Roller Coaster Race Recap Part 2: The Ride

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Roller Coaster Race Lake George as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Welcome to part 2 of my Roller Coaster Race recap, where I talk about the “ride” race. You can read Part 1 here.

What Is It?
In addition to the 5k and 10k running races, there was also the option to ride a 5k distance (16,405 feet) worth of roller coasters. They had a handy chart (see below) showing how long each coaster was, and each participant received a wrist band with sections for the different coasters. After each ride, you’d get a hole punch to prove you rode it, and at the end of the day, you checked in at the race tent, where they calculated your overall distance, and awarded you with a medal.

Roller Coaster
Distance (ft) Minimum Height (in)
Alpine Bobsled 1,490 42
Flashback 1,870 48
Comet 4,197 48
Steamin’ Demon 1,565 48
Frankie’s Mine Train 787 42 (none w/ adult)
Canyon Blaster 2,036 48 (42 w/ adult)

How Did it Go?
To be honest, I feel like there were a lot of things that sounded good in theory, but in practice, didn’t work out so well. Part of the hype for the event is that those participating would “Enjoy early access to The Great Escape and select rides, before the park opens to the public!” Now, I assumed, and I don’t think I was the only one, that this “early access” would allow us to get a head start on our roller coaster mileage before the park opened to the general public. I know that I shouldn’t assume, but here’s what actually happened:

After waiting around in the sun until 9:30, we were allowed through security and into the park. Several hundred of us streamed in, only to find that we had been relegated to a fraction of the park, with only one operational set of restrooms per gender, no food vendors, and only three operating rides. The bathrooms were jam-packed with stinky runners trying to change out of their sweaty clothes, and there was only one roller coaster available, The Flashback (formerly the Boomerang), which I know for a fact gives me motion sickness because it goes backwards. I was immediately irritated, especially because by this point, I was HANGRY due to the less-than-stellar post-race food offerings.

I ended up just sitting on a bench and waiting until 10 am, when the park was officially open, and then getting changed and making a beeline for the closest coaster, The Canyon Blaster. I’d never ridden it before, and it was actually a lot of fun. There was almost zero wait because it was so early in the day, and I thought about getting in line to get right back on, but I decided to hop on the Steamin’ Demon since it was right next door. They’re doing this new Virtual Reality experience, which sounds cool, but in reality means it takes about 5 times longer to load and unload everyone, because they have to get the headsets on and off. I opted not to do the VR experience, and I’m glad. I didn’t like this coaster much at all–I was jostled hard and my head bounced back and forth between the shoulder guards a lot, giving me a headache that would stick around all day.

At this point, I headed toward the Comet, for several reasons; firstly, it’s the longest coaster in the park, and only four rides on it would get me enough mileage to get my medal, and secondly, it’s my favorite roller coaster EVER. As I made my way to the Comet, I kept my eyes peeled for a food vendor, because as previously  mentioned, I was starving. As I walked, I was disappointed time and time again by signs stating “Open Daily at 11.” It was only 10:20. Strike one. I passed the Alpine Bobsled, my second favorite coaster, and saw a sign saying it wouldn’t be open until 11. Strike two. I got to the Comet only to find that it was closed, and the attendant didn’t know when or if it would be open that day. Strike three. I was full-on pissed.

Photo Jul 16, 12 54 17 PM

I wanted to steal this lion’s beer.

I wandered for the next 40 minutes, stewing in my hanger and frustration. Eventually, 11 am rolled around and I was able to get my hands on an $8 slice of pizza. Yes, you read that right. $8 for a greasy, crappy slice of pizza. But it was better than nothing. Feeling somewhat better, I headed back to where I’d come from and got in line for the Alpine Bobsled. I waited at least 40 minutes in line, in the blazing sun, feeling more and more discouraged as time went on. If the waits were all like this, there was no way I’d have the patience or the staying power to finish the 5k. My head was aching and I could tell I was dehydrated and still very hungry.

After the Bobsled, I decided to try my luck back over at the Canyon Blaster again, since the lines the first time around had been so short. I waited 30 minutes in line, and decided I’d had enough. I’d take a final swing by the Comet to see if by some miracle it was open, and if it wasn’t, I was going home, regardless of whether or not I’d finished the 5k. As luck would have it, the Comet WAS open, and had ridiculously short lines, likely because it’s way in the back of the park, behind the water park. I rode the Comet twice in rapid succession, but after the second time my head hurt so badly I knew that going again would be a really bad idea. I decided to call it quits. I didn’t think I had quite enough distance to qualify for the Ride medal, but I hoped the race officials would take pity on me. (After going back and doing the math, I was 884 feet short).

Photo Jul 16, 1 33 05 PM

That’s the Comet in the background

Now here is where I got really upset. In order to check in with the Roller Coaster Race officials, I had to completely exit the park. No big deal, as I was planning to leave anyway. I got outside and tried to walk over to the table that I could clearly see not 20 yards away, but was stopped by a security guard telling me I couldn’t go that way. I asked how I was supposed to check in with the race table, and he told me I’d have to go through security again. I’d have to wait in line and go through a metal detector again when I was hot, dehydrated, and quite frankly, OVER IT. I shook my head in disbelief and left without going to the race table. I’m sorry, but nobody should have to go back through security just to get their damn medal. I had literally just exited the park that I had already gone through security to get access to, and I couldn’t just walk over to the table that was RIGHT FREAKING THERE.

I will be the first to admit that I did a lot wrong. I didn’t eat enough of the post-race fare because I assumed I could get food inside the park. I didn’t drink enough water and got dehydrated. I assumed that early access to the park meant early access to the coasters. But the park and the race did some stuff wrong too. When you’ve got hungry runners, you need to make sure they get fed, or at least make sure they have access to food. When you’ve got “racers” trying to get a certain number of rides in, you need to make sure that all of your coasters are operational, and maybe make it easier for them to get in the required number of rides before lines get out of control. And you need to make access to race officials easy. That table should either have been inside the park, or outside the security checkpoint.

All that being said, I would consider doing this race again, especially knowing what I know now. As they say, hindsight is 20/20. If I had brought plenty of my own water and snacks, the day certainly would have been a lot more pleasant. And I also would have just ridden the Canyon Blaster as many times in a row as I could while the lines were so short, which would have prevented a lot of me feeling pissy about wait times and being able to ride enough coasters before I wanted to go home.

Did you ever make an assumption about a race that turned out to be incorrect? How did you handle it?

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Roller Coaster Race Recap Part 2: The Ride

  1. txa1265 says:

    Ugh! I’ve never had anything like that happen race related – but have definitely experienced poorly thought out and executed ‘special perks’ that were just a total mess, once involving two Cub Scout packs that Lisa and I led. Fortunately we lived the ‘be prepared’ motto in terms of water, sunscreen and snacks! Hadn’t planned on them for BEFORE the event, but at least we had them!

    And that thing of always having snacks and water bottles we got from carting around kids for years never seems to go away … we always bring a snack/water bag everywhere we go!

    I would have been totally annoyed – and for me the dehydration would really annoy me, I am very easily dehydrated and it quickly turns to headaches!

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