Nerves of Steel conquers Viper Challenge 2015
Muddy water pits, high walls, fire pits, slippery slides and dark pipes you name it, Viper Challenge set up an obstacle for it under the searing hot sun. Akin to Tough Mudder and Spartan Race, Viper Challenge is an obstacle race set up around the Sepang F1 Circuit on with 20 obstacles along the 20km route.
The challenge is team-oriented nevertheless, even if you sign up as an individual, strangers along the way will offer you a helping hand or a push from behind, there is no time limit but it’s a mental and physical test of grit and strength to behold. Many friends choose this event as a means to reunite and share camaraderie over overcoming obstacles, similar to team-building activities. Some overcome fears of high walls and balance beams or even swinging monkey bars. It’s an experience and bragging rights for life.
Over 20,000 participants ranging from teenagers to adults in their late 50s signed up for the Viper Challenge held 2 days. With some training, you can overcome the obstacles, or choose not to train and that’s where all your fellow Viper-ians will come together to help you get over or under. Leave no Viper-ian behind.
Even before you get to the starting line, a wooden wall was in place to get you warmed up to the spirit of climbing over walls. A lot of walls along the entire route with an aptly placed ice cold-water mud bath greeting you as the first obstacle. What a perfect wake up call!
How about jumping over a pit of fire?
Since you needed to get warm after that ice bath, time your run and jumps else you might just end up with a singed shoe if not worse. Deep muddy trenches were lined up next, where it was fun to slide down it at first, until it got wet and slippery at the end.
There were a few commando crawls, before you test your finger strength on wooden walls named the Spider Man shuffle. Jumping over horizontal wooden logs seemed easy for some who were show-boating different ‘parkour’ styles while shorter participants were baffled as the logs were as high as their chest. Some yoga stretches and moves were necessary to overcome this obstacle.
Stairway to Hospital if not Heaven
One obstacle everyone unanimously deemed unsafe was ‘Stairway to Heaven’, a huge wooden ‘ladder’ standing 5 meter high with no safety harnesses nor any safety measures. Heaven forbid if anyone had fallen from the top in their attempt. Though it was heartening to see many Viper-ians were encouraging their teammates mid-way to overcome their fear of heights.
A couple more crawls under spikes and into pipes led everyone into a mud bath, before setting up for some walls, short ones and reclining ones. The 2 meter high reclining walls geared up for an individual display of agility and strength, or massive team work with a 3-man-support to hoist shorter individuals up to the top of the wall and push them over. Some teammates offered their shoulders or palms as a step, some received a kick in the face, but it was all in good spirit. It was then all up to the person to land safely on the other side. An achievement, indeed.
Setting up for some test of upper body strength?
Just as you were getting the hang of the obstacles, it’s time to switch it up for some upper body strength. The Swing Rings were similar to monkey bars except that the bars were traded for rings. The third ring was set at a higher height which caught most participants as they could not muster the strength to raise themselves to reach out for it and duly plunged into the muddy waters below. Some accidentally hit the rings and had to hang on for dear life while waiting for it to swing back towards them. Oh the agony!
Those that made it through to all the rings, showed a gritty display of strength and agility to swing their way to the end. They were really a sight to behold.
Refuelling stations without fuel
When the distance between obstacles gets longer under the blazing hot afternoon sun, and the adrenaline dips, that you realise that you’re hungry and there’s no food to be found anywhere. We were queueing for the ‘banana station’ only for them to close the station as the bananas were ripening rapidly and were in bad conditions. Nevertheless, we salvaged what we could find, but the hundreds of participants behind us must’ve been left without anything but banana peels on the floor. This was very poor planning and management by the organisers.
We did not find anything else to eat along the course, and were only offered water at most water stations, and isotonic drinks at only two stations at best. We were not the slow ones, and I can only sympathised with the batches that started later than us. Averaging about 4-7 hours on the course including 2 hours prior to the start, most participants would’ve only had breakfast to carry them throughout the day. That itself would be a mean feat.
Slippery Senorita rekindles the kid in you
After a long weary walk/run, we reached the new obstacle I’d been waiting for to slide down a humongous water slide named Slippery Senorita. However the queues were as long as a slippery snake and the Fire Rescue Squad was using the water hoses to spray on the crowd to keep them cool.
It was a high-adrenaline slide down the slope and you’d pick up speed as you near the end and hope that you don’t kick anyone who ends up in your path. If it weren’t for the long queue, the self-professed adrenaline junkie and water-baby in me would gladly do the obstacle over and over again!
Understandably after 16km, energy levels were dropping under the unforgiving afternoon heat and ‘Nerves of Steel’ had to be mustered to cross a trench using steel cables, upside-down commando style by criss-crossing your legs. The cables here though should not have been steel as it cut into the heels and hands of those not wearing gloves. Nylon ropes would’ve been a better option.
The walks to the next obstacles seemed unending as we caught a glimpse of KLIA on the left and the Sepang F1 Circuit on the right before another wall-climbing obstacle greeted our tired arms and bodies. My tummy was already growling with hunger and I could only imagine, if only we had pop-up burger stalls along the way! As we passed the carpark where we had parked this morning, it was so tempting to just walk over and drive off in search of food too!
Where’s the Super Mario brothers with Bad Plumbing?
Many Viper-ians donning white tshirts were left with nary a dot of white. Why would you wear white to an obstacle course anyway? Nevertheless, ‘Bad Plumbing’ is a new obstacle offering you the chance to crawl into a long pipe like the Super Mario Brothers, and turn yourself at the end, and set yourself for a backflip into the deep muddy pool below. Stoked!
There were a few more obstacles to greet wearied souls but none other like the ‘Warped Wall’ from American Ninja Warrior for a grand finale finishing touch. Many Viper-ians had set themselves at the top and were offering extended hands if not ‘ropes’ made from t-shirts tied together – to their friends who were attempting to run up the curved wall to the reach the top. Alternatively, it would’ve still be fun to slide down the wall if you didn’t manage to accomplish it.
We found many worned out shoes discarded along the course, which would’ve left many participants walking barefoot on the hot tarmac leading to the finish line. That’s hardcore!
Improvements are imminent
Overall, some obstacles were too easy, child’s play at best. There should be more than 20 obstacles built along the 20km course, there’s ample room for more. Some were not even considered an obstacle when you have to only wade into a ‘Dry Creek’, some obstacles like the muddy trenches were repeated at different junctures. Viper Challenge needs to step it up a notch!
A lot of safety measures needs to be taken into consideration especially with high obstacles. Hopefully no one fell over the 2-day event but nothing much could’ve been done to save that person if indeed anyone had any taken a fall. Refuelling stations need to be stocked with proper food like energy bars, bananas, or sandwiches. Alternatively, advise participants to carry food with them along the course.
With sand and grit in our mouths, mud-tainted clothing from head to toe, we struck a pose at the Viper Challenge backdrop to celebrate our huge team effort and solidarity that kept us going throughout the 7 hours on the course. When the going got rough, we joked about how we could’ve spent the RM100+ on a spa visit or a sumptuous meal but hey, this challenge builds character and rapport. That’s what it’s all about!
#ViperChallenge #ViperChallenge2015 #mudfest
Watch the video to see how we did, filmed entirely on #GoPro4 and #XiaoMi3.
A shorter version of this article was first published in The Star.