Race Review: Dirty Dozen Trail Obstacle Course Race 

While I was looking for an Obstacle Course Race (OCR) to test my boot camp fitness, I stumbled upon the Dirty Dozen Trail Obstacle Course Race at the US White Water Center in Charlotte. I thought this was perfect: a smaller, cheaper, local OCR to try before desperately trying to convince my friends to compete in the local Spartan with me. Two distances were offered: a 12K and a 5K. I recruited my husband, friend Michelle and her fiancé Trevor for the 5K distance.


The race was originally scheduled for Saturday, October 8, but based on the path that Hurricane Matthew was following, we received an email Friday morning that it was rescheduled for Sunday. This was the absolute right decision on their behalf because the hurricane did, in fact, hit us and it rained buckets. Luckily, Sunday turned out to be a perfect fall day.

Before the race

Before the race

The route took us along well defined trails, some super steep with some unstable rocks, through some semi flooded areas and through a drainage pipe. It was a good challenge and very different from the asphalt/neighborhood streets that I typically run on. I can imagine this is very typical terrain for a trail race (except for the drain pipe, but I’m counting that as an obstacle).

Hills on top of hills on top of hills

Hills on top of hills on top of hills

We had tried to find descriptions of the obstacles prior to race day so we could better prepare, but couldn’t find a list online. In total, there 6 obstacles:

  • Log hurtle: Go over and under various heights of logs. My technique left something to be desired and I scratched my leg up. My only war wound from the race.
  • Bear crawl under bungee ropes: Crawl under the ropes on your knees and elbows
  • 3 stations of card exercises: This one was kind of fun. There were 4-5 cards at each station. You flipped over a card and followed the directions before moving to the next station of cards. The exercises included full burpees, mountain climbers, push ups. etc.
  • Drain pipe walk: Crouch down and walk about 1/10 of a mile through a drainage pipe along the course. Luckily it was dry with no spider webs or visible critters.
  • Lateral Wall: Use hand and foot holes to transverse the wall from right to left. The most challenging for me and my favorite obstacle.
  • Tire Flip: Flip a tire twice forward and twice back to the starting position. There were two types of tires – one for women and one for men.

This race was a lot more running focused than any 5K OCR that I’ve cone in the past. I kept thinking, where are all the obstacles? Why am I running so much in one burst (the first obstacle came about half a mile into the course and the second was about another quarter of a mile after that). This is not the race I promised Michelle and Trevor. This is not the race I was expecting. As this was their first OCR, Michelle’s impression with a little different than mine:

“Over the years I have run many half marathons and have taken hundreds of fitness classes, but I have never challenged myself with a race that combines both cardio and strength.  This race was a good option for me to ease into this type of challenge. The course was very cardio heavy with only 6 obstacles along the way, so I didn’t find the race to be particularly challenging. I felt the hardest component to the race was probably the mud along with the hills.Since it had rained heavily the two days before the race, the trails were very muddy and you had to be careful to watch your footing. Being that the race was at the WWC, which was designed for outdoor recreation, the course itself was pretty and the event appeared to be well organized. I’d recommend the event for someone looking to do their first obstacle course race and do not want a super challenging event.”

With that being said, I don’t think I would run this race again. I recommend it for someone looking to test out their trail running stamina with some fun obstacles along the way, but not for someone who enjoys OCRs such as The Warrior Dash or Spartan Race.

T-Shirt Front

T-Shirt Front

T-Shirt Back

T-Shirt Back


Race Price: 5 $20 – can’t beat that!

Organization: 5 Between the volunteers giving directions for obstacles, the signs along the course and the clearly defined start and finish line, I was very happy with the level of organization for this race.

Level of Communication: 4 They emailed us a few times before the race in regards to the hurricane plan and sent out a post-race survey email. They never spammed us, but gave us just the right amount of emails. I only wish they had given us a description of the obstacles we could expect.

Race Course: 4 They advertised a trail run and that’s exactly what they provided.

Swag: 2 T-shirt and a few coupons. Nothing exciting.

T-Shirt: 3 Brown (to match the dirt I assume), but points were reduced for it being cotton and for all the writing blending in with the brown color. If I had paid for a sponsorship, I’d be upset that my company name was not prominently displayed.

Medal: 1 No medal, which actually surprised me as I’ve received medals for all other OCRs.

Spectator Support:3 No one is out on the course, which is to be expected.

Overall score: 3.4

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