judge the distance, and go for the bell.
Some may leap towards the bell, even. This technique works well with traverse walls. However, in this case, do remember that your feet are in the rings. You may ring a bell at a cost of a face plant. And, hell, that may be the price you’d be willing to pay. 😉