InSANDity 2017: What Went RIGHT & What We LEARNED For Next Time
9/23/17 – What a day it was! – Mud, Sweat and Beers (although the beer came late). It was a helluva good time and we did a lot of things right, but what about the things we could have improved on? That’s a constant driving force – how we can be better.
Here’s some things we talked about last night over beers on ways to improve for next year…
First, let me talk about what went pretty good – The obstacles were challenging yet doable. The event was run pretty well and on time. No injuries came about (except for a cut around the thumb of one runner) and everyone we saw looked pretty happy overall. That’s the best way to gauge things – the energy of those around you.
Here’s what we need to get right next time:
ONE person to drive the bobcat and ATV!!! Stop cutting extra looking trails in the course!!! Here’s the mistake – you give access to EVERYONE on the construction team to drive the fun toys and they go all over the goddamn place which makes the trail not as defined…and this causes confusion when people are running. This leads me to the next point:
Caution tape the WHOLE course. I get it – there’s a lot of stimulation going on when you’re running and you need things SIMPLIFIED to make sure you’re going in the right direction.
To that end, we’ve decided to put caution tape ON AS MUCH AS THE COURSE TRAIL AS POSSIBLE!
We’re not sure if we can do it for the 2.5 miles, but we’re sure going to lay down as much of it in the areas that aren’t CRYSTAL CLEAR of where you’re supposed to go!
HALF of the people should be volunteers and HALF should be PAID employees. Here was a BIG issue and one that opened my eyes to what to expect from people. When you have people raise their hand and tell you that they volunteer, expect only 1 out of 3 to actually show up and do what they say they’re going to do.
We had 31 people sign up as a volunteer which was FANTASTIC! However, on race day only 9 people actually showed up.
So what happened?…
People don’t do what they say they’re going to do. It’s as simple as that. If you can’t make it, AT LEAST tell us that something came up for the day (We put our number at the top of every web page), that’s all anyone could ask. This shortage of manpower falls squarely on our shoulders and why we will look at volunteers as only “icing on the cake” and put the BULK of our staff into paid employees for the day. Usually when you pay, people show up.
Pre-make letters for the volunteers saying that they worked for X amount of hours and leave a name to sign it. This would’ve helped for the volunteers that DID show up (and they were ALL awesome by the way!).
To the 9 high school students that showed up you guys were responsible, polite, hard-working and intelligent. I can tell you’ll all do well in life because you GET THINGS DONE. A special thank you to Dillon who stayed for an additional 4 hours to help us clean and put away things AFTER the event had ended – Good luck being an awesome running back for your high school team, Dillon!
InSANDity STAFF IDENTIFIERS:
Another easy fix. ALL of our volunteers and MOST of our staff were wearing the same green colored InSANDity T-shirts. Next year, maybe an electric blue or fire red color for the staff T-shirts…
InSANDity STAFF PLACEMENT:
Here’s where we need to place people FOR SURE:
- 1-2 people at Check-In : one person did well (thanks Virginia!) but will need two, three and four as the event gets bigger.
- 1 person to walk around and direct people to the start line and direct vendors and answer miscellaneous questions from runners. I think the DJ could do this on the PA system.
- 1 person for keg to check ID’s and pour (I’ll take this job!)
- 1 person at the Start line to get the runners in place AND record start times for the money loop.
- 1 person at the End line to capture and record the stop times.
- 1 person for Parking guidance to the runners (first 15 minutes or not at all)
- 1 person for Tire flips area to tell them how many tire flips OR do 5 jumping jacks and direct people at over/under bridge intersection (they were together)
- 1 person at the Widows Den (thanks Enrique!)
- 1 person at The one big intersection where people got confused (Great job Patton!)
- 1 person at the Rope swing into water (Great job ladies!)
- 1 person at the Warped Wall (Thanks Roca Fitness!)
- 1 person at The BIG metal jungle gym to hold feet (Thanks Jorge!)
- 1 person at The 2 circle and climb down netting (thanks Kelly!)
- 1 person at The Cargo net triangle (thanks ladies!)
