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.
Thanks to Sussex Sport Photography for the awesome pic!
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.
The Zeal OLX carbide steel studs…
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.
Zeal RBX9 at the end of a muddy training run with near clear-grip
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.
No matter which sport you are training for it is always easy to let your guard down in the winter. It is important to maintain a steady state of fitness throughout the winter season so that come Spring time you will not find it too much of a struggle to bring your fitness levels up to race pace. Whether you are a rookie or a pro, it is worth understanding the importance of winter training and how best to prepare.
There are a number of important considerations for winter training, these are broken down into the following categories:
Weather – Always check the weather forecast to ensure you dress suitably for the conditions. If it is icy, consider waiting until it thaws or ensure footwear is right for the conditions under foot.
Ensure your footwear has decent grip for the conditions
Route -It’s very important to plan your route and/or training session. The sun is generally low in the sky in the winter so consider running routes where you will not be running face into the sun in dangerous areas such as next to busy roads. If you live in an area where outside training is impossible, consider looking around for an OCR or Cross Fit style gym. Parks are also great for winter training. Go on routes where you know there will be street lighting.
Time – Set a side more time for your winter training sessions. You will need to consider extra time for warming up and cooling down.
Visibility – The short winter days mean we often end up training before or after work in the dark. It is essential to remain visible at all times.
Clothing – Upper Body
The key to winter running especially for your upper body is layering. Firstly, you will need to keep your hands warm with a good pair of gloves. You can lose a great deal of you body heat through your extremities so it is important to cover those hands. Next, you want a fitted or compression base layer. This layer is the closest to your body and should have contact with your skin, this layer should only consist of wicking fabrics such as wool or synthetic materials and not cotton.
A 2nd layer is needed for colder runs and is made of an insulation fabric such as fleece. This layer has the perfect balance of trapping air to keep you warm while
releasing enough vapour to avoid overheating and chills. As a final layer, you will want to protect yourself against the wind, rain and snow but at the same time allow both heat and moisture to escape to prevent both overheating and chilling.
Your legs generate a lot more heat than the rest of the body while running and therefore you will not need as many layers on your lower body. Shorts are generally fine, however if the temperature is cold, you may wish to consider a pair of running leggings or tights. Your feet also have the tendency to keep warm and there shoes with breathable waterproof membranes to help protect your feet from the natural elements. Choose shoes with an aggressive sole for the best grip, for added traction there are shoes with metal studs, remember however that these type of shoes are not permitted for most OCR events in the UK but do offer superior grip when running snow and ice. Do not use cotton socks when running because they will not wick away the moisture, leaving your feet wet and prone to blisters. Instead use socks with wicking fabrics such as wool and synthetic fibre.
Accessories: Dryrobes: One accessory that has become a ‘must have’ in the OCR world and we
see a lot of at events are the Dryrobes. These jackets are roomy, fleece lined
and exceptionally warm. With all the space inside them, they allow the user to get
changed under them in warm conditions.
These are a water proof, modular type bag, enabling you to zip together to
use on race day in whatever configuration suits you. Essential for any athlete,
family or sports team, KitBrix is the most functional and most effective of all the
sports organisers. Big easy pull zippers, military inspired design, well thought out
shape for open access and a hardwearing tarpaulin as well as a moulded base
which makes this durable bag set outstanding.
While training through the winter you may not sweat or feel as thirsty as you
typically would in the summer, but it is important to be aware of this and
remember to keep drinking and eating before, during and after your training
We at Brocket Gear want to help you to enjoy Adventure Running and Obstacle Course Running as we do. If you have any questions or queries about what gear you should be using particularly as wecome into the winter, do not hesitate to ask us. www.brocketgear.co.uk | email@example.com
I thought that this would be a good time to reflect on the upcoming 36+ hour mental and physical endurance event ‘The Unknown’ bought to us by one of our favourite OCR organisations, Judgement Day. It’s 2128 on Sunday evening, and while I watch friends Martlew, Miller, Lacey and Hellard on BBC 2’s Hell Week, my mind is focused on the fact that by this time next week, my personal weekend of hell will be out of the way.
Judgement Day: The Unknown promises to test us mentally and physically over a period of 36+ hours, starting next weekend. We have been given a kit list to take alongside food and water, including 20 empty water bottles, a teaspoon, a space hopper and various other weird and wonderful objects. From the moment the list arrived, the mind has been racing: What will they be used for? Are some of them red herrings? There’s been a lot of theories on the Facebook group setup to help the competitors chat. I1ve got my own theories, but keeping them to myself for now.
