Another weekend, another race. A last minute decision after receiving a discount code by email for a late sign up to run either the 10km or half marathon distance at the Bedgbury Trailblazer running event put on by Rat Race. I chose the 10km distance as my ankle injury is still not completely healed. Hubby Phil decided to run too, along with some of my other more usual race partners, Kev Coda, Vince James and Linda Zeberga.
We arrived a little later than we had planned due to some slow drivers on the A21, but the race was supremely well organised, with slick registration, where you collected your bib number, timing chip, a good quality t-shirt courtesy of 2-XU, a rat race wrag, and a wrist band with your wave number on that you got to keep at the end of the race. After collecting our goodies and dropping them back at the car, we just about made it to the start line on time.
We set off, Phil quickly ran on ahead, but Vince, Kev and Linda all stuck with me at a slower pace, as we started to make our way around the trails. The run was over nice terrain, gravely paths, grass and a little bit of muddy ground. There was, as is customary, a certain amount of messing around, with Kev testing out his new go-pro stick and Vince bringing along his camera to get some video clips and pictures, but the run was lovely, the weather was spectacular and the company was second to none.
The run was through some really lovely scenery, past a couple of very pretty lakes, and through the trees. I was finding the running a bit tough going, having not covered that distance for a while, but my ankle was holding up ok, my main problem other than my fitness coming from my old friends blisters (holes in my socks – time for some kit shopping perhaps!), the others kept me going though, always waiting for me to catch up if I fell behind.
Two well placed water stations kept us hydrated and were welcome as the day was hot, and the course was well marked and marshalled so it was easy to follow, with markers each kilometre, as well as mile markers for the people running the half marathon, and at the splitting point it was really well signposted with signs telling you which way to go and signs further on confirming which route you were on.
The course had several up and downhill sections but nothing too tough until the very last section which had a pretty steep hill to get up towards the finish line. Linda was waiting for me at the top, grabbed my hand and we ran to the finish together, crossing one mat we thought we were done, hugged and were then told by a spectator that we needed to keep moving further up the hill. It was only a tiny bit further but I was struggling by then, Linda took my hand again and we ran it in together, picking up our medals, goody bags and a curly wurly . The goody bags were pretty amazing filled with drinks, food and a magazine, which once added to the medal, t-shirt, wrag and wrist band we had already received made the race entry an absolute bargin.
We stopped for a few photos and a stretch in the sunshine by the car before heading for home. I would really recommend this if you want a nice trail run, it was a lovely run and with the company and beautiful weather this was a really good day out.
Up early on a cold and damp Saturday morning in November meant another race day had dawned, so it was on with my kit, bag packed with supplies and off to the train station to meet up with some friends before travelling up to London to take on Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest with Team Muddy Race.
Survival of the Fittest London is a 10km urban obstacle race run around Wembley Stadium. Three trains and several dodgy conversations later and we were at the registration tent, where we were told by one of the volunteers that we knew that the Muddy Race team were gathering in the bar so once we had got through the well organised registration we headed off to the bar where we were greeted with some rather lovely cakes (Muddy Races 3rd Birthday) and a lot of hugs and laughs.
With cake and maybe a little bit of beer before we started off, it was clear that we were all about to take this race really seriously, so with game faces on we made our way to the warm up area.
We waited until the back of our wave to allow for pictures of us setting off, then jogged up to the first obstacle which was a set of hay bails, followed by a vault up and over a lorry. It was clear from the offset that this race was going to be nothing but fun, with a group of 12 of us all sticking together and generally being a bit silly.
This was a great venue for a race, weaving your way around the iconic Wembley stadium, up right around the outside, we stopped to pose for the go-pro in front of the “Green Car Park” sign, then a giant cone carry up and down some of the many stairs. A slip and slide down one of the ramps and a quick pit stop on top of the hay bales at the bottom to pose for an official group picture, somewhat annoying the guys behind us as we blocked the obstacle a bit – oops.
After this we headed out away from the stadium where they even found some mud for us to get dirty in and some water to wade through.
