Sandra Hanses calls them “Heck yeah!” moments.
Actually, what Hanses calls them, you can’t print in a newspaper.
Lounging in the shade and surrounded by trees on her family’s farm in north Pasco on a hot July afternoon, Hanses and her Renegade Rage co-founders — Kelli Piggeé and Pedro Torres — are reminiscing over their creation, a 10-kilometer obstacle course race that has grown into quite a spectacle as it nears its fourth running Saturday.
Throughout the conversation, Hanses is low key, answering questions and commenting in relaxed tones.
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But when talk turns to favorite obstacles, her demeanor takes a sharp turn.
“The rope climb,” she offers, her voice gaining pace and volume with each word, “because it’s such a challenge. Every time I go up the rope, I remember my first time, making it to the top and hitting that bell, and going ...”
We love it. Even if they’re over there with a cut on their leg going, ‘Hey, I need a Band-Aid.’ They’re still like, ‘I wanna go do that again.’
Kelli Piggeé, Renegade Rage co-founder
It’s a moment and experience the trio hopes to pass along to a slew of folks who love nothing more than cavorting in the mud, dangling in the air and plunging headlong into a pit of water ... then come out the other side and ask, what’s next?
“At the end of the day,” Piggeé said, “we’re watching people (race), and the expressions on their face and how much fun they’ve had. ... We love it. Even if they’re over there with a cut on their leg going, ‘Hey, I need a Band-Aid.’ They’re still like, ‘I wanna go do that again.’ ”
The course is beefed up this season, with at least 30 obstacles waiting to challenge competitors’ grit. The ol’ favorites are back, like Pits of Rage, Halfpipe and, of course, Monkey Mile, though with a twist.
What’s new? They don’t want to give too much away, but get ready for When Pegs Fly and Tarzan Swing. Oh, and it’s a good idea to loosen up your throwin’ shoulder.
There is a 5K race with far fewer obstacles, but the cost is the same ($70), and competitors can change their minds and run the full 10K, right up until the courses diverge. There’s also a shorter junior course ($25). Registration is running well ahead of previous seasons, which saw from 150-250 competitors on the course. Piggeé said she wouldn’t be surprised if entries topped 400.
But the most noticeable change will be the atmosphere surrounding the race at what they call base camp. Previous runnings saw a beer garden and four or five vendors catering to weary runners and their family and friends. This year, expect upwards of 17 vendors on hand along with the National Guard inflatable obstacle course and — drum roll — an American Ninja Warrior-style course.
If you can’t do the obstacle, you really can walk around it. It’s OK. Nobody’s going to scream at you as you’re walking off and call you a loser. They say, good job, thanks for trying.
Sandra Hanses, race co-founder
“This thing is going to be an outdoor health, fun, fitness, recreation fair,” Torres said. “The ninja warrior thing, there’s the mud run that’s going on, there’s the inflatable course that’s here ...”
The trio are quick to point out that while the course is tough enough to challenge a hardened veteran — last year’s winner, OCR professional Sara Knight, is making a return visit — it’s also welcoming to newbies who might be far removed from their prime.
“(Races) look intimidating to people,” said Hanses, who this year alone has run in three Toughest Mudder events (20 miles, eight-hour limit) and has twice competed in the World’s Toughest Mudder 24-hour event in Las Vegas.
“You look at the videos online, and they pump them up to be this great big thing. And so for the housewife mom whose like, ‘I really want to do this, but I don’t know that I can go out and do that,’ you don’t realize that, wow, he failed the obstacle, but he really is OK. If you can’t do the obstacle, you really can walk around it. It’s OK. Nobody’s going to scream at you as you’re walking off and call you a loser. They say, good job, thanks for trying.”
That feeling of support — not just from the many course volunteers, but from fellow competitors as well — is why Torres’ favorite obstacle is the last one on the course: Halfpipe, a version of the Warped Wall seen on TV on American Ninja Warrior, but with a few helping hands waiting to assist competitors reach the top.
“They got that moment that everybody craves when they watch TV,” Torres said. “They weren’t the spectator, they were the athlete. They got up there and people were cheering them on.”
And then they feel it: Heck yeah!
Kevin Anthony: 509-582-1403
IF YOU DARE
When, where: July 22 at Hanses Farms, 2720 W. Sagemoor Road, Pasco; elite race starts at 8 a.m., with open races starting every 15 minutes after that.
Cost: $90 elite; $70 open 5K and 10K; $60 military, student and responder; $25 junior race (age 5 and up) and adults running w/ juniors.
Recommended gear: Wicking fabrics and shoes you don’t mind getting wet and muddy. Long sleeves and above-the-calf socks are a plus. Avoid cotton ... unless you want to trudge around with extra pounds of water. Oh, and having towels plus a change of clothes and shoes for after the race is a smart move.