The X Warrior Challenge is a new homegrown Calgary race, I was sad to miss it last year and super pumped to run it this year even though it was the week after the Montana Spartan Beast. My best friend and I signed up for the open heat and we signed our daughters up for the youth race. One of the best things about this race venue was no mud and lots of spots for spectators to watch the race which meant they could watch us and we could watch them race afterwards.
I came home from Montana with a sore knee and took the week to recover. By Saturday I was feeling okay and excited to get out on the race course. We heard that the race was actually 7 km not 5 km but really it wasn’t 21 km so I was happy.
Arriving at the venue, Stampede Park, we parked easily and picked up our race packages. Everything was super organized and easy to find. It was fairly cool and windy when we got there but it warmed up and ended up being a perfect race weather day. One of the best things about the venue was flushable toilets and running water! No stinky porta-potties with no toilet paper for us! It was also a lot less crowded then a typical OCR, a welcome change after the crowds in Montana.
After getting our girls settled and hooking up with our friends we were racing with it was time to head to the start line. We moved up near the front and were given a motivational speech by Coach Pain. It was great, he reminded us all that we should push ourselves and remember that we can race and are blessed that we have the ability to do so. My friend Jody was feeling nervous about the race and made the mistake of saying “this was a bad idea” as she stepped up to the start line, this was met by a lecture from Coach Pain about why it was a good idea and he gave her a confidence boost. Then we were off and running.
We hit a couple short walls first, my favourite part about the walls at X Warrior were the supports, I was able to use them to get up and over the 8 foot walls, something I can never do unassisted at a Spartan race. Then we headed up into the stadium to run some stairs, then inside to jump more walls and climb more stairs some of which had bungee cords across them so you had to crawl under them. Once we finished the stairs and came back outside we headed around the chuckwagon track (good thing it didn’t rain or the mudless race would have had a lot of mud!). We came across a few more obstacles and then hit the Tip of the Spear, a slanted wall with chains and hand holds on it, you had to make it across without your feet touching the ground, it was similar to the Olympus at Spartan except the chains didn’t have rubber balls on the end so your hands slipped off easily. I slipped off one of the chains and went down so I had to do 20 Burpees as a penalty. X Warrior has optional penalties for some obstacles, I like to do my penalties and to be honest I’m good at Burpees.
We ran back down the track after that and hit the inverted wall, another one that I was glad had the wall supports to use to get up and over. Then some more running and over a metal ladder which was a bit tricky to get my feet over at the top but not too challenging. We had a short sandbag carry and then the rings which I was not able to get across so more Burpees for me. Rings are my nemesis, I can’t figure out my swing and my short arms don’t reach, they are something I’m going to work on for my next race for sure.
We had a bucket carry but it was filled with sand and not gravel and only half full so I hated it less than I usually hate the bucket carry. One of the most hated obstacles was the Ape – which was a very simple but torturous obstacle. It was basically a bunch of tape criss crossed across a bridge that you had to bear crawl under on your hands and feet, your knees couldn’t touch the ground and there were little rocks that got stuck in your hands on the ground. Plus everyone was going different speeds and it was frustrating for those that got stuck in a traffic jam. When you looked ahead and saw how much further you still had to go there was a lot of f bombs dropped on that one.
The running was nicely broken up by obstacles, you could get a decent pace (and for once I didn’t trip over twigs and roots and rocks) but also a break with the obstacles. We came across a tire carry and tire flip and another sandbag carry up the stadium stairs and back down. Then we came to the Axe throw. This one was tricky, you got three tries and there was a line up but we wanted to try it so we waited in line. I hit the target…with the wrong end of the axe so Burpees for me.
The last two obstacles were the rope climb and the Dragon. I nailed the rope climb but fear took over at the Dragon. It was a mental obstacle more than a physical one. You had to run up an angled wall (Kristi had to pull me up it) and then jump from a platform to another angled wall grabbing onto a bar as you jumped. It looked a lot further than it was across and I just couldn’t make myself do it. I think if there wasn’t a ladder to climb down I would have done it eventually. I also felt bad that Kristi was waiting for me to cross the finish line and it didn’t help that there was a girl freaking out beside me and a girl on the ground holding her injured ankle. When I think back I know that if I had encouraged that scared girl instead of going down I would have been able to find the courage to go for it and do it. I always find when I encourage and help others it helps me as well. I did my 20 Burpees though before crossing the finish line and although I felt disappointed in myself for not doing the obstacle it still felt awesome to cross it.
After we crossed the finish line we were given our medals and a choice of a finisher t-shirt or tank top, it was nice to have a choice. Then it was finisher picture time and we were reunited with our girls. They managed to get lots of pics and a couple videos of our rope climbs and my attempt at the axe throw.
We hung around the finish line watching the other racer and congratulating friends on their race finishes until it was finally time for the youth heat. The youth heat was on the adult course (a shortened version with less obstacles), they were given a speech from Coach Pain about moms that brought tears to my eyes. Then they were off. The best part was we could see a lot of their race and get some pics, way better than last year’s Spartan youth race where we couldn’t see them most of the time. They were both disappointed they weren’t allowed to throw the axe but they both made it up the rope which was awesome. My daughter did not enjoy the Spartan race last year, she crossed the finish line looking beaten down and exhausted. She crossed the X Warrior finish line feeling proud and smiling. She made it over the walls all by herself and only skipped one obstacle, the ladder, that she was nervous about. Her asthma caused her to get a bit wheezy but she was able to control her breathing and it didn’t last. The rope climb though was her favourite, she was so proud, that was a goal she had going into the race.
One of the really different and great things about the X Warrior race was the Titan heat. The Titan heat was a limited amount of spots for racers that wanted to run multiple laps of the course. They had 6 hours to run as many laps as they could. I remember thinking before I ran, “why on earth would someone want to run multiple loops of the same course?”. BUT after running the race and being inspired by all those Titans running their 2nd and 3rd laps while I was attempting my one and after realizing how fun the course was I thought to myself after, maybe that Titan heat would be fun to do next year. Plus I would have gotten a second chance at that Dragon obstacle and wouldn’t still be kicking myself for not attempting it. So since I’ve decided that I will most likely not be heading back to Montana to run the Beast next year I signed up for the Titan heat for 2018, my goal is 4-5 laps of the course. This year it took me 1 hour 18 min to do one lap so I’ve got some work to do :).
My overall impression of X Warrior Challenge is that it was a very organized, fun race that had something for everyone from beginners to experienced racers. Everyone was friendly and helpful, one of my favourite parts about this sport.
I can’t wait to see what else this race series has in store for us OCR fanatics in Alberta!! I’m already signed up for next year and I can’t wait :). And Mya will be running the youth heat again, she had such an amazing time and a great race experience!