I trust those of you with your finger on the pulse of all things UK OCR will have seen the recent and widely varied feedback about The Bigfoot Challenge of last weekend. I can only talk of my personal experience. I’m not going to get into the petty lies and drama, because, quite simply, I have bigger and scarier things to worry about.
To cut a long story short, last weekend, Remy and I went camping in Pippingford Park. I raced a 6k, a 12k and an 18k, partook in campfire chats and dirty burgers, and I had a fantastic time.
Bigfoot wasn’t really on my radar until Mud7, where I fell in love with the simplistic nature of the obstacles. They seemed to remain challenging, and just that little bit too difficult to fly through, but weren’t daunting, complicated affairs at all. After some brief exchanges with the effervescent RD and a much welcome 50% discount (because the original pricing was WAY out of my league), I decided I’d come and do the 12k. Then there was chat about a special award for doing all three races, and then I couldn’t help myself from signing up from all three.
The run wasn’t particularly well attended on Saturday, which was to be expected given the fact that it was a new race on the block, and an otherwise busy race weekend. In retrospect, this was probably a good thing, as a lot of no-show marshals rendered the course start very shaky – the entertainment was late, the registration hurried and incomplete, the course unmanned in some areas and the start time delayed. I feel most people in this situation, knowing that a race is in its infancy, would take it on the chin. Most did. Some whined from the second they hit the start paddock. Deciding I had precicely no time for that, I took the late start as an opportunity for another nap, sent Remy off to marshal the course with the lovely Gareth, and had a banana.
Soon enough, the warm-up was underway. It felt a little too enthusiastic for a rainy Saturday morning, and I had a serious case of the can’t-be-arseds, so I didn’t warm up as much as I ought to have done. Nevertheless, I had a nice little jog into the absolutely stunning scenery that is Pippingford, and along with my runpal Jodi, I woke up. The terrain was out of this world. I kept going, “WOW, this is AMAAAAZING”, which I’m sure was pretty annoying to those around me, but if you can picture what it would look like if you plonked a Disney Princess in a pretty forest, that’s how I was acting.
The terrain, whilst pretty push-button was well used, with undulating, crossing paths, including little jumps over fallen logs. The much anticipated rope traverses were plentiful and totally handleable, although they were pretty sapping on my fourth go on them.
The only major criticism of these obstacles in particular was the fact that the dangerous one, over a shallow stream, was not manned by a marshal. It’s a miracle nobody fell, because if someone had done, I would not have liked to be Bigfoot’s lawyer. That aside, these obstacles were fun, challenging and just what I expected from the course. Another big shout has to go to the log carry, which was developed by Gary Ticehurst. It was a maze of genius twists and turns, and left no space for compromising with crappy little twigs. I looked forward to it every time I started a lap. These little bits are what made Bigfoot so great – I knew a lot of heart and a lot of teamwork had gone into creating the course. I am so loathe to criticise it for that reason – it’s a fledgeling company, and one that has had a rocky start what with course builders dropping out and thoughtless people trashing course tape. When you couple that with rookie errors like not rechecking the course in the early morning, or not having enough portaloos or toilet roll, it can make an event seem disastrous, but it wasn’t.
I threw myself into the course, and had a lovely time with Jodi, even when the little shit tried to break my leg about three times by kicking sticks at me and standing on me in a suspended cargo net. We had a great laugh, and were suitably challenged by the curious course markings and the obstacles in the village towards the end of the course. And, it goes without saying that the scenery was utterly breathtaking. I honestly don’t think it matters that you don’t have a timing chip when you’re having a Saturday morning run through a herd of wild ponies atop a heather strewn hill. But, to be fair, had I paid full price for the event, I would have been singing a different tune.
The RD and his wonderful family were onsite throughout the weekend, working tirelessly to iron over cracks in the course, boost morale and feed the troops. You couldn’t have asked for a more hands-on team of volunteers and everyone cared deeply about the success of the event. They were understandably hurt when people trashed the event, but not one of them shied away from constructive criticism, which is how we all grow.
As for my little journey, I cracked on with the 6k fairly swiftly, before finishing my day battling wasps from my tent, snuggling my dog and trying to avoid setting my clothes on fire.
I slept like a log. Remy was so exhausted that she was like a little furry sandbag on my legs all night, so thankfully we were both fresh for the 18k the next morning.
Sunday was busier, and was much smoother from start to finish, because lessons were learned, taken on board, and acted upon until the wee hours of the morning. This made for a much less stressful day for the team, and a better experience for the runners. It also helped that more marshals stayed true to their word and turned up.
All that remained was for me to conquer a new nemesis: the weaver. After having fallen off it twice, I was determined to get myself over, under, over, under, over and under it again. It’s something I’ll need to be able to complete at Worlds, so I was furious with myself and eager to succeed. A brilliant, brilliant marshal was on hand to coach me through it, encourage me and basically babysit me through it, and I’ll always be grateful for such attentive help. So thank you, Gavin, it’s thanks to you that I eventually did it, even if I did actually eat bark in the process.
Feet throbbing, and knees just beginning to complain, I finished the triple challenge with a very sad log roll up a hill. I had barely any strength left, so dragging it down was a challenge of an almost biblical proportion. Still, I did it, I’m alive, and most importantly, I had a bloody good time doing it.
- Speedcross 3s – my feet are still miserable, but I didn’t fall over
- Nike Antiblister socks – still no blisters
- ByMoxy leggings – didn’t rip despite serious punishment!
- UnderArmour Heatgear leggings – definitely ripped. RIP leggings.
- More Mile / Nike Pro Combat compression tops – did the job!
- Tech tees
- Various wrags
- ByMoxy R:OCR sleeves – absolutely saved my arms. I would have been trashed without them, and they didn’t rip despite seriously rough obstacles.
Cheap and tasty sausages and burgers, awesome medal and technical tee shirt. Massage on site was a very nice touch.
I sincerely hope that people stick with Bigfoot and make sure it’s on their calendar for next year. I know the team have done, and will continue to work on making their event slicker, and it’s just too good for people to give up on because of a bit of bad press.
Bigfoot is the next big thing. You heard it here first.