Pukka Races: Only Fools Ride Horses

My second and final race in July required a bit of an early start and a long drive, for what was a actually a very short and small race, however knowing how much fun we had at Pukka Races last offering, and knowing we were going to be getting one of the coolest finishers medals I’ve seen yet, we decided to sign up – and It turns out, it was totally worth the trip!

Race Description

Only Fools Ride Horses was an un-timed 4 mile run in Colchester over a cross country equestrian course, with, as you may be able to tell from the name, an Only Fools and Horses theme. The website made it clear in the description that it was going to be a race with very little mud, but that it was going to be FUN!

Me at the start of OFRH
Me at the start of OFRH

We arrived in plenty of time, and the registration process was smooth, leaving us with plenty of time to “prepare” for the race. We took our race preparation extremely seriously, there were photos, then some more photos which were getting increasingly silly, there was a serious discussion about how we were going to tackle the race, most of which came down to us agreeing not to take it seriously, and to try and get the best photos we could. This lead to an even more important discussion about what poses we were going to do whenever we saw a photographer – and the phrase “Poses over position” was born (Quote Vince James)

Us at the Start with Race Director Sean (L-R Kevin Coda, Dominic Wright, Chris Williams, Vince James, Cat Denning, Helen Carrington, Sean McNamee)
Us at the Start with Race Director Sean
(L-R Kevin Coda, Dominic Wright, Chris Williams, Vince James, Cat Denning, Helen Carrington, Sean McNamee)
A bit of piggyback fun With Dom, Kev and Cat
A bit of piggyback fun With Dom, Kev and Cat

In between all the photographs we were enjoying the tunes from the DJ tent, we did quite a lot of dancing prior to the warm up – which was probably a mistake, I was exhausted before we even set off!

After the warm up we got to the front – not to give us a competitive edge, but to make sure we were in the pictures, and then we were off!

In the Starting line up  (Picture courtesy of Pukka Races)
In the Starting line up
(Picture courtesy of Pukka Races)

The Race

This would be a fantastic race for someone who wants to try out an OCR for the first time, there were no scary or particularly difficult obstacles, so this race would be accessible to everyone. That being said, it shouldn’t be underestimated, and was still a challenging course.  We set off over a field and down a hill – which is always worrying as you know you will have to climb back up one at some point.

At the sight of the photographer at the bottom of the hill we jumped into our agreed lunge pose – although we think he may have missed us – and then ran on. As we went through the race we naturally split into smaller groups, and I ran this race with Dominic, Chris and Vince. Despite agreeing to take it easy, we didn’t slouch and found a good pace.

The race consisted of running the cross country route, which was interspersed with horse jumps to clamber over. This was a unique and fun twist on a race. There were also some “Delboy surprises” one of which involved getting whacked with inflatables by two guys dressed up as Batman and Robin as you ran past, and another was getting squirted with water pistols, which was actually very welcome as the day was hot and humid. I also liked the touch of having a few areas with loudspeakers playing Only Fools and Horses clips.

More usual obstacles to navigate were a cargo net crawl, a sandbag carry up a hill then back down, and a slip and slide, which is always a favourite.  Again at the slide we planned our poses and gave it a good go on the way down, then stopped at the bottom for another attempt at the lunge shot.

A final run and a few more horse jumps brought you back towards the start line, where the 35ft of monkey bars were waiting for us – and a 5 burpee penalty if you fell off. All three boys swung across these with ease – and I managed about a third before falling off and doing my burpees like a good girl. We re-grouped at the end of the monkey bars, grabbed hands, and sprinted to the finish line together.

Chris, Vince, Myself and Dom after finishing the race
Chris, Vince, Myself and Dom after finishing the race

Normally this is where I would wrap up and sign off, but I’m adding another section to this one…

The After Race Shenanigans

Once we had watched the others finish, we went into photo overdrive, there were group shots, selfies,  and group selfies. We got ourselves changed into our new, bright yellow, pukka races finishers tees and had ourselves a well earned drink (we had the foresight to stick a large bottle in the car) then we went for the customary after race burger.

After race abs!
After race group shot
After race group selfie
After race group selfie
After race gun show
After race gun show

Instead of heading home at this point, we went back to the monkey bars. I had remembered a work competition to read in an unusual place, so after being able to convince someone to lend me their kindle, and with a little help from my friends, I was back up on the bars having a casual read!

My entry into my works summer reading competition
My entry into my works summer reading competition

Obviously we couldn’t stop there, so we spent a bit more time “monkeying around”

Cat, Vince and Chris "Hanging around" after the race
Cat, Vince and Chris “Hanging around” after the race

I enjoyed this race so much, there really was a great atmosphere and I got to spend the day with some lovely people. I will leave you with one last picture – us all just hanging around.

