Splat Quack GO 16/09/18

Splat Quack Go 16/09/2018

SNAPSHOT:

Location: Woodbridge, Suffolk

Distance: 3k, 6k, 12k

Price:  From £12.50 (Kids) £29.95 (Adults)

Suitable for: Families and beginners

Difficulty level (1-10): 3

The infamous ‘Black Ditch’ is Suffolk’s Muddiest OCR with over 40 obstacles per lap, the boggy swamps are a challenge to all but combined with this testing natural terrain, there will be plenty of man-made obstacles, you will be jumping, crawling, pulling and climbing. 6km or 12km (two laps), choose on the day. All runners receive a goody bag, Water, T-Shirt and a professional metal finishers medal.”

What’s included in the cost?

ITEM YES NO FREE COST
RACE TICKET *     £12.50+
MEDAL *   *  
TSHIRT *   *  
GOODY BAG *   *  
PHOTOS *   *  
BAG/KEY DROP *   *  
SPECTATORS *   *  
PARKING *     £3

 

Terrain:

This OCR consists mostly of thick, black, oozy mud and LOADS of it! It is actually set on farmland/equestrian cross country course so there is plenty of open space and fields. The race directors have made good use of the landscape and incorporated elements of the natural terrain along with the equestrian course itself.

Obstacles:

This was the hardest part to review. Why? Because whilst the obstacles were not very hard, they were exhausting and that made it tough. There was a lot of repetition throughout when it came to obstacles – especially the ditches (swamps) and plenty of “horsey jumps”. We found that runners gave differing opinions’ when it came to whether they enjoyed the swamps or not. Almost all of them had said that there was too much, it was literally in/out/in/out swamp after swamp and that it got boring with plenty of runners walking around them later in the run.

Now, I can hear the reaction of some people reading this “That’s what it’s all about, get stuck in there”. I love playing around in mud (more than most) but this is easily the muddiest run either of us have ever done! I got pulled out by two kind gents at one point because i literally couldn’t move! The thing is these obstacles are like quicksand so it’s more of a mental obstacle, don’t panic and help each other through. That is what makes it so good for those running as part of a team. Be warned that mud like this zaps the energy out of you quickly!

Aside from the swamps, there was a small water slide, a few small walls, and a selection of innovative, but not very well executed obstacles. Two examples of those are;

A blindfold crawl – Great idea but I witnessed someone get kicked in the face by the person in front of her because she didn’t see the foot coming towards her.

Welly Wanging – Another great idea as it’s fun and a bit of tradition in the countryside although it is difficult for marshals to collect the wellies without being ‘kicked’ in the face by a flying side 5.

You made it! Now what?!

Be sure to get your FREE finisher picture then get rinsed off at the wash down station then go tuck in to some delicious grub.

We got cleaned up grabbed some food and mingled with runners and spectators alike.

Keep in mind that this is a small event and they have only been going for two years: There was a good selection of food available including veggie/vegan options! We met a lovely bunch of caterers at a veggie stall (dragon something) who served up some mouth watering food at affordable prices.

One thing that I thought was pretty bad was that the MC and packed up and left pretty swiftly – within 90 minutes or so of the first wave setting off, which really killed the atmosphere.

Overall Opinion:

This is one of the hardest review’s that I have had to write in quite a while. I was really rooting for this OCR as I love low key, family events but found that most people said they probably wouldn’t book again. It is difficult writing this as I don’t enjoy pointing out troublesome areas but we wouldn’t be very good at our job if we weren’t honest and we hope that our criticism is always constructive.

Runners that we spoke with who had ran the first ever Splat Quack Go in 2017, said that it had improved dramatically and that queues were slashed from the previous hour wait last year.

The swamps were fun to begin with and a huge challenge mentally and physically but too monotonous. With a few course adjustments, it could offer a better variety of natural obstacles/terrain and prevent the queuing.

Overall, we think the kids race was brilliant but the adults race needs some rethinking to unlock its full potential.

