Hopkins Game Farm was the venue for this weekends Savage Race. The farm land is mostly flat, with a few paths in and out of a creek area. Not much in terms of actual elevation, but enough ups and downs to give your calves a good workout. The week leading up to this race, it had rained pretty consistently several days. Also, since the race is on farmland, I’ve noticed the water tends to just lay on the ground, instead of being soaked in and dispersed. So going into the race weekend, I knew it was going to be very wet and sloppy.
Savage Race tends to be more of a runners OCR. Less elevation than other races, more grip and technique type obstacles. They don’t beat you down with heavy carries, the only carry is a 2×4 and it’s extremely light. They like to incorporate more fear based obstacles, like an icy dunk tank, or a 15 foot jump off of a platform into a pool of water.They also have various rigs that can be tricky to traverse without falling off of them. They have 2 race types: Savage Race and Savage Blitz. Savage Race is about 6 miles with 25 obstacles. Savage Blitz is 3 miles with around 18 obstacles. Both have a Pro and Open waves. The Pro waves are Mandatory Obstacle Completion. This means if you fail an obstacle, you need to go back and do it again until you complete it, or else give up your band. Winners from age groups are first chosen by whoever completed 100% of the obstacles the fastest. If there aren’t 3 that completed 100%, then it would drop down to the rest that finished the fastest.
The venue is pretty easy to get to, not far from some major highways. The farm is host to a lot of different sporting events, like clay pigeon shooting. So they have the entrance and parking lot figured out pretty well, and the attendants get you in smoothly. They have VIP parking right by the entrance to the venue, but in my opinion that’s a waste of money. The regular parking is only a short walk to get in.
The venue is set up on a flat open area so once you’re inside you can see pretty much everything. All the tents are clearly marked, so it is easy to find bag check, results, etc. There were lots of vendors there this year giving away drinks and protein bars. The finisher beer was 26.2, a marathon inspired beer. They also had Sam Adams Summer Ale available to purchase.
My only real issues with the venue was the hoses/changing stations. They are at a pond that is a good distance from the venue. I understand why they needed to be there, because of the location of the pond. However I don’t understand why all the venue tents aren’t just moved closer to it? Maybe there’s some logistical issues, but I did hear quite a few people grumble about having to go so far to change.
The way the course was setup this year was much more challenging than previous years. There isn’t much elevation here, but they used every inch of it. Also they made us go in and out of the same creek multiple times. A good way to increase the difficulty and add in more trail running on what is a pretty flat course.
Savage definitely has some of the best obstacles in OCR, and they laid them out very well on this course. They hit you with Sawtooth fairly early, and then the ending gauntlet of obstacles is pretty brutal to get through. It didn’t feel overwhelming though, just tough. Due to all the rainfall, the course was very sloppy and obstacles were soaked, so it made some hard ones even tougher. The new obstacles were a welcome challenge, and tricky to figure out. I needed multiple attempts at Chopsticks and Piece of Queso before I could figure them out.
Also, the finisher shirts have to be some of the best I’ve ever had. Cotton, but so so soft. They fit well and they only have the Sponsors on the back of them, not the front. The new medals are very cool designs, and the Syndicate medal is pretty awesome to spin around. This year they have buttons, instead of the State Axes like last year. The Podium winners get Axe medals that are bigger depending on the podium spot. The Overall winners get a huge Axe mounted on a display.
I didn’t really have any issues with the race itself. There are a few things I wish could be changed or added. I could do without the ice bath, jump into a pool of water, and the water slides, but I get that those are what Savage is about. They just don’t feel like obstacles to me, especially when you’re running the Pro wave.
Also, if you have issues with officiating at other races, you are going to have those issues here as well. Lots of the high fail obstacles had no one really paying attention to who still had their “band” and who didn’t. The multi rig on Sunday only had a medic there, so you could walk by it with no issue. I get it, having capable officials is expensive and hard to do. I only point it out because officiating comes up a lot in OCR groups.
The other issue is now that they aren’t doing the state pins, when you do multiple races, you’re basically just collecting the same medals and pins over and over. Since there is only two different races, Savage Race and Savage Blitz, once you’ve done those 2 you’ve received all the different medals, finisher shirts, and buttons they have for the year. So unless you podium, there isn’t any of that “gotta collect them all” feeling that other race series have.
Saturday and Sunday I signed up to do some volunteering after my races, and it was a great experience. The Savage Race staff was extremely friendly, and happy to have us. They said thank you for volunteering like a million times. Helping out with the kids race was so much fun. Then handing out drinks to racers and doing merch and bag check helped me see the other side of OCR. It felt good to be appreciated, the whole volunteer experience was very refreshing, and I would recommend it to anyone!
Thanks again for reading! As always, hit me up with your questions and comments!!