Friday, October 9, 2015
Spartan Race Build - Atlanta 2015 - The Land of Mud…and Ants
Wintergreen, VA was the land of groundhogs…Asheville, NC was the land of giant granite quarry blocks…and apparently Union Point, GA is the land of ants! Don’t get me wrong, the venue…Durhamtown Plantation Resort, another ATV Park…is a beautiful venue with rolling hills and lots of mud. But there are ant hills everywhere…and not just at the venue…everywhere you drive you see these ant mounds popping up. Thinking about it, that might also account for the giant ‘daddy long-leg’ spiders all over my tent this morning. Since spiders eat ants…right?? Well, you need to pick up the pace a bit guys, because you are losing this battle!
I bring up the ants so that racers can be prepared with basic 'ant safety' procedures in case of accidental contact (or intentional I guess if you’re an idiot). So, in the event that you do face-plant into an ant pile during the course of the race (or at festival after a beer of two), follow these two simple steps. One…jump up screaming and running in circles. This will draw attention to you and will bring medical personnel or at least other racers to help. Except those running for time…of course. Two…run face first into the nearest obstacle, or tree if an obstacle is unavailable. This will render you unconscious and, more importantly, immobile and quiet so the meds and racers can attend to your ant problem unhindered by your panic.
Now, about the build! For anyone following the weather in this area, there has been torrential rain for about a week before I got to the venue. Bad news for everyone having to work it before I got there. Even those of us coming in Wednesday were still greeted by the leftover mud…everywhere. Just getting into the parking lot was a challenge in off-road driving…forget the volunteer tent. It was going to be long day!
This particular build day was spent again in the festival area. I’m not sure what sort of attendance they’re expecting, but these festival areas just keep getting bigger and bigger. Great for letting a crowd spread out a bit, not getting that claustrophobic or overcrowded feeling that might cause people to leave prematurely. But not so great when you have to walk from end to end…seemingly all day. I can’t be sure, but I believe they arrange for the materials we need to be dropped at the furthest point from where they need to be used. Never mind the trucks…we’ve got volunteers to move it”.
We moved barricades and fences all over that place! And I swear, the festival area must be at least 150 yards long…and we walked it endlessly. We moved and put up barricade banners. And we even set up the bag check area…again! I must have ‘Bag Check Installer” on my forehead. This is the fourth one I’ve set up and each one was different. Who’d have thought One thing though, I am now fully qualified to set up bag check on any venue…anywhere…let the phone calls begin! And with all that barricade and fence moving, grip strength workout for the week (month?!)…done.
Thankfully, we had a nice size group of volunteers!! As always, meeting and working with the other volunteers/racers is always a highlight. John, Michael, Kevin…just to name a few. And there were some newbies there too. Of course, all the veterans offered their advice on prepping and helpful hints for racing, along with a rundown on the course and obstacles. I’m not sure why, but those newbies may not be back Saturday….go figure. And Chanel….after mulling it over, I don’t think you made a bad decision for the course. In fact, I’m pretty sure you were set up. They knew you would have to choose the tougher option (after all you are a Spartan!) and even if you hadn’t, they would have anyway. See all (or most) of you guys on Saturday!
Which brings me to another thing I’ve noticed during my OCR travels. Spartan Race (SR) volunteer crews are usually larger than most of the other races’ entire build crews! This came in handy too, because we also ended up moving some tents. And I don’t mean some 10x10 pop ups…I’m talking about the big ones, the 20x20 big-top monsters! 3” posts you can barely grab…and only one person can get each leg, as you stumble through the mud and dried out ruts to get it in just the right spot. Then swinging that sledge to re-stake the tent?…that would have been a video worth watching…twice. Luckily, we did all this late in the afternoon when we were pretty much shot already.
Last…but definitely not least…I wanted to mention the Spartan crew leaders. Seeing some of the crew from previous builds was great….Steve Oh’ (and hey, thanks for the sweet tea!), Drew, Taylor. Wednesday though, I got to work with two different crew leaders. Tracy Thayer was our initial leader and we worked with her for most of the day. It takes special people to be able to work someone’s ass off, and still keep things from becoming oppressive. Tracy is certainly one of those few and we were very fortunate to work with her!
So is Henry, the other crew leader we worked with that day. Apparently we must have worked together at the Spartan Race demo in Times Square back in 2013. Also, apparently, Henry is an aspiring stunt driver and feels four wheels is an extravagance and two is more than enough for driving in mud. Although, to be perfectly clear, his driving with ‘us volunteers’ was utterly safe!
Even though I didn’t make it out to most of the course, from all reports it will be a good one. The terrain is rolling hills, so it should not be the killer some other SR courses have been lately. But there is a wild card in there. Weather reports indicate a good chance of rain Saturday. Given that…and the fact that the mud has barely dried from the last storm...if it rains, this is going to be another total mud-fest. Call it Savage Atlanta Fall 2015 II….except it will be even worse, because it will be another three miles of mud and obstacles. Oh joy…..
See you all there on Saturday!!!