OK, this one is BIG. First of all, the beer was AWESOME! Thanks Ode Brewing! I personally get hangovers pretty easy, but I had AT LEAST 5 pints and woke up with NO headache and NO stomach issues.
Someone once told me that you only get hangovers from crap quality mass-produced beer and after having the Hueco Witt from Ode, I’m beginning to think that person was right.
But to get to the point – when you get the keg of beer, MAKE SURE THE TAP TO THE KEG IS ALSO PICKED UP!!!
There’s nothing worse than having a sweet keg of beer that’s ice cold, but you can’t get to it! It’s like being hungry with no money and standing outside a bakery smelling all the fantastic smells…
This caused the 8am, 9am AND 10am runners to have NO ACCESS to the promised beer and for that we want to apologize. Thankfully, EVERYONE that ran the course got a goodie bag WITH a tag for FREE BEER at Ode Brewing at 3233 North Mesa (close to UTEP). So at least those people can have some great beer and equally great food…
Nobody wants to eat early (and especially anything heavy BEFORE a long race) but people might want to have something LIGHT after the race. As the day progresses people usually don’t want BIG stuff, but something to wash the beer down.
If you’re not a beer drinker and are more on the healthy side then maybe a smoothie might be more your speed.
So this is the plan – NO FOOD TRUCKS because it’s a waste of time for YOU and the FOOD TRUCKS that come in.
Something LIGHT and/or some kind of smoothie for the healthy eaters.
I’m not sure if there is a mobile smoothie truck, but it might be hard to make smoothies AT THE EVENT by staff because there is NOWHERE To make them.
If you’re a smoothie person or have some suggestions, take the survey below and let us know…
AFTER PARTY TENT
I like a good party (who doesn’t?). With that in mind I want to make an after party tent right in front of the last strip of the course.
This is where we’ll have tables and chairs for people to relax after their run and swap stories (and also be able to drink a beer (or smoothie) and have a little food to re-fuel for the day.
This is more of a me thing (Gordo) vs. the rest of the InSANDity staff so I’ll have to convince them.
I like this idea because that means I can just pull keg pouring duty and sit my fluffy a$$ down and listen to everyones war stories.
Also, it’ll be a cool place to watch people do the last stretch of the race (I love watching people struggle on the warped wall because of the mud).
Our DJ was pretty good (thanks Javi!) but damn was it loud when you checked in. Next year, we are going to have to put the DJ out by the starting line so that the speakers can pump up the runners as they get ready.
This will also be good because the finish line is pretty close to the start line and who wouldn’t like to hear “eye of the tiger” when they’re ending the race?
Either way, we can move the music away from the check in station and save everyone’s ear drums.
Also, how cool would it be to have the DJ count down to your start time.
Imagine this…the music is blaring and then the volume drops to 1/2 the normal volume. A booming voice comes on and says,
“9am Runners report to the starting line – Your heat is starting in 5 MINUTES!!”
…and then you get to the starting line and the announcer/DJ drops the music volume again and you hear:
“RUNNERS GET READY FOR InSANDity!!! … IN …5 …4 …3 …2 …..1 ………GOOOOOOO!!!”
…and you’re off to conquer the obstacle course! That might be a better intro to get you pumped up AND it will feel more like an EVENT.
One more thing on the music – since KIDS will be present we don’t want Jay-Z dropping F-bombs…I think we’ll shoot for the clean versions next time.
The MAJORITY of people who ran the event signed up for the 8am, 9am, 10am & 11am slots. After that the sign ups REALLY dropped off.
So for next year, the time slots will ONLY be 8am, 8:30am, 9am, 9:30am 10am, 10:30am, 11am ONLY. This is probably the EASIEST fix to make the choices easier.
One thing we did do well was not release EVERYONE at 8am or 9am or whatever time frame that they signed up for to run. If we would have released 50 people at the top of the hour at the SAME TIME the bottlenecks (see below about the bottlenecks) would have been MASSIVE! What we need to do for next event is have time frames of:
8:00am (75 people MAX and release 10-15 people every 3-5 minutes)
8:30am (75 people MAX and release 10-15 people every 3-5 minutes)
9:00am (75 people MAX and release 10-15 people every 3-5 minutes)
9:30am (75 people MAX and release 10-15 people every 3-5 minutes)
…you get the idea.
