5, 10 or 15 miles were on offer when me and Josh signed up to Dash Of The Titan. We were planning to set up stall there after a kind invite from Alan, aka Muddy Duck. Alan was also kind enough to stick me on the elite invitation wave alongside some top OCR athletes including Team Brocket Gear’s very own Jason Brunnock. No pressure!
We arrived at Thoresby and after setting up stall I was quickly away to get ready for the 0945 wave alongside Jason and the rest of the invitation wave. We were having to do two laps for a position and were informed that the 5 mile lap was closer to a 6 mile lap (bonus!). The weather was good though and after a week of rain I was expecting a nice muddy course. Alan kindly invited us all to crawl through a ditch in order to get to the start line where we then given a nice tyre to carry. A good start to a good race!
I wasn’t disappointed, there was plenty of runnable ground and because our wave was so small we soon got spread out. The course was a good combination of monkey bars, tyre and sand bag carries, crawls, ditches, water features and a few hay bales! I felt pretty slow on that first lap if I’m honest but felt better on my 2nd lap, at which point a number of other waves had previously set off so it was good to be amongst other runners again.
Anyway, I picked it up and finished in 6th position, which to be honest I was very pleased with given my lack of training and advancing age. It would have been good to get a 3rd lap in but it was time to hand over to Josh to allow him to race and for me to take over the Brocket Gear Stall. The Inov8 X-Talons were ideal for the terrain and very grippy, my ZeroPoint compression socks and 2XU shorts helped my achy muscles!
There were some great efforts during the race and hats off to those who made the podium including Team Brocket Gear’s very own Jason who came 3rd, but also to Monika Lampart (Team Ram) who completed 4 laps and Joe Towey who was awarded the DOTT spirit of OCR award. A well done also to Alan who was non-stop on the microphone all day and who put together a decent little race. Some more races and exciting things to come from DOTT as well, can’t wait.
With 3 weeks to go until I take part in the Icebug Xperience in Sweden with Team IceBug UK, the Brutal 10 Minley was a perfect opportunity to test out the nutrition and kit I’d be using, I’d entered the 20k and planned on completing a 3rd lap to bring up 30k to simulate day 1 of the Icebug Xperience, (Day 1 – 29k, Day 2 – 24k and Day 3 – 21k).
Brutal10 put on a series of races over the year using only natural obstacles such as hills, steep hills and flat hills. There are often water obstacles, mud, uneven ground, and hills, full details here, I cannot recommend the Brutal10 events enough, they are without doubt the best organised and friendly whilst still tough races out there; run by a team who have one aim and that is to put on great races that anyone can take part in regardless of ability, all races will challenge the most experienced of runners whilst giving a great fun challenge to newcomers, all are made equally as welcome. The Brutal element’s of the Minley race are the hills and the option to take on 2 laps of the 10k course.
With being a fussy eater I decided to try the Mountain Fuel products to ensure I am able to take on enough nutrition and fuel for the 3 days in Sweden, so Friday night I used the Mountain Fuel Night Fuel which as per the instructions I drunk over a couple of hours. Saturday morning I combined the Mountain Fuel Morning Fuel with a hand full of mixed seeds and made up one of the Xtreme Energy Fuel drinks to drink in the 2 hours leading up to the start at 10am.
As a keen member of the Brutal10 volunteer team I arrived at Minley Manor, the location for the race at 7:45 ready to man the t shirt stand with my daughter (who would also be running the 5k race) for the morning before running the race, the time passed quickly chatting to all the other volunteers who would either be marshalling or running the race after helping on out on registration and the regular Brutaleers arriving to run.
Finishing my t shirt selling duties at 9:30 it was off to get changed and a warm up before the race start. Kit for the race was to be, Icebug Anima3’s, Ronhill Advance Twin Shorts, Ronhill Pursuit SS fluo yellow technical t shirt (supplied by John Ovenden of IceBug UK as part of the race package, thanks John ), ZeroPoint Compression Socks, Ronhill cap, Dirty Girl Gaiters and Salomon S-LAB ADV SKIN3 12 SET 2015 backpack. I wouldn’t usually wear a backpack for this distance race but wanted to test running with the backpack carrying the mandatory kit.
