2018 Pittsburgh 5K Terrain Race Review
If you’re looking for a Pittsburgh 5K Terrain Race review, you’ve come to the right place. I took part in the event on May 5, 2018, and I’m here to offer you my input about the event. Keep reading my Terrain Race review to see how it all went.
Problems with Logistics
One thing I should note – I was already kind of displeased with Terrain Racing because they decided to offer a $20 race registration THE WEEK OF THE RACE. It was like a slap in the face, considering I registered all the way back in October for early bird pricing of $30.
Another irksome issue – even before the event day, the lack of communication from Terrain Racing was clear. They sent out a couple emails, but these were clearly just pre-written emails that they sent out for every race. They couldn’t even bother to change the links to Pittsburgh-specific ones. If you clicked on them, you just got generic information about the race as a whole rather than the specific Pittsburgh event.
But I digress. The event itself had a lot of issues, from start to finish. Here’s just a few of the Terrain Race problems I encountered.
Parking for the event cost $15, which is a ripoff to begin with. The price has been steadily increasing every year. Unfortunately, there’s really no way around it, as Mines and Meadows is in the middle of nowhere and it would be too difficult to park alongside the country roads that take you there.
Once you handed over the cash-only fee, you were directed far, far away through mud and muck to an abandoned corner of the park. I didn’t get the exact distance, but it seem like at least a quarter mile (trying to be generous). This would also be ok, if there weren’t many options for parking closer. In fact, by the time we finished, they had started parking people closer, which was annoying to say the least.
Luckily, we were in a 4WD vehicle… otherwise, I would have been afraid to park. The entire area was like one big mud pit. One minivan even got stuck in the mud and had to get pulled out with a winch. There was no warning of this beforehand, and I’m surprised more cars didn’t get stuck.
But whatever… we parked and walked over to the race. Unfortunately, a large portion of the way there was unavoidable mud puddles. You might be thinking – you’re going to a mud race, who cares if you get muddy before you start?
I didn’t. However, I did care about walking through all that mud after the race was over. Just the idea of trying to wade through the muck after a shower made me abandon the premise of getting clean entirely.
Speaking of showers… there was another reason I didn’t get one. They were also located inside of a mud pit.
The organizers neglected to throw down a tarp or floor of any kind, meaning that the ground quickly turned into a homemade pond.
There was no point in even trying to get clean when you’d just be covering yourself in more filth.
Keep in mind – it hadn’t rained much the past few days. It’s like they deliberately chose the most muddy areas for this.
Of course Terrain Racing charged for bag check too. But don’t worry, because they are still the cheapest race out there (and will snarkily remind you of that on their Facebook page).
It cost $5 to leave your bag underneath a canopy in the middle of all the action. Unfortunately, no one seemed to provide any security. After paying $5, you were told to go put your bag down somewhere yourself. Meaning you could easily snag whatever you wanted on your way through all the stuff.
Picking up your bag was just as bad – you could just walk in, grab whatever you want, and walk out. Thankfully, none of our stuff was stolen, but if it had been, it wouldn’t have been surprising.
One of the best parts of finishing a race is grabbing a snack and rehydrating. In the past, Terrain Race offered participants a free beer as well as snacks (like a protein bar, banana, etc.).
This year, there was nothing. Let me repeat that – NOTHING. NO post-race beer, drink, snack, bottled water… anything!
All we got was a tiny cup of water. So much for recharging and rehydrating.
Most races have a collection of photographers along the course to snap your candid pictures as you tackle obstacles.
I didn’t see a single photographer on the course during this race. Supposedly there was a finish line photographer, but I didn’t see them at all. The only photographer I did see was at the photo booth, where we were permitted to take one action shot for free.
Hence the reason for there being no good pics on this review. I didn’t have my phone with me during the event (obviously), so I really don’t have anything to put here.
Something new for this year (I think) is that kids were allowed to race. That’s right, children were allowed to race in an event specifically geared towards athletic adults.
It was frustrating to say the least.
Kids were intermingled with adults at every turn. A few times, we had to stop all progress to give the kids time to complete obstacles that were clearly never meant for them. Perhaps the worst instance of this was when a kid was too afraid to go on the monkey bars at the end of the race. Instead of just going past him to prevent a bottleneck, everyone stopped what they were doing and started to cheer him on. Mind you, there were four sets of monkey bars to go on, so there was no reason for everyone to stop moving.
