In Depth 2017 X Warrior Challenge Review

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Sharing my review for the 2017 X Warrior Challenge I originally wrote up for the Overcome and Run Podcast’s blog. So keep in mind the original published date was May of 2017 for this one.

 

Well, as has become an annual tradition for me, I was racing the day before Mother’s Day; Luckily, this year it didn’t entail having to drive 6 hours’ home after running the Montana Beast. This year was spent conquering X Warrior Challenge instead. X Warrior Challenge is Western Canada’s own homegrown obstacle race, with its premier (only current) event taking place at the iconic Stampede Grandstand, in downtown Calgary. X Warrior is rare in that it offers (if not the only) stadium race in Western Canada. In its second year of existence, the race has become an OCRWC qualifier, and offers Elite, Open and Titan waves. The Titan is X Warrior’s multilap format similar to a BFX (RIP BattleFrog); Titan competitors get 6 hours to complete the course as many times as possible.

 

I was unable to race in their inaugural event last year but had heard lots of good things. Obviously, they put on a great event, as it earned them two runner-up spots in the 2016 ‘Best of OCR from Mud Run Guide’. So, this year it was the first race I signed up for; I was so excited to get out there this weekend, and I was not disappointed. Now, to be honest, I’m a bit of a rodeo kid (from competing in it as a kid), so to compete on one of the biggest rodeo stages in the world was incredibly exciting.

 

The main grandstand

 

 

The X Warrior Challenge was billed as a 5k,2 0 obstacle race, but in reality it was longer. The course designer said it was 7K, my FitBit said 6K (but that’s not exactly the most reliable), so let’s say 6.5K, with 26 obstacles. With Coach Pain firing up the competitors, we started off on the main grandstand stage. That’s where they staggered out each heat by groups of 10, every 2 minutes or so, to help avoid obstacles bottlenecks. Now, the race, to me was almost broken up into 4 quarters.

x warrior 2017 stadium course map

 

So, the first quarter of the race followed the usual OCR trend of the first few obstacles being various walls which then led into the stadium. Inside the actual grandstand was pretty limited for obstacles, with just a spider crawl up the stairs while using some ‘Up & Overs’ to break up the climbing up and down the rows of seats. After an 8-foot wall heading out, we were sent out for the second quarter of the course, onto the horse racing/chuckwagon track.

 

x warrior 2017 start area

 

 

There we started to cover more distance and non-wall obstacles, starting with the X Wedge, which was a body prop for about 10 feet. Following that was the X Tip of the spear, followed by the X inverted wall (yes, every obstacle was named X whatever). now the tip of the spear hand holds was either really spaced out if you wanted to stick to the same type of holds, just 2×4’s to try to hold on to bridge the gaps. Following that was the ring rig, which I failed, the rings were just a little too far apart for me, after I lost momentum. Right after that was a scaffold ladder, similar to the usual cargo net climb, without the give, followed by the barbed wire crawl which wrapped up the first half of the race.

 

x warrior 2017 the ring rig with saddledome in the background.jpeg

 

The third quarter of the race was along the paved areas in and around chuckwagon horse barns. Beginning with an ape crawl, then the first of two sandbag carries, with this one being the shorter of the two and along relatively simple flat terrain. Following the second 8-foot of the course was the tire flip, which actually was lighter than most races, so they upped the men’s requirement to three flips. After that is where things got a little confusing: first, at the bucket brigade we were allowed to use shoulders (which of course is not normal), and I’m not sure if this was only because the volunteer didn’t know the rules. The X Climb was a ‘Z’ wall which, much like the Tip of the Spear, had the hand holds just a little further apart than usual. The hurdles where ‘Over Unders’ followed by more tires. These were normal sized car tires, which were carried around a loop using a farmer’s carry, or any other technique you wanted, though there wasn’t a tire drag despite what the course map said.

