I ran my first X Warrior Challenge race last year in May, the weekend after I ran the Montana Spartan Beast where I hurt my knee and achilles. It was a race I needed, it was fun and challenging and had a great community feel. I signed up that night for the Titan multi lap challenge for the next year. The Titan heat started at 8:30 am and you had 6 hours to complete as many laps as possible, it was a new kind of challenge that I was excited but also nervous for.
The morning of May 12, 2018 seemed to sneak up on me, after a very long winter it was suddenly here. I felt somewhat ready, I had be prioritizing my workouts for the last few months, something I had neglected to do last year. I was nervous but mostly excited. My oldest daughter, Mya, was also running the Titan multi lap challenge with a couple of her friends and she was feeling the same, nervous but also excited.
We arrived at the venue, Stampede Park in Calgary, bright and early at 7:45 am, our heat started at 8:30. We had just enough time to get our timing chips, buy a couple hoodies and water bottles and drop our bags off in the Titan change room.
At the start line I met my friends and we lined up. Mya and her friends headed up to the front of the line and I didn’t see them again until I was heading out for lap 4. I really like that X Warrior releases the heats in groups of 10, 2 minutes apart, it really cuts back on the bottlenecks and makes for a smoother run. When it was our turn we were off running on the chuckwagon track, I hate running on rutted tracks but I was grateful that it was brief and then we were back on the pavement and at the first obstacle, a 6 foot wall. Although I had figured out the wall walking technique to get myself over the 6 foot wall I decided to save my energy and use the sides…I was also wearing my regular running shoes and they were really slick on the walls.
Then it was inside to the stadium stairs both inside and out, some of the stairs had ropes across them that we had to crawl under and we weaved inside and out and hit another 6 foot wall at the main level.
The course this year was shorter than last year, it was a quick course, just over 5km. It was nice to see some new obstacles and some twists on a few classics.
We came back outside and hit the monkey bars next. I decided to skip them on lap 1 and do the mountain climber penalty instead. I’ve been advised to avoid overhead movements and hanging/swinging due to a SLAP tear in my shoulder and a rotator cuff tear. It was frustrating though because I knew I could do them. When I hit them on lap 2 I decided to test my shoulder and went halfway across using as much hip swing and as little arm swing as I could, I was pleasantly surprised that although it was a bit painful my shoulder did not ache afterwards. I had taped my shoulder with KT tape and it seemed to be helping. On laps 3 and 4 I was able to successfully complete the monkey bars which was amazing.
After a 4 foot and 8 foot wall and a bucket carry we hit the first new obstacle called X Tarzan, it was a series of ropes that you had to swing from and grab the next without falling off onto the inflatable pad below. I was nervous to try it because of my shoulder but looking back I wish that I had tested it out. The lack of me being able to do this obstacle meant I did a 20 Burpee penalty each lap.
After Tarzan we came to the tire flip which is always one of my favourites and then hit the log carry which was more like a giant fence post that was very awkward to carry when you’re 5’3″ with a useless right shoulder, this was the obstacle I hated more and more every lap I did. Then we came to more walls, a 4 foot and 8 foot. And over to the sandbag carry which was not as bad as last year but definitely felt heavy by the last lap.
The rope climb had a fun twist this year, you had to climb up on a platform and grab a rope (either jump or have someone pass it to you) and then climb to the top and ring a bell. The swing as you grabbed the rope created a unique challenge but it was only a few climbs to the top before you reached the bell, coming down slowly and safely was the trickier part. I was happy to see inflatable crash pads under the rope, especially on my last lap when my grip failed and I did not decend gracefully.
The z walls were next, as usual I fell off every time but luckily the penalty was 40 mountain climbers and not Burpees. Then the inverted wall and tip of the spear (the olympus). Finally we hit the axe throw which I never did stick and ended up doing 80 Burpees at this obstacle.
And next was the final obstacle, the X Dragon which is a series of platforms a few feet apart that you jump from and grab a bar, it’s more of a mental obstacle than a physical one but it was further apart this year and many people struggled with it. One of my goals going into the race was to conquer that obstacle…I did not. I couldn’t get up the ramp and quite honestly the crowds at the top were very intimidating, I was worried about anyone pulling on my shoulder so I refused help and ended up doing Burpees.
It was a bit strange crossing the finish line and not getting my medal right away, there was no sense of accomplishment that I was done the race…I still had many more laps to go. I decided to eat a quick granola bar (provided at the finish) and drink a glass of water before heading straight out for lap 2. By this point I had lost everyone that I started running with but I happily set out on my own knowing I would see them along the way. I was lucky enough to start my lap in between heats which meant no bottlenecks on the course at all. After the sandbag carry I ran into a friend of mine and we finished our lap together. By that point I was starting to fatigue so I decided to head into the Titan lounge to get some electrolytes and food. It was really awesome having a space to leave a bag, eat food and chat with other Titans. So much better than carrying everything with you like the Spartan Beast.
In the Titan lounge I met some pretty awesome people and ended up running the next two laps with my new friend, Kelea. We ended up running at the same pace and had a lot in common. Along the way I ran into my friends again too and hopped into pictures here and there, I also finally saw my daughter and her friends who had completed 3 laps and were headed off to run the Junior race next.
I ended up running 4 laps of the course which ended up totalling approximately 22km with 88 obstacles and 240 Burpees. It was an amazing day that I won’t soon forget. I loved challenging myself in new ways and running multiple laps meant running into friends (and making new ones) that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen. I’ll definitely be back next year to try to get even more laps in.
X Warrior is one of my favourite race series, it has an amazing community feel to it that you just don’t get at the bigger races like Spartan and Rugged Maniac. And there are multiple race types running at the same time like the Titan heat, open heats (with a free second lap), the strong bag challenge (carrying a sandbag for one or more laps), elite heats and junior races all on the same course. Spectators can see most of the obstacles and it makes it fun for the whole family. I highly recommend this race to everyone from beginners to the elite racers.
Did you run the X Warrior challenge? What did you think of it?