An awesome obstacle course race organised and put together by a great team. With challenging and innovative obstacles, a great event for OCR novices and experts alike.
Event Location and Registration
The event location ticked all the boxes: was easy to find, had free parking, showers, and a pretty cool event village. There was a circle of various stalls with a giant salmon ladder in the middle, which you could have an attempt at in order to win a free race buff. There was no bag drop, but they did have a key drop and the car park was literally right next to the event village.
Registration was easy and straightforward. I was surprised to be given stickers with my race number on them, but this actually turned out to be a great idea. None of the usual faffing about with safety pins or runclips, and the large sticker remained firmly attached to the front of my top the entire race.
The atmosphere in the event village and before the start of the race was fantastic. Everyone was having a great time, and there was a welcoming family-friendly vibe going on; making this probably an ideal event for any OCR first timers out there. It was also a beautiful sunny day, which always helps :P
After a fun group warm-up with some strange dance moves, the race was underway. I was in the first wave and one of the race directors advised everyone to set off quickly at the start, and that is indeed what most people did.
Immediately after the first bend, we were faced with the intimidating "Sternumator" - A series of three progressively higher sternum checkers, with the final one requiring first climbing on to a stack of tyres in order to reach. It was an interesting take on a common obstacle, and the first of many innovative and enjoyable challenges during the race.
Under the Boardwalk
Round the corner, next up was the brutal "Under the Boardwalk" obstacle: a series of 6 floating wooden beams/logs which you had to swim under. The water was only about waist height, and was cold but tolerable at first. However, as you crouched down and dove under the first beam the freezing water really took your breath away.
I had to pause for about 15-20s after the first three beams, as I had major brain freeze and decided to regain my composure a bit before tackling the next three. (In hindsight, pausing was probably pointless and just meant that I was standing in the water longer haha).
The full submersion in the cold water multiple times was brutal, but definitely resulted in a nice sense of achievement after completing it. Having this right at the start of the race was maybe a bit controversial, though if it was later or towards the end I reckon it would've broken more people.
Next up was an obstacle I've never seen before. It was a very steep wall where the only way to ascend was by using two vertical blocks of wood. The required technique was sort of like the traditional spider walk obstacle, though vertically instead of horizontally. My IRocks definitely came in handy here, supplying me with enough grip to clamber up and over first time.
The next section opened up a bit with some more prolonged running and some more traditional (but still fun) obstacles such as cargo nets, a tyre carry, and some walls. As well as a really fun water slide back into the cold lake. I quickly realised that this was the wrong race to decide not to wear my GoPro, as it was shaping up to be awesome.
Into the Woods
We then headed into the woods, where a good proportion of the race would take place. The terrain varied quite a bit and featured the full mud spectrum from hard compound mud to the super sticky marshy stuff. It was also never too long before you had another fun obstacle to tackle, whether it was another variation of a wall to climb over or a giant deep mud bath to jump into.
Some other notable obstacles in the forest area included a giant wooden weaver (which was one of the OCRA qualifying obstacles), and a steep slide into another mud bath ("Mamma Mia" I think it was called).
Out of the forest briefly and with only a couple km to go, the next obstacle up was the rig. This Reaper rig was certainly a challenge, though definitely achievable. Possibly slightly harder than the rig at Ram Run, but nowhere near as tough as the one at the end of Judgement Day. In any case, it proved to a be problem for a lot of those trying to qualify for the UK OCR Championships, since it was one of the mandatory obstacles.
The rig obstacles consisted of a couple monkey bars to start, straight into a horizontal pole traverse, then quite a few hang tough rings to finish. The transition from the horizontal pole to the rings was a bit awkward, but the most difficult aspect I found was simply that my hands were freezing, making it difficult to feel my grip and wrap my fingers round fully.
The final couple kms are a bit of a blur (if only I had used my GoPro...), though I do remember getting head to toe covered in mud another couple times before the end. One of the last obstacles was "Kermit", which consisted of a regular net crawl except wading through a muddy puddle at the same time.
Out of the forest, over a last big wall, and across the line to the welcoming applause of other participants and onlookers.
No idea where I came in the race, though reckon I did fairly well. I wasn't trying to qualify for the UK Champs as fortunately I had already managed to do so at Ram Run the weekend before. However, it would've been good to see how I fared against everyone else.
So possibly one tiny criticism I could make would be the lack of chip timing, since it's always nice to get an exact time and see how you compared against other runners. I wouldn't let that detract too much from an otherwise awesome event though.
If you're new to obstacle course racing or a seasoned veteran, I can highly recommend getting yourself along to Reaper Run.