X Warrior Challenge 2017 – Review

If your curious how my race went check out my re-cap here

X Warrior Challenge was back at the Calgary Stampede Grounds for its second year in a row to offer up a a Stadium Obstacle Course Race. X Warrior Challenge consisted of 3 event types: X Warrior Junior (for the kids), X Warrior Challenge Stadium Sprint (1 lap of the 7 km course), as well as there 6 hour endurance event the X Warrior Titan where competitors completed as many laps as possible in the time allotted.  For racers choosing to participate in the standard X Warrior Challenge, they had the option of running either in the Elite or Open heats. As for the Titan competitors there was no differentiation between Elite and Open competitors but there were still awards and prizes to be earned.

The day began with the Elite men taking to the course at 9:30 AM, followed by the Elite woman at 9:45 AM, the Titan Heat at 10 AM, and then continued on with Open Heat racers being released on to the course at 10:30 AM and throughout the day. Within each heat racers were sent out on to the course in waves of 10-20 racers about every minute.

Throughout the day 710 X Warriors took to the 7 km course. The fastest times on the 7 km course were just over 30 minutes, with the majority of the participants finishing just over an hour. All X Warrior finishers received a Finishers T-Shirt, an X Warrior medal, and a X Warrior Finisher #noexcuses bracelet.

X Warrior Challenge Sprint, and Titan Finisher Swag!

In addition to the X Warriors, 231 Titans took to the course to see how many laps they could complete in 6 hours. The most laps completed was 8 in a time of 5:56:47, with the majority of the racers completing 4 or more laps. Despite the wide range in lap completions it is always inspiring to see people push themselves to new limits as the vast majority of Titan competitors were on the course for more than 4.5 hours. Titan Finishers also received the same finisher swag as the X Warriors, with a few added incentives. Upon completing 2 laps Titans received a X Bronze pin, 3 laps a X Titan Finisher medal, 4-5 laps a X Silver pin (one for each lap), 6 laps a X Titan Colossus Badge, 7+ laps X Gold pin (one for each lap). Additionally Titan’s also received a Titan Finisher #neverstop bracelet.

Furthermore the top 3 male and female racers in the X Warrior Challenge and the X Warrior Titan, each received a pair of Icebug shoes.

COURSE HIGHLIGHTS

Coach Pain: Having Coach Pain at the start line was incredible. The power behind his words at the start is insurmountable. From the Junior X Warriors, to the Elites, and everyone in between was inspired by what this man had to say, and attacked the course in front of them that much harder. Maybe not every part of his speech was relevant to everyone but I guarantee that everyone was inspired by at least one part of his speech that not only affected their race performance but will also affect their day to day lives.

Coach Pain getting the Titans ready for battle. Zoom Photo

Tons of Obstacles:

Note, tire drag was not there on race day.

The 7 km course was littered with 24 challenging obstacles. A few particularly challenging obstacles included two 8 ft walls, and four different heavy carries (two separate sandbag carries, bucket carry, and a tire carry). Two new obstacles to the X Warrior course were X Ape, and X Dragon. X Ape was one of the simplest obstacles by design but one of the more challenging obstacles out there. X Ape was located on the sidewalk of a bridge, and consisted of ropes strung across the handrails thereby forcing racers to bear crawl their way across the bridge. X Ape doesn’t sound too terrible until you realize how long it is, and that you are unable to stand up and take a break (because of the ropes), forcing racers to grit their teeth and make it to the other side. X Dragon was a series of platforms and steeply sloped walls with a handrail. Racers needed to leap from the platform, plant their feet on the opposing wall and grab the hand rail at the same time, otherwise they’d fall to ground below. This was by far one of the most nerve wracking obstacles I’ve ever attempted. However once you get the nerve to jump you realize that it isn’t really that hard. But it is still exhilarating each time you leap from platform to platform.

The beastly X Dragon confronts racers at the finish line.

Great Course Layout: The X Warrior course utilized every aspect of the Stampede Grandstand. Not only were stadium stairs used to climb up but they integrated obstacles into them, making the stairs that more challenging (X Spider: like X Ape but on stairs, X Sandblast: sandbag carry on the stairs. Racers even got to run through the horse stables (which had a distinguishing smell…) and the iconic Half Mile of Hell (chuck wagon race track). Bottle necking was kept a minimum despite one issue which I talk about below. Even in the tight quarters of the barbed wire crawl, stadium stairs, or X Ape there was still plenty of room to pass other racers.

While running X Warrior, racers get a unique tour of the Calgary Stampede Rodeo grounds.

3 Axe Throw Attempts: The X Warrior Axe Throw is equivalent to the Spartan Race Spear Throw, but much cooler because it’s an axe! To any Spartan Racer out there you know how frustrating it is to only get one attempt at the Spear Throw. Well X Warrior understands how annoying a single attempt can be and gave racers 3 attempts to land an axe in the target zone.

Free Spectators: Once again spectators were Free at the X Warrior Challenge. Nothing more to say about it, except that it’s fantastic!

COURSE LOWLIGHTS

3 Axe Throw Attempts: Although it was nice to have multiple attempts at hitting the target with the axe, allowing each participant 3 throws created huge lines at this obstacle throughout the day. Additionally with people throwing axes right beside you, it wasn’t the smartest idea to retrieve your axe until others have thrown. Thereby creating even longer wait times as racers had to wait for everyone to throw before safely retrieving there axe and trying again. It eventually grew to the point where some racers simply opted to do 20 penalty burpees rather than wait in line.

Titan Pit: I’m really nitpicking here to find additional “Lowlights”, because the X Warrior Challenge was a fantastically well run event. However if you choose to run in the Titan heat be forewarned that your pit area is a minor inconvenience.  The Titan’s pit area is located underneath the stands of the Stampede infield, which is in front of the finish line. Titan’s had to complete a lap before pitting, therefore Titan’s had to cross the finish line, run back to the pit, navigate a few tight hallways to get to their bags, then back through the tight halls, around the finish line, then finally back out onto the course. This really is a minor inconvenience, especially when the pit area comes complete with bathrooms and showers.

OVERALL

With this being only the second year of the X Warrior Challenge I am once again blown away. Even with only two events under its belt X Warrior is already competing to be my favorite obstacle course race. The production and execution of the event is phenomenal! With tons of challenging, innovated, unique, and big obstacles this race is a great challenge for all athletic abilities. It may be another year until the next X Warrior Challenge but it is worth the wait and I highly recommend that you come out and give it a try yourself.

Titans being unleashed on to the X Warrior course.

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