I arrived in the Cincinnati airport and quickly met up with Matt, Rob Butler of Shale Hill Adventure Farm, and Holly Joy Berkey (aka Muddy Mommy) and we were off in our rental car to Kings Domain.
It was a treat to get to the race venue the day before with time to spare - not a luxury I'm used to in most races. The staff and race directors were incredibly friendly and welcoming and put us up in some very nice air conditioned cabins. The Kings Domain property we later found out is used for retreats, conferences and more importantly to help inner city children and other families in need experience the great outdoors. One of the founders, Brad Cousino, a former NFL MVP and all around great guy, told us that after visiting a well known obstacle race he got the idea to have one at Kings Domain. He didn't want it to be just a set up and leave obstacle race, but a permanent venue that people could train and race at. He was definitely serious about making it a permanent venue - checking out some of the obstacles allowed us to see the quality and thought that went into the creation of this race. We met the race designers and heard some pretty interesting stories about clearing the trails and building the obstacles - they even brought in an arborist to make sure the natural trees and terrain were used properly in both the trails and the obstacles. The lower portion of the property featured a series of obstacles known as the gauntlet - we were immediately drawn to them. A giant set of monkey bars that started 25' off the ground and led down a 45 degree slope over a muddy moat with a short flat section and then an incredibly challenging 45 degree uphill section. It was like a playground for big kids like me! Then a series of over unders made of fresh cut trees followed by a muddy ending with a ridiculously tall tower climb that was still being painted the night before. It looked like a blast!
After being shown a very small portion of the course, we were thoroughly impressed with the terrain and the thought that went into the design of this race. We then met up with the other racers who were also invited - Elite's like Junyong Pak (Worlds Toughest Mudder), Amelia Boone (Female Worlds Toughest Mudder), Brad Kloha (Run to Remember), Jeff Cain (On My Way to Sparta), Heather Ganoe (Relentless Forward Commotion) and Kevin Jones of the Cornfed Spartans and Crazy Mudder Muckers.
Playbook 360 with Dhani Jones! As a die hard Philadelphia Eagles fan, I was very excited to meet Dhani.
Race day started off with an early wake up in the cabin - some fruit and protein shake. We then made our way to the cafeteria for a real breakfast. I typically don't eat a lot before a race, but when pancakes, bacon, and eggs are in front of me, its hard to say
We made our way to the starting line and met up with Dhani and the rest of the crew. Where we took some pre-race photos. There was a bit of social media hype leading up to this race - I really just wanted to beat Dhani and Matt B. Davis.
After a few interviews with the Spike TV crew and the race camera folks, we met with the race directors. They were anxious to get our opinions as "seasoned obstacle racers" on how they could improve the course moving forward. They took all of our constructive feedback and are looking to incorporate it into future races. The icing on the cake after this race was that we got to hang out with Dhani that evening in downtown Cincinnati - he was incredibly generous and we had a blast!
I hope to be able to compete in the next Mud Guts and Glory race on November 2nd. This time I want Gretchen to be there!