In-Depth Race Review: X Warrior Challenge Calgary Sprint 2019

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Here as promised is the more in depth look at the first X Warrior Challenge race of the year. I wrote this one in the format I used to write for Overcome and Run in, so it’s longer and much more detailed then the quick review of my own race I posted earlier in the week.

X Warrior kicked off its race season at a new venue and while the scenery changed the product they put out was still spectacular. Moving from the Calgary Stampede Grandstand west out to Winsport’s Canada Olympic Park made for a completely different challenge but still kept the core vibe that separates X Warrior from other OCR events. It still has the small business feel of racers and race experience as its primary focus instead of being a large event that just happens to land in your city.


The sprint this year came in at a distance of 6.4 kilometers and made full use of the new venue’s terrain and infrastructure. The festival area was setup right at the base of the ski hill with the start line being on one end and the finish line bookending the other side. Right off the start you could tell the difference of venues as we went uphill almost right away. After a short climb and a wall, we encountered our first new X Obstacle (yes, they’re still calling everything X whatever) the X Bombs. Now this was a cool first challenge as the “bombs” are artillery shell shape metal pieces that you farmer carry but can’t put your hands inside the shell, so your grip is tested as you almost pinch them to carry them around a loop. After finishing that, we had a running section through some rolling treed terrain before coming out of the woods almost exactly where we went to encounter another quick wall and into the obstacle named X Hoist or X Chain Gang depending on who you ask now this was a well thought out obstacle. Different from the usual Herc Hoist type obstacle this one made use of tower for the zipline at the park, you climbed three stories up the stairs where you grabbed a rope that had heavy chains attached to the bottom and you kept pulling until a marked line (different for women and men) reach the railing before lowering slowly. Making you back down the stairs you quickly encounter the first of two rigs the “Low Rig”. This was a Tyrolean traverse bar into rings where you had to keep your feet parallel to the ground to avoid touching as there was only two feet from the ground to the holds. I failed this obstacle as I just couldn’t figure out how to transition for the initial starting bar onto the tyro bar properly.



After the low rig was the longest unbroken climb of the race, going uphill on single track bike paths. Now along here we started to find some lost racers as the course marking while not awful did leave a little to be desired through this section. Upon reaching the top of this section we hit the tire flip and which lead to a short, fast hardpacked downhill, which was I able to crush. I would never have known that years of running downhill on family hikes in my teenage years would be a skill that would stick with me years later. This was the start of a obstacle dense section of the course starting off with the axe throw. For the first time I was able to stick the throw, maybe due to binge watching all 5 seasons of ‘Vikings’ recently or more realistically from the tips I found online the night before from Chad Budyk. After an unplanned audible cheer for myself it was over to the heavybag which felt easy on the way downhill first but was considerably more difficult on the way back the steep ski jump outrun. Then it was an inverted wall, into the Monkey bars followed quickly after with the High Rig. Again, technique let me down here as during the crossover from the lightning bar to the hanging rope I got wrong by going with a floating door approach of pinching with my feet first and completely forgetting to move my arms over first which would have been the smarter approach. Then was my favorite obstacle of the day Geronimo which was a back flop onto an airbag maybe 5 feet below but it was a complete mental block for many which is why it was my favorite obstacle as I enjoy watching people overcome their fears and go for it.



Following Geronimo was a slow steady obstacle filled climb starting with a wall then into X G.O.A.T. which while simple in concept was a rather tough obstacle.  It’s 7-8 narrow switchback going across a pretty steep side slope which I have yet to see a picture that did it justice, add into that mix the rain and finding traction was tough but I was told by few racers that it did get easier later into the day as it dried up. Continuing the climb from there we hit “back to back” X Spiders which really was one as they had maybe a 10-foot gap between them. The spider is a bear crawl going upstairs while staying below ropes across the top of the railings. After that was X Parallel which was parallel bars you would walk yourself across in sort of a tricep dip position then a short distance later came an eight-foot wall. Then one final ascent up to the top of the ski hill which meant quite literally it was all downhill from there.

After an opportunity to open the throttle a bit across the top of the hill was the X Keg which are pretty much what they sound like, partially filled kegs (apparently not with beer) that you had to clean and press 10 times. The final wall of the day was an inverted wall which led to a downhill to the final obstacle of the day Sandblast which was a heavy sandbag carry half way down the superpipe belly, now one twist to this carry was it done more similar to a bucket carry as you couldn’t put the bag on your shoulders. Apparently, this changed during the early part of the day as some Titans on their second lap were confused as they had been able to use the shoulder the first time around. The only thing left was to pay up your penalties as this year X Warrior has phased out burpees or other exercise penalties in place of a penalty lap system. I like the change not so much because I find one system easier or harder but it’s something to make their races different from Spartan. One cruel part (I’m not sure that’s the right term as I would done the same thing to drive home the need for obstacle proficiency) of the penalty structure was it was uphill. So, the more penalties you had the more distance uphill you had to go before the final dash to the finish line.


Overall, I really like the changes to this year’s race the obstacles were challenging as was the new venue, and I really like that the organizers made obstacles that sound easy, harder than they sound on paper. The other beneficial aspect to moving to COP was the food and beverage options they were able to have including a licensed patio to watch the race from in the sunshine. I’m already for next year’s installment and Black Ops later in the month.


Scotty Voodoo
I am a proud father & husband. A former semi-pro skier, turned rugby 7’s player, I’ve now worked to become a OCR racer.
A level 2 NCCP certified coach, I also hold coaching certifications in 3 sports.

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