I was unsure what to expect going in to today. There had been a couple of less than favourable reviews online and I was worried it would be a let down.
I will always write a review based on my actual opinion, regardless of result. So let’s get the negative stuff out of the way first shall we.
1. The Cost
It was expensive. The car parking alone was £12. Spectator passes were £17. Entry to the kids races were £17. Don’t get me wrong the festival area was great. And the pizza was uh-mah-zing. But not any better than any other races I’ve been to that have been much less costly (or in fact free if you’re Spartan or Total Warrior)
2. The Marshalling
This is what let the race down today. There just weren’t enough marshals on the course. Now I’m no race director but surely you either tape out your course so well that getting lost just isn’t a factor OR you put enough marshals on said course to direct people. Neither of these things happened today. There were marshals galore at the obstacles and only sparse taping in between.
At the first water stop the lady instructed me to turn right and follow the field round where I’d meet monkey bars and some other obstacles. Which was great, because I was going to keep running straight ahead. However the group of men behind me didn’t stop for water so they didn’t hear and they carried on straight, before the water woman hollared that they had gone the wrong way and they turned around.
Having started in Wave 1 we spread out pretty quickly. And after the first 5km (where the race split) I pretty much ran alone. Again, not an issue for me I like racing like that, but there were points that I wondered where the hell I was going and if I was still heading in the right direction.
Other than that? It was amazing. So onto the good stuff we go…
I have been signed up for this race for I don’t know how long, it was one of the first ones I entered into this year. But given the fact I’ve raced so many OCR Events already I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it very much. I was worried it was going to be too ‘gimicky’ (we had to light a fire at one point). However I was wrong. It was outstanding. And walking into the site to be presented by ‘The Mountain’ was enough to generate a massive case of pre-race nerves (much to Paul’s disgust).
Now I don’t like cargo nets. And this is the mummy daddy of any cargo net I have ever seen. It was huge. So I stood on the start line feeling pretty apprehensive about what I was going to encounter. Or if I was even capable of completing it.
After the start there was a fairly decent jog to the first obstacle which was masses of long, compacted grass we had to manoeuvre ourselves over, then we were presented with the hanging rings. I failed and fell off after the second one (my first of only two failures all day) and then there was another fairly decent jog to the next set of obstacles. I reached the bag pull and was told by the marshal that I was second female through (say WHAT now?!) and then it was on to the first (and lightest) carry of the day. The race seemed to be divided into areas where there were lots of obstacles grouped together and then long stretches of running in between. There were monkey bars and atlas ball carries (oh my lord these were heavy) and 6ft walls next.
Paul (my racing mate for the day) had left me at this point. I think I had moaned about feeling sick and he was fed up of listening to my weak chat, coupled with the fact his legs are twice as long as mine and he runs much faster. I was alone and I was quite glad. I like to just run my own race and zone out mostly. I would’ve only slowed him down anyway. Until I reached the Mountain. Cue a minor panic that there was no way I could get up it. But along the way somewhere I seem to have also mentally conquered my fear of cargo nets and I climbed up without even worrying about dying once. Ok maybe I thought about it once. At the top we were presented with an option of either sliding down a makeshift tube (it was vertical and made out of the same material as tights) or climbing back down the other side. Sticking with my goal of not dying I chose to climb down, although out of the 6 other people on the frame with me I was the only one who did. Weirdos. Then there was another wall, some blocks to hop over, and then the fire challenge. I was presented with a ball of cotton wool, some straw and a bit of Flint. “Make a fire” he said. “Eh ok” I said. And I did! I actually did. Bear Grylls eat your heart out!! Then, another A frame, a rope climb A frame and then more running.
I was third female at this point. I had slowed down after the atlas balls and had been overtaken but there was no one near me, male or female. The next section had 8ft walls and another carry/pull of something stupidly heavy (can’t remember what) and I was running with a view of just not being overtaken by anyone.
Onwards we went to an area which had a rope climb (which I failed but was apparently quite close to the top – 10 press ups for me), a hammer carry and an inverted wall. I asked the Marshal if I was allowed a foot up and he said I could as long as I attempted it first. So I did. And I got over first time. I know, I was surprised to. Then there was a Jerry can carry (again – how heavy?!) And then we were on to our last 2.5km and our last area of obstacles. The last area was probably my favourite, there was the shooting (which I managed on my second attempt) and then skips full of sand that we had to crawl though and whatnot. It was definitely different to anything I had done before.
And then there was a short jog round to the finish. Now I knew I was third (the lady at the jerry cans had said so) but when I crossed the finish line and they said ‘Well done you’re 3rd female’ I could’ve cried. It was a very weird feeling, I have worked hard for this but haven’t really believed I am capable of it until now. I finished in 1:24:09 beating my mental goal of 1:30. Paul was there when I finished, running an incredible time of 1:13 and finishing 15th overall. And it was awesome to have a friendly face to greet me when I finished.
And to top it all off whilst we were out being badass, the minis had competed in the junior race with Niamh landing a very impressive 1st place in her heat.
This race really delivered. It was rather Spartan-esq with a lot of carries and climbs. But it was also hard to escape the fact that it was a trail run. There were long stretches of running over some really nice terrain. Throw in a river dash and some muddy slopes and you can’t come away with anything other than a sense of ‘that was a great race’. The other great thing was that there was no mud. We were dry and clean when we finished and that was refreshingly nice.
And did I mention I was THIRD FEMALE??! I mean say WHAT now? I won’t ever hate a race that provided me with my first podium.
Event 21 – done. Next up – Total Warrior next weekend at Balgone Estate. Two days of running and volunteering with an amazing bunch of folks rounded off with my birthday 🙂