Bear Grylls Survival Race

When I signed up for Bear Grylls Survival Race, I was extremely excited. When someone famous puts there name against an event, you would be wouldn’t you. I watch many of the Bear Grylls programmes, so I suppose the expectations were high!

I had no idea what to expect from this, the teaser videos I had seen did not actually give much away in terms of the obstacles you were expected to face. I knew we would have to participate in survival challenges, but to what exactly they would be – none of my fellow racers had a clue.

We arrived at the Wimpole Estate, on a very windy Saturday morning, in plenty of time for our 9:30am wave. This gave us ample time to suss out the “festival” and the obstacles you could see at the event village; where we saw the famous “Mountain” obstacle – which remained closed throughout the event due to high winds.

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As with many OCR races I have completed, I expected an element of cross country running, obstacles, mud and water. What we actually experienced was more cross country running than usual; for the first ten minutes we spent running through the woodlands of the estate all we saw in regards to obstacles was a tree trunk placed along the footpath.

The obstacles themselves were very few and far between. Some were virtually impossible for most (rolling a boulder across the field, climbing ropes and then attempting a tight rope), so most got a “penalty” of bear crawling for not completing the obstacle.

The majority of the better obstacles were within the event village, but to be honest I was far from impressed. Of all the OCR races I have completed, this was the most disappointing. There were more tasks than obstacles, with Jerry Can and Hammer carries seeming to be thrown in wherever possible. There was no mud and only ankle deep water. The obstacles in the event village were of good quality; however the biggest attraction was closed.

I finished this race extremely deflated. This event cost a fair amount to participate, the additional charges were completely unnecessary (£15 for spectators and £10 for parking), obstacles were closed and there was no sign of Bear Grylls himself.  We did receive an email in attempt to redeem themselves a few days later – stating we could attend a future event for £25, due to the fact that they had to close the obstacles. However, with the Summer fast coming to an end the chances of the weather being suitable for all obstacles is fast dwindling and to be quite honest – I would rather spend my money elsewhere.

Although myself and my fellow team mates managed to enjoy ourselves together; I would not recommend this event. Here you are simply paying for the Bear Grylls name, that’s it. The only pro being that you get free event photos – not that there were many obstacles to photograph.

There are far better organised and planned out OCR races that I would advise others to sign up for. I have never finished a race of this type almost completely dry and mud free.

Maybe if they were to make vast improvements I would consider running this again – but not as it stands. It seems I am not the only one who has such opinion either; with other racers taking to social media to express similar views to mine. Enough said!

With a couple of 10k races left this year, including what should be a very muddy, challenging OCR race with Commando Series – I have more opportunities to get dirty before the events of 2017 kick in.

 

London Rat Race

Another exciting OCR event on my racing calendar this year – London Rat Race – a 10k unique challenge based in London Docklands.

I would like to think of myself as a well seasoned obstacle course runner by now, with several OCR races under my belt. Therefore, I was not really bothered about this one in the lead up.

Obviously there was the usual case of pre-race nerves, not knowing what to expect, and a sense of caution having recently sprained my ankle (stupidly playing rounders bare foot). But generally I was feeling okay. Plus the beginning of Rat Race was inside the Excel Centre, so you could not really see what was to come and therefore nothing to cause immediate concern on arrival. Other than the stream of extremely soggy, tired looking runners coming into the finish from the earlier waves.

As with most OCR events, I find team spirit is key. I would happily loose people during a 10k run, but with obstacle races there is no fun in running round alone trying to hoist yourself over inverted walls. From the get go myself and my Regiment Fitness team mates decided to stick together, because we all needed a friendly hand to shove us over that wall.

What I didn’t expect, and what wasn’t advertised upon sign up (not from what I could see anyway), was that the 10k course involved 3 laps of the Docklands! Laps! I hate laps. Nothing plays with my mind more when racing is laps!

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The first lap round involved a few land based obstacles, such as the sea saw along with lots of water based fun to get us warmed up; including a 50ft water slide. With Marshalls at the top of the slide one did not get much time to think about it; they had a foot on you back ready to give you a friendly shove – as my friend Becky found out. Although scary, this one was so much fun and I would have happily gone back a second time. But there were plenty more to overcome, including the second lap.

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The second time round involved more jumping over and under giant inflatables in the Thames including what I can only describe as a shimmy across giant doughnut inflatables – most exhausting! The end of the second lap also saw us partake in a little bit of kayaking. Looks easy, if you are paddling straight. Not so much if you want to make a turn. It was ever so brief; but a lot of fun and something I would definitely add to the list for future adventures.

Back on dry land it was time for lap three. More land based, alongside more challenging water obstacles. Monkey bars over the Thames – virtually impossible to complete without meeting a soggy end – water and monkey bars do not mix.

The grand finale was the biggest jump I have ever seen. Once you climbed onto a shipping container above the Thames; one had to walk a plank and throw oneself off into the Thames. I am not sure how high the jump was; but in the wait to climb up nerves kicked in and I joined a couple of team mates who decided to “sit it out.”If I had the chance to climb up straight away and jump without queuing I may have been more succesful. Too much waiting round and time to think about it made me chicken out. But I was equally happy to watch others jump for the entertainment factor.

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To summarise London Rat Race; I would say it is a action packed OCR race for those who want to have a bit of fun in the water. It is well organised in that you are provided with everything you need to complete the course safely, including lifevests.

