This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gladiator 5K Race Report

Tim has been encouraging me to think about doing adventure races. I am pretty much squeamish about critters. But I am warming up to the idea...

A few months ago, I looked around for some beginner, easy adventure-type races. I learned about the Rugged Maniac, which was a little too soon for me to compete; the warrior dash, which is a great possibility, and a few others that are not in my area. Tim suggested I give the Gladiator a try since it was *in* Raleigh (well, really it's in CARY). Before I had a chance to discuss a team, I was approached - then promptly dropped - from a team. So my BFF Bill suggested forming a team and thus became Mud Minions with me, Tim, $Bill and AudreyPodrey.

I was sooo excited -- and nervous -- about doing this race. I don't consider myself adventurous, so the idea of doing these obstacles...and potentially holding up my team...was very intimidating. Here are the obstacles we were expecting on race day:
12-15 Obstacles depending on the course.
Distance – 3.1 miles. This race isn’t about time and distance, but about challenging yourself.
Time limit – The Gladiator5k has no time limit.

Gladiator Bars – Make your way across the gladiator bars while you’re suspended in the air.
Walls - This part of the course is littered with walls varying in height; make your way over them however you can.
Cargo Net - Three sets of cargo nets at 8’, 10’, and 14 feet one after another are quite the climb.
Ab Crawl - You guessed it, get down on your stomach to crawl thru more than 80 feet of cammo-nets.
Tire Valley – You’ve never seen tires quite like this. Make your way up, around, and through a never-ending valley of tires.
Tunnel Crawl – Crawl your way through a series of dark, damp tunnels.
Battle Walls – Without using your hands, high step your way over each post.
Balance Beams – Balance is a must on the downhill balance logs. Don’t miss a step or it’s back to the beginning.
Rope Bridge – Hold on tight while you crawl upside down along 29 feet of rope.
Glory Wall – Getting over the 8 ft Glory Wall is a great accomplishment, so get your biceps ready!
Monkey Bars – Make your way across the hardest monkey bars you’ve ever seen, while you are suspended in the air.
Fence Jumps – Jump and slide your way through a series of wooden fences. All of your body strength will be required on this obstacle.
Mud Pit – The race is finished off with a giant mud pit that must be crossed in order to finish.

Bill, Audrey and I have been part of a Boot Camp exercise program through our work fitness department. This has been a great way to train us for this race (and overall fitness) because it is grueling. We had a couple of our own obstacle courses during boot camp so I was feeling a little less intimidated about what I could accomplish on race day.

The night before race day, Tim had come home barely able to walk. He had been installing hardwoods for the past two days and the labor of removing carpeting, lugging hardwoods up to a second floor, and hammering them in, was taking its toll. I was sympathetic: "You better rest up!! We are racing tomorrow!"

This ended up being a bit of a karma-come-curse on me as I woke up Saturday morning with severe neck pain. I did NOTHING for the past two days and *I* wake up in pain. The irony. But I knew I could survive a 5K so neck pain or not, I was going to do this race.

We all meet up at the park at 9AM. We don't start until 9:45. Audrey and I, in hindsight, were given a premonition of what the race would become: on our way to the bathrooms, a guy spoke to us about how there were problems with getting the mud pit going and that the man responsible for adding water to said mud pit, was back this morning (remember, 9AM wave start and we had already met up!) to retry that obstacle.

We get to the start/finish and see a few of the first wave of runners finish.'s only 9:20AM. If they started at 9AM, that means that they have accomplished a dozen obstacles *and* ran a 5K in 20 minutes? Impossible? No...but not probable. I thought the first wave must have started at 8:45. No...$Bill confirms that one of the teams/runners came in at 21:50.

Second unknown-premonition: this must not be 3.1 miles and the obstacles must not be that bad.

We finally line up for our wave. I am pretty excited. But bewildered that it just does not look very crowded. I decided at that time that it MUST be because they (the race coordinators) are doing a great job.

We are off and the first part is running downhill. Audrey leads the crowd and $Bill mentions something about how Audrey always starts off fast and I hear Audrey yell "We need to get to that first obstacle before everyone else!". I LOVE THIS. She's here to compete. So I book it.

We realize the first obstacle is at the bottom of the hill, which is hurdles over three saw-horses. The guy in front of me literally jumps over them (hand on horse for boosting legs over). Through adrenaline, I ALMOST DID THE SAME THING but at the last minute, I stopped and just mosey-ed over them (quickly). At the last one, I landed hard and stumbled but instead of letting the stumble complete, I tried to get up and run...which made me fall. Instead of completing the fall out, I tried to get up and run, which made me fall again. I was so disoriented and for a split second, I thought that I would never stop falling. But I managed to get up with a little bit of embarrassment...

Next is running back UP the hill we just ran down. Now I realized why everyone was running slow while I watched the other waves. This sucked but we were all doing pretty good getting up that hill. Next was crawl under a cargo net and I got through this pretty quickly (thank you Boot Camp) except when my butt got caught on the final bar. I found this very amusing: my butt is so big that it gets caught by a bar...

All of us get through it and the third obstacle is the cargo net that we must climb up and down. This was not as bad as I had anticipated.

After that, there is more running and again, at the bottom of this hill (which is the same hill we just ran down, then up, now back down) is the fourth obstacle: balance beam. Audrey tells us: "take it slow and just finish. If we fall down, we have to start all over." Wise words. Then $Bill says "there's no one there" and I'm looking and I see that there aren't very many gladiators on the balance beam...but there are at least six beams and I'm thinking "why does it matter that there aren't a lot of gladiators there?" Once I get on the beam, I realize what Bill meant: there is no referee to watch if anyone falls or not. So anyone can fall and just keep going. Another bad sign...