There’s about 30 of us doing it, and I’m glad to be joined by fellow Brocket Gear Race Team members Jason and Phill, along with a host of good friends from the OCR community. While I’ve no doubt at this point that this will be a very personal journey, I’m sure there will be an abundance of team spirit throughout.
I’m currently starting to panic about the kit. The pre-event mind games have begun already, as the mandatory kit list can be a little open to interpretation. There’s also things to consider like fuel: What should I take to eat? How many calories should I be looking at? How can I get maximum energy with minimum weight? And what about water? It’s enough to drive you mad before you begin!
My home has been overcome with kit now. Everything has arrived, lists have been written and there is barely a floor or work surface that hasn’t be claimed by The Unknown. I think it¹s safe to say that my wife will be happy once it¹s out of the way. I’ve gone with merino and neoprene clothing, with two spare sets in dry fold bags inside the rucksack. I’ve also gone with an emergency hypothermia dry fold bag with full fresh baselayer, neoprene, wraps and my Dirty Dozen bobble hat. My plan is to only use this if I get too cold and feel like hypothermia is getting the better of me. I’ve got a new version of my favourite Smartwool beanie for my head with Darken neoprene gloves for my hands, Inov-8 Stormshell Jacket for outer layer water/wind proofing and some waterproof trousers. In essence, I know that the waterproof outer layers won¹t stop the wet when I’m burpee’ing in the sea at 2am, but hopefully they will stop the wind when I’m trying to warm up again.
For food, I have a selection of the amazing Chia Charge bars, Mountain Fuel and a few thousand calories worth of sweet and savoury sticky rice cakes from the Feed Zone Portables book (Lovingly created by my ever-suffering wife and amazing cook/baker, Ali). I’m also going to take a regular water bottle and my Water-To-Go bottle, which will allow me to purify water on the go.
Finally, in addition to the required kit, I¹ve got a small selection of survival items that I feel may come in handy at one point or another. Only time will tell! I’m now killing time, waiting for the big day, and trying to remember that I’m doing this for fun
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:
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!
Whether you are an Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) virgin or developing a serious penchant for OCR, here are a few tips we put together for kit and clothing choices for a summer OCR.
1. You will get wet; water will add weight, conduct body heat away and slow your progress, therefore choose clothing and footwear that is close fitting, non-absorbent and fast drying. That way you can reduce the effects of water in the first place and also dry out faster. Choose whether to have vest/short sleeves/long sleeves according to the temperature on the day OR even ditch the shirt altogether if you’re that way inclined.
2. Conditions underfoot: generally you’re looking for grip over cushioning when it comes to trail running. Summer will mean harder ground than winter (disclaimer: British summertime may vary!) and so you may not need your most aggressive treads but a good trail shoe that will support you and prevent slips and trips on inclines and a variety of surfaces from grass to hard packed trails and muddy riverbanks.
3. Obstacles: you will have to crawl, climb, swing, balance and jump your way around a variety of challenging obstacles made of dirt/rope/timber/concrete etc. Choose close-fitting clothing that won’t snag easily. If you want to reduce the chances of getting abrasions, bruises or blisters then we would recommend protecting your key contact points; your hands, knees and elbows.
4. Nutrition: for races of over about 5k it will be especially important to keep on top of your hydration! Make sure you drink plenty and your urine is clear in the run up to the start, then take on water according to your needs during the race itself. Prevention is better than cure and by the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Also, depending on your pace and experience you may want to pack some nutrition to ensure your glucose and electrolyte levels are topped up during the race. Its safe to assume that you will be on your feet for far longer than your normal 10km time in a 10km OCR and for all the weight of a Gu gel etc, you’d rather be looking at it than looking for it!
5. Afterwards: Pack a bag with a complete change of clothes and a towel/wash kit or body wipes to get you cleaned up afterwards-some races have showers and hoses whereas others don’t. Bring a waterproof bag for all your used kit, consider beforehand how you’ll change to hang out/go home after the race.
That said, these are our top picks for a summer OCR to get you kitted out:
Faye, Jayne, Laura, Phill and Tim all represented the Brocket Gear Race Team this weekend at Rat Race Dirty Weekend. Faye, Phill and Tim headed off first in wave 1 and Jayne and Laura joined the Mudstacle and Dutch Mud Men in wave 2. An amazing weekend was had by all, here are a few words and pics from each of the team on their experiences:
Having run RRDW for the first time last year I came back with a target of beating my previous time of 3:31:40. This was going to be tough going with my lack of upper body training due to my dislocated finger from 8 weeks ago but felt quietly confident my running would get me through. I started the race feeling fairly confident but a bit tired after only a few hours sleep (sleeping in a tent is not ideal prep for 20 miles and 200 obstacles). Just before mile 8 and the main water section I was starting to feel pretty sluggish and with my right calf feeling tight, I really struggled with the water area, having to rely on fellow racers to pull me up on to all the pontoons due to not being able to grip properly. Out of this and onto the water jump which was done at the 2nd attempt, down the water slide and cramp hit my calf in the exact same place as 12 months earlier making the swim across the lake slow and painful. From this point on it was all about just completing the course rather than going for a time as the last of my energy had been sapped.