A sandbag carry under some fencing, through mud, up a slight hill, with road shoes on was more difficult than it should have been, but a slide on top of the sandbag back down the other side was quite fun (probably not the way you were supposed to do it). A bit of criss-crossing some water, getting out through some slippery mud. A slide through some inflatables that must have been a bit more impressive earlier in the day as when we got there most of them had been deflated.
As we came down one section I was told by one of the guys who had already run once that next up was a basket ball dunk – I thought this was a joke as we were about to pass a small court, however that was exactly what you had to do, three attempts to shoot a hoop – I failed!
A bit of messing around on top of a table and a stop off in a play park to go on the slide (We thought we would add in a few more obstacles) and we were having a blast, and impressively managing to keep all 12 of us together.
There was a climb down some ladders into a stream to wade through, which gave me a wobble from the height, a really dark storm drain to run through, with everyone around whooping in the dark. A little later I was told we were going into the disco room – again I thought this was a joke, but into an industrial unit we went, which was dark, filled with smoke, pumping music with strobe lights. We danced our way through and back out again before heading back towards the stadium.
The obstacles were packed together towards the end, we climbed up and down tall towers, up ramps and over platforms, always finding time for a cheeky photo opp.
As we weaved around the final obstacles, we were taken into the beer tent carrying a keg, and then we hit a lot of walls. With a big team it was no problem, helping each other up and over walls and up the big pyramid at the end.
We had a crawl through a tyre mangle which looked like it had claimed more than its fair share of peoples race numbers (thankful for my X-Racewear shorts as I’ve not lost a number all year) and a splash through a pit of water and we were nearly done.
Finally all that was left was the Wall of Fame, we all helped each other over, in fact I was lifted bodily from the ground by Mark Allen and Ben Weeding pulling me up by my arms, then we gathered for a group finish.
I can honestly say this was one of the most fun races I’ve done. It seemed to take no time at all to cover the distance, and I barley noticed the miserable weather.
When we were finished there were more cakes and drinks before we headed off for a well earned team Nandos!
(Most photos courtesy of Rob Foulkes from Muddy Race – check out their website for everything OCR)
Having reached the middle of August and only completed one 4km fun run so far, it was time to take on my first real challange. This weekend will see me take on not one, but two OCR events, starting with Rat Race’s River Rat a 10km race based around London’s ExCel Centre and Docklands.
This race was an urban, aquatic, obstacle course, which promised to be “Wet and Wild”
Unusually this race started and finished inside, and was based at the ExCel centre in London. Registration was really well organised, with plenty of spare wavers for anyone who had forgotten, and easy to navigate alphabetical registration lanes, where you were given your race pack which included your race number, a coloured band which matched the wave you were entered in, and a band for your bag with your race number on, you then went round to collect a race t-shirt and your timing chip.
The waves were well organised, but not very even in numbers. The “sky blue” wave before us was very small, but our “Neon lime green” wave was packed full of people. The guys on the stage checked that people were wearing the correct coloured bands, gave some clear instructions about how the course would be marked and then handed over to the warm up crew. Once the warm up was completed we were ushered towards the start where our timing chips (worn on our wrists) were clocked on. It took quite a while for everyone in our wave to get clocked in, which means those of us at the front would have a little extra time added, so I don’t think the timing of this race was particularly accurate, but that’s not a big deal. We had a 30 second countdown once most people were through into the starting area, and then we were off.
The race started off indoors, through the exhibition space, we were straight away faced with some low hurdles to jump over before hitting the first wall. This was followed by some tyres to hop over and then a tangle of fencing to vault over which ever way you could. Eventually it was down some stairs, out of the ExCel centre and off round the Docklands.
The entirety of this race was run on pavements around the Docklands near the centre, so anyone who wants to try OCR without the mud factor, this could be an ideal race. We ran down the side of the centre and then through an inflatable pool containing ankle deep water, round the corner and through some trees. This section was going to be done twice, so at some points there were red or blue arrows showing you which way to go depending on whether it was your first or second lap, this allowed them to put different obstacles in your path to keep things interesting.
