I can’t believe I’m in the Thames: London River Rat

After my first foray into OCR at Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest, I had barely showered before grabbing a cup of tea and the laptop to search out other races. It was here that I stumbled upon River Rat, and I signed up within seconds.

Whilst I’m not much bothered about swimming itself; inflatable obstacles, kayaking and splashing about with gay abandon are absolutely my bag, baby.  From the get-go I was really excited about this race, which I’m going to stop calling a race, because let’s face it, I pootled around like an excited toddler.

As it’s Rat Race, everything was pretty well organised and set out on the day.  Registration and bag drop were simples; in fact the only thing that was marginally difficult was navigating through about 30,000 Jehova’s Witnesses at the convention centre for an event.

The Course

Set in London’s picturesque docklands, the River Rat took us from The Excel arena around the river, over bridges and past a lot of tantalisingly close food trucks.  The start was a quick hype-and-off-you-go affair, and the course started out with a decent run to separate us all out. I’m going to say now that if you want to run for time and glory, go to the front of the first wave. Otherwise, forget about it.  The course necessitates a lot of off/on with buoyancy aids, and you have to stop to pick up kayak paddles etc.  Whilst I didn’t experience any massive tailbacks, I did see queues on the course, and this is inevitable when marshals have to keep you safe around water.

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Big Love to Tony Jarvis for these ace photographs

Those familiar with Rat Race won’t have seen any surprises on the land based course – inverted walls, scaffold climbs, walks and crawl unders feature heavily in these urban events.  On the water there was an array of inflatables, including sausages, tunnels, dinghies and inflatable tyre inners that had us ducking, diving, crawling, jumping and landing unceremoniously on.  And IT. WAS. BRILLIANT.  These were easily the most fun parts of the course, and the water added to the difficulty levels, but also the novelty value. Water temperature was okay, and the water didn’t taste like Shrek’s breakfast, so I’m feeling pretty happy about the whole experience.

The ‘big’ obstacles came in the form of a brilliant 50ft water slide, some utterly useless (wet) monkey bars, and a 20ft jump into the Victoria Dock.  I have to say, a lot of people bottled this, but I was proud to see a great deal of people facing their fears and getting on with it.  I hate jumping into water only because it gives me terrible earache, but the inevitable ear infection was worth it to have done such a fun race.

Loping along in around an hour and a half, resident team bad lass Jodi and her pal Lauren accompanied me on my Saturday morning jaunt, and I was very pleased to have some company to laugh along with. This wasn’t a course I wanted to take seriously, rather enjoy and take in the unique elements of a predominantly water based event.

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Flyin’ Lion

The Kit

  • Salomon X-Scream
  • Nike Pro Anti Blister
  • Nike Pro 3/4 tights
  • Compressport calf guards
  • Tech tee
  • Pink VS Headband

Kit was bang on. The weather looked ominious at first but it was lovely, and despite a little choppy wind I was absolutely fine on the running sections. The X-Screams were great as I actually feel a bit unsafe running in road trainers at any event now!

The Goods

Sturdy tech tee and medal, water, haribo, drinks and a £10 donation to Shelter with your entry.

The Verdict

A brilliantly fun event. Probably not the sort of thing you want to be huffing and puffing around competitively, mainly because you wouldn’t have as much fun.  Well organised and still pretty unique as courses go. The atmosphere was good, and it’s gratifying to have that tie-in with Shelter so you feel as though you’re doing some good whilst you hoon around on inflatables. Excited for next year!

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