Slide Like A Boss – by Dog Musgrave

Training Tips   |   Nov 4, 2014

Let’s be honest, a slide is not an ‘obstacle’ per se.  An obstacle is a man-made structure in your way that you have to get over, under, across, or through using a combination of strength, speed, agility and skill.  A slide is just a ride where gravity and a lack of friction does all the work.

But as 83% of all obstacle racers are just out on course for a laugh they are awesome fun, and we love race directors that put them in as one of their ‘obstacles’!

But how do you get the most out of your slip and slide experience at a race?  How many times have you found yourself just pushing yourself down with your hands or heaven forbid just walking down instead of sliding?  After doing slides at Stampede, Raw Challenge, Warrior Dash, Mud Run, Mud Sweat & Beers, Blood Sweat & Fears, Holt Bolt, Dirt Wars Survivor,  Mad Cow Mud Run, Titan Macquarie Mud Run, Billabong Ranch Brumby Run,and Run For Your Freak’n Life, I reckon I have a pretty good method when it comes to getting the most out of letting gravity and a lack of friction do all the work.

Before I share my wisdom on this matter I feel it only prudent to state that every racer is different, and every slide at every race venue is different.  Therefore, the advice below could result in serious injury or death and should not be attempted by anyone.

Now that the legal talk is out of the road, what I have found it comes down to is ensuring that the lack of friction is minimised as much as possible, and obeying Newton’s first law of gravity that states ‘An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force‘ will mean you can get all the way down the slide without having to resort to walking or bum-sliding.

This can be summed up in two steps:

1. Hit Slide At Speed: so many times I have seen racers clamber onto the slide, sit down and expect to pick up speed.  Much pushing with hands then ensues, and even once a small amount of forward and downward velocity is achieved this can be diminished halfway down where the only option is more pushing with hands or possibly even just getting up and walking down the remainder.  By hitting the slide with a decent bit of forward momentum – even to the point of sprint speed – this can help get you get all the way down the slide regardless of the gradient or the amount of lubrication they have smeared on the plastic.

2. Reduce The Friction: no matter how much momentum you have, velocity or acceleration will not be achieved if the the coefficient of static friction between the racer and the slide is not as close to zero as possible (thank you Dr Sheldon Cooper!).  Therefore, the optimum procedure for reducing this friction is for the race directors to make sure the slide is lubed up sufficiently with water and/or bio-degradable detergent, and the racer can help by ensuring that as little of their body is in contact with the slide.

Therefore, my method of hitting any slide is to take as big a run up as possible and hit it at speed, and then once hooning down head first to arch my back and ensure only my belly is in contact with the plastic.  Despite the size of said belly, I have found these two steps can get me all the way down or across any slide – including the totally flat finish line slide at The Holt Bolt.

As mentioned previously, this is not something I would suggest anyone ever listen to, much less pay attention to or try and emulate.  Not every racer is as silly as me and feels comfortable doing the head-first slide.  Not every slide has a decent catchment pool at the bottom for arresting racers’ forward velocity.  Not every race takes place in a town with a world class emergency department.

But if you have ever found yourself at the top of a slide going nowhere, your health insurance is up to date, and you feel that it’s safe to give this a try (not that I am advocating this in any way, shape or form) then you may find yourself screaming down your next slide as fast as a very fast thing indeed, and squealing with joy like a little big kid.


- Dog Musgrave is one of Australia’s keenest obstacle racers, having participated in 55 events since 2009.  He has done them in Darwin, in Tasmania, over on the West Coast near Perth and even in New Zealand as well as everywhere between the Sunshine Coast and Melbourne.  He also runs this website you are reading this light-hearted article on, yet despite his experience and passion for obstacle racing is one of the most average 83%’ers you could expect to see plodding around in the mud.  In his spare time he enjoys quantum physics, arranging light operas, reworking the works of William Shakespeare to improve on them and designing a reactor like the one they had powering the USS Enterprise in Star Trek.  

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