 

 

Then we entered the infield grandstand, which started the final quarter, through the main stock chute. As a rodeo nerd it was cool to be going through there, just like Grated Coconut and Outlaw (see nerd-I even know the more famous stock animals). The Axe throw was a unique twist on the spear throw where, once again, I’m not sure if the three throws we got were actually the rules. This could have been what everyone was just kind of going with since there was only a single volunteer there, but I missed all three which led to 20 burpees. The second sandbag came next; and this one was good step up on its predecessor, having to carry it up and down the smaller infield grandstand stairs, which were on quite a steep angle, and over a longer distance. Once you finished that it was a rope climb, and then Dragon’s Back which, as I went through, was giving plenty of competitor’s mental fits with its design. Once you finished that it was short dash to the finish line.

 

the x dragon.jpeg

 

The elite men’s heat had some Overcome and Run flavor to them; on top of Coach Pain getting them started, the race was extremely close. Recent guest Josh Stryde almost caught up with another recent guest, Austin Azar, on the last part of Dragon’s Back. Azar was able to hit the gas for the last sprint to the finish line, to win by only 3 seconds. Third place came down to a very similar dash, with Kody O’Brien coming out on top of that battle.

 

The women were a little more spaced out coming through the final obstacles, with Arielle Fitzgerald coming in first while Jessica Lemon was just getting to X Dragon. Jessica then finished with similar spacing ahead of third place Nancy Loranger. I wasn’t able to stay for the end of the Titan, as my kid ran the Little Warriors race which was also incredibly well run. Coach Pain did a great job with the kids too, but my son wanted to get home to display his medal, and what OCR dad can say no to that? So I had to miss the medal presentation.

 

 

The course was really well laid out and fast since it was pretty flat (for this corner of the world), and on dry, fast surfaces between the stadium pavement and the track. After running this race today, I wouldn’t really call it a stadium race. I’m not sure what to call it, being a hybrid with the track being included, and the stadium only being physically able to have a few obstacles due to size. The track could’ve changed things quite considerably, had we had any rain, as I’m sure running through that would’ve got a lot slower. I’ve also heard in the past of poor marking at stadium races, and this one avoided that very well as there was no real gaps in marking. For my first non-Spartan OCR, I felt quite comfortable as it was pretty similar in terms of obstacles, design and rules, with 20 burpees being the most common penalty for failed obstacles although the odd one had 40 mountain climbers instead. At the start of the week, I was able to ask race director Darcy Chalifoux what his goals were for this year. His answer: “People have expectations this year (last year they didn’t). The #1 goal is to produce an event and get the same level of feedback we experienced last year.  It would be great to see growth in numbers too, of course!” I think they more than did that.

Overall, I think the staff did an amazing job using what they had available to them. It was phenomenally well-organized; the idea to space out the heats into smaller groups was really smart. I would recommend this race to any racer out there, as it would be a great first race but is also challenging enough for seasoned racers, who can also step up the difficulty and race the Titan. Add X Warrior to your 2018 race schedule.

 

x warrior 2017 finisher shirt

 

Takeaways:

  • X Warrior is really well done for a small race series
  • In terms of obstacles and layout, this race is very Spartan-esque, in a good way
  • Canada needs more stadium races.

 

Elite Podium

Men

  1. Austin Azar
  2. Josh Stryde
  3. Kody O’Brien

Women

  1. Arielle Fitzgerald
  2. Jessica Lemon
  3. Nancy Loranger

 

Titan Podium

Men

  1. Stefan Wieclawek
  2. Brayden Jessen
  3. Adam Kuhn

Women

  1. Linzee Knowles
  2. Kathy Karpati
  3. Zaid Medina

 

happy trails

 

This article originally was posted on The Overcome and Run Podcast’s Blog. Check out the podcast for the best OCR content available anywhere.

Scotty Voodoo
I am a proud father & husband. A former semi-pro skier, turned rugby 7’s player, I’ve now worked to become a OCR racer.
A level 2 NCCP certified coach, I also hold coaching certifications in 3 sports.

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