The third Sunday in May dawned bright and sunny, and saw me getting ready for my third race in as many weeks. This was to be my first team race, with strict rules for finishing as a 3, meaning that I would have to try and curb my natural impulse to just rush off, before realising that I’ve gone and lost everyone!
Set in Pippingford Park, this race was 8miles (just under 13km), and took us on two laps round a course of hills, mud and bogs before entering the finishing straight of obstacles.
I was completing this race with 5 of my friends from RPCC in two teams of 3. As I’ve already said, the rules state that you must also finish as a three to get your time, or they take the time of the third member to cross the line. I didn’t like the sound of being a “one lap wonder” when I signed us up, so a full 2 laps it was going to be.
We got ourselves registered and tied on our rather fetching headbands with our race numbers on, posed for a couple of pictures and then it was about time to head for the start line.
After a (rather lengthy) safety briefing, there was some stirring bagpipe music, and then the setting off of some fireworks and smoke before the air-horn sounded and we were off down the hill. It was pretty uneven ground so a headless charge was unwise, across some fields and through some woodland. At this point everyone was pretty close together, so it made overtaking people while staying as a team impossible, so we took it nice and easy.
Once we were through the trees it was a nice little run round to the first obstacle, The Bog. This consisted of pulling yourself through some cold, deep water with the use of the rope. It was a bit slow going as the pack still hadn’t separated yet and the water felt all the colder as the day was scorching hot.
Once you had hauled yourself out of the bog through some thick mud, it was up a muddy, steep hill, and round to the slide. Again there was a bit of a wait but by then our own personal photographer had caught up with us so we messed around at the top posing for photos while we awaited our turn.
Once we got to the top of the slide it was a fun, but somewhat uncomfortable ride to the bottom, (think I have a few scratches in unmentionable places courtesy of this one) and then a jog round under a muddy cargo net.
After the cargo net there was a nice long section of running, this really started to spread us out though, and we naturally started splitting into two groups, so we did a little cheeky headband swap to put us into more natural teams and set off again, this time Tania, Lucy and I ahead of the others as we took in some beautiful scenery around a lake and up to the halfway point of the first lap.
After a quick drink it was off through some more woods and mud, then through another little pond and up a steep rope climb then yet more running. Then came the dreaded hill – we had come down, so we knew we had to go back up! Nearly everyone we could see had resorted to walking, and we are no hero’s, we decided we needed to conserve some energy for the second lap, so we also walked a fair bit of this section. Some absolutely stunning views though, and a few horses kept things interesting.
Once we had crested the hill it was a really enjoyable run back round past where the slide was and towards the start/finish ready for our second lap. Part way up the hill though Lucy shouted at me to watch out – I had nearly decapitated a snake that had decided to cross the path, I must have jumped about a foot in the air, but the snake was unharmed!
As we started back down the hill for our second lap Tania turned to me and said “This Sh*t just got serious” as we pushed down the hill and past another group of three girls, and on back into the woods. Then it was time for a second go at the bog, which was quicker this time without the long line of people.
Second lap was, unsurprisingly, pretty much the same as the first, although the muddy sections had got muddier, and there was an amusing moment in the woods where Tania and I both put our feet down, only to have our legs disappear up past the knee into deep mud, causing us both to fall simultaneously giving Lucy who was behind us a good giggle. There was also a point on the second lap where we heard thundering footfalls behind us, and when we turned round what we actually saw was a herd of deer having a run – it was beautiful and amazing and we did stop to watch them for a moment or two before moving on.
Once again it was a struggle up the steep hills, but an enjoyable run round and down before a final push uphill to finish, this time instead of having to head back down the hill, we went onto the finishing straight which consisted of more obstacle. First we had to crawl under some tarpaulins, followed by a climb over a wall, then under barbedwire and through a tangle of nets.
This was followed by a trip over some balance beams, made harder by some very determined kids throwing wet sponges at us. Then came the bit I had been absolutely dreading, a run through a nest of electric wires. I am firmly in the camp that believes these have no real place in OCR – you can neither prepare nor train for these, but there was no way round, you went through or didn’t finish. It took me a while to psych myself up but actually as I dashed through I didn’t take a single zap, for which I was very grateful.
Finally it was onto the last obstacle a high steep slope that you had to run at and hope the guy at the top would catch your arm. With a lot of help I got to the top on my first try, then came Tania, who actually managed to pull the marshal that was at the top to help down the wall with her!
Once we had slid down the other side, we all grabbed hands and ran through the finish together, grabbed our medals and took a well earned rest while we waited for the other team of RPCC ladies to finish.
We had fun watching the others finish strong while enjoying the sunshine, although we were quite jealous of the group of people who had had the foresight to bring a BBQ with them!
We all agreed this was a really enjoyable race, the beautiful scenery, lovely weather and great company had made for a fantastic day.
Taking a look at the results once we got back, The team I ran in came 24th team overall finishing in 2h20mins, and as far as we can tell (although it is a little difficult to be sure) we may have been the 3rd all girl team across the line. Our second team of RPCC warriors came in a little behind us, running the course in 2h43 and placing 32nd overall.
We had a really lovely day, and I’m sure we will be back next year for more. As for me I will be seeing Pippingford park again later this year when I take on the Spartan Super, and the vary scary Spartan Beast.
After three races in three weeks I’m glad to be taking a weekend off from racing next week, but June will soon be here, with two races lined up for the month, so I can’t rest too easy!