ULTRA 5K ENDURO HISTORY
Written by: Rodney Wills
Photos by: Tristan “TAZZ” Judkins and Rodney Wills
Driving a radio control vehicle from a “control area” or commonly known as a driver stand or even from a stationary position, has been the hobby standard. Axial’s stance on the subject is to not stand in one place, but to move with the vehicle, covering vast terrain with a variety of obstacles.
Axial is already known for getting enthusiasts out on trail, and hiking behind their rigs over the desired terrain in the name of adventure during its annual customer appreciation event, AXIALFEST.
With the launch of the AX90028 SCX10™ 2012 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 1/10th Scale vehicle in 2012, inspiration was further set in motion when we hiked across the Rubicon Trail for three days, driving an SCX10 to earn it’s “Trail Rated” merit badge. See the 5-part docs-blogs: RUBICON TREK.
As Axial’s Global Marketing Director, and personally for myself, I want to change the game even more! We planted the new structure at AXIALFEST2016. In conjunction with sponsor Altra Running, we put man and machine to the physical test through a closed course trail for a full-scale Ultra 5K Enduro!
But how did it go from hiking to running?
Rock racing is the most physically demanding and brutal motorsport, the most famous event being The ULTRA4 King of the Hammers in Johnson Valley, California. Yes, we are talking about the full size motorsport event with a global impact.
Axial’s customer-base and product design are in large part a reflection of vehicles competing in the event, and vehicles that belong to the spectators of this iconic motorsport event! Even though Axial is known for “moving with the vehicle” there is one sub-sector of the hobby driving their R/C rock racing rigs from the traditional drivers stand, the other sector is driving their rigs along side of their scale trail counterparts, just at speed, thus running. Like at ULTRA4 King of the Hammers, it is the 4X4 trails that were turned into a competition course, a competition decided by who could drive the trails the fastest, thus Axial is mimicking the action and it’s why we call them Ultra Drivers.
“ULTRA DRIVER COMING THROUGH!”
For years within AXIALFEST, we’ve had the “Ultra Class” whose participants ran past all the adventurist class participants on the same trails. We traditionally ran the two classes at the same time, but as the event grew, the separation of the two classes was needed due to the two “attitudes” of the two class of drivers.
One is chasing the checkered flag, the other is chasing scale adventure. When the adventurist drivers started hearing the phrase, “Ultra driver coming through!” that is when it dawned on me that these classes would eventully have to be separated. It’s like being in the desert and you get on a live race course and you know a 100mph trophy truck is approaching and you get that excited, yet uneasy feeling in your stomach! You know you need to get out of the way! While we all love racing, we also like our adventures and we do not want to see any race trucks on our adventure route. We want to see and experience something different than being at a race, so we knew we had to separate the classes. Each adventurist deserves his own experience without race cars bumping them off the cliff while Ultra drivers are chasing their checkered flag.
THE ULTRA 5K ENDURO PLAYGROUND
The thought was, that if our Ultra Drivers want to be full size race vehicle drivers, then they need to train like them and get the full physical impact of driving a race vehicle. When you see drivers come over the finish line at the King of the Hammers, they are drenched with sweat and physically depleted, but they feel accomplished!
Racing is physically demanding so the only way I knew to interject the physicality, is to build a race course specifically for the Ultra Class and turn them loose!
A long-distance race, especially for motor vehicles, motorcycles, or bicycles, typically over rough terrain, designed to test endurance.
Regarding the course design, I grew up riding motorcycles in the woods of Alabama and the deserts of southern California, racing BMX and have done my fair share of mountain biking. These have all been influences on me, so I took elements from those and added it to our Ultra Course design. The idea was to give our Ultra drivers the ultimate “ENDURO” experience. But hey, I’m in marketing and the word enduro just sounds cool and I did not see it in use in our segment at that time.
We’ve had that select few who just wanted to go fast, thus run fast as if it was some big checked flag affair, so if competition they seek, a 5K they will get! Adventure running is becoming very popular and is on the trajectory to be the most popular extreme sport in America according to Richard Burgunder’s editorial piece “Trail Running: Racing Towards the Top in Popularity” .
By mixing adventure running and King of the Hammers style driving, our Ultra Drivers will get the full physical impact. Case in point, Casey Currie is a prominent driver who races at King of the Hammers. He was in attendance at AXIALFEST2016 and competed in the Ultra Class. Afterwards at the awards ceremony, Casey stated, “that running in Ultra Class was like racing at King of the Hammers – PHYSICALLY!” That was authentic enough for me! With the demand of physically running through the woods while driving a R/C vehicle through the same course at the same time, this is a full capacity challenge making it a true ULTRA CLASS!
The R/C community has never been physical…
Since 2011, Axial has organized events that have gotten people out hiking through the woods in pursuit of driving their R/C vehicles over challenging terrain. Yes, we are hiking and driving at the same time, complete with backpacks and hiking amenities. We have helped change the role-play of R/C, meaning most see R/C as a hobby where you stand in one place and drive your vehicle, whereas we are getting our R/C community in motion! We have seen our event t-shirt sizes dropping over the past six years and that is simply awesome! If we can help create paths to physicality while pursuing a hobby, what’s not to like!? Over the years, attendance has been on the rise right along with the fitness of our attendees!
Why the Axial RR10 Bomber for Ultra 5K Enduro?
Randy Slawson is PHYSICALLY FIT!
HIS BOMBER FABRICATION CHASSIS IS AWESOME!
The Axial version makes a great spec-car for the Ultra 5K Enduro class as it’s not about having tons of modifications. You do have to run as fast as your rig and we want to see the athletic side of this Ultra-minded R/C enthusiast!