Obstacle Races: love em or hate em?

After my first rather saddening attempt at an off-road race I didn’t do anymore for a few years and stuck to the roads. Nothing serious mind you, the odd 10km and the Robin Hood Half Marathon.  Through my outdoor fitness classes with Bmf I heard about the 10km Major Series. This was when obstacle races were a relatively new thing and there wasn’t a new even muddier one popping up faster than you can say “band-wagon”.

I signed up with my mate Stubbsy (check his musings out at @stubbsyblog) and off we trudged to Bramham Park up in Yorkshire. Luckily it was one of those stunning October days, a crisp blue skied morning that was warming up nicely.  The course was loads of fun, wading through streams and lakes, crawling through mud and heaving yourself up banks and over hay bales. By far the best part had to be the ‘wet n wild’ slide at the end, think plastic sheeting and fairy liquid and that’s about right. The race was such a laugh I signed up to do another in March 2014. To my amazement I came 1st female and 24th overall. Looking back, these races don’t necessarily attract your seasoned off-road fell and trail runners, but because you should NEVER dumb down an achievement I was chuffed to bits. My first ever win really felt like quite an achievement.

Before and after, I don’t think white was a good tshirt colour choice

Since then, new obstacle races seem to crop up in almost every town and city across the country.  I’ve heard a lot of people gripe and moan about them, that they’re not proper races and each one is just trying to be nastier than the previous and the entry fee can often be astronomical. However, you can’t object to their popularity. They have become an industry in their own right with clothing and gear being designed specifically for such events. Some dedicated guys and gals have become experts at these races, hell there is even an Obstacle Course World Championship!

For me, I think it was a natural merging of outdoor fitness training with running. As running was my real passion, I haven’t competed in any further obstacle races and probably won’t. Many fell races provide their own natural obstacles with stream and river crossings, rocks and tree roots to negotiate plus no end of mud if that really is your thing! Personally that provides enough of a challenge without adding the risk of mild electrocution, barbed wire cuts or leaping about on giant pink space hoppers (seriously, that was part of the Major Series). However, I think they have their place and are definitely a good laugh if you don’t take them too seriously and participate with a good bunch of people.

Until next time lovely people x




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