HYROX - London April 2022

HYROX - London April 2022

I had major FOMO from not being at HYROX Manchester in January.  Especially with seeing all the posts on social media and hearing all the incredibly positive praise about that event afterwards.  I was keen to see what all the fuss was about so promptly signed up for my first HYROX event - London.

Although I had never done it before, I reckoned I might be well-suited to HYROX since I'm a bigger (6ft 2in, 85kg) runner and already train a lot of compromised running for OCR.  So my usual base training I've already been doing for quite a while (running, weights, functional exercises, Race Fitness classes) stood me in good stead.

HYROX overview

The HYROX format - 8 x 1km running with a specific exercise station after each run.

There were a couple components I had never really done before - the Ski Erg and Wall Balls, so a few weeks out I did a race simulation through in Kilmarnock at Fit Body Farm.  It went reasonably well, with a couple key lessons learned prior to doing the real thing - 

  1. Don't push too hard and kill myself on the ski erg or rowing machine
  2. Wall balls are horrible - I sucked at them and really really needed to practice haha


Cue the Rocky training montage of me doing wall balls every single day, after every run and workout, for 3-4 weeks.


The Venue

The race was taking place at the ExCeL centre in London, which is absolutely huge.  It has two different train stops, and there were multiple different conferences/events going on at the same time as HYROX.

I had already went along to the "early registration" at the Puma store on Carnaby Street the evening before, but it turned out this was kind of pointless (unless you wanted a free pair of socks), as there were no queues on the day.  At least there wasn't late morning when I turned up anyway.

HYROX London 2022 Course

The layout of the hall for HYROX London 2022

The event itself (as always) takes place in a massive hall, with the running circuit around the outside and all the exercise stations in the middle.  It's great for spectators and my wife and daughter were able to move about and cheer me on at most of the stations.

  The Race  

After a wee wander to soak in the atmosphere, get my bearings, and a quick warm-up in the dedicated warm-up area, it was my turn to head to the start area for my wave.  There was maybe 25-30 people in each wave, all manner of ages, shapes and sizes.

When the horn went for my wave to start I was expecting a mad rush of people sprinting off way too hard, but if anything I was the one streaming away in front.  It made me doubt myself a bit what I was doing, but didn't feel like I was going overly fast.

My plan was to roughly keep 4min/km pace on the runs - i.e. decent but not push too hard, a pace that I should be able to do comfortably for a while.  However, the first problem with that plan was that the event was inside, so I couldn't use GPS on my watch.

So instead my plan was to hit the lap button on my watch at the start of each run, and check the time on it roughly every half lap.  Coming round to finish the 1st lap my watch said 1m 54s, so was more or less at the pace I wanted of 4mins for 2 laps (1km).


When signing up I had no idea how long a HYROX event would take me, so I had put my estimated finish time as 1h 20m - 1h 25m.  However after the race simulation a few weeks before, I now had more of an idea, and my revised target was to go under 1h 10m. 

(I'm not 100% sure if your estimated finish time dictates what wave you start in.  If it does, then I kind of wish I had put a quicker estimate in so that I was lining up against a similar or slightly better level to make it feel more directly competitive and have people to push against).

Ski Erg

Coming into the first exercise - the Ski Erg, my plan was to take it very easy and not repeat my mistake of going too hard during the race simulation.  On the Ski Erg the potential time gained between pushing really hard and taking it fairly easy is maybe only about 15-30s, so it's really not worth killing yourself early for marginal gains.

Within my wave, I entered the Ski Erg area first and left first, but my time wasn't particularly great compared to the overall placing (4m 26s - 485th out of 780).  So I maybe took this way easier than I should have.  Having said that a good time is about 4mins, so even then not too far off.

HYROX London 2022 - Ski Erg

Exercise 1 - Ski Erg 1000m

The recorded time for each exercise is the time you entered and then left the area, so includes running to and from the machine.  So a 4min ski erg time is probably about 3m 45s ski erg + 15s running.

The Roxzone

The area inside the running circuit, where all the exercise stations are, is huge.  Depending on what exercise you are on, you can have anywhere between 100 - 400m extra to run to actually get to the next station.  This "no mans land" area where you are neither running or doing an exercise is called the Roxzone, but can still make up a sizeable chunk of the overall time.

