Rat Race Dirty Weekend Review

International Obstacle Racing News   |   May 31, 2015

Obstacle Racers Australia were invited to the UK to participate in The Rat Race's 32km and 200 obstacle laden event in Stamford, UK by the Rat Race owner, Jim.

Jim is bringing out a "Survival of The Fittest" event to Sydney in December and wants us (Obstacle Racers Australia) on board to help promote the event.

Nigel and I decided to fly over to the UK to meet with Jim and experience the Rate Race Dirty Weekend first hand.

Arriving Thursday night, Jim had all our travel arrangements organized and we started our stay in a magnificent old English pub in Stamford. 

On Friday we shifted to the Rat Race camping ground for some "Glamping" (glamourous camping - as Jim put it).

Soon, the camping area filled up and over 3,500 people were now our canvas neighbours.

Friday was spent meeting fellow obstacle racers from all over Europe as well as checking out out some parts of the course, including the 140m monkey bar section.......wow!

On Friday night there was a World Record attempt for the biggest undie run.
Nigel and Bruce Superstar (my alter ego) in our Kmart Star Wars briefs, joined over a thousand crazy OCR lovers and ran the 1km course.

Neither of us had seen so many body parts jiggling and bouncing.

There were some ripper costumes, characters and an unbelievable party atmosphere, but unfortunately there were not enough semi naked people and the record remained unbeaten.

We listened to a few tunes in the main festival area and It capped off a great day.

Late on Friday night, we were told about 30 or so people (out of 6,500) had signed up to do the "Dirty Double'. That's 2 x laps of the 32km Rat Racer course.

These people (if successful) received a gold medal, presented on stage, in front of everyone, at the presentation ceremony on Sat night.

We wanted in!

Nige and I organised a transition spot in the 'Dirty Double Transition' area.

We did not know what to expect. 

We had both completed 70 miles at World Toughest Mudder before, so how hard could this be?

40 miles and 400 obstacles.

Tough - YES, but not impossible.

The only rule was that we had to complete our first lap in 5 hours, to then take off with the last wave of the day at 1pm. 

It sounded doable.

We were pumped and excited about what lay ahead on Saturday.

After a broken nights sleep in the camping area, we woke up bleary eyed, ready to rock'n'roll.

To say we were excited was an understatement.

We set up to run out with the first wave of the day at 8am, and bumped into Jon Albon (who would later win the race) in the start area. We wished him luck (not that he needed any.....he is the current OCR World Champ)

The countdown started...

3...... 2...... 1...... and we were off and running.

298 others were in that first wave and the atmosphere was electric.

We settled into a nice pace and conquered the hay bales, jumped over barriers, through cars, climbed walls and hit our first water section. A little wade through.

All good so far.

The weather was perfect. Not too hot, not too cold and being only 8am, the day was fairly still.

The first creek section was solid English grey mud. You had to crawl backwards under a cage with your mouth close to the wire cage, so as to actually breathe.

We emerged fully covered in mud! This is what we were there for!

Unfortunately Nigel smacked his head on a bit of wood in the creek. Let's hope it knocked some sense into him!

The cleverly designed course then took us into the water to wash off all the mud.

Before hitting the main water obstacles, we all donned mandatory life jacket vests, that also helped with flotation. A nice touch.

The water section involved several water wades at chest height/swims, climbing on and jumping off numerous pontoons (very energy sapping), a 6 metre water jump, a hug water slide that saw you accumulate massive speed and some balance work.

It was a tough section of the course, that required lots of energy and it did render us with goose bumps, due to the cold.

Soon, we were back running though and the body temp returned to normal.

We headed for more climbing of wooden structures, crawling under fences and hitting up rat like steel structures that made you twist and contort your body into unusual angles to squeeze through the gaps.

We were comfortable and having fun.

The atmosphere on course was good and participants were helping each other, as they do in OCR.

Always at the back of our minds though was that "finish under 5 hours" mission and those four big walls that we would need to climb to finish the course.

