Indoor Obstacle Course Racing
Obstacle Course Racing is such a varied sport. Every course is different and the toughness is often gauged on the distance, coldness and amount of mud and water.
Well Urban Attack has no mud, no water, the distance is only 900 meters and it is held indoors. Sounds easy right? What if I told you their slogans are ‘it’s the hardest minute per minute OCR out there’ and ‘it’s a sprint but harder than a marathon’?
Upon arriving at the National BMX Arena in Manchester and first setting my eyes on the course it was clear to see there would be nothing easy about this event. Massive ramps, huge walls and continues sloping humps together with a strict qualifying and elimination process mean it would be flat out racing from start to finish.
Coming from a middle distance track running background where I have often raced indoors going through several rounds in the same day or over a weekend coupled with my obstacle course racing experience I felt I was well equipped to do well here and going through the practice lap I had no problem on any of the daunting looking obstacles.
Everyone got one hour to practice going round the course lap as many times as they wished. I chose to do my normal warm up routine which included going for a run outside the venue before going round just one lap to get my bearings. Then the real racing began.
In the first round the fastest 50% of the near 200 competitors would go through to the quarter finals. The top 25% from heat one went straight through so could catch a break with everyone else getting a second chance in heat two where the next fastest 25% would join the next round. I had a good run starting fairly relaxed trying not to get caught up in racing at this early stage then pushed the pace on a bit and finished the lap in 3 mins 34 secs which was the 9th quickest time.
In the quarter finals only a further 10% were to be knocked out so I felt it was wise to take this round a bit easier trying to conserve energy for the semi. I cruised round in a relaxed 3 mins 54 secs which was still good enough for the 15th best time.
The rest period between rounds was getting sorter and the racing was getting more serious. In the semis only the top 15 fastest times would progress to the final which would be ran in two races. The fastest 8 and the remaining 7. I wanted a place in that fastest final so knew I had to push for it this time. I managed to improve my time to 3 mins 30 secs and win my race with a well judged run which was rewarded with the 6th fastest time. (Race video below)
Almost immediately we were called up again for the final. Luckily for us men they decided to run the ladies first who went in three races of five giving us a much needed break before going flat out again in the fourth and final competitive lap of the day.
There were a couple of guys who had recorded times 15 to 20 seconds faster than anyone else all day but everyone else in the race were separated by the smallest of margins and in this event there was absolutely no room to error meaning it was still anyone’s race to win and lose.
All the other rounds had involved give people in each heat so 8 was going to be tight on what was quite a narrow course which made it even more competitive. A good start was crucial. It was down a steep ramp and over hay bales before a huge overhanging wall. This wall wouldn’t fit all 8 of is on it at once so it was be a case of first come first serve. I managed to get there in around 4th to 5th position ensuring a clear run.
One competitor (last years winner) had flew off gaining a substantial lead as everyone else laid chase. I tried to keep close order but the first three were getting away.
By the half way point my legs were really starting to feel the burn but I was giving it all I had to stay in contention. I moved well over the next few obstacles including monkey bars and a cargo net climb and as I reached the last of the two net crawls I was right behind 5th place and we were closing fast on the early leader.
The first two were away and gone but third place was still up for grabs. There was just a hurdle and one large wall run with a big drop down to go followed by the big finishing ramp. I could quite catch those in front and ended up in 6th position but recorded my fastest time of the day with a 3 min 28 secs clocking.
In the second final the winner recorded also recorded 3 mins 28 secs but was a couple of tenths fastest so I moved back to 7th.
On the day I couldn’t have given anymore as I did manage to improve my times through the rounds I couldn’t be too disappointed with my position. I’d had great fun and absolutely loved the format and competitiveness of this event.