Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂
Muscle Acre Summer Madness 2017 Review
Last weekend I ran my 3rd Muscle Acre Summer Madness event. As regular blog readers will know, I have a special place in my heart for Muscle Acre. I started coming in the early days and have seen the event grow into one of the best obstacle races I attend.
It was noticeable straight away that there are a lot of people running Muscle Acre who had been to the event before. In the registration area, many were wearing the tech T shirts that you get when entering previous events. This is always a good sign when people return to an event you can surmise that the course, obstacles and vibe are thoroughly on point. As usual, registration was quick and efficient. This time the timing bands of old have been removed in favour of timing chips built into the race numbers. This was ok for me this time as I have a pocket in my shorts for holding race numbers but invariably find that if a number is attached to my top, it’s gone by the end of the race. Perhaps I am just clumsy but in future, if I don’t have my race shorts I’ll make sure to bring a running belt to put my number in.
First race up was the Mini Muscle Makers run with Logan. He’d had a tough experience (wholly my fault) in his first OCR (obstacle course race) in November and so I was concerned he would not have fun. I need not have worried. The kids’ field was the biggest I have ever seen it and they were sent off in descending age order, so Logan did not have to deal with older kids cutting through him as he ran. The kids’ course is an abridged version of the adult course over about 2 miles. This may not sound much but it included some decent hills (which Logan smashed). It’s always a tricky race as it has to have obstacles that will tax a 12-year-old but that a 6-year-old can complete, so I helped Logan through a few of them. I was super proud when he did the monkey bars all the way across (and a bit ashamed later in the race when I fell at the last bar). This time around Logan had an awesome time. The inclusion of the slip n slide as the final obstacle is inspired as it forms a great natural race climax!
For the first time, Muscle Acre has added a 15 Km route into Summer Madness and this is what I signed up to do. Rather than extra laps or repeated obstacles, the 15 Km section of the course contains obstacles specific to that distance (in addition to the obstacles present on the 5 and 10 Km distances). My friends Tom and Becky tell me the obstacles were pretty good, Tom mentioned the 15Km introduced some nice running sections. It all sounded really good. I cannot comment first hand as I am an idiot and totally missed the signage for the diversion onto the 15Km loop. Furthermore, I did not even notice this until I got to the final obstacle, despite having my Garmin that was beeping every kilometre. I’ll do better next time.
In general Muscle Acre grows incrementally with a couple of new obstacles added each time. The Winter Warmer in January saw the inclusion of an all new rig and sternum checker. This time we had a massive pit with a scramble net and some tricky walls. I was very pleased to get further across the rig this time as well as completing the inverted wall and sternum checker, which I have not done before. One of the things I like about doing this run regularly is that I can see the progress I am making in terms of strength and technique. I still cannot climb ropes though, so I need to address this.
It was pleasing to see the swamp area of the course open again. This was closed for safety reasons during the Winter Warmer. I like this as it breaks up two nice long running sections with the stickiest and most disgusting mud I have ever encountered (yes, worse than the Tough Guy Gurkha Slalom). For the most part, Muscle Acre depends on technical and strength based obstacles for the challenge but the swamp is one of the few places where fear plays a part and believe me, being sucked into waist deep thick mud is not for the faint hearted.
(Image above courtesy of Muscle Acre)
As usual, the course was exceptionally well marshalled with a great vibe from the MA team and runners alike. When you get to know an event early on, there is always the worry that as it grows the atmosphere will change. I am delighted to say that has not happened with Muscle Acre, it’s a race I’ll be coming to, and bringing my family too, for some time yet.