Operation Blackhawk South Australia Race Report – by Obstacle Racer Penelope Sommers

Australian Obstacle Racing News   |   Feb 25, 2013

Get Certified Tough.

On 17/2 a group of elite obstacle racers were invited by to put Operation Blackhawk’s “Combat Fitness Challenge” to the test.  Run at Wonga Park, Victoria (opening in other states this year), Operation Blackhawk’s Combat Fitness Challenge includes an assault course followed by the 12.83k SAS combat fitness test which is run in full combat gear (including pack and weapon).

On arrival we were kitted up in full genuine military camo gear, webbing and even face cam then later issued certified training weapons and packs – 5kg (Recruit), 10kg (Combat Soldier) or 20kg (Bad Ass Special Forces!) – depending on our fitness levels.  Most of us are a bit crazy so opted for the 20kg option!  Bring it on!

We were given a full military style briefing of what the day entailed and were then broken up into two competing “fire teams” (Charlie Team and Delta Team) and raced out to the 1km assault course, which was completed carrying webbing and weapons minus 20kg packs. Obstacles along the course included water crossing, walls, tunnels, mudpits, monkeybars, log crossing to name but a few. This is designed as warm up and team building activity. Obstacles weren’t a huge challenge more fun and a chance to get to know your team.

Now the real fun was about to begin… we were kitted up with our packs ( yes 20kg as I said earlier!!!!)  and weapon and sent off to complete the 12.83km run/combat fitness test.  12.83kms… how hard can that be?

There is a 5hr limit to complete the course. Our aim was to complete the run distance in under 1hr 50mins, this places you into the elite category of SAS special forces.  Most of are identified as Elite Obstacle Course Racers, however we are from differing fitness backgrounds including running, crossfit, endurance events and triathlons, (it would be fair to say that most of us are at the top of our game)… but this 20 kilo – Bad Ass Special Forces option pushed us to a new level!  -  It was a new playing field for many of us.

This wasn’t just any 12.83kms, at the pace we pushed at, it was a killer. The Terrain consisted of single trails, dirt roads hills, lots of hills then up over a ridge and back down to the river. The terrain was challenging, the 20kg pack was heavy and uncomfortable it was 34deg… all in all it was mentally challenging, it was tough to keep going, my body hurt I wanted it to end, (I loved the feeling!).

This was a challenge on a whole new level for me. Even though it was an individual challenge, completing it with the others created a great sense of mate-ship and camaraderie, we had all gone through the same hell!  We had challenged, achieved and were now bragging!  Three of us made it in under 1hr 50 the rest of us not far behind, all well within the 5hr limit.  It was most certainly tough but made tougher for our group as we pushed ourselves to our limits having expectations of all finishing under the SAS qualifying time all whilst carrying our 20kg packs!!!  On completion of the course we were all Certified Tough by the lead instructor! – I have a certificate to prove it!

Missions are set up to cater for all fitness levels with a 5hr cut off time and the choice of 5, 10 and 20kg packs. Yes it can be hardcore but it’s up to the individual as to how hard/far they push themselves. It’s a personal challenge and most certainly character building.  However, it goes without saying that this is also the perfect team building activity, encouraging mates or work colleagues to support and encourage each other to achieve and get to that finish line.

I am still buzzing from the adrenalin rush of finishing the Combat Fitness Challenge!

A great day was had by all the Obstacle Racers. We all crossed that finish line and all left feeling battered and bruised by the end, but with an immense sense of achievement!  A number of us are keen to go back and get that qualifying time.

The team at Operation Blackhawk were professional, friendly and encouraging… they made us all feel very welcome.  There’s a great feed at the end coupled with a debrief and chat.

It was a challenging but great day.  If you want to be challenged then I recommend this mission for you!

Thanks to Operation Blackhawk and to my fellow operatives for such an amazing challenging experience.

They run missions regularly, so check their site for details.