This past weekend I had the opportunity to train at Shale Hill Adventure Farm in Vermont (aka ORTC – Vermont) . It’s very name hides its true form. Shale Hill is not just a farm field with some old fences to jump over. It is, for those who don’t already know, a brutal training course for OCR participants if used to it’s full potential.
When I began thinking about writing this review I figured I would have a lot to pick apart. I had visions of cheap construction, fewer obstacles than advertised, and obstacles packed too tightly in a small space. However, the opposite is true. The obstacles are sound, solid and clearly well put together – some even impressively complex. There truly are 50 full fledged obstacles – as advertised- and they are spread out perfectly throughout the five mile course. This course can leave you with a true full-body workout. This is the place to prepare for your upcoming competition. they provide tougher, and longer versions of obstacles you’ll encounter on other courses.
I don’t like writing (or reading) reviews that are one sided. I like the idea of looking at pros and cons of the subject at hand. However I was truly hard-pressed to find anything wrong or for that matter, anything that I didn’t like with the course. My only issues (which I had to think hard about to come up with) were with two obstacles, both minor issues. The first: rust. The monkey bars were a little rusty, and if you’re doing multiple laps and don’t have gloves, that’s not fun. I spoke with Jill Butler (owner) about this and here is what she had to say: “We have not painted the monkey bars since it does provide some “gription.” We toyed around with painting them, but didn’t want people to slip due to it’s difficulty (especially on the uphill section).” I’m inclined to agree with Jill, painting would remove grip and it is a challenge even with good grip. My only other concern: the water looked a little on the stagnant side, in the mud pit crawl under barb wire. When asked about his issue Jill responded: “Yes, the mud pits are what they are….they were initially dug for our first race a year ago and we intended to fill them back in, but everyone loved them and told us to keep them around to prepare them for obstacle/mud runs. But, each Fall the water table drops and the pits naturally drain out for the winter.”
The cost for this experience is $35, only a fraction of what it would cost to buy a ticket for an OCR competition – by rules – for a single lap. That one fee allows you access to the property for a full day. The course is not regulated. You can run in any direction you choose. You can skip obstacles, or sit and practice an obstacle over and over. Shale Hill is home to 50 obstacles, with more under construction. These obstacles aren’t cheap and some of them definitely break the mold. Everything from rope climbs, to walls, hay bales, to Tarzan swings, tire drags and monkey bars… they even have spears! This course is a true OCR’s dream course!
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A big thanks to Shale Hill owner’s Rob and Jill Butler !