Saturday saw me complete the final race in the diary for 2016 – Commando Series. We certainly saved the best for last.
I have completed many OCR races this year; Gauntlet Games, WAR, London Rat Race and even Bear Grylls survival race. But none of these compare to how great Commando Series was.
Set in the stunning grounds of Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, the back drop for this race was something beyond imagination.
From the get go the whole event was well organised – with the warm up alone enough to get you going. The instructor got all racers ready to face the obstacles. No talking allowed, it consisted on high energy exercises and a lot of rolling around in the mud. So we were wet, muddy and ready for action.
In previous obstacle races you will find that the waves are very segmented. The elite go first, then regular racers and finally the kids/ family. Not in this race, everyone was in it together. Our wave ranged from the obvious elite looking runners to young families. Each person had a colour coded wrist band so the instructors knew how they wanted to be treated – you could choose from “treat me like a commando” or one that stated “just get me round.”
Another visible difference between Commando series and others of its kind was the fact that there were so many obstacles. You have no idea how frustrating it is to sign up for an obstacle race and end up having run for miles between each one. Here you completed an obstacle and could see (or hear) the next one. Commando series took full advantage of their surroundings – making use of natural obstacles as well as those they had built. Caves, swamps, river crossings – these obstacles were so simple yet gave you a break from those that were slightly more challenging. They even had re-enacted a battle scene in the woods with smoke and gun sounds to make you feel you were in a battle zone.
There was nothing that was unachievable. In previous races I have come to obstacles that have been build so high or so badly that only the super elite can pass them. Or you throw yourself at the obstacle with such gusto you end up with a multitude of bruises. Commando Series got this spot on – they clearly wanted you to feel challenged but at the same time actually be able to tackle each obstacle. There were no OCR kisses to be found the next day.
In all the races I have been to I have never met a more friendly group of instructors. Each and everyone one of the Commando Series team encouraged all the racers and took the time to ask us if we were enjoying ourselves. If waiting for team members they encouraged us to keep warm by jogging on the spot. These guys really showed they cared.
When we finally passed the finish line volunteers were ready with medals and a hot Ribena! A hot Ribena!! I hadn’t had one of these since childhood – and it was a perfect refreshment to hit the spot. Just what we needed to warm up.
In addition they had heated out door shower cubicles and changing rooms. There was no wriggling in your towel by the car at this race.
To sum up this event…. Simply amazing. Everything from the organisation, staff, volunteers, obstacles to the hot ribena… It was spot on all round.
If I was to have one criticism – it would be the lack of action photos. It seems that there were not many camera men and they moved around. So we were missed at the most fun obstacles – like the slide. Going down as a group of five that would have made for a great picture. However, if this is my only critism it shows you how good it actually was.
I was starting to loose my OCR mojo and these guys have revived it.
Well done to all the Commando team for helping me finish my racing year on such a high.
Our team will definitely be back next year!