Blog: Grit OCR

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Grit OCR - Wednesday, May 3, 2023
Having done three Spartan races last year, I thought it would be a while before I felt the need to scratch the obstacle course racing itch again. But then a local SoCal race called Grit OCR piqued my interest, and I ended up signing up just four months after I completed my last Spartan. It was also a nice excuse to go down to LA to see family. This past Saturday, the event finally kicked off at its signature location at East Walker Ranch in Santa Clarita.

Since this is a local race, the obstacles aren't as elaborate as Spartan. Instead, they comprise smaller obstacles and more heavy carries, the latter which I had a hard time with and definitely didn't train enough for. I did the Spartan Trifecta last year and I do some dumbbells once a week. Should be sufficient, right? Hah.

Saturday was the hottest day of the week, with temperatures getting into the mid 90s. It was probably 80-90 during my run. Because of the heat, the race organizers were letting people start in earlier waves. I was in the 9am wave but joined the 8:45 wave, though they started late and we all headed out the gate at 8:58.

The first obstacle was a series of heavy cargo nets to crawl under, just to start tiring us out from the get-go. Then an 8 foot wall to climb over, with two more appearing later on the course.

There were some pretty challenging heavy carries on the course. Like carrying a 60 lb sandbag up and down the side of a hill. Pushing a heavy wheelbarrow to tax the arms. Cinder blocks attached to a bar weighing 90 lbs (I opted for the 70 lb version since I had trouble keeping the 90 lb one stable), carried on your shoulders for 300 meters. A farmer's carry with 45 lb water canisters. I had to take lots of breaks during most of those.

I did better on obstacles like the rope climb and slingshot. At the latter, I was able to hit the target on my first attempt, thanks to watching a tutorial on YouTube the morning of. The ruck obstacle was made easier due to all the packs being 15 lbs or so, instead of us having to choose between 20 and 30 lb packs. And one of the obstacles involved solving a tangram puzzle, because mental grit is just as important as physical grit.

My 8.5 mile Claw course differed from the 5.5 mile Fang course by just a 3 mile loop where we had to carry a raw egg without letting it break. The name of that obstacle was "Most Expensive Obstacle". I had no idea what this would be ahead of time, but the pun hit me as soon as I was given the egg to carry. Egg-spensive indeed. For one, the privilege of running this 3 mile loop cost an extra $10 over the price of the Fang!

I still have no idea what the Dragon's Spine obstacle is, as it was listed on the map but didn't appear on the course. And I saw the wooden boxes for Flip This House but it looked like that obstacle wasn't in operation.

The last two obstacles were raising a kettlebell on a rope by turning a spindle with your hands (very taxing on the forearms), followed immediately by the multi-rig with alternating rings and banana-shaped grips, where you have to climb a rope just to get to the first ring. Of course, your arms are completely dead by this point. I probably watched people attempt (or skip) the multi-rig for a good 20 minutes, and the only people who completed it were those in the competitive wave.

In some ways, this event felt harder than the two Spartan Supers that I've done. My final time was 3:06:18, placing 118 out of 219 people in the open wave for the Claw. The Fang had more participants, with 323 people in the open wave. My time wasn't great, though it could've been better had I skipped obstacles or used footholds on walls like I saw others doing. Grit has no penalty for failing/skipping obstacles. But I took time to recover at lots of obstacles, particularly the multi-rig (ironically, the only one I wasn't able to complete) in order to be able to do them right. So my ranking doesn't mean much, but I know I could've done better with better preparation.

The rest of the trip was pretty productive as well. We flew down on Thursday and went with Priscilla's parents to the DMV that day to transfer the title for their Honda Civic to us. They wanted to downsize to one car and very generously gave us their spare car. It's newer and in better condition than our other two cars. We'll be getting rid of Priscilla's Corolla since it needs a new catalytic converter and won't pass a smog inspection, but Aaron wants it for when Lauren's parents will be living with them, and he's planning to get it fixed up.

My parents made us lots of food and gave us a lot to bring back as usual. On Sunday, we went to church at New Life and then got lunch with Gina, Weber and Crescentia at the Galleria food court afterwards. We finally drove back home on Monday. Other than Grit, it was a pretty ordinary visit, but it was all time well spent.