That’s right – a kid (who probably goes on the monkey bars on the playground every day at school) had a full crowd ovation to inspire him to climb. Sorry, maybe I’m cold-hearted and mean, but I just wanted to finish the race. I didn’t want to stand around and lose all my energy while a kid panics. It was not a touchy-feely moment.
Terrain Race Obstacles
Now, I don’t have these down exactly. I was kind of busy running the race to take a mental picture of the precise obstacle configuration. However, to the best of my knowledge, here are some of the biggest obstacles and their estimated location throughout the race. Pictures were grabbed from Terrain Racing’s promotional obstacle video.
The race started in a portable swimming pool filled with cold, murky water. We had to wait here for 5 minutes until they gave us the go-ahead.
After jumping out of the pool and starting to run, our first obstacle was a small wall climb.
After mounting the wall, we had to scale a large hill made of rocky and muddy terrain.
There was an even bigger wall waiting for us at the top of the hill.
Loop Through Forest
Once we got over the wall, we took a nice run through the forest with several mud puddles to splash through.
We had to flip a large tire four times – twice in one direction, then two times back.
Swinging Chain Platform
This was a difficult rig with several kinds of chains hanging down. The first had a ball at the end, which you were supposed to grab and swing to the rope. From there, you swung to another piece hanging down, all the way until you made it to the other side.
Tall Wall with Rope
This was a much bigger wall with footholds and a rope to help guide you up. The other side didn’t have a rope, so you had to climb down and hope not to fall.
Instead of flipping tires, we had to drag them to a certain point and back. Luckily, they were attached to a rope, so it was just like tug ‘o war.
Climb to Flat Cargo Net
After climbing up on a couple of posts, you had to go across a flat cargo net and then climb down on the other side. ANGRY INTERJECTION: I really hate people and cargo nets. It’s like climbing a ladder that moves a little bit. I swear we had to wait a full 5 minutes here for people to figure out how to get across. Hint: try walking!!
Easy – just crawling through some tunnels on the ground. Big enough for me to crawl without needing to go on my belly.
Cargo Net A-frame
Simple – just climb up and down the cargo net. ANOTHER ANGRY INTERJECTION: Seriously, people. Learn to climb. Another dead stop while waiting for people to figure it out. I find it so hard to believe we are descended from monkeys when most of humanity can’t even ascend a rope wall.
We were given mallets and had to hit a tire to a certain point and back. My hockey skills came into play here.
We were given tiny wreckbags (only 25 pounds) and had to carry them a short distance. I just held mine like a baby and ran because it wasn’t worth the effort to put it on my back.
As usual, we ran through the token mine. Just a short little section, and no obstacles inside.
Two tires were hanging from chains attached to a pole, and we had to put the pole on our backs and carry the tires a short distance. Would have been easier if I could have walked around people.
There was a large chunk of concrete attached to a chain, which we had to drag around a circle. Kind of like being a prisoner. Again, would have been easier if people weren’t moving 0.5 mph and blocking all passable routes.
Monkey Bars Over Pool
We saw this before we started, as it was right on display in the middle of everything. Basically, you just had to climb across some monkey bars which had a slight ascent and then descent. If you failed, you fell into a pool of water.
Just another rope swing rig. You had to jump on a rope, swing to a ring, swing to another rope, and then get off without falling.
Climb to Cargo Net and Slide Down Pole
Another short climb to a cargo net that went straight across. To get down, you could slide down a pole, but I chose to climb, as I didn’t want to hurt my hands.
Final Terrain Race Review Thoughts
So, that was Terrain Race Pittsburgh 2018. Was the organization disappointing? YES, by far. However, the race itself was nice. So I’m in a bit of a quandary over how I feel about the whole thing. I’m not a fan of supporting organizations that fail to take the time to address issues and provide a good experience for their customers. Even if you look on their Facebook page right now, they are completely ignoring all complaints that participants are bringing up in comments and posts.
That really makes me not want to do the race next year, as there are enough alternatives. However, that means I would miss out on a fun opportunity. I guess we’ll just have to see what next race season brings – if Terrain Racing is even still in business then.