Obstacle Race events like the "Muddy Buddy" and "Foam Fest" have become fun entertainment for many people wanting a different type of athletic challenge. Indeed, if you've seen them, heard about them, or participated in them, they offer some amazing challenges that require both physical and mental strength. Wiki has a great piece about them if you want more detail.
This photo shows an obstacle that Synthesis designed and built for one company that hosts these Obstacle Race events. While it is not as shocking as some challenges, that top bar is still 14 feet up. It takes a fair bit of metal determination to throw yourself over the top to climb down the other side. That's especially true when you're already tired, muddy or wet.
This photo is the first time experience for the obstacle - in the circle in front of the owners house. The neighbors already know we are crazy (so that's no surprise), but this brought them all out to look and gasp. Yet, we couldn't get any of them to try it out with us. Oh well.
Certainly, one of the most fun part of our job is "testing" the prototypes and fun products. We can't send them on without testing, you know. Well yeah, someone has to do it - and really, this is part of the practical side of engineering. We believe getting our fingers dirty in both building and testing teaches with experience in ways that theory cannot. (We won't learn obstacle race theory in college!)
Have You Ever Done An Obstacle Race?
What goes into designing and building an obstacle for a race? More than first meets the eye, of course. For this one, there were concerns about safety, strength, wobbliness (if that's a word), and abuse. Having 6 or 8 people on it at one time all jiggling and bouncing around is no small challenge.
While strength is important, it also had to be reasonably light for setup and shipping, even with safety as the top concern. Another goal is getting it to pack away into a small space (limited by the trailer size!). Just part of managing conflicting constraints.
We are happy that it looks so simple, and so easy to erect and disassemble - even if it has some tricks involved. Yet, most of all, we are happy that it so easily withstands the rigors of racing and the many people who threw themselves over the top bar as part of the competition.
(If by some chance, you have a photo of this piece in action at a race - particularly if you are in the photo - please send us a note. We would love to feature your photo right here with the story of the obstacle race action!) That would be really cool.
Another Piece Of The Puzzle
Now you have another peek into the stuff we do here at Synthesis. Certainly this is what we mean by saying "Synthesis is bringing the pieces together" for our customers.
For this project, we did the full design, all the engineering, procurement, etc., then built it and delivered it at its first obstacle race venue. The design had to include the human interactions of racing, sure, but also the how's of setup, take-down, and transport. There is a lot more in these projects than first meets the eye.
Let us know if there is something you need us to design. At Synthesis we tackle all sorts of crazy and amazing engineering projects.