Next is a LOT of running. It's a pretty run, and it feels a bit cool through the wooded trails, but man: WHERE ARE THE OBSTACLES? And then I see wall. Yikes. I have to climb up and over that wall.

The wall is built a bit staggered so you could get a teeny bit of your toe on a panel and jump over. This is what we did...and luckily, Audrey and I managed to get over since the guys went over first (after I clearly stated: help the girls over first!) and were waiting for us on the other side.

Then more running...and then we hit a second, much taller wall than the first one. This one did not have the same toe holds that the other one did but fortunately, Bill went to the top to help pull me and Audrey over, while Tim manned the bottom to help boost us up. This was the best obstacle of the entire day for me as it truly required my upper body to hold me up to get over on the other side. It ended up being a 8 foot wall and without a foot hold on the other I had to pull myself down, holding my whole body up while I slowly lowered myself as close to the ground as possible.

Back to running...a lot of this running is UP. I only recall a few moments of running downhill, but the rest was up. Bill called it the hillstacle and added that as another obstacle.

I may get the rest of the obstacles out of order now but I think the next one, #7, was a balance beam that went up, then down. The team in front of us walked up using a leg on a separate beam - sort of a crab crawl - so I did that and jumped off the end. Again, no referee to determine if we were doing it correctly or not.

Then there were tubes we had to crawl through. I went through this pretty quickly (man, I'm good at these crawl things after I figured out to keep my butt down!).

We ran a bit more and came to another crawl under a camo thing with water. I did a crab walk so that only my feet and hands were in the water and got through fast with Bill. We waited for Audrey and Tim and Tim was the next to come out and he was liked SOAKED. I was like "how the hell did he look like he just went through the black lagoon?" My hair was only soaked with sweat while he was drenched to the bone! Audrey came through also looking more soaked that Bill and I.

After this was the tire valley which was merely a bunch of tires on the ground, with tires hanging from the top, that we traverse through. Here we hear Titan My Pants, are 'rival' team from work, rooting us on.

I am hopeful because this means we have about three obstacles left. We get to a gate and a volunteer says "run to the gate and touch it then run back". Huh? What is that? Run to the gate and touch it and run back? That's an obstacle? Well, we did it and during this little sprint, I felt pretty good despite the fact that it seemed kind of stupid. I catch up with speedy Bill and I turn around and Tim and Audrey are right there...I thought they would be further behind but nope, they were right there. So we are now approaching the finish and I mentioned something about the mud pit to which Audrey and Bill tell me that the black lagoon thing WAS supposed to be the mud pit. Huh? So we're missing two obstacles! And before I have time to complain, the finish is in sight and we scream at Audrey to sprint, which she does and leaves me behind. :)

So...had a blast running and playing with my pals BUT as I told Tim this morning, this was an obstacle course built for me. There is no reason CJ or any other 14 year old (minimum age to participate) could do this, except for liability I guess. It looked like someone just pulled this together at the last minute...nothing was close to what was described in the show notes. And for us, we paid $65 per person to race. Others paid $80 and there was NO race day registration or someone would have been out $100.

I can't find the race results anywhere although Bill says he saw the results before he left and we came in at 28:41 which is great but certainly, not a 5K time w/obstacles for me alone.

I'd like to do something like this again...but one more challenging. Maybe the Warrior Dash in August. It can't be any worse (AKA easier) than what we did yesterday (with respect to the obstacles).


  1. I'm struggling with this one, I did have a good time and our team rocked, but I just feel somehow ripped off about how much better it could have been and the $65 price tag was just too much for what was supplied.

  2. A lot of people were upset by the lack of obstacles and what no food or drink at the end??

    Fun but yes a rip off and still waiting for results. I ran a 22:03 and that's only 20 secs off my 5k time. so I was happy about that.

  3. Online results here:

    I definitely had a great time with our team! I thought we did pretty good. Since i'd never run something like this before, my initial reaction was that it was *my* fault that my expectations for the obstacles were higher. And i thought "oh well, this is just how these races are." It was later that i re-looked at the website (with pictures of ultra-muddy gals) and the info sheet in the packet that i realized the marketing was way different than the actual. I've also heard that some of the other races you mentioned are more of what we expected. So it's not *just* us.

    I agree - no reason younger people couldn't do the obstacles we encountered. Hm, now that i think about it, maybe the obstacles we encountered were actually the kids' course (which was canceled).

  4. Sorry to hear that the race was something of a let down. Hopefully the organizers will learn a few things and be able to improve on it if they bring it back next year.

    And Cindy, you may as well give in because you will be doing adventure races with us eventually. It is inevitable.

  5. I've been into race but that was not a challenging one...from the obstacles listed...I can see that this race is not so easy, a lot of obstacles to face..but it seems very interesting to me. Of course you can be tired out of those obstacles but the most important is the experience and the memories being gathered that you can share to your friends, relatives or who else that can be. I really appreciate you, even though you have a pain in your neck but still the spirit of winning the race is still there...good luck

  6. Eric: I agree, it is inevitable. You need to run with me more so you can get used to my bitching and whining cause that's what you're gonna get if I race with you. :)

    spartan300: THANKS! I appreciate your sentiment about my neck pain. I was truly miserable that morning and thought if I moved wrong just once, my entire neck/spine would freeze. I hope to race more of these as I like upping the challenge a bit.