Brutal 10 and the Icebug Zeal OLX- Perfect partners
I’m a huge fan of Brutal 10 – Who wouldn’t be? Whilst not strictly an OCR, the “Tough Running” events put on by Colin, Dave and the team are simply superb and can rival many obstacle course races on the toughness of their hills, mud, sand and water alone. Set on and around military training grounds above and below the M3, competitors are tasked with completing some of the England’s most challenging gradients. Catering for Canicross runners and properly recognising male and female adults and veterans, you can always rely on a Brutal 10 event for a great atmosphere, first-class course marking and administration and seriously aching legs for at least 48 hours after!
I’ve run quite a few of the Brutal 10 events over the last 18 months, and last weekend gave me a chance to revisit my favourite course, Bagshot. Also known as the Army’s Alpine Training Course, the hills are simply staggering. You go up, and up, and up and just when you think you’ve hit the summit you turn 90 degrees to see a further 20m of elevation. The ground varies greatly too, from mud and sometimes chest-high water, to grass and compact sand/pebble trails.
The variation in terrain would normally send me straight to my trusty Icebug Zeal RBX9, but the advantage of Brutal 10 not having any man-made obstacles is that metal studs are allowed. This therefore allows me to break out the Icebug Zeal OLX boasting the same tread pattern as the RBX9, but with the added advantage of 16 carbide steel studs.
So what’s the big deal with metal studs? That’s quite a simple one: Wood. Not just wet wood, but all wood. As any obstacle course racer will tell you, even the latest grip pattern from any manufacturer using the softest or rock-climbing grade rubber will not produce much grip on wood. For the off-trail, cross country terrain of Brutal 10, you often find yourself hurtling down fast descents through heavy woodland, and the ability to jump on tree stumps, branches and bows with total confidence that you foot will not move from it’s planted position is a real game-changer. In the same way, knowing that your precious leg power will not be lost struggling to stabilise your foot on a sharp ascent when your foot hits a tree root is a serious advantage.
With Bagshot having a good section of mud and water, it’s also nice to know that you can rely on the Zeal’s tread pattern and non-absorbing material. The pattern on the Zeal OLX, just like on the Zeal RBX9, actively pushes mud out sideways where the foot hits the ground. Unlike some competitors whose heavy stud patterns trap dirt and clog, the result is a clear surface of grip, every time your foot hits the ground.
The non-absorbing material means that when properly sized for your foot, water is quickly “pumped” out around the ankle within a few steps of leaving water. No waiting for the water to exit through mesh uppers, just all of it out. Quickly.
They’ve now formed a solid part of my arsenal for off-trail racing and training. With rumours flying of metal studs being allowed state-side soon by Spartan Race, we may get chance to see them in use over here on OCR soon too (Though be careful if you take someone up on the offer of a bunk-up over a high wall ;-)). If you can’t wait for that, Brutal 10 have 5km+ races every month, with entry starting from just £12 for adults and £7 for children and regular FREE training sessions. Even if you consider yourself an OCR-only person, you need to get yourself to a Brutal 10 race for the leg-beasting alone! Check out their Facebook page or website for more detail.