TIME SLOTS (continued)
Following the theme of time slots, there were some interesting ideas put forth (Gaby’s, not Gordo’s). Here’s how the time slots would look in 2018:
- 8:00am (Elite Double Loop Run ONLY) (75 max)
8:30am (Single Loop Run Participants) 15 people released every 5 minutes (75 max)
9:00am (Single Loop Run Participants) 15 people released every 5 minutes (75 max)
9:30am (Single Loop Run Participants) 15 people released every 5 minutes (75 max)
10:00am (Kids & Parents Run ONLY) 10 kids and 10 parents or 20 TOTAL people released every 5 minutes (discounted price of $20 for kids and $20 for parent) (100 max)
10:30am (Single Loop Run Participants) 15 people released every 5 minutes (75 max)
11:00am (Single Loop Run Participants) 15 people released every 5 minutes (75 max)
11:30am (Single Loop Run Participants) 15 people released every 5 minutes (75 max)
12:00pm (Single Loop Run Participants) 15 people released every 5 minutes (75 max)
KIDS (5-15 years old)
I saw some young kids that put adults to SHAME out on the course. One little kid flipped the BIG tire 5 times (I’m not even sure I could do that).
But what we are looking at doing is having ONE time slot for the kids.
As we can fit in 75-100 runners per time slot (say 10:00am?) that means we can have 50 kids and 50 parents run together.
We’ll have to see what people say about this in the survey OR we might do ONE day for kids ONLY, but that would have to be A LOT of kids to sign up…
Lastly, I think a price point of $20.00 for kids and $20.00 for the parents (or at least someone 18 years and older) to run with the kids is a winner for everyone.
SINGLE LOOP vs. DOUBLE LOOP vs. TRIPLE LOOP
Since we received some complaints last year about the course NOT being tough enough (and also that the course was TOO tough), we decided to split the difference and make a course for EVERYONE.
The premise was simple enough – make some more obstacles, extend the course a little longer and make the elite type athlete run the InSANDity course TWICE to really test themselves.
Good idea, but we missed a couple of things…
1] Single Loopers vs. Double Loopers – We let the double loopers start the race and come around one full complete lap before we let everyone else go.
This wouldn’t have been too bad except for the fact that we started the 8am race late because of lack of manpower (see volunteers above).
Next year we’re going to have to do one of 2 things – either give the double loopers a headband or wrist band (logo with ELITE written on it) which identifies that they’re running the course 2x so we can identify them easier and let everyone start at the same time
We ONLY do the elite double loop athlete at 8:00am (we’d do it at 7:30 but the water trucks don’t run until 8am). Seeing as how there were only 21 people out of the near 300 runners that signed up as a double loop contestant, we think this might not be a bad idea.
Also, every double loop contestant we spoke with said the course was SUPER challenging to complete 2x if they were really pushing themselves to get the best time. (the person that won did 2 loops in 33 minutes & 18 seconds).
So if you tell us that the course was too easy, make sure to run it TWICE next time and then let us know how easy it was. Are some people STILL going to say it was too easy? Probably, but for 99% of people, it’s going to be tough.
As the surveys come in, we can see that about 1 out of 4 single loopers said the course was too easy.
Next time, we’ll tell everyone that can run 3+ miles to be a double looper and we’ll see if people still say the same thing.
I’m going to say it right now – next year we’ll recommend more people to do the double loop… the complaints that the course is too hard will SKYROCKET.
The trick is to meet the demands of the majority as best you can…
IDEA: Make 1-2 obstacles CRAZY difficult: If you can’t make it, you’ll do 5 jumping jacks and move on, but if you CAN make it, you’re the goods AND everyone should feel like the event was challenging.
2] Only ONE prize for males – OK, this one was pretty bad, but we won’t make this mistake again. Next year we’ll have a cash prize for the fastest MALE double looper and the fastest FEMALE double looper. Or at least we’ll try our best.
3] Some Double Loopers cheated – There’s an old expression “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’”… I always hated that expression but it is what it is.