We look forward to seeing how Splat Quack Go improve in the future.

To Book your tickets visit: www. Splatquack.com

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The Wolf Run (Autumn) 2/9/2018

SNAPSHOT

Location: Warwickshire

Distance: 10k

Price:  From £45

Suitable for: Beginner – Intermediate (Beginners’ should be happy with lots of running)

Difficulty level (1-10): 4

“Voted the best OCR in the UK, it’s a hardcore 10k run across raw natural terrain, including open ground, woodland, lakes and thick mud”.

What’s included in the cost?

ITEM YES NO FREE COST
RACE TICKET *     £45+
MEDAL   *    
TSHIRT *   *  
GOODY BAG *   *  
PHOTOS *     £3.50 +
BAG/KEY DROP *   *  
SPECTATORS *   *  
PARKING *     £5

 

Terrain:

Wild running indeed! The wolf run promises woodland, obstacles, lakes and fields – hence the name. It certainly didn’t disappoint. The terrain has fantastic variety to it and doesn’t leave you wanting. There’s no time to think about how boring a field is, or how long until you’re out of a wooded area so that you can stretch those legs. You’ll find yourself excited for what’s around the corner.

Obstacles:

There might not be that many but they really are fun! Almost all of the runners we spoke to said the thing that lured them in was its water slide. I’ve run this one before (it was actually the first one that I had ever run) and my favourite thing was the slide. I didn’t think that it could be any better but I was delighted to find that they’ve improved it with 5 lanes and added in a filtration system. This means the water from the bottom is recycled and pumped back up top. This makes it ‘cleaner’ for runners and more eco friendly!

They make fantastic use of the natural obstacles from fallen trees, a lake swim and hills. There was an option for non swimmers that didn’t want to attempt the lake, as it was quite a swim as far as OCR swims go. Between us, Steven and I have completed over 150 OCR’s so it’s safe to say we’ve experienced a few and this swim was the second largest that we had encountered. Don’t let that put you ff though as the lake was extremely well marshalled. There were at least 4 canoes on the lake, an ambulance at the exit and more marshals around the bank.

It was reassuring to see that ALL of the obstacles were well marshalled.

You made it! Now what?!

It was great that the finish line was at the centre of the event village meaning that everyone was there, watching and congratulating you on your effort. There was a free and well equipped wash down point with male and female changing rooms.

There was also a great variety of food and drink stalls including the FIRST veggie/vegan food van!

The only bummer here was not being able to walk around showing off your post race bling.

Overall Opinion:

This is the slickest OCR going. From start to finish, the process was seamless.

We were impressed by the amount of marshals in attendance and although a good 70% of this OCR is running, it was really enjoyable.

Was it worth the money? Hmm, that’s debatable. Adding it up, £45 for the ticket plus £5 for parking means most runners have spent £50 before they’ve even factored in food, drink. Yes, you get a cool tech tee but when there are other (comparable) runs that offer you a medal, tech tee and free photos for a similar price, then it seems steep.

That said, I understand that the cost here covers the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff that most other runs don’t offer such as; top notch field doctors’ who could (if needs be) anesthetise you or deal with any major trauma (such as breaks) on site, rather than carting you off in an ambulance.

It is also one of the few OCR’s that actually recruit the majority of their marshals, who are from a professional sports related background and being paid ensures that they are fully committed and remain there for the duration of the event. All of this obviously costs the wolf run money and I suppose in that sense, there’s value for money in the price.

U Venture 14/07/2019 6k GUEST REVIEW

U Venture (6k) GUEST REVIEW

Here’s our first guest review completed by Natalie Smith. Natalie has lost over 6 stone this year and we’ve asked her to take on her first ever obstacle course race…

SNAPSHOT:

Location: Kettering, Northamptonshire

Distance: 6k -12k

Price: From £39

Suitable for: Everyone, families, beginners and experienced will all find it fun.

Difficulty level (1-10): 4

What’s included in the cost?

