The last time I was at Tartan Warrior was with Niamh, as she kicked off her #9for9 challenge back in March. That day was less focused on racing and more on helping her round so I was quite keen to see what I would take from the course running as a solo adult.
Located in the Devilla Forest, the course is set over 5km of stunning woodland and trails, making use of natural obstacles along the way, which only add to the fun. Created by Joda and John, both seasoned OCR racers, this event really does tick all the boxes that you would expect to see at a local, family friendly OCR.
We set off in Wave 1 which is classed as the Tartan Warrior ‘elite wave’. It’s the wave where prizes are awarded and where all the fast guys tend to run. Prior to waking up on Sunday morning I had been planning on just putting my foot down and seeing what happened, I’ve not ‘raced’ raced for a while and was eager to see what I had over the 5km route. I could remember most of it fairly well from March and was only really concerned about falling off things like the monkey bars and ninja rings. For every non completed obstacle in Wave 1 there was a 10 burpee penalty – so it’s always much quicker to just complete the obstacle!
However, when I woke up on Sunday morning I felt pretty awful, full of the cold and with a dull whooshing sound in my ear so plan A suddenly became just a case of going round and enjoying it. A couple of my friends were running it for the first time and so we ran together, no pressure, just enjoying the route and the surprisingly warm October sun.
We were set off to the sound of drums and as we ran up the hill, through the pink smoke of the grenades, we were met with the first obstacle – the warrior crawl. It’s a sure fire way to get the heart rate going and engage the brain and by the time we stopped crawling and started running again my lungs were on fire.
The thing with Tartan Warrior is that they mix technical obstacles with strength stuff, and it was nice to see changes to the course from earlier this year, with the addition of new obstacles. There were A Frames and Vertical Walls but there were also weighted hoists and a rope climb which mixed things up a bit.
I surprised myself in that I managed the hangover wall on my first attempt, with no one to push me over either! I normally talk myself out of the hangover wall and need a shove over but there was no one with me at that point on Sunday so it was simply a case of throwing my leg over and getting on with it.
Again, at the monkey bars when the girl in front of me fell I decided I was just going to get over and I did. Which is actually the first time at any race I’ve completed the entire set of bars.
I didn’t run as well as I wanted to on Sunday, and with an average HR of 194 it was definitely indicative that I wasn’t quite 100% but it was definitely a race that I enjoyed, and one that gave me a good sense of accomplishment. It was nice to cross the finish line with friends and to have people there to cheer us on, although falling off the last Warrior Step and having to complete 10 Burpees a mere 100m from the finish wasn’t in the game plan!
Tartan Warrior works because they have child appropriate obstacles too and for each adult obstacle there is a child alternative. It means families can complete the course together, giving the adults the same challenge throughout. Whilst Wave 1 is the elite adult option, Wave 2 is the elite child option with prizes awarded dependant in age group, and all other waves are entirely family focused. And that’s why it’s great. Because it caters for all. It’s not trying to be the hardest race out there, or the one with the biggest walls or heaviest carries. It’s trying to be family friendly and it’s trying to deliver a fun yet challenging 5km course and it does that, and it does it very well.
For those who want to put the foot down and race then they are able to and for those who want to walk with their kids, well they can to.
Overall I didn’t finish too poorly, with 16th overall female and 3rd in my age category. The only downside being the 7 minute wait we had at the Z Wall. Given the fact that we approached as the top 20 of the entire field it was either a genius placing of an obstacle or a disastrous one. There was only one side being utilised so could only hold two people at once. If it was designed to completely separate the field then it worked but if it wasn’t then it may have been better placed half a mile or so further up the trail.
But overall it was an excellent morning out, and I can’t wait to see what the team have in store for us come next Spring!
Until next time Tartan Warrior…