Men’s Health: Survival of the Fittest

MHSOTF was my first ever OCR.  After a bout of ill health I’d had to defer Tough Mudder, which was to be my first foray into getting dirty for fun.

Let’s just start by saying I was woefully unprepared.  I was still technically anaemic, absolutely knackered and not 100% sure that I could run even 3k let alone 10k.  But I’m not one for giving up.  By way of training I had completed ONE bootcamp in the park before spending about three weeks doing relays between my bed and the sofa.  Nevertheless I arrived at Wembley pretty excitable and ready for my baptism of fire, or water, or mud.  Whatever.

The Course

The route was, I learned, more urban than your average OCR.  It was less of a mud race, more a fusion of scaffold based obstacles with a gentle park run.  And I was fine with that.  As someone who had learned absolutely no technique, the bales and impressively built walls formed a decent enough challenge for me.  Fences were used as innovative hurdles, a huge lorry made an appearance, and a sadistic hose wielder made up for a lack of natural water sources as we crawled under some fencing on the raw tarmac.  Making the most of the impressive urban landscape, we ran up and down the outdoor ramps and stairs, at times carrying traffic cones.  For a non-runner, this was no mean feat, but it was by no means impossible.

Eventually the course took us out through an industrial estate and over into Brent Park, which was a lovely stretch of running… and I say that sincerely, because around then, I would probably have rather stuck my head in a jar of beetles than run around the streets of Wembley. Or anywhere, for that matter.  I don’t doubt that this run was a piece of cake for people who prefer running to, well, cake, but it was a nice jaunt for me, although not overly challenging.  The river banks added a really cool challenge, and the water wades were fun, well marshalled and made great use of the landscape.  Had one slightly hairy moment when I almost went A over T over a rogue iron girder, but hey, I’m sure that happens all the time.  The only vaguely unpleasant part was feeling totally disorientated when running through an unlit storm drain; feeling your vision tunnelling out without allowing yourself to get accustomed to the darkness is deeply weird, and you have to put a lot of faith in your feet to get you out.  Luckily by this point I had become BFFs with a chap named Spencer, who trudged through this portion with me, and basically kept me sane and paced for the rest of the run.  He was an excellent chap.

Getting back to Wembley took us rather unceremoniously through a local car park (not that I was expecting a red carpet but…) and into some heavy duty man-made obstacles such as cargo nets and an absolute behemoth of a wall series.  Volunteers gladly offered up knees and shoulders for me to stamp on, and with the exception of a few bottlenecks around a couple of these obstacles, it was plain sailing through the final killing fields before the rather ominous final wall, which I elegantly fell off.

The Goods

This being my first OCR, I thought it was just the norm to have a twinpack of lube in the goody bag.  Apparently it isn’t.  But I did enjoy the various snacks, medal-cum-bottle opener and excellent tech tee provided.  They treat us well, do Rat Race.  Early bird discounts make this race quite reasonable, but I booked on to it fairly late in the game, so I paid around £60.

The Kit

I wore:

  • More Mile trainer socks
  • More Mile Cheviot Two trainers
  • Nike Pro Dri-Fit 3/4 tights
  • Nike Pro Hyperwarm long sleeved crew neck
  • Tech tee
  • Nike headband
  • Hair in two french plaits

Literally zero qualms with this kit combination. I dried quickly, the tights survived a scraped knee without a scratch and didn’t need hoiking up once.  The shoes were sturdy, tight and comfortable.

The Verdict

An excellent, well organised and orchestrated first race – not terribly challenging for the seasoned OCRacer, but a good opportunity to test wall technique and experience a city-based race.  The event village was a good lark, and atmosphere was friendly and fun.  If you’re looking to drag Sandra from your accounting department for a taster OCR, this would suit you down to the ground.


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