Race Recap: The Inferno…..A Different Kind of Animal!

My race experience didn’t start on the morning of the race, as it usually does, but the night before. I read on The Inferno race website that they were offering free camping to participants and volunteers friday night, and I instantly jumped at the opportunity! My camping equipment was buried deep in the abyss of my storage unit, so I decided to be spontaneous and creative instead. With back seats down and lots of blankets, my husband and I drove out to the beautiful countryside in Salem to begin our adventure.            

When we arrived at the site (well into the evening hours), we were instantly met by volunteers who were more than happy to help direct us on where to set up “camp”. The site was a large field near the start line to the race, and there were already several tents set up with runners hunkering down for the night. After parking and making sure our bed was ready to go, my husband and I took a nice evening walk up and down the long driveway while gazing at the stars. It was a beautiful, warm evening and the Inferno race directors sure did a great job and finding a location for amazing star watching.

The next morning was when the excitement really started. Now that the sun was up, I could see several of the obstacles from the get-go, and could tell I was in for a long day! My plan was to meet my race partner (who I had met through a running group online and never met in person) at the registration tent at 8:30 am, so we could help each other through the course. When the 9 am wave was about to start and I still hadnt found her, I decided to line up and run through the course alone. Fortunately, I had decided to sign up for the 10k distance instead of the 13.1 mile distance, and assumed I could survive that alone. I didnt have to, however, because as soon as I got to the start line, I spotted her! She wasnt alone either! She met two brothers in line for the porta-potties who were running the race, hit it off, and decided they were joining our group! Team “We’re Not Tired” was born at the start line!

At the sound of the horn, we were off! Instantly, the jokes, laughter, and fun began before we even reached our first obstacle. About a half mile in, we came face to face with “The Beast”, a tower of double walls to climb, with a climb down the back. It became apparent that team work was going to be needed from the start. So, one by one, I helped hoist my team up and over the first wall, and quickly realized my arms were already tired. The penalty for skipping my first obstacle? 30 burpees. Let me just say here, that this was the ONLY obstacle I skipped! 30 burpees are a great motivator to try everything!

There really were too many obstacles to list them all, each one more challenging than the next. However, I can’t state enough how much FUN they were to attempt, especially with great new friends and AMAZING volunteers cheering you on the whole way.  Here are the highlights of some of my favorite obstacles:

The 200 meter swim

Ok, I have to admit, this was my FAVORITE obstacle of the entire day! After running and wearing my arms out from climbing things and pushing things and lifting things….it felt AMAZING to just jump into this nice cool water and take a swim. I know I’m not the only one who felt that way either, as i noticed NO ONE was swimming at record speed. In fact, most of us were doing relaxing breast strokes, doggie paddles, or any other slow rendition that kept us in the refreshing water as long as possible. My race partner, Mechell, however, is NOT a swimmer and has a fear of water, but the Inferno team had her covered. She had the option to either do her 30 burpees, or put on a life jacket and give it a try. Lifeguards were on hand, as well as canoes were in the water near all the swimmers, so all possible safety precautions were taken. Determined to face her fear, Mechell strapped on a life vest, took the hand of our brother-runner teammate Aldin, and jumped in. Today was a day to conquer FEAR!


Ok, I call this one “The Tires” because there were several stations that involved tires, and I felt they were all worth noting, as they were ALL memorably difficult as well as fun. I’ve given 3 of them their own special rating:

1.) MOST FUN: “Flip This” I liked this one because these monster tires were heavy and intimidating, but also added to my feeling like a badass when I was actually able to flip them. Oh, and you didn’t just flip once, but twice!

2.) MOST DIFFICULT: “Tire Climb”: Of the tire challenges, this one, for me, was the most “tiring” (pun intended).We picked our own tire from a pile, and was told to carry them (however we chose to) up a VERY steep hill and around the backside of the mountain. I opted for a over-the-shoulder-sling type of carry, which left my arms free and able to recover from all the previous obstacles.  Trust me when I tell you, these photos dont convey how steep that hill really was!

3.) MOST UNDERESTIMATED: “Tire Swings” : yeah………….I took one look at this one and though, “Pfff…Piece of Cake! My kids can do this one!” WRONG! Getting on the first swing was a piece of cake, sure….but the moment you reach out for the second one, your in a splits position mid-air, all the while trying to keep the second tire swing from spinning as you try to step on to it. It was hilarious to watch each of us exhaust ourselves trying to get from one to the next. I can honestly say, I’ll never look at a tire swing the same again!

4.) MOST FRUSTRATING: “Tire Drag”: yeah, i said there was 3, but I lied. The tire drag was attempted, and after 5 miles of exhausting obstacles, we simply didnt have the energy to drag these monstrous tires a quarter mile around, so we were given the option of rolling them…without the penalty of 30 burpees. SOLD! I say “frustrating” because the gentlemen at Les Schwab make it look soooooo easy! Rolling huge tires in a gigantic circle on uneven ground…not as easy as it seems. These pix were taken BEFORE we attempted the obstacle.


The station volunteer, however, made it all worth while…so of COURSE we grapped a pic with her!


The walls were EVERYWHERE! Some walls were at angles, some were straight 90 degrees, and some were even inverted! Some had ropes to help you climb, and some didnt. If you dont like walls, be prepared to find Jesus in the billion burpees you’d be doing instead. These walls really added to the challenge of this race, and even though I have virtually NO upper body strength, the Inferno really brought my teammates together and we helped each other complete every challenge put before us…including the walls!

The Finish

Yes, the finish. You MUST know that The Inferno wouldn’t simply let you complete a fun little obstacle, with a long dash to the finish! That would be too easy! A few feet from the finish line was an enormous monkey bar set up, which consisted of progressively rising monkey bars, which drops to a ninja wall, then to inverted pipes, back to monkey bars. If it was exhausting to imagine what this must look like, imagine what it was like to attempt it after over 6 miles of obstacles! At this point we were worn out, hungry, wet,and ready to finish, so we all dug deep to find that last bit of energy to whip this beast down to size. In the end, we showed our true colors and came together as a team to once again, help each other through the obstacle. FINALLY, over 4 hours later, we held hands and ran through the finish line!

Overall, I can honestly say this was not only one of the most difficult obstacle races I’ve participated in, but one of the most fun, as well as most satisfying! I made great new friends, tested myself on various levels, and proved to myself that I have what it takes to beat The Inferno. I highly recommend giving this race a try, regardless of where you feel your physical level may be. There’s plenty of participants ready to jump in and help you through the course, and will likely ask you to tag along for the ride! I can promise you one thing….you will DEFINITELY be seeing Team “We’re Not Tired ” at next year’s event…but this time we wont be meeting for the first time at the porta-potties!

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