ITEM YES NO FREE COST
RACE TICKET * £39+
MEDAL * *
TSHIRT * *
GOODY BAG *
PHOTOS * *
BAG/KEY DROP *
SPECTATORS * *
PARKING * *

 

Terrain:

This course really makes the most of the terrain in this dis-used quarry. After the first couple of kilometres where you can set out your pace in open fields it then turns into a variety of hills, dips, ponds, streams, trenches and a small lake. The route they’ve created keeps you guessing and there’s PLENTY of mud. After a few weeks of glorious sunshine this summer the ground was hard and uneven, actually making some of the hill climbs easier but they’ve been able to maintain the mud where it counts. There’s a good amount of streams and stinky bogs to wade through which were a relief in the hot weather.

Obstacles:

The majority of the obstacles come from the varied terrain and they’ve kept it pretty simple on most of them. The swamp, the hills and the muddy trenches offer natural challenges but they’ve added things like pontoons to the lake and cargo nets to the hills to keep things interesting and add an extra element of challenge. This means that experienced runners who are focussing more on speed and technique are catered for as well as complete newbies, like me, who just want get muddy and climb things.

With the built obstacles I really love that they have options for various abilities on almost every obstacle meaning that I’ve come away with a huge sense of accomplishment on not missing many obstacles out. I understand that the 12km course does have some larger and more technical obstacles for those who need more of a challenge but for a newbie the 6km course is a perfect balance of fun and challenges. The real challenges on this course were the monkey bar rig (we didn’t see anyone accomplish this due to the lack of grip on the rings), the concrete wall which was rather slippy at the top and, of course, the enormous death slide. When you’re sat at the top looking down it’s no wonder people were backing out! They’ve really focussed on design and build quality on the obstacles and each one had at least one marshal so I felt safe on the slide as well as everywhere else on the course.

You made it! Now what?!

The last obstacle and the finish line runs along side the compact race village so the DJ stage could see you coming, they were great at offering support to flagging runners and engaging the crowd too! The toilets were plentiful and sparkling clean when we arrived, not so much so by the time we left but that’s to be expected with the mud. I was glad to have a ‘shower’ station with several hoses and a changing tent. The carpark is close-by too so it was easy to leave kit in the car until after we’d showered and registration was very well thought out and easy to navigate with alphabetised queues. The whole village shows that U Venture really care about the runners and their broken bodies after the race. There’s a small range of food stalls to choose from which are reasonably priced and very tasty and you didn’t have far to walk to get some much needed sustenance… at the inflatable pub!

Overall Opinion:

For inexperienced runners and fun runners, including families, this event is spot-on; varied challenging terrain, well designed obstacles that cater to different abilities, they’ve really tried to consider everyone in their obstacles. Although simple, the course is a whole lotta fun which was clear from the smiles on the faces of all runners as they approached the last obstacle. For the more experienced OCR runner looking for something more challenging then there are options here to do things ‘the hard way’ and I’m sure the 12km course would offer more of that.  I’d definitely run the course again and because of the variations on the obstacles I could keep coming back as I improve. If fun, and a wedgie-inducing death slide, is what you’re looking for then come along to one of U Ventures events!

 Visit: http://www.uventurerun.co.uk for tickets and more info.

The P.T Barn

IMG-20180701-WA0000“This place has it all going on! It’s suitable for all abilities and amazing value for money”

We’ve been wanting to get down to visit the P.T Barn for quite some time now but haven’t had the chance so we finally did it over the weekend and boy, was it worth the wait!

We took 4 people of a range of fitness levels to see how suitable it was for each category of people. This was made up of an absolute novice, an intermediate, a worlds qualified athlete and a 9 year old child.

We arrived around 10am and I was immediately impressed with what I saw. There was a huge, secluded field with such a wide variety of obstacles. I was both excited and nervous but felt that if ever I wanted to try ‘harder’ obstacles, then this was the place to do it.