As usual with the Brutal10 races the Canicross runners go off at 9:45 to give them a clear course before the runners start at 10:00. With the aim of 3 laps in mind I started the race a couple of rows back from the start to avoid the temptation to try and stay with the front runners who would be taking on the 5k and 10k options. With the race underway I settled into the a comfortable pace I was happy I could maintain for the 20k leaving myself with enough to get a 3rd lap in. Soon into the race the wife of one of the RD’s, Sarah Rollins, who was also taking on the 20k passed me, knowing she would very likely be the ladies winner I decided to try and keep Sarah in my sights for as long as possible, not an easy task by any means. A small group of us found ourselves a little back from the front pack and ahead of the rest of the runners which was ideal to enjoy the excellent course put on for us, this was a mix of fire paths and technical trails through the forest, as we came up to the 8k marker the sting in the tail of the race started, this was a series of hills which you really didn’t want to see at this point of the race but it wouldn’t be a Brutal10 race without them….
Coming round to the end of the first 10k loop I was feeling really good having taken a few sips of water over the course of the loop, the fuelling plan was working well, a quick check of the clock and seeing just under 48mins, Sarah was around 150 meters ahead of me at this point, happy with both the time and being able to keep not too far behind it was past the finish area and back out for the 2nd 10k loop, with fewer runners on this lap it was great to concentrate on running and enjoying the course instead of the usual racing. Around the 17k point I started to feel a slight drop in energy but pushed on, around this point Sarah put some distance between herself and I, as we approached the bridge for the 2nd time which involved running up the steps across the bridge and back down the steps the other side I spotted a chasing runner so pushed on to keep myself ahead, tackling the hills from 8k onwards it was a final push to the finish line. To my surprise I came in 5th overall, 2nd place male vet and taking the 3rd place male finisher prize, a great bonus to the mornings run. With fellow Brocket Gear Race Team member Tim Lovett taking 1st place in the 5k race a good day all round for Brocket Gear.
After stopping for a photo and taking one of the Mountain Fuel “On the Go Fuel” mixes I had made up earlier in the day and topping up water bottles it was back out for a 3rd lap, I dropped the pace a lot from the race and ran a tough but enjoyable lap to get in miles and time in the legs. Once finished I mixed up the Mountain Fuel Ultimate Recovery drinks and drank this over the course of the next hour. In summary the nutrition plan worked well, I will take a bottle of the Energy fuel with me when racing in Sweden to top up energy supplies to avoid the slight drop I felt around the 17k point in the race. Very happy with all the kit used so just some final testing of kit for changes for the other 2 days and everything will be ready for what is sure to be an amazing experience.
The day was finished off with a BBQ put on by the Brutal10 team to say thank-you to all the volunteers who give up there time to help put on the events each time, I don’t really think any of us who were there are volunteers as such but all friends helping other each other to put on these great events, a huge thanks to the Brutal10 team for all the races and training events they put on and for me in particular great advice on training over the past couple of years, in particular to Colin Dickson and Dave Rollins.
Get signed up to the next Brutal10 event which is also a Mudstacle League event on the 10th October which has the slowest winning time of all the races, giving a good indication of the toughness of this race.
To celebrate Brocket Gear’s stocking of Xtenex laces, Tim has dragged out his old Xtenex review and here it is untouched and its original glory. He still stands by his words as much as he did the day he wrote it:
“When you read through some “advice” articles on obstacle course racing there are always a few things that pop up. Normally some rubbish about only wearing cheap shoes as you’ll never be able to wear them again (but we’ll save that rant for another time), and a section on how to tie your laces to make sure your shoes don’t come off. The lace thing is a tricky one: lacing your shoes with a double-knot makes it difficult to adjust when you’re in the middle of a run and during winter events taking them off with freezing fingers can be a real issue. There are a few quick-tie/quick-release options out there, but most with some flaws when it comes to the obstacle course racing environments that we have to deal with. We think, however, that we have the perfect solution…
The problem with traditional QR systems
As always, when looking at suitable solutions, we’ve been testing several different types from different manufacturers to try to get the perfect product for you all. The traditional toggle system used in a lot of triathlon shoes caught our eye and we tried several solutions. They all had one common flaw: the plastic mechanism used to both secure and release the laces were constantly flooded with stones and grit (as you would expect during an OCR) and because of this, more often that not, these mechanisms would jam. During our tests, 80% of the time these failed by the end of the race and the ability to quickly remove your shoes when you have cold hands was soon lost. Not cool. So we needed to look for a new way of thinking. In stepped (no pun intended) Xtenex.
