We Tried It: Freak’n Farmer Obstacle Race
Plus, where to eat, sleep and play in Osoyoos during the race weekend.
October 19, 2017
Disclaimer: I really did intend to cross the finish line. Scout’s honour! (Even though I was never a girl scout.)
When I first agreed to do the Freak’n Farmer race, I have to admit, I was pretty anxious about it. An obstacle race where you have to crawl in the mud under a barbed wire fence? Wall climbing? Farm chores!?
I’m no couch potato: I love hiking, I kick box and I teach dance classes three times a week. But I’d be lying if I said I am any good at running or getting my hands dirty. I’m not ashamed to admit that people like me are probably the reason glamping exists. When I was seven, my parents sent me to summer camp. After spotting one too many spiders and experiencing more mud than my light-up Sketchers could handle, I blew the joint and took a mid-week break back to the city with a “stomach flu.”
Despite these stellar credentials, I decided to do it because I wanted to prove to myself that I could. I even got my significant other to sign up and try to motivate me. Our team name was Fresh Veg (how very farmer of us). I mentally prepared by watching videos of previous races, working out and even planning the perfect plaid outfit.
Unfortunately, my farmer-athlete dreams were short-lived. Two nights before the race, I fell and tore my ACL ligament in my knee. A trip to the emergency room and a set of crutches later, it was confirmed that one half of team Fresh Veg was officially squashed from the competition. But, that didn’t stop us from going and my partner from participating. And I can truthfully say, I wish I had been able to do it, because it looked like a freak’n amazing time.
This was the sixth year the obstacle race was put on by Hoodoo Adventures and Covert Farms. The setting of the race is breathtakingly beautiful and challenging. It takes place on 650 acres of organic farmland just north of Oliver (a 20 minute drive from Osoyoos) between rows of grapes and fields of vegetables (I may have snagged a few). It’s like Tough Mudder, except farm themed—no, seriously, there was a team called the Tough Udders (see below).
Racers of all ages and fitness levels can sign up for one of three routes: 5K, 10K or 20K, each with an increasing number of obstacles. Be warned, the 20K is not for first-timers. The route includes a steep run up a bluff and 23 obstacles. Kids ages 12 and under can do the Freak’n Little Farmer race with the option of doing 1.5K or 3K. Following the race is the Half Plowed after party with food and wine tastings.
If you plan on doing the Freak’n Farmer, expect to get freak’n dirty. Watching the race was like seeing a live version of Wipeout. Some of the obstacles required swinging off a rope attached to a tractor over a mud pit (nobody was able to clear it), travelling across a mud-water swamp on a beam, shovelling manure and launching vegetables with a slingshot. And while this sounds daunting for a city girl like me, I can confirm that every person I saw was either laughing or cheering on their team members—and strangely enough, I was kind of jealous watching it.
What to Do When the Race is Run:
We stayed at the Spirit Ridge at Nk’Mip Resort. The resort sits on the side of Anarchist Mountain and offers beautiful views of Osoyoos. The rooms are spacious and come equipped with full kitchens (great for young families) and soaker tubs that are a dream come true after completing an obstacle race. Guests can also take advantage of the two pools and the resort’s vineyard, spa and golf course. Other popular hotel options in the area are the Watermark Beach Resort and the Walnut Beach Resort.
If you are looking to stay somewhere smaller and truly unique, check out the Observatory B&B. Owners Jack and Alice Newton have transformed their home into a gathering place for astronomy lovers. Jack is a world-renowned ‘amateur’ (he has made 174 discoveries) astronomer and if you come for a visit, he will take you up to his attic, where he has a retractable roof that allows him to see the stars at night with his enormous telescope.
When in Osoyoos in the fall, always order a salad, and not just for health reasons—you just can’t beat the flavour of freshly picked farm vegetables. If you’re staying at Spirit Ridge at Nk’MIP Resort, have a meal at their patio restaurant Mica overlooking the vineyard: the watermelon caprese salad with fresh heirloom tomatoes from a local farm was one of my favourite dishes from the weekend. Other great spots for dinner are Point 49 Kitchen and Bar at the Walnut Beach Resort, Tinhorn Creek’s Miradoro (divine thin-crust pizza) and Terrafina at Hester Creek by RauDZ. And for a quick morning bite, stop by JoJo’s Cafe and try one of their pastries—the magic bar with almonds layered on top of chocolate and coconut is worth a visit alone.
Osoyoos and Oliver (the wine capital of Canada), are known for their wineries, so it would be a sin not to visit a few vineyards. Osoyoos is also home to Canada’s first Aboriginal owned and operated winery, NK’MIP Cellars. Thanks to the area’s desert-like conditions and precipitation, there are 39 vineyards within the region that count themselves as members of the Oliver Osoyoos Wine Association. Oliver’s famed Golden Mile has 14 wineries within 20 kilometres. Behemoths like Jackson-Triggs can be found in this area, as well as boutique operations like Hidden Chapel (there is an actual chapel there) and vinAmité. If you visit vinAmité, be sure to do the wine and cheese tasting. For $15 a person, you can nibble on delicious local cheeses, chicken paté in the style of foie gras, jellies made from their own wine and more. The tasting includes two whites, one light red (like a pinot noir) and two fuller reds.
However, wine time isn’t the only fun to be had. Osoyoos has tons of activities you can try like kayak adventure tours. If you enjoy learning about history when you travel, go on a tour of the NK’MIP Desert Cultural Centre, or take a quick trip to the Desert Centre (not to be confused with the cultural centre) between April and October to learn all about the local landscape and some of the critters that can be found in the wild, snakes included.
Before you leave, visit a local u-pick so you have fresh fruits and veggies for the trip home. At Covert Farms you can hop on the back of an old red pick-up truck and tour the grounds. After learning all about organic farming, you can bet your fingers will be stained red from all of the strawberries you snack on. Oh, and at the end there’s a wine tasting too (oops, more wine).