Scotty, the owner came over with a big smile and was really welcoming. He spoke with us all about the obstacles and gave us a run down of the venue, offering guidance on techniques and how to safely use each obstacle. Scotty has a really friendly, approachable vibe going on which is great to feel like you’re in safe hands.

We started over on the smaller obstacles which included a cargo net, walls, weight pully and slack lines. My sister Natalie, had never done ANY obstacles before and was petrified at the thought of most of them. She started the year 6 stone heavier and was convinced that she “couldn’t” do things yet, by the end of the day, she’d conquered a good amount of obstacles including a high net climb and a jump off about a 20ft obstacle onto an airbag!

Then there was myself, an intermediate athlete, trying to get back into the swing of things after three years out. I loved that there were more technical obstacles including rigs (high and low), a spider wall, and a curved wall. These are the obstacles that I see popping up more and more in races nowadays and have always filled me with the doubt that I’d ever be able to do them. I loved that I got to play on them in a controlled environment without the pressure of time, like in a race. I also believe that it’s important to attend these ‘play’ sessions so that you can familiarise yourself with obstacles like these and learn to do them safely, rather than chuck yourself at one for the first time during an OCR. A good example here is a few years back when I went to Tough Mudder and watched people throw themselves at a quarter pipe (having never attempted one before) and smashing themselves (and their faces) on the way down, resulting in injuries that may have been avoided if they’d of had an idea of how to tackle said obstacle.

There were some obstacles there that I didn’t attempt as I knew full well, that I wasn’t ‘there’ yet but Steven, a worlds qualifier, was.

Steven and Malakai (our 9 year old) attempted most of the obstacles, although Malakai was too young to do some of the ‘ninja’ style ones for safety reasons. We were there from 10am until about 4pm and we ran out of time to go on everything – The P.T Barn really has got it all going on. It’s got, ropes, rigs, ninja style obstacles, high and low walls, mud trenches, sandbag carries, rings, javelin throws, nets and more!

Tony (bigfoot) Campbell was there helping to coach too and was really helpful in teaching people how to safely climb. He spend a good 30 minutes with Natalie in mastering the J lock for her rope climb. If you want to learn how to do climbing safely, and avoid rope burns then Tony is your man! He also taught Steven, Malakai and I how to conquer ropes and slack lines.

We all came away with OCR kisses, blistered hands and my sister came away with a huge confidence boost KNOWING that she can do more than she realises.

Scotty offers a range of classes from pay and play family days to boot camp, obstacle training and intensive OCR training programmes including Road2Worlds.

The pay and play sessions are outstanding value for money from £18 per adult and just £12 for 6-16 year olds. There is no time restriction on the session like some other places where you get to play for 90 minutes, you can play until your heart is content between 9am and 4pm.

We would absolutely recommend anyone to visit the P.T Barn. You wont be disappointed!

Many thanks to Scotty and Tony for having us there, we will be back again, and again, and again.

Check them out: www.theptbarn.co.uk

Muddy Furlong (Summer) 23rd/24th June 2018

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SNAPSHOT:

Location: Daventry, Northamptonshire

Distance: 6k -12k (30 – 60 Furlongs)

Price: From £25

Suitable for: Everyone. Especially families and even dogs can do this race!

Difficulty level (1-10): 4

“Hidden in the heart of the Northamptonshire countryside, this gem of an obstacle course has something for everyone, including mud, obstacles, water, fun and did we mention mud?”

What’s included in the cost?

ITEM YES NO FREE COST
RACE TICKET *     £25+
MEDAL *   *  
TSHIRT   *    
GOODY BAG   *    
PHOTOS *   *  
BAG/KEY DROP *   *  
SPECTATORS *   *  
PARKING *   *  

 

Terrain:

As the race is set on a farm, there are plenty of fields. That’s not to say that it is only fields; there are lots of hidden water sections although these are not deep, so great for those that are a bit shy of water obstacles.

It’s lovely to be rewarded with such a beautiful view when you reach the top of the hill sections and on a hot day, it’s a blessing to be able to run in the shade, along the tree lines of the farm.

