Unfortunately, the event was a colossal disappointment. I think the best way to explain the disappointment is to compare what was expected versus what actually occurred.
Expected: Pre-race packet pick at a location to be announced on the website a week prior to race day.
Actual: Multiple calls and an email went unanswered. The Husband finally got a response to his email telling us that we could pick up our race packets on race day. No information was provided on the website.
Expected: At packet pick up, participants were to verify their identity with a government issued photo i.d. and turn in a signed waiver to receive a free hat, race bib, beer coupon, and a timing chip.
Actual: There was one woman at a table checking people in, not bothering to check i.d.'s. Even though we registered over a month ago, she couldn't find our names on her list. She just handed us a race bib and wrote our names and bib numbers down on a sheet of paper. There were no hats, beer coupons or timing chips provided. It turns out that the event wasn't going to be chip timed after all!
Expected: 15 crazy, challenging obstacles that were designed by a military expert.
Actual: 10 obstacles that were poorly constructed, and nothing like what the website described.
Almost immediately after the start, we encountered Obstacle #1:The Great Walls of Snow (3ft & 6ft snow walls according to the event website). First of all, I don't see snow walls, I see some plywood being held up by 2x4's! Second, these walls were much higher than 3 & 6 feet respectively. My best guess would be about 7 & 9 feet since both of them towered over The Husband (he's 6' 1"). The two 'snow walls' were pretty much impossible to conquer without a serious boost from teammates.
Now, lest you think that the only reason I needed help on this obstacle is because I'm somewhat vertically challenged, below is a picture of my 6 foot tall Dad making a solo attempt before accepting help from the team.
At the top of the climb we were met by Obstacle #3: The Suicide Slide (not on the sample course map, but heavily featured in a promo video on the event website). The so-called 'Suicide Slide' was actually a short slide down a hill on a plastic saucer - and the most fun obstacle we encountered.
What wasn't so fun? Having to run back up the hill to return the saucer (no volunteers or race staff anywhere) and then run back down the hill.
After this we ran/hiked/walked for quite a while before coming to Obstacle #4: The Matterhorn Travers (sic) (teetering slippery planks per the website). The reality was a far cry from the expectation. The only real challenge was trying to walk across 2x4's in snow-encrusted shoes.
After the 'Kodiak Krawl' it was a long (I'm thinking well over a mile) run/walk/hike to the next obstacle. At this point, I pretty much mentally checked out. I was bored. I was tired. The water station that they promised on the course had yet to materialize, and it turned out it never would. At long last, we came to Obstacle #6: Koryak Cargo (advertised as climbing up 12 foot high cargo nets). I think the pictures say it all.
After the knee-crushing landing, we headed out on a long, desolate, very serpentine route before finally discovering Obstacle #7: The Badger Crossover (crawling over and under icy cargo nets). Again, I think someone didn't understand the definition of cargo net, because this is what we found.
|I am only smiling because I know the 'race' is almost over.|
After procuring beer tickets, we trooped inside the 'Warming Tent' for what was supposed to be a finish line party. Again, we were met with a stark difference between expectations/advertising and reality.
Expected: A rockin' finish line party with "Music, Drinks, Food and Merriment" (quoted from an email sent out by the event organizers 2 days prior to the race).
Actual: A mostly empty tent with an empty platform where a band/dj could have set up. A choice between Guinness, Miller Lite, soda or water in exchange for a beer ticket or cold, hard cash. A handful of very vocally displeased finishers chugging their free beer so they could get out of there.
And that's just what we did. We bid farewell to dad's friends, who had other obligations this afternoon, and then the four of us (Dad, The Husband, Brother and myself) trooped off to our favorite chicken wing joint to fill our empty bellies.
Overall, I would not recommend doing a Tundra Challenge event (there are 5 more scheduled around the country this winter) for so many reasons. I paid $55 (about what I paid to do the Full Moon Half Marathon for comparison's sake) to do this event and I seriously wonder where my (and everyone else's) money went, because it certainly didn't go into the quality or construction of the obstacles, the non-existent chip timing, or the finish line party.
The only positive things I can say about this event are:
- I met some really nice people on the course. All the other racers were really good about helping each other over walls, etc., even if they were total strangers.
- I got to spend a lot of time with 3 people who mean a lot to me (Husband, Dad, Brother)
Bottom Line: I feel like this event was not only a huge rip off, but a total waste of time.