I’d heard about the games before, having been signed up to take part a few years previously but unfortunately life got in the way and it didn’t happen.
I knew that the concept was a mix between CrossFit and OCR, but I had no further idea what to expect. I quickly replied, stating I was probably going to be crap but as long as she was ok with that I was up for it!
The months passed in a blur, to be honest I loved having a goal to work towards, a definite deadline, in an unfamiliar sport, partnered up with someone who I did NOT want to let down meant that I attacked my training with gusto.
Until…One month before the games, and my dodgy back that was a gift from my daughter flared up. Annoyingly not from training, but from playing in the park. I’d been really careful and consistent with training, not overloading my back, no stupidly heavy weights, and avoiding things which I knew it didn’t like, such as kettle bell swings and deadlifts.
The last month before the games was spent resting my back, seeing my excellent physio, and rueing the pirate park at the end of my road.
I’m not going to lie, I was a bit wary about the games in the weeks leading up, we’d been sent a fair amount of information, what each game was and what the workout was, but close to the event these changed, due to difficulty in sourcing equipment, to logistics. Personally it made me feel like the organisation was a little off, but I was also confused as to why we’d been given so much information to start with -especially when things weren’t set in stone- but I guess that’s coming from an OCR background when all you know is the start time, and the location of the race, the particulars are not often released beforehand.
A few of the games worried me, in particular one named “Brutal Beat Down”. This game consisted of 10 deadlift of 55KG, and 60M of 20KG ball slams. Shortly before the event this changed to 30KG, which I tell you, I was not pleased about! Fortunately for me Emily not only enjoys, but is excellent at Deadlifts. I know right now I can’t manage 55kg with my back, so we agreed to split this game so that I would the majority of the ball slams, and she would do all the deadlifts.
The one game I was excited for was the assault course, and luckily for us, this was the game we started with.
The day was beautiful, no rain, and a clear sky. We pitched our gazebo and set up camp. I was woefully underprepared, bringing only a small backpack with warm clothes, and some lunch. Emily however had the works: a blanket, chair, table, litres of water.
We were set up next to the assault course and viewed it warily, as competitors scrambled over it to calls of “OFF THE EQUIPMENT PLEASE”, it was at this time that an OCRWC policy of anyone playing on equipment gets DQ’d would’ve worked.
Checking it out I was disappointed to see no monkey bars or rings, and the course looked pretty basic, but that didn't mean it would be easy.
At the briefing we learnt that one of the obstacles required you to climb up the inside and back down, this would be the only upper body obstacle. Apparently it was the hardest course they’d made yet, and so the points for this game would weigh more than the rest… excellent!
However, in an email earlier in the week they stated that next year they’ll be putting an OCR on on the Sunday, if this course was considered to be difficult, I’m not sure what they’d do for a full OCR, and how the community would welcome it.
The start was a little frantic, do we start at our change over posts, or the start line? Before I had time to decide the bell had gone and I was off. I sped ahead of the crowd to get a head start, leaping through the stepping tyres and over thermal walls before the first proper obstacle. This was one that only took 4 people at a time, and with 26 teams in a wave, being stuck at the back would be a big disadvantage.
I climbed up and monkey barred down, over the jacks, a small wall, and then a large wall. Sternum checker, tight to the ground cargo nets (UGH), over-under-through, some traverse walls and time to tag in Emily for her go of the 600m course. The goal was to get as many rounds of the course in as possible, with a ten or twenty burpee penalty for any failed obstacles.The day was hot, and i was already tired after one round, but elated to have been the first woman round, and only 4th or 5th overall to finish the first round.
My second go passed without incident, but stupidly I hadn’t been timing how long each round took us, when Emily returned from her second go round I was sure I could get in one more half round and I ran with all my might. I passed the halfway mark with the 90second warning bell in my ear and in my haste I stumbled on the high wall. The time it took me to recover lost me the opportunity to try to finish the round but I was pleased I had hit my goal. I had to remind myself, we were there to complete, not to compete.
