To sum it up in five words:
THE BEST CHALLENGE WEEK YET!
Challenge Week has always been a big test of endurance, but to throw in an extra event at the start and call it Australia’s Toughest Fun Run – that was a huge way to start!
The Saddleback Smash was hugely successful for it’s Inaugural Run. We had 118 participants and it brought together all the local fitness groups for a great community event. The Oxygen crew were very well represented on the day mainly due to it being a Challenge Week event. I’m certain had it not been a part of CW, many of our Members would not have participated. Yet because there were points on offer, they turned up in numbers and all four Teams were there to kick it off in style. The running REDs jumped to the lead after the first session thanks to some big performances from Renee Miller, Brad Moore, Roz Dalley and Matt Brown. Special mention to Julie Forster who flew in from Austria at 1am and was there ready to run at 8am. To everyone that participated though, brilliant effort and in years to come you will remember you were part of the Inaugural Saddleback Smash!
So 6am Monday rolls around. This is normally when it all begins yet people were rcking up looking (not surprisingly) tired. The Boxing Boot Camp got underway at Black Beach Reserve with Palm Tree Shuttles, Stair Sets, Round the World and Cricket Pitch Punching. There were big scores, hard hits and tons of effort. The GREENs skipped to the lead and showed they weren’t going to be easybeats with Chiefs Judy Franklin and Wendy Boles leading the way.
930am Stretch saw a record 18 participants rock up for Power Yoga. Big efforts from a few guys who showed up for attendance depsite knowing that perhaps stretching wasn;t their forte. They looked even funnier doing their downward dogs in a tutu! The challenges were shared around evenly but due to their superior numbers the BLUEs jumped to the top of the leaderboard with a sloid 25 poit lead.
6pm saw the Upper Body circuit sessiontitled Muscular Mission. SHoulder presses, Rows, Push Ups – all the usual suspects broken up with a run through the agility poles and up the hill. A couple of rounds to fatigue everyone before the challenges – Push Ups to the Death to kick it off. It came down to the two finalists from last time, Matt Brown from RED and Elise Moore from GREEN, with Elise completing her hat-trick of titles and looking like she still had plenty left in her! The Dips-til-you-die challenge afterwards saw some huge numbers compiled and GREEN took out the session. Although BLUE still remained in first place they had their lead cut to just 2 points.
6am Tuesday saw the Teams leg it up to the Pavilion Showground for Power Hour with the huge tractor tyres, skipping ropes, med balls and agility gear mixed together. The heart rates were high, and the sunrise was stunning. Two challenges resulted in GREEN victories, another 3 time champion with Judy Franklin outlasting everyone for a 5 minute 45 second plank! Mark Burns set a pace on the Cyclone Ball nobody could match with 68 side to side wall hits in 30 seconds. Despite the strong performance from GREEN it was RED who jumped into first place – just!
930am Interval Run was themed Olympic Glory. We had the teams running laps of the scenic Black Beach Reserve with the sun shining and the competition fierce. After some bonus points it was time for the Pram Relay with RED taking it out after a BLUE blowout. BLUE were going along nicely before steering difficulties led them into the pitstop. The second challenge was the 80m Igottachute sprint – an individual timed run with a parachute tied around your waist. Mat Yates had the fastest time with 10 seconds flat but the YELLOWs took out their first session with a solid all round performance.
6pm saw the popular Rumble in the Jungle Boxing session. All the teams were at their colourful best as they battled it out on the Hill Round, 20 Shuttle, Box & Bound as well as Commando Calls with me on stage. I nearly lost my voice yelling “Left, Right, 2, 3 or 4” for an hour but I saved up just enough to still be able to call a very long round that everyone loves to hate – The Line of Fire! GREEN won another session with high numbers and bonus points while RED slipped form first to last in one session.
Wednesday 6am has always been our obstacle course session but this series we decided to switch things around and put the Team Relay in instead. Starting from Black Beach Oval, Advanced runners were to tun around the lighthouse and collect the Intermediates from the Scout Hall then the Novice runners from the post office staircase. All runners must remain on the rope and first Team to cross the line wins. REDs were never in doubt and completed their 3peat with BLUE managin their best ever Rope Run result with 2nd while GREEN and YELLOW finished equal 3rd. Then it was everyone for themselves on the Pheasant Point Phinish. 5 points for running to the top of the street, 3 point if you run to the end of the footpath, 1 point to the end of the carpark. The teams ran hard for the 15min drill and RED took out their favourite session.
The 930 session Adrenaline Abs saw quick heavy sets for the lower body interspersed with core work. 10 seconds doesnt sound much, but when you only have 5 secinds rest before the next exercise and there’s 20 exercises it starts to add up. The teams then made it to challenge time – The Squat Hold to the Death. We got our four finalists from each Team and then to make it fair each person had a milk crate and 2 plasctic cups to sit under their legs/butt. After telling me he has to win at least one challenge before the week was out, Anthony Langlois outlasted the machine Judy Franklin and YELLOW won themslevs another session.
