A little over a week ago, on Saturday, 24 September 2011, I participated in the MCRD San Diego 2011 Boot Camp Challenge. This is a short, three mile race that, according to the website, has over 40 obstacles, including hay jumps, tunnel crawls, log hurdles, a six foot wall, trenches, cargo net crawls, and push-up stations. In addition, United States Marine Corps drill instructors are positioned at each station to make sure each obstacle is properly completed.
It’s a fun course, as depicted by the map over on the left. The numbers on the map represent: (1) hay stacks; (2) hay stacks; (3) hay stacks; (4–19) jump over logs, crawl under logs, wall; (20) tunnels; (21) push-ups; (22) wall; (23) bayonet; (24) trenches; (25) tunnels; (26) low crawl; (27) planks; (28) push-ups; (29–43) jump over logs, crawl under logs, wall; (44) hay stacks; (45) hay stacks.
There are a lot of hay stacks on the course, and for good reason. Nothing breaks up your pace and depletes your muscles of glycogen quite like explosively leaping over hay stacks. Then come the obstacles. My group, the individual men, started the race early enough that I never had to stand in line to wait for an obstacle (I saw several lines in the photos of later groups). This is good for time, but exhausting as you sprint from one obstacle to the next only to do something that is very much not running.
If you’re anything like me, you saw number 23 and thought, “Bayonets?! Awesome!” At least, that’s what I thought when I first looked at the map. Yeah, not so much. We were allowed to run past the bayonet targets, and that’s it.
I had done this race once before, in 2004, but it has taken me seven years to finally do it again. That year I raced in a team of three with a couple of my friends. I don’t remember how we placed and the results are nowhere to be found, so I’ll just assume we didn’t do very well. Probably a good assumption, as the race was a week after my honeymoon and I recall being some 40 or so pounds heavier at the time.
I entered the race this year mostly as a test of my fitness. Was this paleo lifestyle thing really working out for me? Doing nothing more than three weeks of eating well, twice weekly body weight workouts, and once weekly sprints, I ran the race. I haven’t run more than a quarter mile since, well, since probably the last time I ran this race.
The results are here. Just in case that page vanishes, as most of the past results seem to have done, I’ve mirrored the page on my website, highlighting my result. I came in 47 out of 91 in my division and 340 out of 1,117 overall. Interestingly, my time of 26:44 would have put me 36 out of 48 in the mens elite division. Although, given the under 20 minute time of the first 10 people in that division, I don’t think I’ll ever race in it.
I’m sure I could have done better with more training, but my time was lower than I expected it to be. On the rare occasion that I do use a treadmill, it tells me that I run a 12 minute mile. So an average mile time of 8:55 for the race surprised me a bit. Back in high school, I could run a six minute mile, so I’ll consider that my new goal.
When I chose to wear shorts for the race, my wife asked me if I was worried about injuring myself on the obstacle course. Of course, I told her I wasn’t. I took the picture over on the right shortly after I got home from the race. I would call that relatively uninjured. Worst by far were my calves, which were sore for days, having run the race in my Vibram FiveFingers KSOs.
Overall, it was an incredibly fun race, and I can’t wait to do it again next year. I already have my calendar marked for Saturday, 6 October 2012. That’s over two months before the world ends, so I’m confident things will go off without a hitch. Next year I’ll try to get my time down to around 20 minutes.