The first TAC Force Challenge was just last year in 2012. I was registered for it but the Mud Ninja was the weekend before and the Ninja broke my tailbone so I had to go on the DL and sell my spot to the inaugural TAC but I still went and watched. It looked fun and everyone said it was great. This is also where I first met Jason Reed, a fellow mud Crazy. So when the organizers sold 10-person tickets for $220, the week after the event, I jumped on it and am so glad I did. This was a great event and the price was incredibly right at $22/person.
I decided to give this one a competitive attempt and run the first wave at 9:00 a.m. The wave was packed and I started out near the middle of about 150 runners. After the start, I did my best to make it to the beginning of the pack but I always knew there was at least 5 or 6 people ahead of me. The trail was mostly and all wooded and very scenic until about mile 2 when you went into open fields. There were obstacles of different types on the course, standard mud/water pits, walking planks, climbing walls, etc.. but the favorites were the water slide, cliff jump and rope swing. I learned later, from the organizer, that there were 3 other obstacles washed out earlier in the week from storms. One was another slide that was to be longer and steeper than the existing slide and that would shoot you out into the big creek. Sorry we didn't get that one but the one we did get was fun enough. The clear favorite of most runners was the cliff jump. This was an overlook next to the creek that was 12 ~ 15 feet above the water and that they had dredged out to ensure no hazards. If you are at all afraid of heights or jumping into the unknown, this was NOT for you. Not an issue for me but this is one you just grab the gonads, nut up, and take that jump. To make things even more interesting, this year they added a $100 bill hanging out over the cliff somewhere for someone to be able to jump out and get. Since I knew I was only about the 5th or 6th person to hit this cliff, by the time I got there it was already gone. They clearly needed to make that a little more challenging. After splash-down, you then had to make a 100 yard trek through the knee to waist deep water. There was no running this part. The bottom was very rocky and you were going against a very strong current. There weren't too many hills on the course and the ones that were there were short but very steep. It didn't take long for these to get very slippery and only one of them had ropes to help you up. The next big obstacle was the rope swing. This was a mud/water pit about 15 ~ 20 feet across and at least 3 feet deep with 2 ropes hanging over top of it. The goal was to swing like Tarzan across the pit to the other side. This was nearly impossible and if you did make it to the other side, it was so muddy and slippery and you were coming in hard enough that you busted your ass when you landed. I made it to within 2 feet of the far edge and securely dropped into the mud pit then climbed the rest of the way out. I don't think there were many people that could make it all the way across, at least adults. You would need a running start, grab high on the rope and pick up your legs, then you would have to work the dismount, very difficult. My son, Kameron, went back and did this one several times until he could finally get all the way across. They tried to add an ice pit this year but didn't have near enough ice. The creek water was colder. The winners of the 'Nasty' award go to the last 2 obstacles. Second to last was simply culvert pipes under a road but the muck had a very distinctive 'farm' smell to it. The pipes were small 30" cement pipes that you had to crawl through for about 20 feet and exit into some pretty nasty drainage. The last obstacle was this very long muck pit, about 70 feet long and about 3 feet deep. It was so 'thick' that it took every bit of strength left in you to pull your feet up and make the next step. I'm sure there were many shoes lost in this one. It was actually easier to 'swim' the muck stew than try to walk or crawl through it. To top it off, they placed 4 telephone poles at intervals over it about 18 inches off the surface. You could either go over them or under them, either way was difficult.
In the end, I was very pleased with my efforts as I ended up with 5th place overall out of 313 recorded finishes. Even better was the fact that 3 of the top 5 finishers were in the 40 ~ 49 age group. Clearly the 'old' guys kick ass. This year they also had a team competition where they took the top 5 times of people on a team and averaged them. Team Crazy Mudder Muckers took the top team spot out of 22 teams. Congratulations to everyone.
After the competitive run, I then was fortunate enough to get to run the course again with my sons and the rest of the Crazy Mudder Muckers including several OCR virgins. Big shout out to Paula Henry and Mike Gray for embracing the Suck. Now that they have drank the Kool Aid they are ready to take on more. Running this with my sons was just about the best way to spend a Father's Day weekend.
The one major issue with both years has been the clean-off station. This year the farm sprayer got stuck going for a water refill. We hiked our way back to the cliff jump and took a dive in the creek to wash off. Definite improvement needed in this department.
FYI .. The organizers told me that they are considering a 10k option for next year.