After a few soul searching moments at the cut off point for the half mucker deciding whether to call it a day or carry on and get round the course, I decided on the latter and carried on. I completed the course in 4:04:19 which was over half an hour longer than last year, although the course was about a mile longer (and from conversations tougher) than previous years. After refuelling and an afternoon nap it was off to the after party for a few drinks and to enjoy the atmosphere. The highlight of the evening for me was Craig Charles who was superb. Already booked up for next year and looking forward to beating my 2014 time.
I’d been looking forward to RRDW since last year, but I knew this year would be so much bigger and better! Last year I barely knew anyone but this year I was camping with a few hundred friends from the UK , Holland & Belgium. How insane to think in a year you can make so many fantastic like-minded friends!!!
I arrived with Chris White , Mark Leinster & Sally Wright & set up camp before joining in with the Dutch advance camping team for a few innocent Flugels. Soon the camping area filled and the Dutch Mud Men & Chicks arrived on their plush double decker coach – time for the party & dirty undies run to begin!!!
For some reason I was really dreading the actual race – I knew I’d frozen at the water jump last year, and had almost slipped at the top of the tyre wall, so to find both obstacles were even higher this year was panicking me although heights don’t bother me!!
I decided to don my yellow Mudstacle tee to run in wave 2 with the Mudstacle & DMM runners. I chose my brand new Ice Bug Zeals for this race which was without a doubt the best choice I made that day!
The race started and I felt much better , I managed a comfortable pace and found myself with Sy Goss for much of the time bringing back memories of JD Bordon. I enjoyed the obstacles and found an added confidence as my Zeals didn’t slip on any surface – I ran across the tyres on a pole while others sat straddling and felt my balance in all obstacles was good. One very happy lady indeed!
I have to be one of the few who loved the water section – I feel far better after a good dunking & so far have found I don’t get cramp after like so many did (must be the Guinness!)
My biggest disappointment was the jump …. I was so worried but not jumping wasn’t an option – however as you climbed up something took my body over and made me run to the lower jump and just go! (Still cross with myself for that!)
The rest of the race went rather slowly and became quite painful – I was aware of my IT band getting a bit tight & found I was doing a lot of run/power walking. I found the race totally exhausting …. Going past the bail out at 13 miles was hard and those last 7 miles felt much further.
I lost Sy and Mark MM Turner after the water slide when Sy had kindly pushed me down faster (OK crashed into the back of me!), so the rest of the race was lonely – just the same 3 faces who like me were run/walking or cramping as we took turns overtaking each other .
I finally finished in 4hrs 35 which I was pleased about despite being 12 mins slower than last year. My fears for the obstacles were unnecessary as I enjoyed them, but the exhaustion was what I needed to train more for. The water crossing & hurdles for the 140m monkey bars zapped my energy – but all was worth it for the amazing after party !
I’m not sure being blamed for drinking all the Dutch guys Flugel was quite fair – and being forced bottles of rum punch and a nasty Ouzo type drink as punishment definitely set me up in the party spirit!
One of the best parts for me was spending so much time with my team mates & chatting with Icebug UK GM John too. Love my girls and hugs – we eventually left as the last there Sunday at 1220 knowing next year will be even bigger!!!
This was my first shot at RRDW, and in all honesty I was completely unprepared. Cancelling three weekends’ of events in a row meant that I jumped at an opportunity to do a “biggie” so signed up with only a week or so’s notice. While I’ve been relishing putting some training time in using my new found freedom following the merge of Obstacle Kit with Brocket Gear, my training has only been over short distances. I took the decision to not look at the course map or any of the obstacles, knowing only what I remembered from reading reviews of last year’s race.
With only a few hours’ sleep I arrived on Saturday morning and lined up in the elite wave alongside RPCC’s Katie Keeble who I’ve run with at a few races now. I knew that despite her just coming off of holiday, she’d still give me a real push over the distance which is exactly what I would need as I tend to get distracted easily over the longer distance races.
