Race Recap: 2017 Savage Race Boston
Savage Race held their 7+ mile obstacle course race at Carter and Stevens Farm in Barre, MA on July 15. This is the same location that Spartan Race holds their obstacle course race and I can see why. It’s 1,000 acres of rolling hills plus there’s Stone Cow brewery on the premises so everyone is set beer-wise for the weekend. Savage Race has one distance—about 7 miles—and two divisions, Savage Pro and Open. If racing in the Savage Pro division, you must complete all obstacles or have your white Savage Pro wristband cut. Yuri Force won the Savage Pro men’s division with a time of 57:40 while Nancy Bourassa took home first place in the women’s division by finishing the course in 1:18:38. I competed in the Savage Pro Division and although I’ve been battling a foot injury, I kept my wristband and completed the race.
A LITERAL FARM
This is the second OCR that I’ve completed on a farm, the first being Tough Mudder at Plantation Field in Coatesville, PA. Since Carter and Stevens are so adept at putting on OCRs, I wonder why they don’t just build a permanent obstacle course of their own and handle everything themselves. I discussed this with one of the guys serving beer, presumably the owner, and he said he has considered this possibility. There was minimal elevation gain at this farm but every part of the course was either in the woods or on grass. Savage Race Boston was a true trail OCR made for runners. Since I ran in the elite wave but I was falling behind, there were times I was in the woods essentially alone and for a hundred yards I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere.
There were 25 obstacles and since this was my first ever Savage Race, I’d never tried any of them. Sawtooth is similar to Tough Mudder’s Funky Monkey where the bars are set at an incline then they decline. Colossus is a rope climb that leads into a large water slide and I absolutely love when OCRs have water slides, such as Goliath at Warrior Dash. Wheel World was essentially identical to Bone Frog’s Helicopter obstacle and Shriveled Richard wasn’t cold for the Savage Pros as it was just a lukewarm dip. I spent the most time at one of the first obstacles on the course, Tree Hugger. This required you to awkwardly traverse a series of tall wooden poles that were interspersed with metal poles, all of which were slippery. What I didn’t know at first was that the wooden poles had slits in them for you to hold your feet so I was trying to traverse across slick wood and metal using a “leg wrap” technique.
Davy Jones Locker was the first time I actually did a free fall jump into a pool of water below, as in the Tough Mudder old Walk the Plank obstacle. The Savage Rig was a unique setup since it was mostly ropes that you had traverse across yet I passed that one after a couple of tries. Twirly Bird was the final obstacle and while this gave many people trouble, I passed it on my second attempt. This was a rig-type setup that contained suspension trainer handles interspersed with high-hanging ropes that were split it many smaller strands. These hanging devices were like one of those dominatrix whips but made of rope. Overall, I’m just proud to have completed all of the obstacles at my first Savage Race without injuring myself further.
SAVAGE: HERE TO STAY
Savage Race has a decent grip on July and in 2018 they will repeat their July 2017 schedule with races in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Illinois. It’s also noteworthy that Savage Race has two races in October and another in November because that’s typically when some smaller OCR companies take off. To boot, Warrior Dash has zero November races this year, however, Warrior Dash has more races throughout the calendar year. Like Bonefrog, Savage Race doesn’t cram their race schedule with unrealistic expectations; they put on the best event possible at a location they’re familiar with.
A few critical observations about Savage Race Boston were that the bag check line was very long and the award ceremony didn’t start until after 1pm. Award ceremonies are usually underway by 11am, 12pm the latest. Nonetheless, obstacles will always win out at OCRS and Savage has some of the best. Plus, I think having just one race distance works in their favor since they can put all of their efforts into perfecting that one course distance, instead of launching 10 different events in a year and figuring out what to do along the way. I predict a surge in Savage Race’s marketing efforts and content production in 2018, as the cream will continue to rise to the top in the OCR market. Savage Race is geared towards the competitive OCR racer and the Pro finish times reflect. In the mind of a competitive racer, it’s hard to imagine another better OCR than Savage Race to fill that third spot in the OCR Big Three.
For more information about Savage Race, visit Savagerace.com