Over a Wall and Through the Woods

Hingham’s Renegade Run Obstacle Course Race is more than just a run in the park.

By Moira McCarthy

Held on the foliage-filled trails of Hingham’s Wompatuck State Park, the Renegade Run Obstacle Course Race will celebrate its 5th anniversary on October 23. On that day, an estimated 1,000 racers from around the South Shore, ranging from high-velocity athletes to first-time racers, will take to the course—climbing, crawling, jumping and running—to help fund research to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

The event was started by a small group of South Shore residents who wanted to support their friend Tyson Sunnenberg, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 15 years ago when he was 21 years old.

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“Seeing how taxing (diabetes) is on him is a really scary thing,” says Sunnenberg’s friend and fellow race director Paul Foti. “I wanted to do this for my friend and for everyone who deals with this disease.”

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. People with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin, either via shot or pump, to stay alive. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which the body cannot process the insulin it produces.

Unlike Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 can often be controlled with diet and exercise.

1-climbing-for-a-causeHowever, as Sunnenberg learned, exercise can also benefit individuals with Type 1 diabetes, helping their bodies use the insulin they inject better. Sunnenberg worked out at the South Shore YMCA, and it was there that he brainstormed the idea for the Renegade Run with Foti, Lisa Drennan and Eric MacIntosh. Together, they formed Type One, LLC, through which they raise awareness about the disease and fundraise for Type 1 diabetes research.

The race is carefully designed to utilize the forest setting in creative and fun ways. In its first year, the event attracted about 180 runners, and the team has since worked hard to grow it into a major community event. Like a giant family-friendly block party, the event features food trucks, a beer tent, live music, a rock climbing wall and even a mini renegade obstacle course for kids. While the obstacle course is physically challenging, it’s designed so that people of varying athletic abilities can take part.

“That’s what makes us different,” says Drennan. “We want this to be attainable for everyone. It’s a family event, for sure.”

Proceeds from the event go to Type One for the purpose of funding research for new treatments. To date, the group has donated close to $30,000 to the cause. For more details and to register, click here.

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TEST YOUR GRIT

Renegade Run race course contains more than 20 obstacles. Here’s a sampling of the day’s physical challenges.

CARGO NET CRAWL

Runners will climb up an eight-foot wall made of lumber planks, with ropes to assist. Once at the top, they will be faced with crossing a 16-foot cargo net and then down an eight-foot wall on the other side.

MONKEY BARS11-cargo-climb

Test your upper body strength on this playground feature. Participants must cross without falling. And there’s an added challenge—these bars spin.

10-FOOT WALL CLIMB 

A sign of sheer strength and mental stamina, runners will be tested with this 10-foot wall. Participants will have to climb steps straight up to the tree tops, over the top and down the other side. Don’t look down, whatever you do!

TRAVERSE WALL

Climbed horizontally, this structure’s walls are eight feet high and zigzag a total of 24 feet. Find foot and hand grips for a fun and challenging sideways climb.

DARK TUNNELS

Forget about claustrophobia. For this challenge, racers must crawl through two-foot-wide corrugated pipes at an incline and decline, to make it more interesting.

RENEGADE HOIST

A real test of strength, racers must lift a heavy cement block straight up into the air using a rope-and-pulley system. Hand-over-hand motion is used to pull the rope through the pulley and raise the block to the top, before it is gently lowered to the ground.


TIPS TO PREP FOR RACE DAY

Cross train. Come up with a training regimen that includes trail running and full-body strength and interval training to ensure you’re able to climb, crawl, balance and jump through the obstacle course.

Get in touch with your inner child. Train at your local playground where you can find monkey bars, balance beams and climbing structures. Jog at your local running trail to get your ankles and feet ready for the race.

Dress the part. Wear breathable, moisture-wicking apparel; compression or tight-fitting clothing; lightweight, durable trail running shoes; and fingerless gloves. Don’t be afraid to stand out with team shirts, costumes, tutus or superhero gear—the wackier the better.

Stay fueled with good protein and carbohydrates before and during the race. Bring a nutrition bar or some other energy food in case you need a boost along the course.

Know your limits. Approach each obstacle with determination, but know your limits and keep it safe. It’s okay to slow down to take a breath so you can start running towards your next challenge. Remember you will be timed.

Train with a partner or group. A certain motivation and desire to push harder is always present when you strive to keep up with your teammates.   

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