What is Xtenex then and why is it different?
Xtenex is a patented elastic shoelace technology which uses the eyelets in your shoe for anchorage providing instantly adjustable tension across the lacing eyelets. The unique “knotted” design and elastic properties of the lace addresses issues with discomfort and pain that you sometimes get when trying to tie your laces for a race (foot pain, numbness, friction blisters and restriction of natural foot swelling).
Even better, the tension applied throughout the shoe at the eyelets is produced at each eyelet by the knots already in place, not at the top of the shoe where you would normally tie your laces. This means that you can run in your shoes without tying the laces at all. You’ll never need to stop to re-tie your laces, because you’ll never need to tie them in the first place!
As always we didn’t believe the manufacturer so we drew straws as to who would run without their laces tied and lo and behold, it was me. Again!
Pukka Races and The Obstacle
After giving them a go on our normal test circuit and being pretty impressed, it was time to give them the sign off at a few races. First up was Pukka Race’s World War Run, which turned out to be ideal as I was up to my hip in mud at some points in the course. Just what I needed to try and get them off of my feet! So, sat in the carpark before the race I threw in a set of the orange Xtenex laces on to one of my Inov-8 X-Talon 212 shoes and left the original laces on the other, for comparision.
Following the guide, I laced them in with the appropriate tension. It was noted in several places that they shouldn’t be over tightened and although the tension in the lace was much lower than I would normally have them, I put faith in the technology.
The first thing I noticed was how comfortable the shoe felt- like it was on securely but at no point did my foot feel restricted. I crossed the laces over at the top to stop them getting in the way but there was no tension there. I started to make up excuses in my head for the members of RPCC that I would be running with just in case I spent the next 5 miles with only one shoe or constantly adjusting the laces. I was very pleased to not need them.
The shoe stayed on perfectly- even in the sort of thick mud where you have to scrunch your toes to get your foot out at all, the X-Talon always followed out. I honestly couldn’t believe it. On the other foot, the normal knot needed re-tying 4 times during the race but on the other foot: nothing. It simply stayed in place perfectly and comfortably, even with the change in temperature as we went from long runs in the sun to dipping into cold water. When it came to the removal at the end, the pressure of my hand on the heel was enough to slip the shoe off. Amazing- accurate pressure from my hand removed it but otherwise it was perfect for keeping the shoe snug and firmly in place without being too tight. So, to prove it wasn’t a fluke I again tried them at The Obstacle but this time on both shoes with no tying at all, not even just to make them look neat (I have pretty bad OCD :-)).
Again, they were perfect- no slipping on either foot over any of the obstacles from wall climbs, ramps, crawls, etc. Just comfort and security the whole way around.”
We are pleased to offer the Xtenex laces at Brocket Gear, adding yet another quality tested product to our range. Check them out now!
Recently we caught up with Mike Natale, the USA Icebug Ambassador, and he had this to say about the best feature he’s found with Icebug‘s – their drainage features:
“I wore the Acceleritas for 26 races last year of varying distances/terrain/obstacles. This year to date, I’ve used the Zeals for 8+ races. Prior to Icebug I experimented with Salomon, New Balance, Inov8, Merrell, Reebok, and several other brands. One of the main things looked for in a race shoe and discussed regularly in OCR circles is drainage.”
“After Reebok introduced the drainage system in their All-Terrain series it became the standard for comparison. That was until a vast majority of athletes realised the holes allowed debris to collect inside the shoes causing discomfort and reducing overall performance.”
“Any shoe that is at times, submerged in water, will need the water to leave it fairly quickly. The word of mouth is spreading quickly in the U.S. and the UK in regards to the amazing speed of drainage in Icebugs used during OCR. Primarily in the Icebug’s the non absorbing material used to make the shoe allows for the dispersion of all water build up after only several foot strikes.”
