Back to where it all began.
It was the same race at the same venue but three years on since my very first ever obstacle course race I certainly wasn’t the same runner. Back then I still considered myself as a middle distance track runner, 10k as a long way and other than the odd cross country race mud wasn’t something I was accustomed to.
Fast forward 36 months I’m now fast approaching 40 OCR’s having ran 28 miles at Relentless Suffering (https://chrislambracingdiary.wordpress.com/2016/03/18/relentless-suffering-12-03-16/) 7 days previous and I’m never more happy than slogging through thick mud.
It was to be a very busy weekend as I’d already signed up for a 2.5k swimathon that evening and I was due in the capital the following morning for the North London half marathon. Due to this it wasn’t until a couple of days before that I decided to enter Mucky Race’ Sole Destroyer.
It’s a race I feel I should always attend if I possibly can to mark an anniversary that has become a significant factor in my life. OCR has given me so much more than just another sport to participate in.
In truth, I only really took it up as a way of rekindling my running mojo having hit a stumbling block in what has always been my main event, 800m track racing. It’s well and truly served that purpose as well as opening up a whole world of new opportunities and beginnings.
I’ve met some amazing people, ran some epic races, been an event promotor, volunteer supervisor, training programme creator, race reviewer, media article writer and blogger. I’ve co founder my very own training group and racing team and become a sponsored athlete with RunFlex.
OCR gave me the chance to fly to America to represent my country making history in the sport’s first ever world championships and it’s certainly given me my competitive edge back. In fact that came when finishing 2nd at the Sole Destroyer back in 2013. I won a year later and was hoping for the same result this time round.
Although I now travel all over the UK for races this one is very local which is maybe another reason why it feels so much like home for me. This isn’t the biggest or the toughest race on the circuit by any means but it’s fun and friendly and still acts as a good challenge weather you’re like I was 3 years ago in your first race or an experienced hand as I am now. There is also now a kids race which I feel is always a great extra added addition at any event and something I really enjoy doing with my little girl.
Although short on manmade obstacles the natural terrain offers a testing run and the recent floods in the area only intensified that. Plenty go cargo net crawls meant getting muddy from head to toe was a given and lots of water crossings on what was a cold March day really tested the ability to cope with the elements.
I was moving at a good pace throughout with a very strong runner taking the race on early with me giving chase. Although it might have been fitting to finish in the same position as I did on my debut having come 2nd in my two previous races I was even more determined than usual to get the win and as we waded waste deep through the longest of the lake crossings I began to close the gap.
Next up was a 7 foot wall and the first real test of obstacle strength. I got over without trouble taking the lead for the first time. From here I pushed on through a winding forest and up and over a succession of small dipping hills before coming back into the main open field with the finish area in sight.
I thought there might have been another smaller lap coming as it didn’t feel like I was approaching 10k but before I knew it I was in the final straight. The last obstacle was by far the biggest requiring a climb up a large medal structure, a roll over the suspended netting and a clamber back down. At the top I had a little look back to see the second placed runner was still quite close behind me but with the finish line only a few steps away I had an uncatchable lead.
I was greeted home with a t-shirt & medal (something they didn’t give out on the last two occasions) and the information that I’d ran a rather fast time of just under 34 minutes. This left me feeling very suspect about the true race distance which I later found of was approximately 2k short. The organisers blamed this on having to change the course at short notice due to the floods from the previous week. I do sympathise with them in part but feel it wouldn’t have been too difficult to add another little section of repeat a small part of the route to make up for this. After the previous week’s race at the Suffering was so far over distance it does raise an issue as to weather the sport should have some proper guidelines in place with regards to course measurements.
All in all though I’m very glad I made the decision to race the Sole Destroyer both on this day and as my first OCR. It’s a great introduction level event that also offers a challenge to all levels of ability. I truly believe, like most things, you get from it as much as you put into it and for me I might not have ever even found obstacle course racing had it not been for this event so for that I will be forever thankful.