We shot out at a great pace and settled down after a km or two, tackling some great obstacles including a few I’ve never done before, such as crawling through cars. What struck me about the course was that the quality of obstacles was fantastic throughout, despite the quantity of them. It would be easy to become lazy when trying to come up with 200 obstacles in a single race, but I’m happy to report that this was not the case. We had a jittery first half between the two of us suffering from a combination of tired legs and not being able to settle. We both had a bit of a moment in the lake crossing just after the water slide and I must say I’ve never been so pleased to see dry land before!
The jittery start was soon put to bed when KK’s legs came back to life and I seemed to get a second wind after fighting some crippling cramp (I forgot my Zeropoint calf sleeves and paid the price!) At mile 15 we were able to start laying some pace down, and with a constant stream of people to catch in the last 5 miles we finished very strong, personally feeling like I could have gone again, with a bit more food in me, and my calf sleeves.
RRDW was an amazing event in terms of atmosphere and quality in both the race and the event village. This is now set firmly in my diary for 2016 as a must-do event, but with a bit more prep next time.
For two whole years I’ve wanted to do RRDW. Mainly I couldn’t afford it, so this year it was my Christmas gift from my family. I didn’t do any specific training for it, I’ve done a couple of marathons so I knew I had the miles in my legs and obstacles are my speciality so didn’t think I’d have a problem and went on to enter wave 1 & set off on my own!
I really enjoyed the first half of the event, great obstacles and amazing competition! The water section was so much fun, but after getting out the wind went straight through me. I’ve never been so cold. I was extremely disoriented and emotional and was quite happy to DNF for a couple miles- yet managed to warm up in time to tackle the famous monkey bars. I got further then most females, but very disappointed to not reach the end due to numb fingers (my thumbs are still tingly 4 days after!) Altogether I did find the event long and lonely simply for running on my own & struggling with the cold. I finished a whole hour longer then the time I had expected, yet by the time I finished was just happy I hadn’t quit
At 17 miles I came across my friend Chloe of Muddy Race who had injured herself on an obstacle yet was also powering through, smashing every obstacle and turning down a piggy back more then once. We stuck together till the end, which meant a lot to us both and both finished with a smile, which for the majority of the OCR community this is the experience we all want from these events.
It was my first event running in my Ice Bug Zeals, they were perfect for me, very comfortable and I felt safe on every surface- they did not collect water or mud either. I also wore my zero point compression and didn’t suffer with cramp until the very last wall which was impressive, as on every corner there was someone suffering with cramp.
I do wish now that I had been more prepared for the cold, better kit and probably wiser not to run a distance like that on your own, it’s hard to keep yourself motivated over that kind of distance, as most OCR events I do are half that distance. But after all, these events aren’t meant to be easy and this is why we keep doing them, to keep pushing ourselves to the next level.
All in all it was a great weekend, it had the whole OCR family feel with everyone camping together along with the Dutch Mud Men. Hopefully one day we’ll be able to head over to one of their events! It was especially lovely to spend extended time with my fellow team members and also meet Josh from Brocket Gear and John & his son from IceBug UK.
Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to do this event next year again and be more prepared to compete as well as complete it.
Rat Race events have always been on my to do list, but somehow I’ve never gotten round to entering one. With so many great friends going to Dirty Weekend and such hype over their after-parties, this race seemed like the perfect one to enter. On the start line however with 20 miles in front of me – a distance I’ve never even tried to run before – and not having had much sleep, the after party seamed a long way off.
I ran in the Mudstacle wave with the aim just to finish. I set a steady but consistent pace and with the mile markers going up and up it was the first race in a long time that I absolutely loved! I found a new technique for the sack jumping and made it off the top ledge for the jump, though not quite as gracefully as I’d thought I’d be in my head! I loved the water sections, sang a few songs with Christie from FFC Elite along the way and had some interesting encounters with total strangers I may never meet again. Normally crossing that finish line is an amazing feeling for me but every now and then you do a race that you love so much in a crazy kinda way you just don’t want it to end. This was one of those races.
Some people ran the course twice, some ran in fancy dress, some for charity, some for PBs and some just as a personal challenge to tick off the list. The course made some people happy and others cry but I’m pretty sure everyone loved the after party! I have no idea how many of us were there from Mudstacle and joining up with our friends the Dutch Mud Men and Chicks, but if we raced hard we partied harder!
It was an amazing event and I was so lucky to have so many from my amazing team there with me. I was told the other day to be careful of worrying about what other people think of your achievements, as ultimately people normally secretly want you to fail. The support I get off my lovely Jayne and Faye is totally unquestionable, and having them there with me on the start line really makes all the difference. I can’t wait to go back again next year and would recommend the race to any one that loves a bit of a kick to life!