At 6pm it was Strength again! However it was back to Upper Body with the Operation Afterburn session of Plyo Push Ups, different Row variations and Kettlebell swings. Then for challenge time it was the Tug o War. The numbers were fairly even although one extra person can be a big difference in Tug o War. Especially when that person is 6 foot 6, 110kg and is wearing footy boots for grip! The BLUE definitely benefited from having big Mat Yates but it was a team peformance and they deserved the win. RED, GREEN and YELLOW even stacked together an All Stars Team to take on the BLUEs but the results was marred by controversy. In the end all the kids took on Mat Yates and had the best win of the day. A good fun end to a great session.
6am Thursday was the Superset Smash. Normally this session is lighter in intensity during the circuit rounds due to it’s position on the timetable. It’s Thursday morning, there’s a heap of sore, tired bodies and it’s the 3rd Strength session in a row! None of that mattered though as all four teams used teamwork, flair and creativity to amass 85 bonus points before a challenge had started. But then it began – The Side Plank challenge. Change sides every minute til you can’t hold any longer. It cae down to a “Chief Off” with Laura James then Judy Franklin dropping out to leave Renee and Kerry to battle it out. Kerry prevailed with an amzing time of 28 minutes and 45 seconds. YELLOW took the win and the session.
930 Fight Club is always popular. There’s something about smashing me one on one that gets people fired up! Every team smashed it out with quick 90 second rounds on the Hill, Path, Shuttle and the “180 Round” with Laura where they alternated 10 seconds of fast unders with 10 seconds of hard uppercuts. Then it was on to the Fight Club challenge where 15 people in a row took great delight in smashing me. Andy Adams stepped up first andset a pace that nobody could match. He punched hard, fast, with good technique and no errors. All the Chiefs agreed he deserved the win. Special metions though to Elise Moore, Deni Murray, Geoff Mac, Renee Miller and Mat Yates who belted me senseless. BLUE had the least numbers but the most dominant performance to win the session.
6pm was the Kendalls Killer Obstacle Course. Challengers were told if they travelled over to Kendalls Beach by foot they would get 5 bonus points. The course across the sand, through the tyres and agility poles then up the big Kendalls staircase got the heart rates near maximum. 1 point for every lap completed, 5 points for carrying your Team’s medicine ball throught he course. The bad news was that this was normally a 20 minute course in the past, but today it was 30 minutes. Geoff Mac killed it with a 34 point haul for the BLUEs but Brad Moore caried the REDs and their med ball for a huge score of 48 points. He barely put the medicine ball down! However YELLOW and GREEN had great team performances with GREEN taking out the session and jumping to equal first with the BLUEs.
Friday was time to Refresh & Recover with some important stretches, self myofascial release (a fancy way of saying self massage) as well as some seated masage from Joh Wiaczek from Kiamassage. The challenge this session was the Sit & Reach – not an easy task considering what’s unfolded this week! The REDs took it out with an average score of 14.6cm, pipping the YELLOWs by an agonizing 10mm! I got several text message after the session saying how much better people felt and how they were ready to bring home the Challenge Week Cup for their Team.
930am was popularly named Operation Short Circuit. 20 second sets of lower body exercises using just body weight and a BOSU. A couple of rounds was enough and then two interesting challenges that weren’t too taxing were the Standing Long Jump and Vertical Leap. Richard “Jetboots” Wadwell got some self proclaimed redemption after his lack of hamstring flexibility earlier in the day with 2 big jumps for YELLOW. However, not only did Nichola Beachcroft save the GREENs by being the only member there, she actually had the highest average jump of all the teams and single handedly pipped the GREENs into first place with one session remaining in the week.
6am Saturday for the Mystery Finale. Only 10 points seperated all four Teams so this really was anyone’s contest. It had poured down rain all night and into the morning. I thought that was perfect. We met at the stage as usual, and everyone was told to drive up to the Kiama Quarry Sporting Complex. Challengers were told to get over the rain. It was going to be the Team that was mentally strong that would win this challenge and therfore the week! So it was announced that the final hurdle was the 100 100s. Yo get 1 minute to travel 100m – plenty of time, I mean you could walk it in 1 minute no problems. But you have to do that on the minute for 100 minutes! Bonus points were on offer for big peformances and creativity. If you ran it in 20 seconds that means you get 40 seconds to recover.
Every 10th lap was the Team Rope Run, with 1st Team over the line netting 20 points, 2nd 15 points, 3rd 10 and 4th 5 points. There was also Oxygen’s fastest Man, Fastest Female and the Fastest Couple all with points on the line. I’ve never had to tally up so many points! There was such a great atmosphere as the Teams ticked off the laps one by one. They ran, walked, cartwheeled and even conga-lined it and it was interesting to see the tactics used by the different Teams. REDs did some rough figures and decided to drop 5 members off on lap 99 so they could win the sprint home on lap 100. YELLOW were the only Team to complete the 100 laps with every Team member and Rochelle Manczak from BLUE deserves special mention for being the first person to fnish the 100 laps. Needing to leave early to get to work, she ran the last 20 laps back to back with no rest. GREENs surprised many with the running ability and took out 9 of the 10 Team Rope Runs. All in all it was a great end to the most gruelling and closely contested Challenge Week yet! It took all day to tally and it was revealed at Oxygen’s 2nd Bday Party that night – YELLOW Wins by 1 point!