The two photos below show you how big the walls were

(That's Nigel in the red t-shirt.)

It gives you some perspective as to the height of this beast obstacle.

The run through the stinging nettles was interesting. If they touched you, the nettles stung!
Rumour has it, that several high profile elite racers had requested no stinging nettles on the course.

So what did the course designers do?

They put in a long run through stinging nettles. No favours to anyone in The Rat Race!

We continued on through the course, conquering obstacles like the "Bib Muncher", otherwise known as the tyre sandwich, roman rings, ascending monkey bars, numerous carries and balance beams, and a fun, head first detergent laden, water slide.

The funniest moment of the course, was as we were entering the monkey bar section.

A Dutch guy was putting his Go Pro into a condom. I nudged Nige and said "Look at this".
They Dutch guy looked up and told us that this was the safest spot for his Go Pro .......at that moment, the condom broke and his Go Pro fell out. I looked at him and said "Lucky that was only a Go Pro in there mate". 

No wonder the Dutch population is growing at a rapid rate!

We were about 3/4 of the way through the course now and we were going to have to really push, to finish within the five hour timeframe and start our 2nd lap of the course. 

To tell you the truth though, we were both battling fatigue. 

These big obstacles had taken their toll on us.

My hip was playing up and my run turned into a hobbling limp.

It was then, that we decided that we were not going to have the energy needed to complete the 2nd lap. 

As great as it sounded 24 hours earlier, reality had kicked in!

Check out the photo of some Rat Racer finshers' hands and legs.

This gives you some indication of how brutal the course was.

After deciding that 1 lap was going to see us out, we enjoyed the last part of the course and backed off the pace.

Fun obstacles like jumping castles, mini trampolines and water based wades led us into an unusual obstacle we had never seen before.

Affectionally known as "Jim's Fat Belly", (or "Wobbly Donger"), this obstacle required us to climb over it, and as you reached the top the obstacle, the weight forced the obstacle to shift on a hinge.

If you weren't hanging on, you got thrown to the ground. A pretty cool obstacle.

From there we crawled under the third last obstacle, while kids with water pistols drenched us. This was a great idea. It involved the kids and didn't they just love it!

The 4 x 12ft walls awaited us and I actually surprised myself by making it without any help. It required a lot of energy though and launching yourself on tired legs, was dicing with danger.
So, Nige and I did this another 3 times and then stood atop the biggest obstacle we have ever been on, and got the obligatory photo.

The crowd was urging us on now and after high fiving all the kids along the fence, we proceeded to the last obstacle - 3 more walls.

These were a bit easier though and the 20 metre run to the finish line was a great feeling.
Even better was being presented with the race medal.

We had run the 32km and 200 obstacles (we completed every one) in just over 5 hours.


Rat Race - You've certainly delivered!

In summary, the Rat Race Dirty Weekend was awesome and I can honestly say, the best obstacle course event I have done to date.

Starting with The Worlds Greatest Undie Run on Friday night, followed by the 32km & 200 obstacles on Saturday, the event was well run, in a gorgeous location.

Both Friday and Saturday nights the music was pumping from the main stage in the festival are and the punters were entertained by the two mc’s....

The atmosphere had a great positive vibe and everyone seemed to be having fun.

The event itself had all bases covered.

Everything from clean toilets (I did not see a queue once), hot showers (70 on site), a broad range of food options, a massive camping area and friendly event staff/volunteers only too willing to help.

Clever set ups like the unmanned bag drop, the race number marking station and the large massage area helped create the best experience for the participants.

The race itself was challenging and incorporated natural terrain and huge man made obstacles, some I have never encountered before.

We met people from all over Europe and I can say that OCR is alive and well in the UK.

We are now looking forward to December 12th, when the Rat Race crew bring out The Mens Health Survival of The Fittest Obstacle Race to Sydney.

We will be there with bells on!

Who wants to join us?