“It has taken some time for OCR athletes in the U.S to grasp quite how great the Icebug’s are for drainage, mainly because of the misconception that holes are needed to get rid of the water. But after several top ranked US athletes confirmed, what all Icebug users know, the rate at which the materials expel water, word of mouth spread pretty quickly.”
“I wouldn’t recommend adding drainage holes either. I attempted to add drainage holes of all sizes into different brands and models. Doing so caused the surrounding material to wear down much faster then it would from regular use without custom drainage. Several other people have also confirmed the integrity of the sole is compromised in attempting to add custom drainage.
“Every time drainage is brought up in a social media discussion, my personal experience with the Zeals and Acceleritas make it very easy to explain the brand’s drainage quality in comparison to other top brands. I wouldn’t recommend anything else.”
Conor at Spartan!
All Icebug footwear is now available at a reduced price on the Brocket Gear website. If you haven’t already checked them out, get over there now and make sure you’re getting the best drainage out there to maximise your performance.
Want to see more of the Icebug’s in action. Watch Simon Goss’ review of the Icebug Zeals and Acceleratis here:
I’m finally getting around to writing on a subject very close to my heart: Medical grade compression for recovery and the awesome Zeropoint intense compression socks. SO, before we get into the socks themselves, a little background on compression technology, what it means and what it can do for you.
In basic terms, medical grade compression base layers of any sort are designed to increase blood and lymph circulation (and therefore oxygen) to key muscles, removing metabolic waste, supporting muscles and preventing swelling. There are many synthetic base layers that have a close fit which market themselves as “compression” but in effect do not provide the benefits of a medical grade product. Compression is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg); The larger the unit of compression, the “harder” the compression. As a thumb rule, if you can’t find the compression rating on a product, you should treat it as a base layer and not a true compression base layer.
In practical terms, true compression has two key effects: Increased performance via a reduction in muscle fatigue & cramps when used during exercise and reduction of the effect of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) when worn after exercise. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to be focusing on the second of these two effects, the recovery side of compression.
I have the pleasure of writing this article DOMS-free in my calves and Achilles after the ideal application of Zeropoint Intense Compression Socks to aide my recovery after the Spartan Race Scotland event. I’ve been using compression to aide recovery for years, but the effectiveness of the Zeropoint socks after an event that put me through over 1500m of elevation along its 16km length has been second to none that I have tried. The Intense Compression Socks from Zeropoint have the highest level of compression in the range with a rating of 20-30mHg throughout the sock. The graduated technology provides the strongest level of compression around the ankle which decreases gradually as it reaches the top of the sock.
Application of the sock is simple: As soon as I finish racing, the socks go straight on and stay on. After the normal port-race chatter, event village browsing and drive home is done, the socks are again reapplied as soon as I’m out of the shower. The idea, for recovery, is to keep the socks on as long as possible straight after exercise so that the compression technology can increase the pressure in the leg tissue, enhancing the circulation and helping the legs get back to their normal state as quickly as possible.
If possible, it’s ideal to sleep wearing the socks the night after your event or training. This is another area where the Zeropoint socks come into their own over other brands that I have tried. For me, personally, these are THE most comfy compression socks that I’ve worn.
The result of these truly marvellous items? DOMS-free legs. I consistently wake up the day after heavy training sessions or races with no aches or pains in my legs, ready to start another day. The Zeropoint range are used by all members of the race team for recovery (And performance, but we’ll get to that in another article) and I’ve personally been testing for over 6 months with nothing but sterling results to the point where I’ve discarded all other brands from my kit bag.
As many Obstacle Course Racers (OCR) from around the country attended the all new Mudnificent 7 last weekend, there was an elite team who turned up led by an extraordinary wheelchair athlete. Mud 7 was a UK first. A concept dreamt up by the owners of OCR Magazine, it brings together a collaboration of the top 7 obstacle course owners from around the country offering them 1 km each to provide the best obstacles they can offer. The event also offered the OCR community the chance to shop with the countries top retailers with the largest OCR expo ever on UK soil.
Allan Pilbro is part of Team Mud Sweat and No Fear On Wheels and kindly agreed to share their experience of the day. Allan is a regular on the UK OCR circuit, if he’s not at a race, it’s probably not worth doing! This is his account of Mud 7…
It was a beautiful day at Heart Park, Coventry. It had been 2 months in the making but the day was finally here, Mudnificent 7 with the inspirational Shaun Gash and the 53 strong team of runners for Team Mud Sweat and No Fear On Wheels.
