Written by: Matthew O’Leary
Sometimes when you have been doing something the same way for so long you accept it as the norm. I have been to many obstacle course races. Some terrible. Some low budget. But some were really great, or at least that is what I thought until I ran Atlas Race. Atlas set the bar so high that I felt like all those great races were really just mediocre. Let me tell you why.
I went to Atlas Race this past weekend, February 28th 2015, in the hills of Temecula, CA. at Lake Vale. It was a chilly 55 degrees with occasional droplets threatening us with rain. I wore Vibrams and long sleeve Under Armour to keep warm and dry.
Upon arriving I could see from the obstacles, tents and showers that Atlas Race put money into their event. Everything built was painted and polished. No cheaply built obstacles, stages or showers here.
The majority of the man-made obstacles, which were located at the end of the race, included something similar to monkey bars, a half pipe you had to run/climb over, teeter-totter balance beams and a rope net wall you had to climb sideways across. All the obstacles were in excellent condition and built by professionals.
I spent the greater part of the course traversing the Southern California hills, occasionally broken up by water stations and man-made obstacles. Although my start time was later in the day, the water stations were never empty. Friendly volunteers were there to hand out water and offer encouragement.
The obstacles along the course included
– medium to high wall climbs
– parallel ropes you crossed your legs around and pulled yourself along
– sandbags carried up a small hill and back around
Let me just take a moment and shout out to Atlas Race real quick. THANK YOU Atlas Race for investing in GREAT SANDBAGS (can I even call them that?). Not only did these bags have comfortable handles, but they were made of a premium material which felt more like a heavy pillow over my shoulders than a rock. It sounds stupid, but I was very happy with how comfortable these quality 25 – 40 lb bags were compared to the cheap disposable sand bags I’ve seen at every other race.
Over the 4.5 mile course (the shorter of the two courses) there were at least 3 water stations with an additional one at the finish line. My entry included a t-shirt, a huge metal, a beer and a free photo with my friends! They even print the photo out for you right there! The kids had free access to a couple bounce houses and a course made just for them.
This race wasn’t very muddy. And we didn’t get to go in the Lake (thankfully.. it was chilly out). Regardless, Atlas Race had what they claimed to be “The Best” showers. But I had never seen these showers before. This looked like a huge hallway with translucent walls up on a stage where a jolly fellow would happily shoot the runners inside with a foam blaster.
Atlas showed me a better obstacle course race. They reinvented sandbags, reinvented showers and raised the bar so high that I might not be able to enjoy any of the usual races. I’ve been spoiled now.
NEXT UP IS San Antonio Texas! Click here for more details!