I have never been one for camping. Don’t get me wrong I love being outdoors. I simply do not enjoy spending the night sleeping on the floor and in the cold.
However, when a group of my Boot Camp friends decided to sign up for Rat Race Dirty Weekend the plan was to camp for the two nights. Much preferring to book a hotel but not wanting to be a spoil sport – I signed up for the 13-20 mile obstacle course race, paying an additional £20 to sleep out doors for the night. Booked back in August, it was quickly put to the back of my mind, especially after receiving the news, in October, that I would be running the London Marathon.
To say I was under prepared for this event is an understatement. Months of training for the marathon meant that my strength training was put to the back burner. Every spare moment was spent racking up the mileage and endurance to run the 26.2 miles. I did not take a moment to think beyond the marathon itself and what I had booked in the weeks and months following. To be honest, it showed.
From the get go I was struggling, for a few reasons. Firstly – despite running over 20 miles a couple of weeks prior my body was tired, my legs were still suffering and I had tightness in my quad that simply would not shift. Secondly, I had been running on road surfaces, not fields, farmlands and woods – the kind of terrain that is expected at an OCR race. And finally, like I mentioned above, my strength training had been rather lacking and therefore hoisting myself over obstacles proved rather difficult.
That said, Rat Race Dirty Weekend is by far the best OCR race I have completed to date. Not just because of the race, but the whole weekend itself. Starting with a tame “school disco” in the festivals big blue tent, with the race following on the Saturday morning and a big messy party to follow. It was one of the most enjoyable events and one that I feel was worth every penny.
If you love a good obstacle race, then I would thoroughly recommend this. Boasting over 150 obstacles for those who want to run the 13 mile course, 200 obstacles for the 20 miles or if you were completely mad – 400 obstacles for the “Double Mucker” race – which involved two laps of the 20 mile course. Yikes!
Being of a sane mind, I decided to stick to the 13 miles. Not only did it have more than enough obstacles to appease the most seasoned OCR racer, but it had more enough running too.
I have to give it to Rat Race – they certainly are experts in their field. Not only did they use the natural obstacles of the Burghley House estate, for lack of a better word every single obstacle was simply epic!
I tried my best at as many obstacles that came my way. Some required a friendly shove up the backside or a leg up, some were simply spot on. Some, simply terrified me to the point of a panic attack. The first of which came on a Fire Man’s pole – which thanks to being vertically challenged – I could not quite reach.
The second panic attack, and one that set the mood for the rest of the course, came around mile 10. What I can only describe as a the biggest adult climbing frame – complete with cargo nets, tunnels and tyre climbs was swarming with OCR fanatics. Excited to get involved I tackled it – only to loose my footing from one cargo net and diving head first onto the cargo net below and getting kicked in the head by another runner. In true OCR spirit, there were plenty of racers (mainly muscly men – so I shall not complain too much) to lend a hand and get be back on my feet. Though as soon as I was on solid ground the panic started. And so the rest of the course was ruined for me.
With a new found fear of cargo nets, heights and falling – most of the obstacles that followed were bypassed.
Although shaken and disappointed I did not let that deter me – after all this was one of the toughest obstacle races I had encountered to date. I did, however, have to get to the end.
So moving past obstacles that saw many runners shivering whilst they waited their turn, I kept moving forward to the one obstacle I was determined to conquer – the Travelator!
And I did it. I kept my legs moving and got to the top, elated!
That was simply enough for me. 13 miles and nearly five hours out in the field, wet and cold, I was happy to get to the finish, get warm and have a well deserved drink!
I am gutted to have missed a large number of obstacles, including the epic slide finish, but I don’t regret doing so. Whatever challenge you are facing, you have to listen to your body and sometimes even your mind. On this day, my body was just not ready.
In hindsight, I probably should have deferred my entry. But after missing out on Hackney Half Marathon the week prior I was determined to get back out there.
However, with every race I learn a little bit more about my strengths and weaknesses. In this case I now know that I need to spend the next few months building up my upper body strength, so I can face further OCR races I have planned for the year with full gusto!
Nuclear Rush was the next race on my list, for this coming Saturday. However, the lovely people at Nuclear already advised I can move my entry to another race after I raised concerns a few days after the London Marathon.
So with that in mind, and a couple more OCR races planned in the diary, I shall be upping my strength training and returning to Fit4OCR (a OCR training facility) to make sure I come back ready to take them all on!
And maybe a return to Dirty Rat Race Weekend in 2018? Who’s going?