Sunday, 20 May 2012

Jump City GP event - missing the jump

I've just returned from this morning's Turbovite Jump City GP event and I can't say that I was impressed. Entry fee was R230 for solo entrants and R390 for pairs (R195pp). Aside from having a fun outing with my buddy, Fred, which we have every time we go run anyway, I wasn't very impressed.

The event is punted on the website as "TURBOVITE JUMP CITY GP Urban challenge is inspired by the growing disciplines of Parkour, Free Running and Cross Fit. The urban challenge provides you with a unique and exciting opportunity to safely experience Jozi and the amazing landmarks it has to offer whilst you sweat it out through 10km of urban obstacle courses."

Well, the course was around 7.5km according to Piers' logger. Parkour and Free Running are essentially the same sport; it's the intention and purpose and philosophy that differ. I saw a couple of parkour guys at the event but this course was really, really not designed for them with very few features, places and elements where they could use their sport. As for cross-fit... dunno that it really featured (rolling the tyres?).

As a road run, I thought the route was good. It took us past some interesting buildings that I didn't get a chance to look at, but would like to on a leisurely, photographic morning. And the route was a good mix of flat roads and up and down.

The obstacles... very, very, very disappointing. The event website says, "All obstacles are designed and inspired by the city to give you an unparallelled experience. Obstacles will require athletes to climb, crawl, jump, carry and more." This experience wasn't unparallelled.

These images below are from a video on the Jump City GP website that promotes what I could expect. I didn't take any photos so I can't show you what we got vs what I was expecting...

From the 'what to expect' promo video on the event website

  • Pricey entry fee
  • There were a bunch of samples in the 'goody bag' but I'd rather the organisers spend more time on planning the course and obstacles than on sourcing and putting together giveaways. I'm paying an entry fee for the race, for the course; not for samples of marie biscuits, weet-bix, coffee and Turbovite.
  • Registration process was slow, especially for the volume of people. This is a tough one to get right and I'm sure they'll refine this for other events.
  • They had those fancy portable toilets - the ones on trailers. But there were probably only four of them - two loos each. An additional bank of 10 x regular porta-loos would have been a good idea.
  • No route markings. Most intersections had traffic police who were guiding the way. There were two spots where we popped out and didn't know where to go. 
  • There was one water point on the route, as advertised. There really should have been two.
  • The first 'obstacle' was that orange tape that the city uses when they're fixing roads, pipes etc. We stepped under it. And, came too early on. Next 'obstacle' were about three rows of those plastic barriers; like a toll gates or used in road construction. They're usually filled with water to weight them down and stabilise them. These weren't.
  • There was a set of wooden cable rolls, on their sides, to bound over. Mmm.. ok. 
  • There was no marshal at the bottom of the first garage from whom we were meant to get an elastic band to prove we'd been to the bottom. I think there were a good load of participants who turned around before the bottom, realising that there was nothing down there for them to get.
  • Fred found a blue 'short-cut' tag in the first garage (nice course idea). In the second garage a lady asked us if we had a tag and showed us to a flight of stairs. While she was assisting us other people with tags could have come past and they would have missed out on the short cut. 
  • I think in this second garage were the ropes we had to crawl under. 6m distance, maybe.
  • In the third garage, with the tyres, we rolled our tyre up to the top floor - until we couldn't go any further. No marshal there. A bit further on, coming off the Nelson Mandela Bridge, we saw a pair ahead of us who we overtook ages before. Seems most only rolled their tyre up one level, which is probably what they did. Piers said that was what they did; the team ahead of them did the same. A marshal telling us what to do would have helped because there was no instruction. These garages are a 'nice' idea but with no control and the same way in and out, they're illogical in course flow and 'cheating' is very possible. I don't like anything where you have people coming and going on the same section.
  • About two kays to the end we climbed up a low wall and about a kilometre before the end there were some tyres on the ground to walk over (about 4m distance) and tractor-type tyres upright to vault over and a wooden beam to climb over. Two sets of these after each other. 
  • At the end was another wooden cable roll and then the skateboard ramp, which was half the size of the one in the 'what to expect video'. Two steps and I was up.
  • No cargo net as per the video and no 'ocean' of tyres.
  • Heidi and Stephan's red inflatable obstacles are way, way more challenging than all of these obstacles.
  • Foundation of the event concept is good; implementation was weak.
  • Friendly helpers at registration, on the course and at the finish.
  • Nice event area in Mary Fitzgerald Square with wooden benches to sit on in the sun - lovely. There seemed to be a food stall or two; but I didn't try them. The sound was bad and couldn't hear music or announcements well.
  • There was a gazebo with a bunch of massage beds and physios to give participants a rub-down; nice touch.
  • Road run route was pleasant and went past some interesting buildings - lots of turns and corners.
  • Although I'm not into race tee shirts, I got a girly-cut tee that fits! Bonus! It is really a treat to get a women's style tee and the skyline print on the bottom left, that wraps around the side is novel and attractive. I generally hate race tees because they're men's cut (news flash - I'm not a guy!), unflattering and too big.
  • Good pre-race communication by email (regular reminders).
I could definitely see this concept working but with A LOT more attention to the course and to the obstacles.