After arriving on site and getting into race gear, I rounded up some of the team and headed over to meet the amazing Shaun.
As the wave time drew closer he gave us all an inspirational speech, gearing us all up for the run ahead.
We made our way to the start line, the time was ticking down to 11:45 and everyone was getting excited as the warm up started, we go the wheel chair ropes and harness, the count down began. 5,4,3,2,1 Go! And my word did Shaun go, for the first mile and a half the we were averaging 8 minute miles. You could smell the burning rubber off Shaun’s wheels.
We hit our first Zone, Aztec Warrior, Shaun was lifted in the chair over the small lot of hurdles and then it was on to the “meat or potatoes” crawl, which he found quite amusing! As we hit the Aztec wall we lifted Shaun out of the chair, he grabbed hold of the top of the wall and started to shimmy along it at some pace whilst myself and others supported his legs, just in case he fell down. But of course he managed it all the way to the end and we was off again like a lighting flash.
Next up was Airfield Anarchy. Here we had the dreaded “Take off” slide where Shaun grouped us all together to come up with a plan on how to get him up to complete the obstacle. He was strapped up and he climbed to the top, he made it look easy. He was then lowered down and into the water below where a number of team members were waiting to collecting him and carry him out of the water and back into his chair. Then off into the woods we went to tackle the pipe crawl and the cargo net.
We then arrived at Tough Guy, you could hear the drums where beating in the woods. Shaun was still smiling even after we told him he had to carry a crucifix! It was time for the dunks….. now this is where we had to fully submerge Shaun under the three logs, two people lowered him under the logs whilst another two pulled him out the other side. Even with all the mud in the ears, eyes, mouth and nose, he was still there laughing and smiling. Not even Tough Guy could break his spirit.
On to Big Foot section of the race, unfortunately some of the obstacles Shaun could not complete as it was a trans rope walk. But he did managed the double shimmy across the valley. Then the team got some speed up again as we hurtled through the wood.
Next up was Ram Run and here we all had an amazing time with Shaun saying hello to Mr Ram as he went passed, we then carried his chair over the walls that ram run kindly put in our way and then we were off again.
We arrived quickly at the Reaper Zone where we had to tackle walls, water crossings and high cargo nets at this point a couple of us lost Shaun as they were that quick we had to play catch up, we eventually caught up them up at the ditches. We had to lower him down carefully in his chair and then back up the other side of the bank, at this point the crowd were there to cheer and shout us on.
We entered the final zone, Bear Grylls Survival. Three walls stood in our way, here the team used all their remaining strength and determination to lift Shaun and his chair over these massive walls. We moved onto the second to last obstacle, the massive cargo net, here the team assembled on the net and strapped Shaun up with rope and his harness and started to lift him whilst he climbed up on the cargo net, up and over and back into his chair. Time for the last bit, the Lake Swim which we were all looking forward to, well who doesn’t want a free bath?
then it was the lake, we had to carry Shaun across it so three people took up task and off we went to the first island, under a cargo net and straight back into the lake the other side.
At this point myself and two others carried Shaun the last little bit from the island to the finish line where his chair was waiting for him. A crowd had gathered to see us all finish, chanting his name and shouting as loud as they could. We crossed the line, it was an emotional time with cheers hugs and thanks all around. Shaun was cut, bruised and battered and still smiling.
It was an honour to race along side such a loving caring person and I would like to thank the whole team, from the back room staff to everyone who helped out it was an amazing day and such an inspiration to be a part of it.
Overall the race will go down as one of the best obstacle courses I have ever done, a great deal of mud and variety of obstacles.
I would like to thank all the staff at Mud 7, Carl and his team for organising, Shaun and Dawn Gash for letting me be a part of the team along with the other 53 team members that stepped up and took on the challenge, you were all amazing.
Massive thanks and shout out to sponsors Protein works for their help and Muddy Kit for the t-shirts.
You can find out more about Shaun and his upcoming challenges at http://www.kiliwheelschallenge.org.uk/ – please donate!
The next event is Ram Run in October with No Fear on Wheels!