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Last September I was invited to Ballston Spa, NY to race and review a new obstacle course race on the scene: the Hero Rush. As a fan of the traditional mud, sweat, and barbed wire courses, I was a little skeptical at the idea of a fire-fighter themed OCR. But the Hero Rush absolutely blew away my expectations, and ended up as being ranked as probably the most fun race we ran last year. (You can check out last year’s review here: 2012 Hero Rush)
This year, both Geoff and I were so excited to see that Hero Rush was not only returning to the same location at Ellm’s Family Farm (an easy, beautiful drive for us from Vermont), but that the race would be held in May instead of September. Now, we spent pretty much all of this past snowy winter raving about how much fun we had racing last summer, especially at Hero Rush, and as a result, we
suckered convinced a handful of friends and family to join us this year. Most of them were first timers to the obstacle course racing world, and we assured them that Hero Rush was a perfect course to introduce them to this sport.
(*Note: my race reports and reviews are always 100% honest, but as a repeat review I feel it is important to state for the record, that this is not a sponsored post; we paid for our own registrations.)
Race day (Saturday May 18th) had to be the most perfect racing weather anyone could ever ask for. Sunny, not too hot, but warm enough to wear a tank top and not be uncomfortable while soaking wet from the obstacles. Geoff and I caravaned up to NY with his mom (who volunteered for the day), dad and step mom (our fantastic cheer and photography squad), sister, brother, and three of our great friends (all racing). We arrived to easy on site parking ($10 to park, however, spectators are free at Hero Rush, and do not need to pay a spectator fee like at many other races). Registration was relatively fast and very smooth. We all walked back to the car, I gave a few demo’s on how to wear your timing chip, and headed into the festival area.
The festival area was absolutely ideal for a race like this. Plenty of port-a-potties, concession stands with food and drinks, picnic tables, and the starting area were all relatively close together. In addition, you could walk to at least 3 obstacles, the kids races, as well as permanent playgrounds for the kids (part of the farm itself). As far as spectator friendly, Hero Rush NY East gets an A++. We checked our bags (bag check was free !) and headed into the corral just in time to start our 10:00 am heat.
|My handsome Geoff! photo credit: Hero Rush facebook page|
For 2013, Hero Rush sent us on a slightly different course than 2012. In fact, it felt like the complete opposite direction. This certainly did not take away from the experience, and if anything, made it more fun, as we had no idea what to expect ahead. The obstacles were in a similar order, with the very first being “Forcible Fury”: the through the window/over the wall/through the door sequence.
|Photos taken with GoPro Hero3 Silver edition. We are still learning how to use it, forgive the poor quality.|
Now, prior to the race, we has assured our friends and family that this was NOT a muddy obstacle course race. So imagine our surprise (and my joy!) when within the first mile, we came up to this:
So, here is my one and only semi-complaint about this year’s race: the balance of running to obstacles. This year’s race distance was increased to 5 miles, compared to last year’s 3.8. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love to run; the more miles the better. For my newbies, however, I noticed a bit of frustration in the over abundance of running versus obstacles for the first 2 miles. Quite honestly, I’d have to go back and review the video, but it felt like we hit maybe (maybe?) two obstacles in the first two miles. They became more regular in miles 3-4, with a ton of them stacked into the last mile. Now, on a positive note, this allowed spectators to easily watch some of the bigger, more exciting obstacles (towering inferno, bystander blast, basement entrapped, etc) towards the end of the race.
Now, I’m not going to review every single obstacle as I did last time, but I will say that it was very similar to last years race. I am starting to lean towards the school of though that obstacle course races are FAR more fun when you have no idea what you are up against, so I’ll leave you semi-guessing.
|The freezing cold, squishy, HazMat gel…|
|Note: when the sign says “DO NOT DIVE”….you should not dive. GoPro injury #1…|
|That was far harder than a rope climb…very slippery!|
- Plenty of on site parking.
- Registration was easy, and relatively fast (considering the lines).
- Spectators are FREE.
- Baggage check is FREE.
- Wave sizes were small enough that there was no crowding, and we hardly ever had to wait at an obstacle.
- Great, unique, FUN obstacles.
- Plenty of friendly volunteers.
- Way more “hazardous material” in the HazMat zone vs. last year (ewwww, but fun!).
- Great festival atmosphere, music, and D.J.
- Amazing race for teams.
- Good beer! (micro-brews!)
- Great swag – updated medals and t shirts, new designs for 2013.
- At the finish, we were given $5 in “Hero dollars” to be used on merchandise, food, or beer.
- Have I mentioned how FUN this race is? RIDICULOUSLY FUN (still!).
|2013 medal (left) & 2012 medal (right)|
- The running. As mentioned above, the course had been increased from 3.8 miles last year to 5 miles this year. While I personally don’t mind the running, it was obviously a stretch for a lot of first timers. Especially considering there was only maybe one or two obstacles in the first 2 ish miles. I enjoyed that there were A LOT of obstacles near the finish, for spectators to enjoy, but it made for a pretty dull first half of the race experience.
- The race was a lot muddier this year (no complaints here), however, that combined with the gel in the haz-mat obstacle left me wishing there was some sort of shower…or even hose…to rinse off with before changing.
- No foam in the foam adventure!! And we were one of the earlier heats!
- No fire in the “fearless finish” fire pit! At a fire fighter themed race no less! What a bummer!
|Excuse the camera ham and blurry photo for a minute and note…four rows of “fire”, without a single flame. Booo!|
**edit** since posting this review, I’ve spoken with a few staff members from Hero Rush. They not only acknowledged my “neutral” points, but described how they have already taken steps to remedy these situations for future races. Class act business! I’m thoroughly impressed!
- Nothing. I honestly have nothing negative to say about this race. While the “neutral” points were a bummer, they certainly did not outweigh the fun of this race.
|Happy, exhausted, finishers!|
So for a second year in a row, I’m absolutely pleased to put the
Run Faster, Mommy! Heather Gannoe/RFC seal of approval on Hero Rush. For my super hardcore competitive readers, this will not be the most challenging race for you (but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it). For newbies to the obstacle course racing world, or even experienced runners looking for a well run, FUN, obstacle course race: this is the one for you. A fun atmosphere, incredibly family and spectator friendly (and yes, they have a kids race!) makes this the race you should most certainly bring your fans to.
I simply cannot say enough good things about the Hero Rush course, as well as the execution of this event by the race directors. We have seen a lot of poorly run races come and go, so it is nice to see a newer company who really knows how to put on a great event, and seems to truly put the athletes and participants first. As with any business, I think the best compliment I can give Hero Rush is to let them know that we will not only be repeat customers, but will without hesitation recommend this race to our friends. We will be registering for the New England race (and bringing some more first timers! Geoff’s mom and stepmom have decided they want in on the OCR action!), and are hoping to make it to the North Carolina race as well.
Want to be a hero? There are 11 more races across the country left for the 2013 season, with more coming soon. Visit their website to see if there is a location near you. And be sure to enter code “RTgannoe” for 15% off your registration!
Do you have questions about this race? Post them below and I will be happy to answer them. Have you run a Hero Rush, and have feedback to share? Post below..let’s hear it!