Our biggest error in that round was to not keep an eye on the time and not have a goal of what we wanted to achieve. My aim was to end the day knowing I’d done everything I could, and pushed as hard as I could, but a missed opportunity was tough!
The next game we faced was called strength and honour. A horrible conception of tyre flips and drags. We worked in a team to flip, and swapped on the drags. My concern on this game was how hard it was to achieve not only a full round, but a half round. It took a LOT more effort to achieve more points, and at the end of this game I was dead, and wasn’t sure how I would continue the day.
One more game until we had a break for lunch, and this time we were back to the cardio. VO2 Max was the name, and the idea was to travel as far as we could on a static bike in 9 minutes, and as many shuttle runs as possible in 9 minutes. Our strategy was to switch every two minutes on the bike, not wanting to waste too much time switching, but not wanting to stay on for so long that we couldn’t keep the pace up. The star of the show here was Emily who pushed in the final minute to get us up to 4 miles, her legs moving so fast they were almost a blur!
Originally this game had been a 1 mile run and then the bike for the remainder. I’m not sure which I would’ve preferred: I do hate shuttle runs, but we also each got a break this way!
A can of Coke, usually forbidden, at lunch perked me up, and I knew I’d need it as tha afternoon was heavy.
Someone told me at this point that the scores were online and were updated after each game which I thought was great, for someone who loves data it allowed me to see how we were doing and give us a goal. We had always aimed for the top 50% and currently we were hitting that, which was a much needed boost.
The first game post lunch was the dreaded Brutal Beat Down, again Emily smashed it out of the park with her unbelievable deadlifts: fast and perfect to form each time. Actually, I wouldn’t have minded if she could’ve gone a little slower and given me a break!
My job was to shift the 30KG ball 30m down the field and 30m back, by throwing it. I was concerned for my back but I managed to get it onto my shoulder and heft it down the field. Sadly each time on my return journey I needed Emilys help on one, or more often, two of the throws.
I was excited for the final game: I’d had an amazing day, and had been surprised by what I had achieved, and hopefully hadn’t let my teammate down, and I was also looking forward to a sit down and a brew! My back was pretty sore, as was my shoulder (an idiotic sleep related injury from earlier in the week) but it was all holding out.
I’d been so concerned with the previous game I hadn’t been concentrating on this one, the Unconventional Beast. This game required one team to carry 3 objects to a line 20m away, run back, tag in their mate, who would themselves run to line where the items were, and bring them back.
A sandbag, a log, and a keg. A 35KG keg, filled with liquid. Ah.
Emily went to ask the marshall if one member could do more than one trip in a row. After some conferring it was decided yes they could. So basically, if I totally wrecked my back on this last game, which was possible, we could still carry on…or Emily could anyway.
20m is a short distance, so it gets covered pretty quickly, but you also get knackered really quickly when carrying those objects. The hardest part for me was picking up the 35kg keg, and making sure I was holding it in a way that didn’t cause me injury.
We got through the game with no incident, Emily speeding through her turns like lightning, giving me no time to rest. As they started the countdown she finished her round and I though F**k it, I’m going to fit one more in. I hefted up the keg and sprinted for dear life: you could see on Emily & Rachelannes face that they didn’t know where this had come from. Throwing down the keg I ran back for the log, and got it 3/4 to the line before time was called. I was pretty close to thundering at this point, but once I got my breath back I lamented all the pauses I’d taken before lifting, or when I could’ve run faster, as all I’d needed was another 20seconds and we would’ve got another round in!
As we packed up and left we checked the results, we’d come in 22nd out of 50, so we’d definitely managed top 50%, and swore next year we would achieve top 20.
In the next few days as I looked at the results I realised how those two extra half rounds on the first and last games would’ve changed our placings, and it’s hard not to beat yourself up, but that’s all part of the game right?
All in all, it was a seamlessly run day. My worries were for nothing, the organisers had everything in hand, the marshals were great and on the ball, and whilst it was tough, it was really good fun. The weather certainly helped (the next day was raining and grim so we were lucky) but good weather always helps.
I’ll be excited to sign up again next year, and look forward to seeing what the team deliver.