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Race 9 took me to Gaylord, MI for the Over the Top Xtreme 5K at Treetops Ski Resort. This was the 2nd year for the race, and with some improvements, I think they're on their way to holding a pretty great entry level obstacle race in an area that typically wouldn't see an obstacle race. With none of the obstacles being overly intense, it's an extremely accessible race for those who may not have run an obstacle race before, but may be interested in trying one.

Before getting to some minor details about the race itself, what made this race even better was some of the people who were there (as is often the case). My mom once again joined me and I love having her support at as many races as she's already made it to (thanks, mom!). Also in town were my great aunt and great uncle from Oklahoma. They've followed all my racing since I really got into it last year, so I was excited to have them there in person to see what they've only watched in videos. In August I'll be down in Tulsa for "Conquer the Gauntlet" and they'll get to see another race, as well as some of my young 2nd cousins who will get to see it live for the first time.

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One of my fraternity brothers, Jason McArt, also joined me for the race. This was actually his first obstacle race and now I've totally got him hooked. I love introducing people to obstacle races because they always come away loving them and wanting to do more. It's a great way to keep the sport growing, have fun with friends and family, and to keep people active. Finally, two of my friends from high school, Jeff and Ally Roscoe, were in Michigan visiting their families, and since it was close by Jeff had signed up to run as well. Jeff is in the Navy and has been doing some obstacle races near where they live and he actually ended up winning the overall men's title. While he and I were talking, we discovered we both signed up for the 2014 Death Race too. If the rumors are true about needing to partner up for the race, pretty sure we're set to go. While neither of us have Death Race experience, I like my chances with a Navy search and rescuer.

Back to some race details - The race is still relatively small and with waves taking off every 15 minutes, they were able to keep the heats to an extremely manageable size. I ran in the first wave of the day, so I didn't encounter any back-ups at obstacles, but I didn't hear that many folks in later heats encountered issues. Overall, I enjoyed the race, though I could have done without the 5-10 minute break in the race while you rode the ski lift at about the 2.5 mile mark to get to the next part of the course. They're already talking about improvements they know they want to make for next year, so I'm excited to see how they will continue to grow the race. Being relatively close to home, I'll probably be back again next year and maybe improve on my own 3rd place finish. Time to rest and get ready for Race 10 tomorrow!

 


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