2011 Bulldog Challenge Recap - Get Dirty!

0700 hours: Team Check In
0800 hours: Safety Briefing
0900 hours: First team off
1042 hours: Starting Line Check In
1052 hours: Start

That's how the Marines organized my morning this past Saturday.  

Safety Briefing
With over 170 (four person) teams in attendance, we checked in and made our way to the Safety Briefing.  Anytime there is a safety briefing before a race begins you know it’s going to be freaking awesome!

The Bulldog Challenge, held at the Citadel in Charleston, SC, is now in its 15th year.  The Marine contingent puts this 10K obstacle race on and money raised goes to a scholarship fund in honor of a fallen Marine.  The Marines are spot on with registration, supplies and course layout.  The one glitch we saw was from Active.com and the Marines fixed that in a few minutes as we checked in for the race.

The race is chip timed and teams are given starting times the day of the race.  Two teams start ever two minutes beginning at 0900 hours.  My team’s start time was 1052.

Awkward Moment for Michael 
I ran this race just two years ago and I cannot believe how much it has grown.  I believe there were only about 250 people at that race and this year there were over 700!  As I looked around the room I could tell there was a big increase in competition.  There were some really serious teams ready to kill this course.  There were some not so serious teams as well (hoping to kill the costume competition).

After the briefing, our team headed outside to watch the first few teams take off.  We watched some of the “House of Pain” and then started to get ready for our start.  We all packed a gel each and then duct taped our shoes so they would stay on as we went through the marsh.  We were all pumped to get started, but still had over an hour to wait.

At 1042 hours we checked in at the starting gate alongside another team.  A few seconds before 1052 hours the photographer took a group picture and then they counted down the start.

I knew my team was a little nervous, I was the only one who had ever done this race before, but they looked confident and ready to tackle anything that came our way.

The only way I know how to give this race its due is to breakdown all the obstacles from one to seventeen:
The Course

ONE – O Course
O Course Double Bars
From the starting gate, we ran around the Citadel barracks to the O Course.  Our team had practiced this course several times and had no problem getting through.  We climbed the wall, jumped over and dove under logs, we flipped over the double bar and then Annie P. and I climbed the ropes.

Noah Climbing the Rope

Two - Friction

As soon as we finished the O Course we had to pick up three sandbags.  These weighed about 20 pounds and we had to carry them for most of the race (aka Friction).

Three – Pullups
We ran toward the Citadel track and then to the pull up bars.  We had to do forty pull ups as a team.  I suck at these, but we made it through.

Four – House of Pain
We ran around the rocket and right into the House of Pain.  This is a where all four of us lined up next to each other in the front leaning rest position.  As soon as the fourth person is set, the first person low crawls under everyone and then sets up in the forth position.  We kept doing this until we had gone about fifty feet and the Marine told us we could go to the next station.

House of Pain

Five - C.F.T.
C.F.T. (Combat Fitness Test) was next.  Cathy and I carried the sandbags while Michael (aka Ninja Stuntman) and Annie P. did a baby crawl and then the buddy drag.  Annie threw a grenade (fake one) and then we all did ten pushups each.

Six - Mount Suribachi
From this point, we ran over a mile to Hagood Stadium (or better known as Mount Suribachi).  This was by far one of the hardest parts of the race.  We started on one side of the field and ran up and down each set of stairs until we reached the end.  Then we crossed the field and did it all over again on the other bleachers (freaking brutal).
Hagood Stadium

Seven – Wounded Warrior
After leaving the stadium we ran down the road toward the MUSC parking garage.  Before we got there we had the Wounded Warrior station.  I carried Annie P. in a fireman’s carry for several hundred yards.  Even though she is light, this was tough after a while.

Eight – Casevac
As soon as we made it to the parking garage I put Annie P. down and took a water break.  This was the first water station on the course.  We then grabbed a stretcher and Annie P. laid down  on it with one sandbag.  The rest of us rotated two in the back (with sandbags) and one in the front.  I think it would have been better if we had just given all three sandbags to Annie P. as we went up the parking garage (one of the many lessons we learned). 

Nine – F.T. Pushups
After a few stops, we finally made it to the top of the garage and were rewarded with group pushups.  All four of us laid down on the ground and made a square (feet on each other’s backs) and did ten four person pushups.  We then loaded the sandbags on the stretcher and started trotting back down the garage (thankfully, we did not have to carry anyone back down).

Ten – Guadal Canal
We grabbed some more water (we had to use the cups that were on the ground because they had run out before we got back down - at that point, I really did not care).  We ran with our sandbags back down the street for over a mile until we reached the "mud".  The South Carolina coast is well known for its wonderful smelling pluff mud.  This was our chance to GET DIRTY!  We jumped in and were up to our chins in mud.  At some points I could not even reach the bottom, but somehow I was floating (even with my sandbag).  We had to crawl through the mud, then trough some tunnels and then back through the mud.  At the end, we had to climb up a wall of mud.  We were a mess after this station.  My wife took some awesome pictures of us and then we headed out.  Unfortunately, the mud got into my eyes (and my hard contacts) and made the rest of the race pretty tough for me.

Eleven – Low Crawl Climb
We ran about a mile (mostly with my eyes closed) until we reached the low crawl station.  We had to low crawl up a hill under ropes.  To make things even worse, the sandbags we had been carrying throughout the race were now even heavier after being soaked in the marsh.

Twelve – Friction Drop Off
We finished the crawl and just in time we got to drop off our sandbags!

Thirteen – Ammo Resupply
After dropping off the sandbags, we each had to carry two ammo cans for about fifty yards and then turnaround and bring them back.  I later found out that the cans weighed close to thirty pounds each.

Ammo Can Carry

Fourteen – Tire Flips
After dropping off the ammo cans we ran over to flip some huge tires.  We had to wait a few minutes for our turn and then all four of us flipped a six foot tire down the length of the field and then rolled it back to the next team (this was actually hard, but really fun).

Fifteen – Flying Burpees
All those days in Boot Camp really paid off on this station.  We had to do flying burpees all the way down the field.  These are like frog jumps and pushups put together.  They are hard in normal conditions, but doing them while wearing camo pants full of mud make them insane!

Sixteen – Water Resupply
How could something that sounded so easy be so freaking hard?  We ran over to these water canisters and had to take five of them all the way around the building.  I started off with two and Ninja Stuntman, Cathy and Annie P. carried one each.  I had to rotate with Ninja Stuntman because the canisters were hard as hell to carry in one hand.  I saw Annie P. and Cathy finish ahead of us and they looked strong!

Seventeen – Final Assault
After such a hard race, I was psyched to be handed a machine gun before we made our final dash to the finish line.  We loaded up, ran around the parade field and then straight up the middle for a glorious final assault!
I was so proud of our team as we all crossed the finish line together.  

Final Assault!
We finished in about two hours (good enough for a top ten finish in the Coed Civilian Team Division) and even though my body was aching all over, I felt great! 

Running is not usually a team sport (not at my age anyway) and most of my finishes have been celebrated with my family, but running this race with my running group and having my family at the finish made this a truly incredible experience!

I can’t wait until next year to GET DIRTY!

Bad Ass!


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