Waking up that morning I knew it was going to be a different kind of race day. Short speedy course with a large number of obstacles, 3 heat races culminating in a high speed final. The last sprint race I attended involved someone shaving the skin off his shin and leaving a nice clump of it behind on the obstacle… leg hair included! I was hoping that this was going to be different and I wasn’t disappointed!
Arriving at Wild Forest Gym the atmosphere was pretty chilled out with the usual suspects present. The medals were already on show, glinting in the dappled sunlight. I wanted one so much…. but most of all I wanted the Oak carved trophy that was going to be awarded to the winning male and female racers. Carrying an ankle injury I knew I would be limited on my sprinting distance but hoped I could ignore it for long enough to place somewhere on the podium at least.
After walking accidentally (and I promise it was accidentally!) into the mens changing room I found my way to the area we could get changed and leave our kit. As it was a smaller race this meant a bag drop wasn’t required and so racers had easy access to their kit bags all day, essential for topping up lip gloss and the consumption of jelly babies :)
Leaving the changing rooms to gather outside for the briefing I bumped into Alex Money (who for once wasn’t late!) and I told him how nervous I was. Being the lovely guy that he is he offered to let me race as him for the day to help settle my nerves, and that was when Alex and Alex were born. Lending me his Brocket Gear vest I immediately felt more at ease and couldn’t wait for the race to start.
The heats were organised through random number selection which produced some interesting line ups with a variety of skill and ability. I had no idea how to pace it, I had no idea where I would burn out, if I would burn out, but I was Alex Money for the day and all I could feel on that start line was excitement.
I lined up at the start with the first heat of girls and Coach Michael began the 2 minute countdown (never have 2 minutes felt so long!) and then we were off! The first part of the sprint was mostly trail running with some natural tree trunk obstacles which could easily be jumped or vaulted. By the time I hit the obstacles I still felt pretty good and realised I wasn’t having to push hard to keep the lead. A tyre wall, hangover wall and hang tough rings followed. They were all in quick succession with minimal running and I was loving it. Running on I passed the log carry without realising and the marshal shouted out to me ‘Alex you forgot your log!’ Well this put an even bigger smile on my face and I didn’t mind having to turn back to collect said log and run with it.
A tyre carry, tyre crawl, cargo net crawl and Irish table followed, then came the monkey bars and Wild Forest Gym had created something different… the monkey bars had been joined by a rope traverse. Everyone had different techniques and methods but stepping up to the bars I knew which I would be choosing. Swinging up the inclined bars I used my momentum to propel me forward managing to swing 2, sometimes 3 bars, at a time and before I knew it I was at the rope. Holding the final bar I swung my body back and forward to then flick my legs and feet up onto the rope. Shimmying along I managed to get my hands on the rope. I tried to traverse bottom first and I can tell you now it really really doesn’t work! Making a quick transition mid rope I switched my body’s direction and quickly reached the second set of bars. These were much nicer to complete due to the decline of the framework and I happily jumped off at the end with just a short sprint to the rope climb.
Now, I have completed many a Spartan rope climb before but these were something else… Suspended on a wire between 2 trees and being ridiculously high I knew they were going to be a challenge but wrapping the rope around my leg I gripped with my feet and I was off. Not only could I feel my weight moving the rope as I made my ascent but I could also feel everyone else on theirs. Every mistake, pull, release of weight rippled through the main wire and down through every rope and climber. This added an additional element to the challenge of the obstacle and something I would definitely encourage other race directors to consider.
After completing the rope climb to more cheers of ‘come on Alex’ ‘I thought that was Christie’ ‘Keep going whatever your name is’ :) it was time for the final warped wall. Having only ever tackled the wall when wet and muddy I wasn’t sure how it would be in the dry, and as it turns out pretty easy actually! So much so that I almost over did the run up and shot off the top! :)
Jumping down from the wall I finished with a sprint to be met by Michael who recorded my race number and therefore logging my finish time. There was then time between each heat to refuel and stretch, Scotty PT was even on hand to help some of us out with some assisted stretches.
Although the heats went quickly the waiting around in between took up quite a bit of time and while we all love to talk and have a catch up with our OCR family, the day ended up being longer than expected and when it was time for the final we were all glad to be coming to the end of nearly 10 kilometres of sprinting!
At this point my ankle was becoming increasingly painful and although I started well, keeping pace with Sam (Rippington), jumping down from the hangover wall I felt my ankle worsen and by the time I got to the log carry I was in unbelievable pain…. I had to retire. Poor Tom Nash who had been filming myself and Sam at this point was then on the receiving end of my tears of pain and frustration, poor guy I think he was glad he could run on and continue filming whilst I limped my way back to the start.
Sam went on to finish at a phenomenal speed and was brilliant to watch. At the prize giving ceremony never have I seen two people so pleased to be handed a log! Ross Brackley was a deserved winner for the men with his running always seeming so effortless and his skill over obstacles fantastic to watch.
The day ended with everyone being awarded a medal and a rather speedy relay race between teams around the sprint course whilst anyone not taking part tucked into the truly scrumptious barbecue food. All in all a brilliant first attempt at what has the potential to be an amazing OCR in the future. Wild Forest are already planning the next event and more locations are being lined up for the Mudstacle sprint series as you read this.
Unfortunately at the end of the day I did have to hand back my Alex vest but we have vowed to be back in the future to take on another OCR as Brocket Gears Alex and Alex.