I had heard of many people falling into the trap of taking it easy and wasting loads of time in the Roxzone, stopping to drink loads of water, slowing walking in and out, etc.   So my plan was to minimise any time in there, i.e. drink will still moving, and continue running where possible.

For the most part I achieved that, apart from a very brief recovery walk after a couple of the high heart rate exercises.

The Sleds

My 2nd run after the ski erg was my best one (3m 56s), relaxed and still nicely on my target pace.  They say the race doesn't start until the sleds (the next exercise), and I would definitely agree with that.

The sled push is 125kg (275lbs) + weight of the sled, and feels every gram of it when trying to push it along the carpet.  You have to push it 4 lengths, so my plan was to push it the full length without stopping, wait 10s for my heart rate to come down slightly, and then repeat.

HYROX London 2022 - Sled Push

Exercise 2 - Sled Push 2 x 25m (weight 275lbs + sled)

It's nigh on impossible to keep your heart rate from spiking while pushing the heavy sleds.  Combined with the heat of the room, you're instantly sweating buckets, and it's a pretty unpleasant experience.

Felt pretty horrible at the time, but reckon it went reasonably well, with me finishing in a time of 2m 50s (143rd out of 780).

My heart rate now felt sky high and I was sweating profusely so used the following run to recover slightly.  As a result my pace dropped off a bit for this run to 4m 24s.

Back into the middle, this time for the much lighter sled pull (75kg/165lbs + weight of the sled).  I actually quite liked this one and felt pretty good.  I got into a good rhythm of walking back with the rope - pulling a little extra with my arms - kicking the rope out the way - then repeat.

HYROX London 2022 - Sled Pull

Exercise 3 - Sled Pull 2 x 25m (weight 165lbs + sled)

My time for the sled pull wasn't quite as good as the push (4m 9s, 164th out of 780).  However, I didn't expend anywhere near as much energy.  I also wasted about 10s by trying to run the wrong way out of the station, doh!

I was back to a slightly better 4m 11s run before heading into one of my least favourite exercises - Burpee Broad Jumps. In practice I've been ok at these despite my size, but they felt particularly difficult in the middle of a race, and in a very hot and sweaty environment. 

I had wanted to do these unbroken, but unfortunately had to stop a few times on the way back down the 2nd length.  My technique felt extremely laboured and pathetic for the final stint, and probably lost quite a bit of time here.  I still finished in a reasonable time of 3m 57s (230th out of 780), but definitely some room for improvement here.

HYROX London 2022 - Burpees

Exercise 4 - Burpee Broad Jumps 80m

With 4 runs and 4 exercises done, this was the halfway point.  I was reasonably happy with how things were going, and my watch was just ticking over 35mins so right on track for the 1hr 10mins target.  I took a gel that I had stored in the back pocket of my shorts for a slight boost, and set off running for the next lap.

1000m Row

The 5th exercise is 1000m on the rowing machine, and was maybe my first slight mishap.   Off the bat, I wasted a good 20-30s faffing about with the foot straps trying to get my feet in.  I had Nike Vaporflys on, which are fairly bulky and have an awkward pointy bit at the back.  I just couldn't get the straps loose enough to get my feet in, and the pointy bit at the back of my shoes kept catching on the bottom of the straps.

Eventually I got going, and my plan was similar to the Ski Erg - set a consistent comfortable pace of about 4min/km.   The fella next to me was absolutely hammering it, which made me doubt what I was doing, but then he had to completely stop for a rest after a couple mins.

So I stuck to my plan and knocked off a pretty comfortable 4min row.   However, next slight mishap, I couldn't get a marshal's attention to confirm my completed distance.   (When you've completed 1000m you're meant to put your hand up, a marshal comes over to confirm, and then you're free to leave).

HYROX London 2022 - Row

Exercise 5 - 1000m Row

There were only two marshals I could see at this point, and both were facing the other way.  I must've shouted "Excuse me! marshal!" quite a few times before one noticed.  I also had issues getting my feet out of the straps as well anyway, which didn't help.  So another 20-30s wasted at the end of the row as well.

So in terms of recorded times, the row was by far my worst exercise with a time of 5m 3s (601st out of 780).  However, in reality it should've been 45-60s quicker than this if wasn't for the couple mishaps.


