Tribal Clash 2016
Tribe – Noun
1 a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader
2 a group of people often of related families, who live together, sharing the same language, beliefs, culture and history
3 a group of persons having a common character, occupation or interest
“Our tribe is those who share passion, regardless of geography, race, religion or politics. The strongest bonds between humans are forged when we breathe, sweat and heave alongside each other. When we share each other’s pain and celebrate each other’s victories, rep by hard fought rep we become a tribe united by shared experience and a common quest’.
A two-day competition comprising of 168 six person teams (3 men and 3 women) battling it out on a not so sunny beach in Devon to claim the title of the fittest tribe. Tribal Clash 2016 was full of blood, sweat, tears, laughter and a whole lot of pain. Myself, Mario, Lee Philips, Rich Holmes, Ren & our late substitute Erin Blevins took the trip down to Devon on 19th August. Having previously camped for 2 years in a row at this competition, we opted for a little bit of luxury from a spa hotel (thanks to Ren for this). Camping can be fun, but nothing beats a hot shower, hot food & comfy bed after a day of competing! We arrived Friday afternoon to register then headed to the beach for the opening ceremony and athlete briefing. Devon is beautiful and Blackpool Sands Beach is probably one of the prettiest settings for a competition I have ever been to. There is always an air of excitement as we drive down the twisty roads and the view opens up to show the glorious cove. This competition never ceases to amaze me and in true Tribal Clash fashion the organisers hit us with a big welcome. The first event at 8am the next morning was to be a team 1km log run across the beach followed by an individual 4km trail run. Thanks Tribal Clash! The other 2 Saturday events were a sandbag carry, ‘The Pipe’ and ‘Tribal Fran’. After a few demos of the workouts, we left to drive back to the hotel to have dinner and discuss the events for the next day.
We got up early and headed to the beach at about 7.30am. We wanted to get down a bit earlier to see other teams and how they were tackling the events. After a few outfit changes and 15 visits to the toilet (standard pre competition workout behaviour for me), we were gathered in our lane for the team log carry. As a team we had to carry a log which had 6 handles (3 each side) for 1km along the beach. The small pebbles that make up the beach make it so much harder to run on meaning the lactic acid build up in your legs just doesn’t go away. We managed to get out ahead on this run and lead the way for the whole 1km. Being one of the smallest members of the team I was in the middle and it meant that the taller people on the ends of the log took most of the weight. Unfortunately the height differences in our team caused similar issues all weekend. We managed a steady jog, walk, jog, walk tempo and finished first. As soon as that was done we set off on one of the toughest trail runs I have ever done. Ren got up ahead first and as I pulled in behind her, Mario managed to elbow me hard in the head. A complete accident but it wasn’t the way I was hoping to start my run. Lucky I had 15 years of experience as a fighter behind me so being elbowed in the head is nothing new, but still, thanks Mario 😉 The run was mostly up hill. So the burn we had experienced in our legs from the log run just didn’t let up. We were taken up and up and up into the woods, down vertical muddy tracks, under fallen trees, swam through a pond and finally onto an open country road. I knew I was up ahead and I just kept saying to myself do not stop, do not slow down, the pain will not get worse and once it’s done it’s done. Somehow after what seemed like the longest 4km of my life I was sprinting down to the beach to the finish line. What a relief, but what a buzz! Our team all finished within a few minutes of each other and each and of us did amazingly well. We then had about 10 minutes before we were rushed into the next event which was the team sandbag run and builders carry.
We had about 10 minutes before we were to start the second part of this workout. The sandbag sprint. We finished the sprint pretty quickly. The last part of this wod required us to put over 300kg worth of sandbags into a huge sack which was suspended on two logs which we had to carry on our shoulders to the finish line. It all started so well…
The pictures below tell the story….
We felt pretty down after this event. Having finished the trail run on such a high, this event felt like a real set back. We didn’t finish this sandbag wod and it really took a lot out of us mentally and physically. 12 very bruised shoulders and 6 bruised egos headed back to the village teepee for some rest and food. Next event was a few hours away. A team slosh pipe synchro front squat and balance beam.