Hanging around at the end of the race
Hanging around at the end of the race

The Obstacle at Jimmy’s Farm

With barely time for my bruises to heal from the last two weekends of races, July has arrived and brings with it two races, the first of which was The Obstacle based at Jimmy’s Farm in Suffolk. A bit of a drive, and a last minute addition to the list after receiving an email from the people at Beat the Bog saying their race on the 20th had been cancelled for environmental reasons.

Race Description

This was a 10km run, made up of two 5km laps. Unlike the other races that I have run rather than going off road, through woods and streams, it wound its way up and down a field with pretty evenly spaced and frequent obstacles.

I was running this race with the hubby and we had signed up to a later wave to start as it was a two hour drive and we had been out at a wedding the day before, but we had a good drive there and arrived in plenty of time to get registered, we were told we didn’t need to bother wearing our numbers, just our timing chips, as they had run out of safety pins – not actually a problem for me with my X-Racewear top complete with bib protector pocket – but I didn’t bother with mine either.

Hubby and I before the race (in the rain)
Hubby and I before the race (in the rain)

The Race

We gathered just before 11.30am to have a warm up, followed by possibly the most disorganised start I’ve seen, there was no countdown suddenly we were just off, which put us on the back foot a little bit. The start line consisted of some hay bails to clamber over before starting up the first zigzag of the course. You were quickly confronted with some hay bails that had mini trampolines in-front of them to give you a bit of bounce as you went over them.

The ground we were covering was a really gentle slope that the course wove up and down, it was easy running over grass, with nothing for me to trip over for once. At the first large wall there were a couple of hay bails to stand on, but still not enough of a boost for me, with the upper body strength of a flea, so Phil gave me a leg up and I was off again, through a spiders web of bungy ropes strung up on a frame, through a skip that had about an inch of muddy water in the bottom  and across the back of the field.

Running up one of the many zigzags
Running up one of the many zigzags

As we continued to race we traversed the field what felt like endless times, the obstacles were frequent and fairly varied, without much running in between. As it was two laps criss-crossing the fields I’m sure I will get things muddled, so I’ll just talk generally about the obstacles, but probably not in any order.

There were about three skips covered in tarpaulin, at different stages, these had a tiny bit of water in, and we overheard that they had been fuller the previous day but the water had obviously leaked out by the time we got there. I think getting out over the side of these is going to account for some interesting bruises once they all come out.

There was a set of monkey bars, which although I did fall off, as usual, I got further than I normally do – both times round – so I’m quite proud of that. There were also several traverse walls, which I managed every single one without falling off – another first.

There were walls to climb over, nets to crawl under, wooden hurdles to jump, tyres to carry, clamber over and crawl through, pallets to clamber over, a log carry, tunnels to crawl through and a huge slope that on one leg you had to climb up the back of and basically abseil down, then after another zigzag down and up the field again you had to do it the other way round – up the slope and down the scaffold – I think I did this pretty well considering my love of high obstacles.

Action shot over one set of pallets, picture courtesy of Muddyrace.co.uk
Action shot over one set of pallets, picture courtesy of Muddyrace.co.uk

Other obstacles included a set of bars that if you were strong you could hoist yourself up and do using just your arms, or if you are a bit of a weakling like me you could hitch your legs over the bars and oh-so-elegantly drag yourself along that way. A section of netting that you had to climb up, then crawl across the top of, before climbing back down. Some wooden tree stump “stepping stones”, some wooden balance beams, and a couple of sets of seasaws to run up, and back down again. I have to say my x-talon 212’s were brilliant, I had great grip, even on the wood when I thought I might slip. Then towards the end of the lap a couple of walls, which I was helped over by a couple of young lads who seemed to be either slightly ahead or behind me the whole way round (by this point I had left Phil behind – he wasn’t feeling too well today).

Getting over the wall. Picture courtesy of MuddyRace.co.uk
Getting over the wall. Picture courtesy of MuddyRace.co.uk

You then headed down to where the finish line waited tantalisingly, but it was off to the right and round for a second lap first. I’m sure I have missed out quite a few of the obstacles but I’m tired and my poor brain is feeling a little fuzzy!

This was a great race for people who prefer the obstacles to running, and it was completely different to all the others that I’ve done so far and I’m really glad we made the trip. I think it would have been a fantastic race to do as a group, as while snaking up and down the field you would see a lot of each other. It would also be a really great race for spectators as you could see the whole course. I would defiantly do this race again. I ran the race in 1h05 and I’m really pleased with this time, considering its only 9 mins slower than I ran a flat 10km in February without obstacles, which hopefully goes to show how I have been improving this year. I ended up placing 82nd overall, and 11th woman.

Me at the end of the race
Me at the end of the race

After the race it was time to jump into the dryrobe and get changed, it was a bit of a rainy day and I was pretty soggy, but the one thing this race did lack was mud, meaning that I wasn’t half as dirty as usual. Then it was back in the car and home to Hastings, until next time!