One day, on my lunch break at work, I found myself flicking through a copy of the metro when I came across an advert for a race called ‘Rough Runner’. Intrigued by the advert, which promised an obstacle race based on all my favourite gameshows from my childhood, I made a note of it and decided to research it later. After more research that night, I started to gauge interest amongst my friends and eventually a team of 4 of us was formed.
Rough runner is a relatively new race (only in its second year) and promises an awesome introduction into the world of Obstacle Course Running, without the barbed wire, ice baths and electrocution that is often associated with OCR!
There are three different course lengths (5k, 10k and 10 miles) and after discussion we opted for the 10k. We ran the Hampshire course on the 18th July, and arrived at the site an hour before our scheduled start time (as advised). The venue was easy enough to find as once you reached East Meon there were Rough Runner signs directing you to it. There was no-one checking registration details on entry to the car park, so in theory there was very little to stop someone from banditing the race (turning up and running without having paid)…perhaps Rough Runner have been slightly too trusting! All that needed to be done before the race started was to drop off the waiver and bags, and this was fairly well organised except that the queue to register was ridiculously long for those with surnames beginning with A-C. This isn’t the organisers fault, more the other runners for standing in the wrong queues!
Once all bags had been handed in, we were led through a short but energetic warm up by a very funny personal trainer. He managed to both get the blood pumping and get us excited for the event ahead, which was brilliant. We then began our 10k run, facing the following 14 obstacles:
Inspired by the obstacle from the start of the Eliminator from Gladiators, these were bars/hurdles that you had to alternate between going over and under. A very quick obstacle, but nonethless enjoyable
2.Through the wringer
To tell you the truth, I’m not sure what this was inspired by, but this was essentially fencing covered in tires that you had to squeeze yourself through. Also quite a quick obstacle
3.Swept off you feet
Inspired by total wipeout, this was the first of the challenges with a water penalty. You had to cross the pool, hoping from one podium to the next whilst avoiding being struck by the rotating arms in the centre of the pool. Prior to doing this, I was convinced that I’d be able to nail the timing and sail through this…I fell in almost immediately! An enjoyable obstacle, but a shame I couldn’t have performed slightly better!
4.Ramp it up
Inspired by ninja warrior, this obstacle required you to scale a stupidly tall ramp. This was (in my opinion) one of the hardest obstacles, and this was reflected in the queue of people that were waiting to attempt this. We probably had to wait to attempt it for at least 20 minutes, due to the number of people repeatedly trying to beat it. This was not helped when the middle of the ramp broke, leaving only the sides available. This meant that only 2 people at any one time could try it and also slowed proceedings as there were ropes dangling from the top to help you and these ropes were shortest at the sides. I lost count of the number of attempts I had to make here, but I was so relieved and proud to eventually beat it!
Inspired by total wipeout, this obstacle involved you traversing a climbing wall in a pool. I believe there were meant to be boxing gloves present as part of the obstacle (given the name), but by the time we reached this obstacle we were informed it was broken, so we just traverse it as normal. This was fairly easy, though my large running shoes made it slightly awkward!
This was another task with a water penalty, involving large plastic balls and ropes arranged in a way that resembled a Newton’s cradle. I don’t know what this was inspired by and there was also a large queue for this obstacle, owing to it’s difficulty. I still cannot, for the life of me, work out how I was supposed to traverse from one ball to the next!
Another task with a water penalty that I don’t know the inspiration for! For this one, you had to traverse the pool on a thin and fairly unstable plank whilst avoiding the punchbags which were suspended in your pathway. I really started to wobble and thought I was going to fall in on the last 1/4 of the crossing, but miraculously I recovered and made it across dry!
Inspired by Gladiator’s “Hang Tough” (I see what you did there!), this was a grid of suspended rings above a pool, which you had to swing your way across. Having seen the promo video for the event, this was the obstacle I was most scared of and the one I was most certain I would fail (due to my limited upper body strength). Despite this, I decided to try my best and give it a go to see just how far I could get, telling myself I’d be happy if I didn’t fall in immediately. Imagine my surprise when I managed to swing my way across the entire pool, ring by ring, inch by inch! This obstacle allowed me to do things I didn’t think I was capable of, and left me feeling unbelievably proud of what I achieved- as a result, it was my favourite of them all!
9. Big Balls
Inspired by Fun House, this obstacle involved crawling into a large cage filled with gym balls and squeezing your way through to the exit on the other side. I didn’t care for this one much, it felt extremely claustrophobic and I couldn’t wait to get out!
10. Nelson’s Column
This was a short but entertaining obstacle that required you to dodge two people dressed as giant pigeons in order to attempt to ring the bell on Nelson’s Column. It was a bit of light hearted fun, and i’m pleased to say we succeeded!
11.Swing and Miss
Another task with a water penalty- this time requiring you to use a rope swing to swing across a pool whilst avoiding hitting a barrel that was suspended in your way. Enjoyable and moderately challenging!
12. Roughian Cyclone
This obstacle involved you climbing into a pool then walking/running out whilst a fan blew foam onto you. I’ll admit I wasn’t blown over (if you’ll pardon the pun) by the difficulty of this particular obstacle, but it was located just before a very steep hill, so it’s probably just as well it wasn’t something more challenging.
13. Fearless Fall
I had been really looking forward to this obstacle, after having watched the race promo video. It was, after all, just a water slide so I thought it’d be really enjoyable! Unfortunately on one of the bends, I felt my hip clunk against something hard in the ground through the slide. I assumed I’d just bruised it, but when I examined it after, I realised I’d actually taken a chunk of flesh out (gulp). Luckily it didn’t bleed that much, and I was able to get it seen to after- I will definitely be more cautious on obstacles like this in the future!
If I need to tell you what this is inspired by, you’ve come to the wrong place! This was the big one, the obstacle we’d all come there to face. There were two different travelators set up, one running faster than the other. We decided to attempt the fast one first and see how we got on. One member of our team was successful on the first go, whilst the rest of us failed two attempts before heading to the slower travelator and passing first time. By this point, I was just relieved to have completed the course, it didn’t matter to me how I’d done it!
My top tips for Rough Runner!
- Run! I know it’s in the name, and might seem a bit obvious, but there is an awful lot of running involved in this race and most of it is quite undulating. Running regularly before you attempt an obstacle race will give you a great level of fitness to build on
- Don’t wear your best clothes! I deliberately wore super cheap sports clothes to run in, and they did me well.
- Sign up early, as tickets get progressively more expensive as the event nears
- Wear shoes with good grip. There was a fair bit of running through mud in this race and I was extremely relieved to have decided to run in my trail shoes that day
- Pay attention to the weather- make sure you’re hydrating appropriately before, after and during the race and wear sunscreen if necessary!
- Have fun! Do it with your mates, and try not to take it too seriously. Life’s far too short!
Overall, I had a fantastic day at Rough Runner, and I would love to do it again when I next can. There were some slight organisational issues, but nothing major and I feel that this event will go from strength to strength as it continues. I had never attempted an OCR before running this, and I never believed I would, so I’m extremely pleased with myself for achieving this! The preparation for the race also got me back into running regularly which I’m extremely grateful for, so I guess I have Rough Runner to thank for that too!
Let me know if you would like further posts about Rough Runner obstacle tips or OCR racing. I hope that this post spurs you on into achieving something you thought impossible too!