This event was fun. I always like new challenges. Balance beams isn’t something I practice a lot but it was great to be able to find ways to adapt and tackle new tasks. As a team we had to perform 30 squats with a 40kg pipe containing 70kg of water (so 110kg total) using a zercher hold. As you can imagine, being different heights we had to squat with perfect timing or else the water would slosh around the pipe setting us all off balance. Amazingly we managed to do this pretty well and finished our squats without too many problems. We then had to get the entire team across the balance beam one at a time. The catch was if you fell off you had to join the back of the line and the last person up could not get assistance onto the beam. If they could not get across the beam we could leave them behind to do as many attempts as possible as the rest of the team continued another set of synchro slosh pipe squats. This continued in this fashion for 12 minutes. Most of us got across but Erin was unfortunate to be stuck at the back. It was a hard beam to get up onto on your own and I really felt for her as I am not sure I would have managed it either. But the funniest moment of the day was Mario turning around and shouting to Erin who was looking frustrated and lost “You can do it Erin! Believe you can do it!” I know at the time this did not go down very well but afterwards it was something we could laugh about.
After this event there was a long rest until the last wod of the day ‘Tribal Fran’. Something we were all quite excited about. We rested, ate and discussed tactics for the final event. We had to perform a synchro lunge using the worm (mini logs attached with rope). Straight into team synchro thrusters with the worm and rope climbs. Rep scheme was 21-15-9. Then finish with a synchro worm lunge back. We all had rope climbs and we had practiced synchro lunges so we were feeling pretty confident about this. We did reasonably well and the rope climbs were fun. Everyone managed to contribute to this. Sadly we didn’t finish the wod, we had about 4 rope climbs left of the 9’s. It was tough having a 12 minute time cap. We finished the day in 34th position. Not bad but we had to do some serious work on day two if we were to make the top 20 cut to the semi-finals.
We were all glad to get back to the hotel and shower and eat. We headed to bed fairly early as tomorrow was another early start. The first event on day 2 was a swim.
Sunday we headed down early again to watch some of the earlier heats. There was a lot of confusion about this first event. I won’t go into all the details of why, but the rules were not very clear to begin with. By the time our heat set off all these issues had been sorted. The workout included a swim in open water, a tyre hold above our heads and muscle ups. All I will say about this workout is I need to practice open water swimming more, Ren Erin & Lee managed to hold a heavy tyre above their heads for about 4 minutes and Rich managed to do 29 muscle ups in about 3 minutes to bring the team in 5th place finish for this event. We were all pretty broken after this event and our shoulders were really feeling it.
The next event was the Atlas stones. I always look forward to this event at Tribal Clash. Getting to throw heavy stones over your shoulder for time, what could be more fun than that?! This year they added a twist of up and overs to the atlas stone lifts. The stones went up on ascending weights as the rep scheme went down and we had to get the entire team over a bar without assistance. We absolutely smashed this workout. Well, the boys did most of the work as they had all of the heavy stones to lift. But we all managed to contribute to the workout and were practically fighting each other in the last set of stones to get the work done. We finished with a really fast time and it put us quite far up the leaderboard. After this workout I really understood the definition of ‘tribe’.
We had a really long wait for the next workout by which time the clouds had come over and the rain set in. Sadly we wouldn’t see the sunshine again for the rest of the day. The last workout seemed to be taking forever to get finished and rumours were spreading about the camp fast that the last workout of the day would be cancelled. It was supposed to be a team paddle board sprint. A couple of hours later we were all called into the main arena and it was confirmed that it was cancelled. Mainly because of the weather but also because the first two workouts had taken so long to get through. So it was straight to the semi finals. Tribal Clash traditionally use the tug of war as a way to cut the top 20 teams down to 10 for the finals. We made the cut and finished in 16th place. Out of 168 teams this was a big result for us.
Whilst I understand that a tug of war is the easiest and quickest way to cut a large number of teams down, it does tend to favour larger teams. Sadly we were up against CM2 who were probably one of the largest teams there. After 3, 2, 1 go we all gave it everything we had. For a few moments it felt like we actually had them and the rope was coming our way. But weight shifts weight and sure enough CM2 managed to pull back and pull us over the line. I can’t explain the disappointment and anti-climax that spread amongst us. It is so hard to feel positive having just done 2 hard days of competing to be knocked out by something as simple as a tug of war.
We left pretty quickly after this. The drive back to London was a long one and it was already getting late. We didn’t stay for the final but we heard that CM2 came third, so at least we know we lost to one of the top teams. This weekend was as amazing as it has always been. It is one of my favourite competitions of the year and I am already looking forward to gathering our tribe again for 2017. Hopefully we will all be a bit bigger and stronger next year and maybe, just maybe we will win that tug of war and get into the finals. I do believe we have a place there. Until next year!