However, it is one of the pricier events I have taken part in and it seems I received less for my money. Yes – the finishing t-shirt and medal is great; no medal, no participation after all. But, I have done many other races that had far more obstacles. London Rat Race had more running and queueing than I would have liked. Additionally, for the cost of the race (£70), I would have expected free photos. Not just the finishers photo.

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That said, even though I would not participate in this one again, I would definitely look to take part in Rat Race Dirty Weekend – run by the same people.

But thats something to think about for 2017, for tomorrow I will be testing out Bear Grylls Survival Race……..stay tuned in to hear more about that one!

You got to “tab”it out!

Tactical Advance to Battle, aka “tabbing.”

I will always remember my first tabbing session. With a group of fellow Regiment Fitness members, around two years ago, I attended a training session for WAR Adrenaline Race (featured in my Blog earlier this year). During the session we were issued with Bergens, almost the same length as me, that weighed between 15-20kgs – then told to run! Run as fast as your legs could possibly go.

This took my training, at the time, beyond levels I have ever experienced. With the Bergen half way down my legs it was almost impossible to run. I was bent over double with the weight of the contents and every single part of me was screaming!

A few weeks later, I attended a further session dedicated only to “tabbing.” In this one, at times we had to wear two Bergens; your own along with a member of your team’s over your chest. If I thought my body was screaming last time, then this time round it was off the chart.

Although it was the hardest training I have ever experienced and I felt like crying for the whole hour, I kept booking sessions.

Eventually fellow tabbers and myself discovered the “short back Bergens” – designed for the shorter person, like me! We purchased these beauties and found that the tabbing sessions were more bearable as we were not spent most the hour bent over double.

So, with the comfort of my own short back Bergen, packed out with pillows and heavy weights I started to enjoy the beasting we experienced on the tabbing sessions.

Over the last two years myself and other boot camp members have travelled far and wide before day light on a Saturday morning. And on a few occasions, participated in a number of “night” tabs all in the aid to increase our fitness levels.

Tabbing sessions are not easy. They are most definitely not for the faint hearted and designed to push you beyond your limits. I have lost count on the number of tabbing sessions I have taken part in over the last two years, but I would like to describe myself as a “well seasoned tabber.” I am never at the front of the pack, nor the back. Usually I am in the middle encouraging those struggling behind me.

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At the beginning of this year, myself and two others decided to take part in a double tabbing session back to back. This consisted of a two our tabbing session at 7pm on a Friday evening followed by two hours at 6am the following morning. I was at my fitness peak and we completed the Friday and the Saturday without any major issues (though the Saturday morning was rather tedious – due to achy muscles and fatique).

Then disaster struck for me not long after. I developed pneumonia – so training was out and tabbing was a definite no no.

It took a very long time for me to get the courage to return back to tabbing after my illness. My confidence was gone and I was worried about being at the back, slowing the pack down. However, as I started getting stronger again I decided to take the plunge and get back into it. Not wanting to over do it, weight was removed from my Bergen to ensure I did not overdo it on the first session back.

So at the beginning of June, I took the plunge back into the tabbing world. It was tough, it felt like my lungs were going to explode – but I plodded along and would like to think I kept up.

I have continued to participate in as many sessions as possible since. So, when our trainer – Jonny – advertised a 90 minute session I thought “why not?”

I arrived yesterday morning to discover only five people had booked on. Me, the only female, and four other long legged runners. I knew straight away it was going to be a session that was going to make or break me.

Within 30 minutes it had broken me. I was struggling to keep up with the guys and loosing confidence with every step. Every session I had participated in before had someone slower, someone who needed me to encourage behind me. This time I looked back and there was no one. When I looked ahead all I could see was dust from the fast runners in front.

I wanted to quit, head back and I told Jonny so. But he and all the other guys refused to let me give in. They pushed me on and on. Hill sprints followed, where I thought my lungs were going to burst, my legs fall off and I actually thought I would pass out. The final push up these hills broke me. I had a wobble, I broke down, I cried and had a mini panic attack.

Sensing my distress, Jonny sent the guys off running round a field whilst I recovered myself. Then we were off again. The final section of the session – up Hadham Road! If anyone lives in Bishops Stortford or knows the area you would be aware of this road. It is the most horrendous incline you would ever come across as a runner. It looks like nothing from the bottom; but goes on for what seems like miles. Running this incline without a Bergen would be a challenge enough. With the Bergen, I wanted to die – or hide in a bush.

The struggle and pain at this point was indescribable. The guys were off and I was trotting like a baby elephant miles behind. But Jonny would not let me give up. Everytime I felt myself slowing myself to a walk he appeared to spur me on; telling me to “stop shaking my head.”

Eventually we made it back; my legs burning, lungs exploding, mind blowing, half dead!

This tabbing session was the hardest thing I have had to done for a while – and I had not long ago completed Mission 24!

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The lesson learnt this time round; there is always more you can give. The mind can play amazing tricks on your body. It will make you think you cannot go on, that you cannot give anymore. But lucky for me this time, Jonny and all the other guys training knew I could give more even when I couldn’t see it myself. I may not have been able to go fast – but I could get to the end.

This day showed that there are days when getting through to the finish is hard. The only thing I can advise is train with people who you know will drive you on, push you to your limits and be there to give you a hug when you break down.