I have to point out that this course has PLENTY of mud! I’m not talking the usual stuff. I mean proper thick, oozy mud, the kind that requires someone else to pull you out but is great for creating some awesome memories. One of my favourite ever pictures of me doing an OCR, was at this event when they first started. I was running with 4 others and we were belly flopping into the mud and I got stuck. Two of them had to pull me out and we were caked in it. They still use the picture for their marketing and every time I see it, a smile creeps on my face.

Obstacles:

Okay, so if it’s technical obstacles you’re looking for, this race is not for you. The obstacles are pretty easy but they are designed to be fun, not hard. Most of them are natural obstacles such as hills and stream crossings.

There’s a set of monkey bars which have one of the best grips we’ve come across but that’s as technical as it gets.

Our competition winner, Tracey Lines said she found the actual run (as in the hills) a challenge. Her favourite obstacle was a high climb into a water pit as it was a bit different but that she felt the monkey bars were the worst as she couldn’t reach them and wouldn’t be able to lift her son up to reach them either.

Unfortunately, a few runners we spoke with had said that they were a bit concerned with the lack of marshals at some obstacles. In particular; a high net that stood alone in the trees. It was approximately 8 feet high and a vertical drop if you were unfortunate enough to fall off. There were no marshals at this obstacle which was very dangerous, especially if you were running alone.

The water slide at the end was brilliant and runners were allowed to go again if they wanted.

You made it! Now what?!

The event village was really small but had the essentials. Just one food van which was enough for this low key event. The toilets were well stocked and there was guy that was offering free strapping and gave some really useful info about how to stretch out along with selling some Muddy Furlong merchandise.

Overall Opinion:

“Everyone was so friendly; it really is a family atmosphere, not taken over by commercialism” – Tracey Lines

Muddy Furlong over exceptional value for money and is a perfect entry level OCR. This is great way to spend a day with your family and friends, or even for corporate team building. The only thing that they could improve on is to ensure that marshals are supervising runners on the larger, more important obstacles.

If you want a stripped back, family friendly OCR that offers fun – not competition, then get yourselves signed up to Muddy Furlong.

The Nuts Challenge 05/03/2017

I am going to start this review a bit different that previous ones. I am really proud to say that Mudd Matters will be celebrating our 1st Anniversary on the 17th of this month. We’ve been all over the country visiting and reviewing races and products and ran over 100 races between us so it’s fair to say that we know a thing or two about Obstacle Course Racing. I am not saying that we are the best of the best but we are able to offer a great all round perspective on races, from kid’s races, fun runner races, through to the competitive side of things.

Over the last year we have met a huge amount of people and I’ve come to the decision (through feedback) that I’m going to take a more personal approach on the reviews. Our reviews will still have structure to them but be more…personal.

For those of you who don’t know how we work; we have one person (either Steven or I) who takes part in a race, the other person either becomes a marshal for the event or has free reign of the course so that they can review the quality of obstacles and get more of an insider’s point of view. We then usually have another runner (chosen at random through our Facebook page) who will run the same race at a different distance. At the end of the race we then get that runners’ perspective, speak to other people who have taken part in the race, the race director and collaborate to form an all around, thorough review for you guys.

Snapshot

The Nuts Challenge is set in the beautiful countryside in Dorking, Surrey. They offer a laps race; 1, 2, 3 or 4 (if you’re crazy enough). The laps are about 7 – 8k each but are seriously not to be laughed as it is very obstacle heavy.

Prices start at £55.99 for 1 lap and rise to £67.99 for 4 laps. Very reasonably priced for what you get.

What do you get? The race, a pretty cool tech tee, a medal which changes for each race they put on through the year, chip timing and a nice hot drink to warm you up at the end.

Terrain: 

The terrain was very varied but due to the horrendous weather conditions parts of the course felt like I was doing an impression of Bambi on ice. The mud was everywhere. I personally love mud but some types of mud are a nightmare to try and run on. There was plenty of this type of mud which made it really hard to try and get warm on any open running sections.