Not EVERY double looper cheated but for those that did, you were called out by your fellow runners.
As we can’t have eyes on EVERY single obstacle (there were over 40) we’re going to have people at every MAJOR obstacle where it’s either HARD or where there is a high chance of a bottleneck.
Also, because of this mini-scandal (Loop-Gate?) we’re HEAVILY leaning on having the elite double loopers ONLY at the 8:00am and/or 8:30am time slot…
4] Triple Loop will be offered in 2019 and it’ll be gnarly – The idea will be to have those people who like to inflict punishment on themselves to hit that trail 3x. ALL participants will get a prize and the winner person with the fastest time will get $200.00.
Rope swing into the water pit made people’s hands blister. This is an easy fix as we’re just going to put knots in the rope so that people can get a good grip and won’t slide down which causes the blisters.
We’ll also put knots lower in the rope to hook your feet into (further reducing sliding which causes blisters).
Waiting at obstacles (aka Bottle Necks) – There weren’t too many complaints of having to wait at obstacles but it does happen and to think you’ll have ZERO bottlenecks (i.e. wait times at an obstacle because of people running close together) is unfortunately not going to happen.
Ask anyone who has done more than 1 type of obstacle course races.
The BIGGER races like Warrior Dash and Spartan race have HUGE wait times at obstacles because there are THOUSANDS of runners.
Thankfully, this is a LOCAL EL PASO ONLY event so we might top out at 1,000 some day (next year?) and that means that we can give everyone a great experience.
This is how we see it – If you have to wait 10-20 seconds at an obstacle for someone to get through, use that time to take a breather and then run faster between that obstacle and the next one. Push yourself during the straight aways and you’ll have the same time AND have challenged yourself to your maximum.
LOCAL BUSINESS PARTNERING:
We had some great help spreading the word and we want to give thanks to EP Fitness, Ode Brewery, Twin Peaks Restaurant and Black Sheep food truck.
Moving forward, we want to really partner up and work more closely with our current partners (see previous sentence) and new businesses that are in line with our way of thinking – Doing a challenging obstacle course to bring friends, family, co-workers and community together in a trial by fire tough & gritty event that allows each person participating to do something that they didn’t think they could complete.
I think that a Thursday night goodie bag pick-up at Ode Brewery (or a closer establishment to the East side) would be a good start next time.
Also, reaching out to local businesses who want to bring their business family together and do something actually fun
HINT: Nobody wants to go to another boring business dinner.
AND THE BIGGEST THING – working closely with Ft. Bliss to get out the BOSS (Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers) as well as batallion level liasons.
Packet Pick-Ups – I also think that packet pick ups on the week of the event might help people get together before the event AND it will help everyone because WE won’t have to be dealing with the 500 – 1,000+ people at the registration tent on the day of the event and people won’t have to wait in line that long if we break it up. We could do one night at a
We can make this event better locally compared to the BIG BOX obstacle runs by doing 2 things:
1] Making the InSANDity course a PERMANENT structure at the Sandbox so that people can practice year round.
We would just have to bobcat it every 2-3 months and give it a cleaning every so often.
We can cement obstacles into the ground and take away items that could be stolen like the ropes and the cargo net but still leave the bulk of the obstacles in place.
We could post the years FASTEST time and invite people to go out and try to beat it on a weekly or monthly basis.
We wouldn’t be there but if MOST of the stuff is in place, local El Pasoans could run it to get a better feeling when race day arrives.
2] Make it uniquely El Paso – Color the obstacles in BRIGHT colors (like my neighbors house), Have LOCAL businesses participate by placing their banners for FREE – We could let local businesses advertise and they have our flyer IN THE DOOR or at their tables. Barcode for video?
3] Having a Sand Volleyball Tournament going on at the SAME TIME as the InSANDity event. Since we’re right next to the Sandbox, why not? It will swell the number of people by combining 2 events and making it bigger than only one could hope to achieve. People want to go to A BIG EVENT! not to just an event…the more people the better I say.
So that’s it. These are al good ideas but it comes down to how we EXECUTE the game plan that will really push the event to greater heights or have it just lay flat and die into mediocrity.