The much anticipated, first ever, Hardcore Caribbean obstacle course came off last Sunday. For those of you who missed the hype, this was an event spread over approximately 7.5 miles with about 20 military-style obstacles. It challenged your ability to manoeuver your body over, under and through various structures, combined with some road and trail running. The participants for this event were of various ages, both male and female, of various athletic backgrounds. I recognised individuals and teams with backgrounds from martial arts, rugby, parkour, and even surfing, to fitness moms who made it their personal challenge to complete the course after giving their bodies to child birth and those who just wanted to do something that was different. Some participated as individuals while others worked in teams. The one thing that was common amongst all the participants was the need for a fitness base, for without it, this would have been near impossible to complete. This Hardcore Caribbean challenge was not a race, although there was nothing stopping you from aiming to be the first person to cross the finish line.
The true spirit of Hardcore Caribbean was to challenge yourself to commit to doing something that would have challenged your either physically and/or mentally. Of course, there were the physically gruelling parts of running the distance, carrying a tire up and back down a trail, and getting across the monkey bars, but there were obstacles that also involved low crawling under barbed wire, rope climbing over a wall and running through 20 feet of hanging live wires. While there was nothing stopping the participants from skipping any of the obstacles, the personal dare of overcoming any fears or reservations against height, claustrophobia, pain or just getting down right dirty in order to complete the obstacle is what being “Hardcore” was all about. It was an opportunity to be part of a team and build comraderie in a special way, as this was the first time T&T had ever seen an event like this. Rest assured that it will not be the last. It was also an opportunity for self-expression as there were no rules surrounding dress code/attire, team names or otherwise. People came dressed as characters such as Spiderman, Grim Reaper, a pussy cat; others had face-paint on; team names such as “Bright and Chinee” and “Whose House?” all made their debut in the name of fun and fitness. While the cargo net that draped across two shipping containers was the only obstacle that caused many participants significant concern with regard to safety which was largely due to the heavy bottle-necking that took place at that station, the entire event went off without serious injury.
Avatar Ambulance Service was on-sight to address any incidences of injury, as is expected when taking part in any sporting activity, and there were many water stations and “Hardcore Caribbean” personnel all along the route. Local participation obviously dominated the event but this Hardcore Caribbean tapped into the potential for sports tourism as there were people who came from Florida, USA to participate. If you go to their Website (www.hardcorecaribbean.com
) you will see that there are future plans for such events to take place in Barbados and Jamaica, aside from the second one that is carded for T&T in December again. I am sure the organisers for this event had many lessons learned as it was the first ever, and they have invited all their participants to comment on their experiences and offer their suggestions on how it can be improved, but it is clear that T&T was ready for something like this to hit its shores. The training done by all who participated in anticipation of this event was evident on the savannah, Jackson Square, up Chaguaramas, various parks and beaches. It has breathed new life into the fitness industry for those who are not part of the more mainstream sports. For some, there is now something else other than Carnival for which to to train. In many ways, events such as these will only enhance us as a society where our stats for heart disease and obesity have been on the rise. Coordinating an event like this, especially in a culture like T&T is not an easy task. I have read the criticisms and suggestions of the participants on Facebook and as someone who participated in it as well, there are many with which I agree. There are those who said that the obstacles were too easy, the run was too long and a few for whom the experience was obviously so negative that they will not participate in it again but I would like to congratulate the organisers for doing a job well done. I look forward to seeing how the next event is improved, based on their experience this time around as well as the suggestions of their participants and spectators, and encourage anyone who did not do it this time, to perhaps consider doing the next one.