Savage Race Boston Review

So…Savage Race is not your average Mud Run.

I ran the Boston Savage Race a few weeks ago, and it did not disappoint. The obstacle course map was emailed to us the week before with 25 obstacles at an alleged 7.2 miles. Fun fact: On race day, many runners said their devices showed a distance of more than 8 miles…tricky, tricky, Savage course setters.

One thing Savage Race does differently than some other races, is they release their full list of obstacles (all possibilities) and then notify you in advance what will be in your race. The distance is also released, although not entirely accurate, it would seem. The map for the 2017 Boston Savage race is here.

Race Details

I ran in the Pro heat which gunned off at 9:00 AM, with men and women together. I was a little hesitant to sign up for the Pro heat for my first Savage Race, but I run in the elite heat for other Mud Runs and knew I wanted to run competitively, with less wait at obstacles, so I went for it.

Even in the Pro heat there was some waiting at the more difficult obstacles. The first wait was at the Wheel World, many racers claimed this rig was set up a little wider than usual. Meaning, the pit was wider, and the starting and landing area was further from the wheels. I had to do a pretty serious leap to grab the first wheel, and getting off of the last wheel was a problem for many people. According to Savage, the completion rate of this obstacle in the open heat is 55%.

Navigating a tricky dismount off of Wheel World!

The second tough obstacle was the tree hugger. It was wet that day, so everything was extra slippery. Once I realized that the top of the poles were “on”, as in free game to grab onto, it wasn’t so bad. A few people lost there bands here, I’m sure.

The Davy Jones Locker and the Colossus obstacles are both a little bit of an adrenaline rush, especially if you don’t like heights. Davy Jones’ Locker has a warped wall followed by a 15 foot jump off a platform into water. Colussus is a 24 foot high super steep slide into water. They are both more mental obstacles, than physical ones.

One obstacle that was difficult for short people was the Great Wall, an 8 ft wall jump.  It took me a few tries, but I was able to get it when I took a few steps and got a foot against the wall for height. In the Pro heat you can’t get help if you want to keep your band, but you can get a boost from a teammate in the open heat.

One of the obstacles that got a few people was Saw Tooth (pictured below); a 10 foot high 35 foot long inclined set of monkey bars. I remember seeing this as the 21st out of 25 obstacles, roughly 6 miles in, and thinking, really? But, it honestly isn’t so bad as long as you hold on tight, use high knees and match hands if you need to.

On the downhill side of a wet Saw Tooth.

The hardest obstacle, and the one that got a lot of the best Pro Racers to lose there bands right before the finish, was the Twirly Bird. I watched a ton of people struggle on this; they would get past one or two ropes, but just couldn’t hold on to enough ropes to get to the bell at the finish. With my background in obstacle training and aerial rope I knew how to approach these and finished them first try, but it definitely took 100% effort and all the little tricks related to doing ropes.

Tips & Tricks on Short Ropes:

  • Lead with the dominant hand (not to train, but for a competition)
  • Pull back on the previous rope to generate swing forward
  • Match quickly with the other hand after you pull backward (higher – hand over hand)
  • Keep arms tightly bent (locked off) or in an “L”
  • Use your knees to help swing you forward AND to get height UP if you need to go higher
  • If you get close to the finish, don’t forget FEET are an option to ring that bell!

Race Swag

You will get a free decal sticker and a beer ticket in your registration packet, and at the end of your race you’ll get a shiny new Savage Race medal and a t-shirt. They have those super soft t-shirts you’ll want to wear again and again. If you’ve run a Savage race before you’ll also get a Syndicate medal. Then, if you place top 3 in your age group or gender, you’ll get another bigger medal. Top 3 overall in gender get cash prizes, and 1st gets a pretty sick Savage Ax (#goals).

The sweet feeling of the finish!


The name of the game for this race was FINISH ALL THE OBSTACLES. If you didn’t finish all the obstacles, no matter how fast you ran, you were still ranked behind those who finished everything, regardless of their time. There were a good number of men who finished all, but not a ton of women. In fact, only 13 of 55 (23.6%) total Pro Savage women finished all the obstacles, compared to 99 out of 153 (64.7%) Pro Savage men.

The fastest elite 100% obstacle completion male finished in 57:40 and the fastest female was 1:18:38. I was happy to race my first Savage Race, my first Savage Pro Race, keep my pro band and was lucky to place 2nd in my age group.

Overall, I really enjoyed the Savage Race. Even though there are a lot of similarities, the strategy for Savage is different than Spartan. I found when I ran the female heat of Elite Spartan it was more common to skip obstacles and do burpees. In this race, you could not skip an obstacle, so as an OCR/Ninja/Upper Body Athlete, I felt like there was an advantage. I guess that’s good or bad, depending on who you are and what your strengths are.

What’s next? Well, that top 10 finish in my age group qualified me for OCR World Championships once again. In the mean time, I’d like to do an obstacle race with a few less cow pies ; ) Maybe a stadium race is in my future?

What’s one mud run obstacle you really want to train hard and improve on? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Like this post? Check out my Training for an Elite Spartan Race for more Mud Run training tips.


I share fitness inspiration for the daring and every day ways to get better on my blog, AcroCafe by Eliannah. I’m passionate about alternative fitness and doing what makes you feel alive.

Life is better upside down!

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  • This is awesome, and a huge congrats on your second place finish in your age group! I’ve been super intrigued by obstacle races – I almost convinced some friends to sign up for one with me but they bailed – but I’m a little anxious about the warped wall. I have no idea how or where to train for that!

    • Thank you Liz! The warped wall is not so bad in the Savage Race, there’s rope half way up. Ninja Warrior gyms, and some Parkour gyms, will have warped walls to train on. I hope you get a chance to do it, it’s a lot of fun! 🙂