I was expecting cargo nets, monkey bars, scaffolding, fire escapes, stairwells, beams, ropes... so, that's why I am disappointed.  

The obstacles really are the selling point of this event and differentiate it from being a road run. I'd keep the distance at the current 7-odd kilometres and set off the runners in batches - say waves of 100 in each to minimise bottle necks (there were around 900 participants - event was limited to 1000 - and it generally worked well, especially later in the event when the field was really spread out); put in some quality, challenging and long obstacles that add to the route and make it challenging and interesting. The obstacles have to be so good that people can't wait to get to work the next morning to tell their colleagues all about them.

The event is currently a 7.5km road run with a bit of decoration in the form of token obstacles tossed in. So, I'm feeling a bit like Michael Douglas in that scene in 'Falling Down' (1993) when he's in the hamburger joint (great scene! specifically the piece near the end at 4:10) -  a discrepancy between what I expected and what I got.

That said, this event does have potential. I won't rush out to book an entry for the next one; I'll probably wait to hear from people what it offers up and then maybe try again the following one.


Dane Grant said...

Great work Lisa! Thanks for the info.

Melvyn Quan said...

Good summary

Marianks said...

I completely agree with you!! My endomondo pro rated the course at about 7.8km (If your friend was also using a GPS device we could have lost signal during the garages but it def did not feel like 10km)

The Nike Run Jozi was way more fun and brilliantly organized. Let's hope they learn from this and improve, I was really looking forward to the zip-lining as advertised...but alas very dissapointed

adventurelisa said...

Another comment by email from a participant:

"Lisa, just read your blog and couldn’t agree more with what you blogged. Obstacles way disappointing. It’s like being promised as few laps around kyalami in a Ferrari and when you get there you drive a Corsa. But still a great morning out in JHB CBD and we still had fun !

Great concept and I will do it again."

SportsFan said...

Fantastic race concept, setting and overall atmosphere! I agree that there were teething issues, but this can be expected for a first time event, and in comparison to the thrill and the fun had, these issues were minor.

The price, compared to most concept/adventure events, is actually not that steep at all and seeing the number of participants, I don't think this was an issue.

As for the obstacles, I agree there could have been more and I hope the race organisers hear our plea. To create a free-flowing course, using obstacles that are viable within a city environment, challenging but also suitable for the regular Joe's (like me), i think they did a great job.

Everyone I spoke to, en route and at the finish, thoroughly enjoyed it - the weather was perfect too.

I'll be back to see what they bring next time!

adventurelisa said...

SportsFan - you're quite right. It was perfect weather (outside of organiser's control), there was a great vibe (within organiser's control) and it was a lovely day.

The issue I have is about the delivery of what is promised. Let's say you go to a new restaurant and you order their fabulous beef fillet but the waiter brings you macaroni cheese, are you ok with this? Both are good meals and you'll enjoy either one of them but you didn't expect to get served macaroni. You were expecting steak.

Sunday was fun - agreed - but it wasn't quite what I ordered.