I was maybe a wee bit flustered after the rowing machine, but knew I still had a decent time going.  So got my head down, ran my next lap, and came in for the next exercise.  The guys just in front of me picked up the sandbags and started doing the lunges down the track, so I followed suit.

I was making decent progress on the lunges, overtaking loads of people.  I get to the turn around point, and Harriet shouts from the crowd "Have you done number 6!?"...   "Yeah, yeah" I say back quickly.

But then I look over to station 6, and the penny drops... I had completely missed out the Farmers Carry, and went straight to number 7 - Sandbag Lunges instead.

Even now I'm not really sure how or why I done that.  I think possibly some combination of being flustered about the rowing machine, being worried about doing the correct number of laps for the run and not thinking about the exercises; and also catching up with the wave in front so on auto-pilot following the wrong people into the wrong exercise.

HYROX London 2022 - Lunges

Exercise 6 (actually 7!) - Sandbag Lunges 100m (weight 45lbs)

In any case, I told the nearest marshal I had messed up the order, who then confirmed that I should do the farmers carry after the next run and that I would get a 3min penalty added on.


I felt pretty deflated at that point to be honest, as I knew that 1h 10m was now impossible with the 3min penalty added on.  The final couple runs I didn't really push at all, and just used as recovery.

Since I did things in the wrong order, my timings for the sandbag lunges and the last couple runs are all over the place, and don't really make any sense.  I think the 3min penalty was maybe also applied at this point.

Once I got back round and into the Farmers Carry where I should've been, this went pretty well at least.  Since I'm a bigger runner, and train a lot of grip strength for OCR, this is something that I should do well at.

HYROX London 2022 - Farmers Carry

Exercise 6 - Farmers Carry 200m (weight 2 x 24kg)

The plan: Make sure grip secure at the start, pull your shoulders back slightly to engage your strong back muscles, and set off at a fast shuffle minimising any vertical up and down movement.  Don't stop at all until complete.

No issues with this one, definitely one of my strengths, finishing in 1m 42s (67th out of 780).

Wall Balls Redemption

With the final run complete in a very slow 5m 21s, it was time for the last remaining exercise - the Wall Balls.

The overall target of 1h 10m was obviously over, but I was still determined to do the wall balls justice for the sake of all the miserable practicing I had endured for it.   You need to do 100 reps in total, and my plan was to break this down to 4 sets of 25 with a 15s break in between; which had worked well for me during training.

After about 10-15 reps I completely lost count haha, so just zoned out and kept going instead.  The marshal shouted that I had done 40, so I completed a few more then stopped for a short rest.   "56 to go" the marshal shouted, showing me the number on a phone app she was using for counting the reps.

When I picked up the ball to go again, it now felt significantly heavier somehow, and was much more of an effort to get it up to the 3m high target.

HYROX London 2022 - Wall Balls

Exercise 8 - Wall Balls x 100 reps (weight 6kg)

I had been practicing with a heavier 9kg ball but only up to a 2.5m target (the height of my garage).  Whereas this was a 6kg ball up to a 3m target.  I reckon the extra height probably made up for the lesser weight, as it certainly didn't feel any easier.

I managed another 15-20 reps, 10s break, another 15-20, 10s break.  The marshal then shouts "C'mon, 20 to go, I'll count them down as you go".  This helped enormously, and gave me a little extra boost to quickly knock out the last few.

"3... 2... 1..." - done.  Wall balls complete in 4m 12s (39th out of 780).  Ironically what was by far my worst exercise in the race simulation a few weeks before, was now statistically my best in the actual event!  Definitely shows that you become better at what you practice.

Final Result

A short run over to the finish line and my first HYROX was now complete.  1h 12m (1h 15m with the penalty) for a final placing of 112th out of 780 (39th out of 188 in my age group).

HYROX London 2022 - Finish Line

Room for improvement, but happy with my first attempt.

For my first HYROX I'm reasonably happy with that.  Yes I had missed out on my target time, but with all the slight mishaps, the penalty, taking it easy on the running after messing up, I'm confident I can smash 1h 10m next time.

Was also great having my family there supporting me.  First time my daughter has seen me race (that she will remember), and think she had fun and enjoyed it.

Now need to turn myself round quickly and get ready for Spartan - London West next weekend!