May 6th 2018
Sunny Hill Resort, Greenville, New York
Sunny Hill Resort Viking Obstacle Race Double Viking. Two laps around a 5.5 mile, 35 obstacle permanent obstacle course located in upstate New York in or near the Catskills. Despite the location, this is a course that is devoid of any significant elevation gain but instead challenge you with one of the most gnarly, rugged flat courses available to run in NYS. They are proud to test your skill on 35 obstacles that make more withdraws than deposits as obstacles are designed to beat your grip into oblivion with their order and frequency. The double Viking is two laps that ground out anything left in your hands. The running was flat but not straight, boulders were used as official obstacles, ponds, logs, bogs, anything and everything was used and your ankles were forfeit as tribute to the OCR gods at any point during the day. Some of the obstacles look like Frankenstein freak shows that combined a few elements in terms of complexity or height or breadth that are usually spread between two or three obstacles. They present a unique challenge. If you love obstacles this is a race for you.
Sunny Hill is indeed a resort and very lovely to look at, if you elected to stay the evening there the trip to the starting line from your hotel room is shorter than the walk from the parking lot. I would recommend staying the night before.
I elected to run in the Double Viking choosing to focus on my obstacle negotiation over my running for any potential placement in the standings. That wasn’t smart, in fact racing wasn’t smart looking back at it. We started with the single lap runners so the group was hard to determine at the starting line, single lap runners took off while double runners held back. We started off at a beautiful lake and quickly ran into the woods. The path was marked well, friendly volunteers were helpful so getting lost was not an issue. The majority of the race and obstacles were in the woods, the rain did not help anything and being a local, small OCR the obstacles were unfamiliar in name and form. So in other words first timers had no frame of reference unless they knew someone who had run it before. I knew the winner of the previous year’s Double winner so he informed the obstacles were different and a bit extreme in cases. We were hit with walls seemingly every other obstacle, that skill is worth developing as it can take a lot out of racers if not efficient at it. Sharp trail running was absolutely necessary as the rockiness of upstate New York played differently than ski mountain courses or farmland flat courses. The obstacle “Runestones” if I recall correctly was natural obstacles of huge boulders, moss covered boulders to navigate over as the path narrowed to restrict lateral movement some of which were large enough to jump down off of. The most popular obstacle on the course is their monkey bars called the “Dragon’s Tooth” which is a monkey bars track that has a peak in it. The peak or tooth caused an upward and downwards slant in angle climbing up and down respectively. This was after a series of traverse walls that made standard traverse walls a short sad joke. I believe 7 panels of walls, some of which were connected by balance beams or overhead wooden rails to obstacle to completely annihilate your grip.
The second lap was where the grip left to go home and left me on the course alone. The second go at the Dragon’s Tooth is where I lost my band. Wet bars and no strength made my first attempt on the second lap my best on, falling from the “tooth” approximately 1/3 to ½ through. Each attempt after was lessened and I dropped earlier and earlier. Knowing the 21’ foot rope climbing looming after that it I called it.
The last miles was through some serial killer bog stuff named “Valhalla’s Moat”. If I saw the bodies of previous competitors floating around, I would not have been surprised. Gratefully it was too early for the nasty little bugs and ticks but I was knee deep in mud and would have lost my shoes if not for the magic of double knots. The finish line came around and ended at the lake, in a serene beautiful scene.
This race, which was my last race for 6 months, taught me a lot. The most important less is to be honest with yourself about how you feel physically and what is it worth to you to race that day. I stood at the starting line at what was in my mind 80% when in actuality it was 60% at best. I later found that I was dealing with two bulging discs in my lower back and the resulting sciatica that caused me to have to pull out and reschedule or simply lose money from races I had planned for. “Runestones”, about 15 -20 mins into the race, had us jumping off a boulder onto the ground and the subsequent impact jarred my body to a point of discomfort and dropped me down to well below that 60% I even started with and got worse as the pain caused me to stop and stretch more than a few times while racing. Worse yet, I learned that I had an opportunity to place if I simply finished as people dropped out after the first lap so I downed an energy gel and ground out the second extremely painful lap. The result, I lost my band, limped the majority of the second lap and lost money and 6 months time while I rehabbed hence the lateness of this post. This pic sums it up:
That said, like many local OCR, it has a pleasant environment, very homegrown and familiar even if it the first run. Grip strength is a must, whatever you think you have for strength you need more. My gloves, which I wear more for protection than for grip, and is effective at maintaining said grip for I’d say 85% of all obstacle courses were that day in the 15% of ineffectiveness. They had no grip on “Dragon’s Tooth”, I had to remove them, sometimes different materials from race venue to venue feel differently even if is say for monkey bars so use caution if racing with gloves. It was however and fun day, everyone was smiling and enjoying the event even in the less than pleasant rainy conditions.
The obstacles were interesting, a bit too many walls for my taste. They enjoy their Viking theme with the majority of the obstacles having this Nordic theme played out in their name. The last mile in a few places just overall sucked, a bit too “wild” for racing. I can’t imagine being one on one with someone pushing for position and to attempt to safely push through that kind of terrain. I will consider returning and trying to race in better health but I do recommend this race.
I was not a fan of the finisher’s shirt but I loved the “medal” which was actually made of wood.
Arsenal (gear and nutrition)