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!
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.
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.
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.
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!