It’s been a long two year stretch since I headed out for five laps with the last SWAT Challenge. Itching to be back in action for the first time since the shuttering of all things in 2020, this year’s SWAT Challenge delivered all the goods.
The race maintained launching pad at the Four Freedoms Memorial at Evansville’s Riverfront Park. Neighboring the Ohio River made for a chilly, launch for the morning heats. This year’s just shy of 5K urban course wound through familiar territory though offered a few new surprises for happily returning veterans.
This my first time back in action since 2019, I was curious how a small local would handle the While masks were not made mandatory for the sub-200 racer event, some racers opted to run covered. To combat COVID concerns, hand sanitizer was placed at many obstacles to be used at racer discretion. Beyond this, the ever-popular Burpees or Donuts obstacle was modified so that single donut holes (previous years boasted full sized glazed Donut Bank goodness) were handed out by a gloved SWAT team member to all taking the sugary option over the torturous burpee option. Yes, I took the donut—both laps. For those not wanting to run in person, the virtual option remained in place, though I do not believe many runners took the virtual option this year. Aside from stalling the growth of the event (which boasted numbers near the 500 mark in 2019), all racers were in good spirits despite lingering COVID concerns.
Obstacle Shake Up
The SWAT Challenge team continued the tradition of delivering tactical-themed challenges along Evansville’s downtown streets. My favorite stops in the AirSoft Shoot and the signature Burpees or Donuts were back, along with 2019’s ginormous addition of the Death Star, (large slanted climb to platform to descent). Yours truly had a hand in some of the innovation on the day, offering the new 21 Squats for SWAT stop. The big surprise was the removal of the warp wall in favor of a tactical ladder climb—which I found myself favor. Unfortunately, the warp wall claimed a good bit of DNA over the years, so the swap was a smart move for all. Beyond a handful of tweaks to other obstacles, organizers made some changes to the ordering of the familiar stops. The small changes this year offered an increased challenge from previous years and a perfect refresh for vets of the course.
Honestly, the weather was perfect, and it felt so good to be back on the course that it almost didn’t matter how the course looked. Fortunately, the SWAT crew delivered on safety, innovation, and smiles with the return of this 2021 event. I can’t wait to be more involved in the planning of next year’s event. And THANK YOU to the Evansville Police SWAT team for volunteering all day and hosting such a wonderful event. It feels great to be back in action again.
Rating: 5 stars