On May 18th at Elmms Farm in Ballston Spa, 41 brave souls challenged and conquered the Hero Rush Course as part of Team “DZ Restaurants House of Pane”. Our team was a diverse collection of DZ Restaurant employees, friends, family, and guests representing a wide range of alertness, soberness, and conditioning.
According to Hero Rush, “Hero Rush is a blazingly tough, totally unique and absolutely fun 4-5 mile obstacle race and experience for everyone” however after actually completing the course I would substitute the word “fun” with “masochistic” and change “for everyone” to “for everyone who wants to serve penance with an act of self-punishment to atone for sins or wrongdoings.”
Much of the time prior to our 9:30am wave was spent ripping the sleeves off each-other’s custom-made T-shirts which had been generously donated by regular DZ Restaurants’ guest, Andrew McClure. Once we looked enough like the back-up dancers in a 1980’s Madonna video we made our way to the starting pen and ascended sets of wooden deck stairs to the top of a rickety shipping container that felt about as structurally sound as the last move in a game of Beer Jenga .
As honorary Team Captain I was granted the honor of not only babbling nonsense into a microphone, but also the privilege of stepping on the air horn button that through backmasking either said “Paul is dead man, miss him, miss him, miss him” or “Abandon hope all ye who enter here” With the siren still resonating in the morning air we slid down firefighter poles on the Dispatch Obstacle and sprinted once more into the breach of 4.78 miles of 17 tough, crazy, fear-facing, arm-bruising, ankle-twisting, hamstring-pulling, shin-scraping obstacles.
We were first met with the Forcible Fury obstacle which felt much like sprinting through the prefab shed section of a Lowe’s: Let’s Permanently Injure Something Together. The next ½ mile was a mostly a trail run through waist deep mud and muck and foliage dense enough to be used as B-Roll Hunger Games footage.
After slaughtering a wild boar we emerged feral from the wilderness we encountered Crowd Control. Remember that time when you were 7 years old and you fell off the tire swing at your friend Danny’s house and broke your arm? Well, Danny hung 30 more tire swings and called dibbs on your other arm.
Next up was called Hoarder’s Hell. Climb a ladder into the back of a smoke filled 18-wheeler shipping container and crawl through a maze of wooden pallets, garbage bags, and dirty blankets? Throw in a Nintendo NES Gaming System, a hot pot and a few packets of Ramen and welcome to my dorm room at SUNY Cortland.
More running was met with an obstacle called Foam Adventure which is meant to simulate the foam used on a jet fuel fire, but felt more like the Wash Cycle on a Whirlpool 4.6 cu. ft. Cabrio Platinum Top Load Washer. Good news is that I found 7 lost socks before emerging through what I think was called the Spin Cycle.
The CPR Stop Obstacle followed, at which competitors are to drop and give 30 CPR compressions to a “victim” at a mass casualty scene of CPR training manikins. Thankfully the CPR manikin I selected had a DNR bracelet so I was able to skip this obstacle.
Have you ever gotten a Slushie from a 7-11? Have you gotten 10,000 Slushies from a 7-11, poured them into an above ground pool, thrown in empty 45-gallon barrels, then dove in head first? You have? Then you would perform exceptionally well on the Hazmat Zone Obstacle.
Up next on the nine circles of Hell was Mazed & Confused. A claustrophobic labyrinth that forces you into a low, tight, dark and terrifying crawl, searching for light and life at the end of the tunnel. The only way out is to construct make-shift wings from pigeon feathers and melted aglets, battle and defeat the Minotaur, and then, naturally, avoid flying too close to the sun.
I’m honestly not sure of the next obstacle’s name but competitors had to carry a hose through the tall grass of a hillock then back down the other side. If Hero Rush is looking for names for this obstacle I nominate Yard Work.
More running? Sure, why not. But only if afterwards I can pull a tire around with a fire hose. I can? Then you’ve got a deal. Thanks Stretching the Line.
Just when you thought you were done with all-season radials along comes the Dummy Drag. I’m told that when the incident scene is volatile, it’s my job to get the victim to safety even if that victim is a couple of BF Goodrich Radials tethered together with rope. Did that volunteer just tell me I had the Midas Touch?
Stop reading. Stand up and look behind your desk. Do you see that rat’s nest of wires trailing from your computer, printer, phone, fax machine, scanner, television, Blu-ray player, and NutriBullet Hi-Speed Blender? Without pulling your desk out try to crawl behind it without unplugging anything. This is the Entanglement obstacle only without the ability to turn ordinary food into superfood or add years to your life.
Dear Hero rush, I love tires. Is there any way you could strap a couple to a stretcher then make me pull them under barbed wire? Do I have a partner? No, not at this time. So, instead of tires on a stretcher I can pull a 100lb bag of sand under the barbed wire? Sign me up. Fantastic. You just completed the Stretcher Evac obstacle.
If ever an obstacle conjured the prepubescent nostalgia of a 4th grade gym class more than Basement Entrapment I am not privy to its existence. Rope Climbing … the bane of the upper torso challenged … followed by an acrobatic balancing act on an unsteady rope bridge. Can I just give you my lunch money now and go directly to the next obstacle?
Remember that scene in Shawshank Redemption wherein Andy Dufresne crawls through 500 yards of a sewage pipe to escape from prison? Turn that sewage pipe on end so that you have to climb towards the heavens, provide random 2×4’s, rusty nails, and wood scraps as footholds, and position a open fire hose at the top and you’ve got the first part of Towering inferno.
If you are fortunate to make it to the top without pin-balling back down to the bottom you are then challenged to slide down the equivalent of a stretched bed sheet at a rate of 9.8 meters per second squared into a wading pool. Flying down that soft, wrinkle free sheet which must have had at least a 600-thread count I soared higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into my drab little cage and made those obstacles dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last Hero Rush competitor felt free.
Almost home, only two obstacles left. Take a deep breath and jump over these open flame camp fires in the Fearless Finish. Watch your step though; some of our volunteers are using this obstacle to make S’mores. Little known fact competitors in the Open Male Division, melted marshmallow is often used in Salons and Spas instead of wax for hair removal. KELLY CLARKSON!
We’ve almost made it. The final remaining obstacle is the Bystander Blast. Sure you just ran almost 5 miles and conquered 17 of the most challenging obstacles known to mankind, but we don’t want you to feel too good about yourself. That’s why we gave these rambunctious adolescents high pressure hoses and told them to spray you only in the face as you trudge through waist deep water just feet from the finish line. Water tastes good doesn’t it?
Congratulations! You completed the Hero Rush Course! Here’s a banana, a medal, and a t-shirt.
As a final note, when I checked in on Saturday morning the person at the registration table asked me why I was doing Hero Rush. Obviously, the only answer I had for him was “I came to get down, I came to get down. So get out your seat and jump around.”
Thank you Hero Rush and Thank you to every single member of Team “DZ Restaurant House of Pane”. Every one of you is a Hero to me. We started, competed, finished, and celebrated as a team and for me that is the greatest accomplishment of all.