On the 24th of September, a group of friends and I decided to participate in the Freak N Farmer obstacle course race in beautiful Oliver, BC. The event was held a Covert Farms, aptly named because the road from the highway is in a narrow, twisty and windy canyon. You come out of the canyon and there is this beautiful, huge orchard/ farm in front of you.
There were 8 of us participating in this event. Amy, a physiotherapist who I work with a the hospital, a bunch of nurses that work on 4W, the orthopaedic surgical ward at Kelowna General Hospital. There was Moira, Madelaine, Danette, her husband Ken, and Elaine with her husband Tyler. Nobody had done the Freak N Farmer event previously.
I have partaken in running races, mountain and road bike races but never an obstacle course race.
The event was very well organized. We went up to the registration and walked right up. We were entered into the 10 km recreational, non-competitive, class. The event had three different race distances, 5 km, 10 km and 20 km. In our distance, there were 18 obstacles over the 10 km. Amy, Moira, Madelaine and myself drove to the event together and after we registered we met up with Danette, Ken, Elaine and Tyler. We found out that we were in wave 16 of 28.
We arrived early enough to get ourselves all worked up about the race and how tough it was going to be. When it was our turn to go, we made our way up to the front and took off. The first set of obstacles were about 0.75 km from the start. There was a bucket carry, you had to fill a bucket with dirt and carry the bucket about 100 m and back, then dump it out. After that, there was a wall that was a little bit difficult to climb, onto the bouncy ball on a little round track. Basically it was a swiss ball with a handle and you had to do jumping squats and land on the ball, like you were riding it. Interesting… There were monkey bars, pallet hop and wine barrel stacking. There were 4 wine barrels and two stands. The team had to reproduce the positioning of the wine barrels and the stands 30 m away from where they were located. Oh yes, there was a tire flip in there somewhere.
Then there was a little bit of a run, to the next set of obstacles. The first obstacle was a quite a tall wall, 15 feet high maybe that you had to use a rope to rappel down the back side of. The lady in front of me, was really frightened about going down the steep decline with only holding onto rope. Ken and myself did a little quick coaching and she made it down. Funny how you can coach someone to do something you have never done before. After that there was no getting away from the mud, there was a huge mud puddle to wade through, then the barbed wire belly crawl. The pipe shimmy was really interesting, a plastic pipe was put suspended over a mud puddle and you had to shimmy on the pipe and try not to fall into the mud puddle. Then there was the tough one for Amy. It was submerging yourself in a cold, muddy puddle and going under two pipes and after you did that, you got to do it again. Finally, there was the rope swing and you would land, you guessed it, in the middle of a mud puddle.
When the team made it through those obstacles we helped the farm harvest some zucchinis. It was a large see-saw, you had to put the zucchinis in the one end of the see-saw until it dropped down, then unload the see-saw. We were off and running again, to the Vineyard of Death. There was a blue, red and orange tape running through the vineyard and you had to follow it through. Not very difficult just time consuming and a lot of going over where they grew the vines. After that we basically were back where we started the bucket carry. So we ran onto the next event. It was a 2×6 walk, along a rock climbing wall and slack line. After that was my tough challenge. I do not like enclosed spaces and there were two tracks through a bunch of hay bales you had to crawl on you stomach through. I was not sure if I would attempt it or not but I did and made it through with no difficulties. Then up and over a huge stack of hay bales and we were on our way to the last obstacle in the first 5 km.
This last obstacle was definitely tough. There were 6 or 7 large rectangles of foam, tied together floating in the water. They were 2-3 feet apart, held together by rope and what you had to do was to walk/run on each block of foam, then jump to the next and repeat until you reach the end and you jump into the water and swim to shore. My way to do it was like most peoples, run and jump, trying to land in the middle so there is minimal lateral movement of the block in the water.
My only complaint for the first half of the race were the line-ups! Man, there was a line up of 20-50 people for every obstacle. We covered less than 3 km in the first hour due to the line ups. I am not quite sure how to alleviate the line up situation. Having to wait did give you a lot of recovery time but it was too much at times because I would start to get cold and at a few obstacles there were sprinklers spraying you with cold water. While it felt good to clean yourself off a little bit, I did get cold.
Sorry no pictures of the obstacles, too muddy and I would not even be sure how to carry a mobile phone with me that would not get completely covered in mud and water.
Onto the second half of the race, which was much less crowded. We ran for about 1 km and we came to the car drag. One team member drove the truck while the others pushed about 100 feet forwards and back to where we started.
Grabbed some water and ran for another km and we ‘hit the wall’. It was a 5 foot high wall to jump over. We then ran down to the cactus dash. It was basically a very, very steep downhill run, but the ground was extremely soft with gravel and sand. There were times that my entire foot would sink up to my ankle with each step down. It was steep and some if it was walking and there was some jumping. It was about 400 m long and we lost so much elevation, which meant, whatever goes down, must come up. It was a long climb up the road and into the trails. Thankfully there was a water station at the top of the climb.
Another run and we came to another 3 obstacles, over a wall, then to the slingshot. There were about 5 large slingshots and we had to use old veggies to hit the target. And the final obstacle, or so we thought was the stone sled pull. Which was a pallet with some rope and a stone block on it. Two teammate had to pull the sled 20 m, turn around and bring it back.
We made our way back to the finish line. We had one final obstacle to climb over to get to the slip and slide. They had a orchard truck, loaded with orchard apple boxes. We made it over and enjoyed our slide down to the finish. We were finished, tired and wet.
Altogether it took us just over 2 hours and 20 minutes. We got our wine glasses with the drink and food tickets in them. I grabbed some food and boy it was good! They had chili and pulled pork! It was delicious! I ate it as I walked back to my car to get out of the wet clothes. After we went back and got some drinks, beer, cider or wine was available and there were more tickets for purchase if you cared to.
It was a great event, very well organized. The volunteers were friendly along route, they did get thanked by me. The worst part of the event was leaving. It was an incredible setting, great food and it challenged me in a way I have not been challenged before. I am not sure if I will be participating in the event again but it was great.