Saturday, July 05, 2014

Race #10: Ridiculous Obstacle Challenge (ROC) Race

I did the ROC race last year and had a lot of fun, but as with most obstacle challenges, the entry fee is quite steep, so I did a little research and found out that if you do a volunteer shift for the race, you could run the course after you finished for $5! That's definitely a win in my book. 

Race morning came and I had volunteered for the 6:00 am to noon time slot so that I could work during the race and then run it as soon as I finished. What I didn't think about when I registered for my time was that meant I would need to leave my house by 5:00am! I got up around 4:30 and was slow moving, but I got on the road and was headed up to Concord to meet up with our group by 5:45. As I followed my phone to the address given to the volunteers by email the week of the race, I quickly realized that I was in the wrong place… there was no one around! Luckily, I came across a security guard who was able to tell me that the ROC event was not at the Concord Motor Speedway (the address we were given), but at the zMAX Dragway. Technically, the location was listed as the Concord Motor Speedway - zMAX Dragway, but the address given to the volunteers was definitely not the right one. The web page had the correct address listed for participants, so hopefully not too many people ended up at the wrong place. 

But, I figured out where to park (super close to the volunteer tent and start line) and made my way over to where the other volunteers were congregating. The volunteers were told to be there 15 minutes before our scheduled start time, so there were about 20 of us waiting in line by 5:45… and waiting… and waiting. There were ROC officials at the volunteer tent, but they weren't ready for us yet, so we just stood around until we could sign the paperwork and pick up our water and snacks for the day. We got started through the line a little after 6:00, but our t-shirts weren't ready, so we had more waiting to do. They got the t-shirts delivered and started handing them out to everyone and told us we had 5 minutes to go change and get back for our assignments for the day. When we got back, some people were given assignments (mostly bag check and registration), but the rest of us continued to wait around. I'm not sure what time we actually got our assignments, but those of us who were working the obstacles stood around for about 2 hours before being transported / told where to go. The first wave of runners started at 8:00 and we didn't leave the volunteer tent until 7:45! Needless to say, we were all getting very restless having no idea what was going on and being told to arrive well before the workers were even ready for us.

I ended up working on the very last obstacle, the World's Largest Inflatable Slide and I was the one at the top of the slide hosing it down and telling people when to go. Since I was on the last obstacle, it took about 25-30 minutes for the fastest runners to reach us. By around 9:15, the waves of people became more consistent and it was a ton of fun seeing everyone come through in their costumes and trying to convince people that it wasn't nearly as scary as it looked. Standing on top of a giant inflatable slide was definitely a leg workout as well as a challenge in balancing. Every time someone started climbing up the stairs, it would shake the whole slide and then when people would jump at the top of the slide, I really had to concentrate on not falling over! 

Eventually, I got a quick break for lunch and then headed back up to the top of the obstacle to finish out my shift. Around 11:45, I was replaced by another volunteer who was working the afternoon shift and I headed back to the volunteer tent to check out and get my wrist band so that I could run the course myself. I made it in time for the noon wave and got up close to the start of the pack of runners - as with any obstacle course, there's always some that will have a back-up of people waiting to complete the obstacle, so I wanted to get ahead of as many people as possible for as long as I could.

I started off pretty strong, but it was definitely tough running down the long dragway strip in the middle of the day. There weren't too many people from my heat in front of me, so I kept going as fast as I could and made it to the Gorilla Bars, which I was able to make the whole way across without falling - I was impressed with this since my arms were still a little sore from kickboxing and bowling Thursday night. After that was the World's Largest Moon Bounce and the Get It Up (And Over) walls and then the one obstacle I failed miserably at: The Jump Balls! Luckily, after that, it was pretty smooth sailing and I was keeping up with a couple of guys through the next few obstacles (Foam of Fury and The Drop), but everybody got stuck at the Tarzan Swing where there was a huge line of people waiting to get across. It took over 5 minutes to get to the front of the line, but the obstacle itself was pretty quick, just having to hold onto the rope to swing across a short padded area. Next up was another new obstacle which was called The Sweeper - the idea was the you would run across the plastic tube and duck under the rotating sweeper before moving on to the other side. I made my first duck, but it was slippery, so I had to just crawl to the other side instead of standing up and continuing my run. This year was my redemption year for the Wrecking Ball obstacle - last year I fell off after about 2 steps because I lost my balance on the tube without even getting close to the wrecking balls, but this year I made it the whole way across! The next obstacle was another new one called Cool Runnings which was basically a water slide you went down on inner tubes and ended up in a couple feet of water. I picked up some really good speed on this obstacle and ended up almost taking out the person in front of me as I barreled into the pool at the end. On the home stretch, we had to go through the Tire Mile and then I was back where I started the day at the World's Largest Inflatable Slide.
Overall, I think it was a good experience, even if I was annoyed at how the day started out. Have you ever volunteered for a race to get discounted or free entry? How was your experience?


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