If you are not familiar with the Conquer The Gauntlet (CTG) obstacle course racing (OCR) series then you are missing out on one of the most challenging events in the sport, as well as one of the most welcoming communities. CTG was started in 2012 by brothers David and Steven Mainprizeand is one of the longest-running obstacle racing series in the US. The fact that this company is family run is no surprise. Once you do a few of their races you feel like a member of the family so it fits. This small series happens to offer some of the most fun and challenging events around as well. Many of the elites in OCR have steered clear of the CTG series because of its difficulty. Podium winners of these events are compensated ($300 for 1st place, $200 for 2nd, and $100 for 3rd) but the low perceived efficacy of racers reaching the podium may be keeping these pros away. In any case, it’s their loss as CTG courses offer a challenge to a variety of athletic skills. Their four-mile races usually offer a perfect combination of skill obstacles, heavy carries, and balance all in a mandatory obstacle completion format.
Since many people are unaware of what CTG events are like; Pro Team member, Evan Perperis, decided to write a comprehensive book reviewing the race series as well as everything you need to know to complete one of these events. Conquering The Gauntlet is basically your one-stop-shop when it comes to all things CTG. He reviews many of their 40 obstacles and spends a good time on the ones that are unique to this series. As with many of Evan’s books, he provides a complete training guide that is specific to OCR. He breaks these programs down into Beginner, Intermediate, and Competitive levels to ensure that he’s able to reach nearly all populations looking to participate. Evan told me, “CTG has such a unique blend of obstacles, often not seen anywhere else, and their mandatory completion format means athletes strive to keep their belt (aka band) in a manner not seen since BattleFrog. I wanted to give athletes specific tips so they come prepared and ready to crush their goals.”
Case in point, Chapter Three is devoted specifically to breaking down the obstacles including how to train for them, as well as methods you can use to complete them during the race. Some of these obstacles include the following:
- Cliffhanger- ascending/ descending monkey bars that have rungs that may or may not spin. They also have a version that includes a lache to hit a bell.
- Stairway To Heaven- this is a staircase that must be climbed using only your arms. It is very similar to the Devil Steps seen on the show American Ninja Warrior. This obstacle is usually included at the North American Championships as well as the Obstacle Racing World Championships. It boasts an 18% overall completion rate; making it one of the more difficult challenges you will face at these events.
- Tarzan Swing- this is the CTG version of a “Rig.” This rendition usually includes 3-6 grips and 1-2 ropes. It is also one of their only obstacles that includes a “women only” lane.
- Walls of Fury- this obstacle seems simple enough on paper. It is five 8 ft wall all in a row. This combination is a true gauntlet! In fact, I was with Evan at his 2018 forty-eight-hour Endure the Gauntlet event when these walls finally got the best of him. I believe is was like wall number 48 of his event when he finally decided to pass on this obstacle.
- Pegatron- this vaunted obstacle has become legendary due to its meager 2% completion rate. It’s a long pegboard with a 10 ft section in the middle with no footholds. On top of that this obstacle is usually right before the finish line so racers are already exhausted when they get to it.
Evan has even included his David Letterman style “Top 10” Workouts for completing a CTG race. To go along with these workouts in Chapter 5, he even gives you an idea of which training accessories you should have to up your skills needed for the race. He lists the items, their cost, and where you can find them. Near the end of the book, there is a list of “Final Tips and Techniques” where he discusses dealing with injuries, overall nutrition as well as race-day nutrition. To top it all off, he covers your race day gear selection needs making this literally an all-encompassing prep guide for your upcoming CTG event!
The book concludes with a discussion of the CTG Pro Team. This group is an extension of the CTG tribe. When people talk about the Conquer The Gauntlet group, they always mention how close-knit the entire group is. Scott Wierzycki is the newest addition to the CTG Pro Team and currently the only person to “Triple Podium” at a CTG event. To accomplish this at the Little Rock event, he finished 3rd in the Elite wave and won the over 40 Master’s Division. In addition, Scott participated in the multi-lap option at CTG called Continuum where he finished 3rd there as well. When I asked him what it’s like to be a member of the CTG Team he said, “It's pretty flattering to be added as a member to the Pro Team. I've loved the challenge's the race has brought over the years and the overall CTG family feel of the community. It's an honor to be able to join the team.”
I’ve had the opportunity to experience all of the household “love” when I helped out with a Conquer Youth event. I volunteered in a charity event they assisted with near Peru, IL. The “down-home” feel really comes through with everything this group puts together and for me, it really does make a difference in what you receive as a patron. Reading this book definitely brings this same aura of inclusion. This text is both a how-to manual as well as an introduction to a community. If you were considering a CTG event then this book is a must-have for you. Read it; learn the techniques and memorize the obstacles. While you are at it, get to know the people a little bit. It will make being at the event even that much more enjoyable.
You can purchase the book on Evan’s Team Strength & Speed website.