It wasn’t long until we were first thrust into the Thames, to ease us in gently we were forced to get into the water and fully submerge ourselves to get under two sets of inflatable barriers, then it was back out of the water and a run along the other side of the river. After this stretch of running we had to climb a long set of stairs to get onto the bridge that would take us back over the Thames, a run across the bridge down a second set of stairs, where I got papped. (I found this picture on Twitter shared by the lovely guys at Muddy Race.)
This race billed itself as an Aquatic Obstacle Course and so it wasn’t long before we found ourselves having to dive back into the cool water of the Thames. As they anticipated queues you were “clocked out” at some of these sections, this allowed people to take their time to complete the obstacles safely, life vests were also provided, which had to be worn.
Some of the water sections that we had to navigate were a jump into the water, followed by a swim across to a platform. Once you had hauled yourself out of the water (ever so elegantly and not at all like a beached whale) you had to try and crawl over some large rubber rings, which was actually very tiring, and I fell off the last ring leaving me to again, haul my body back onto the next platform. We then had to leap onto some floating inflatable rafts, which, moved out of the way and left me once again floundering in the Thames.
The next time we were clocked out was at the jump. I had been absolutely dreading this obstacle. I have mentioned many, many times in this blog how much I struggle with heights, and here I found myself stood at the top of a high tower, being expected to leap off into the water below. The marshals lined us up four at a time, and once the area below was clear they counted you down and you jumped. This meant a bit of a wait at the top, trying not to look down. I was shaking, and finding it hard to breath, I considered going back down onto the smaller “opt out” jump, but the marshal counted three, two, one, and I jumped. It was a long way down, I couldn’t help letting out a scream, I hit the water hard and spun over, righted myself and swam over to the cargo net to pull myself back out of the river. I had done it, without hesitating, and I honestly felt elated.
After clocking back in and a bit more running, and a few land based obstacles that I will talk about in a bit, we found ourself at a Kayaking section. This part was still timed, despite having to faff around a bit getting on a life vest and paddle. I paired up with Bethan, and we did a pretty good job considering neither of us had done it before. We made quite short work of paddling up and back down the section of the river. Back out of the Kayak and it was a run along to the slide.
The slide was almost as good as the one at Nuclear Races, it was very high above the river, it was fast and it was quite a drop off the end, once you had swam out of the way you were faced with a rope and some wooden slats to try and help you pull your way out of the river. I had real trouble pulling myself up, but with the help of a very friendly man who happened to be at my side, and who let me climb on his shoulders, I was up the rope and out of the river.
The land based obstacles included a variation on monkey bars, which was just one long pole that you had to try and pull yourself along (I got about half way before falling off). You had to do this twice, once on the way out and once on the way back. There were a couple of walls, including an angled one, where I was lucky enough to batter my eyelids at a marshal to get a boost. There was a section of poles to go over and under, some ramps to run up, across the top of small sections of scaffolding and then back down, and a section of inflatable “bouncy castle” type obstacles that were more difficult than they appeared.
On the second run around the route we were again directed into the river to crawl through an inflatable tube and then swim out, around a buoy and back to a ladder to pull yourself out. The worst part of this was that I had been handed a rather large life jacket which actually made it more difficult to swim, as it kept trying to escape over my head.
After this it was back along the river and up the stairs again, the felt a lot more difficult the second time around, and then eventually back inside the ExCel centre for the final push. As you went back inside you had quite a run, as I had been running with Bethan for the race but the finish was in sight, I decided to push on a bit and see what I had left, I pulled ahead significantly, however as I approached another section of scaffolding where you had to run up a ramp then slide under some poles before heading back down again, I got completely held up by some other racers and by the time I had gotten through Bethan had caught me back up, which was a bit frustrating. (only in the fact that I needn’t have bothered pushing it on the run and could have taken it a bit more easily – particularly with the fact that I have another race tomorrow in mind). We were left with two more walls to hop over and then it was across the finish line.
Bethan and I then waited to watch Cat and Kevin finish, then we got a few obligatory finishing photos before heading home.