For the first time in 2 years, I had an obstacle course race last weekend. Sunday 15 Oct, North Molton (N Devon), “Mission: Unbreakable”, 10km. In support of North Devon Hospice charity.
I’ll start by saying that I loved it. Highly recommended, this is now my second favourite OCR. Having completed Tough Guy (Summer and Winter), Rat Race Dirty Weekend, Brutal 10km, Spartan Beast, and Rock Solid Race, I can compare and contrast evenly. With Spartan Beast at the bottom, and Rock Solid Race at the top, this comes a very healthy second.
Billed as “definitely not a race”, I should have paid more attention to the blurb about it being a team event. Arriving without a team, I was pretty stand-up obvious. Being as competitive as I am, I also wasn’t going to let “not a race” hold me back, but I’ll get to that.
On arrival, we were greeted, marshalled, and warmed up by the highly enthusiastic and professional support team of 24 Commando Royal Engineers. Throughout, they were excellent, encouraging and very humorous. Big B.Z. to them!
Registration was smooth, well controlled and swift. With none of the “village” (stalls, shops, etc) to divert the attentions, it was clear where to be and when. After check in, and the beautiful mock-camouflage t-shirt, we were funneled into a holding pen, awaiting our turn to begin.
Not A Race. In the spirit of the event, we were “cammed up” by on-hand soldiers; seeing my t-shirt, they let me do my own face painting. We then received a safety brief, again articulating the “not a race” message, a thorough, and very good natured warm-up from the physical training instructors, and were off. There was no starting pistol, no horn, no timings chips…we simply strolled off.
- Shoes: Inov-8
- Compression Tights: Sub Zero
- Shorts: New Balance
- T-Shirt: 30 Commando IX Group
The Not Race. Well, that was weird. Somewhat disorientated by the start, I bimbled off with “The A Team”, a four person crew of 3rd-timers. We hit the first obstacle, some monkey bars, together but their team leader quickly identified that I was champing at the bit to get moving and so told me not to wait around. So, picking up the pace, I opened it up and found myself crawling through mud, under barbed wire, over hay bails, up ropes, across chasms, against strong water flow, up lots of hills, down an extremely long water slide, through ice baths, over fire, and scaling cargo nets. There was all the usual fayre that you would expect.
Unlike my Spartan experience, this was all highly professional, well-marshalled and safe. As I had no team, I did take safety in to my own hands on one occasion though – the telegraph pole carry. It was supposed to be a minimum of a 2 man-lift, following a short course. Unperturbed by lack of anyone around me, I lifted and carried it myself. The same was true on the tyre flips although arguably it was only a 1-man lift for that really. Where I joined another team was for the paintball event (awesome!).
The Difference. For me, what made this event standout was the team nature of it. All the way round, I got to chat to teams from far and wide who were there to help each other through it. Their collective humour was infectious. The marshalls and 24 Commando soldiers absolutely bought in to the humour side of it all. The level of encouragement was absolutely fantastic and for me it places this event high on my list of “must repeat”.
Improvements. For me (for Mrs Nomad and the Team Nomad), one change could have been made. By giving out a map of the course, and permission to allow people to watch at certain locations would have made the world of difference to the supporters. In my case, they ‘only’had to wait an hour before I popped up at the water-slide and then the ice bath. Other than that, there was nowhere to view the event which meant a long wait for many before their athletes returned. It’s a no-cost, huge return change that really would make a difference.
Time. 1 hr 13 mins. Of course, it wasn’t a race 😉
Thank you. A big thank you goes to North Devon Hospice, 24 Commando Royal Engineers, and to the sponsors. I will be returning to this event next year, family with me to take part!