There were a few hills, especially in the woodland area where they very ‘kindly’ added a sandbag carry and later on the course, a ‘delightful’ tyre carry. By the time most people had come to this point (about 6k in) they were exhausted and I saw plenty of people losing hope when their tyre decided to roll back down the hill they’d so painfully carried up it.

Plenty of water! Most of the water wasn’t deep but was freezing cold. Runners’ commented on how torturous it was thinking they’d just finished with the water sections, only to turn a corner and have to get back in it. There was a large water section which involved a number of technical obstacles and wading through a lake.

Obstacles:

They had a great range of natural and manmade obstacles which were suitable for all abilities. I was really glad to see that they had an easier and harder lane for runners to choose from, depending on what they felt comfortable with.

I was running 1 lap with a lovely Mud Queen (it was her 1st ever race) and we were happy to take the easier options where as the likes of Steven (who did 3 laps) enjoyed the fact that the harder lanes meant that they were kept clear for competitive runners.

I found that there was a really good mix of fun, challenging and technical obstacles and that the obstacles were built really well. The only point I’d make here is that people doing just one or two laps didn’t need to do the ‘Nutcracker’ section which involved monkey bars and more technically demanding obstacles. I felt that there wasn’t enough upper body work on the 1 lap.

Runners who took on 2+ laps said that they were happy that the obstacles were varied so they didn’t kill your legs, then more legs and more legs, but gave them a break between muscle groups, whilst still being physically demanding. Steven said that after the second lap even a small gate was a struggle because the course really sucked everything from you. (Which was clear to see when he’d finished his 3rd lap and cried for about 15 minutes after).

An obstacle that I found difficult was in the water section and basically involved getting across a lake over some floating rubber rings. I got half way and fell in but was super happy that I’d made it across the floating platforms before the rings as I’d failed them on a previous race.

All of the marshals on the course were great and offered help and encouragement to everyone.

You made it! Now what?!

I was so happy to finish and I don’t know one person who wasn’t. What an achievement! It was an absolutely gruelling course and a large percentage of people actually DNF (did not finish). I spoke to one runner who signed up for 3 laps but after half way through lap 1 called it a day. Another runner signed up for 4 laps, completed one and shook the hand of everyone else who completed a lap.

I crossed that finish line with a smile on my face and loved the medal. It’s well made, weighty and a clean, crisp finish. I am really glad that they do a different medal for each event – it makes it that bit more special.

I was met by some bubbly marshals who handed me a hot drink and took of my gloves as I was so cold then off I went to get changed. The changing rooms were terrible. This isn’t necessarily down to the event organisers, they were in a heated marquee but the floor had become well… somewhat of a swamp. The showers didn’t work at all but I think we were all just happy that it was heated.

The event village was really small but had the essentials. A few food stalls (about £4.00 for a burger) well stocked toilets and a sports massage tent.

PROS: 

Value for money

Varied terrain

Suitable for all abilities

Good mix of obstacles

CONS:

Showers didn’t work

Changing room floor became a swamp

Overall Opinion:

The Nuts Challenge was great fun. If you’re looking for a race that offers you everything then this one is worth the money. It caters for all fitness levels and has a really good mix of obstacles and terrain.

Personally, this was my favourite race so far and comes highly recommended by myself and the majority of runners.

The only thing that let’s this down slightly is the changing rooms could use a little bit of work and maybe to introduce a few more upper body obstacles on the 1 – 2 laps.

Overall rating: 9/10 

Bootneck Challenge

Today we visited the bootneck challenge in Peterborough. It’s the brain child of Matthew Doherty, an ex-marine. I never like to start a review with a negative or trying to defend an event but it IS worth noting that this was the 1st event for Matthew and he openly admitted that he was “bricking it”. So, being consistent to our readers, we went in with our reviewing caps on but mindful that it’s unfamiliar territory for him so tried to be sympathetic.

Steven was running the 10k elite wave and I had free reign of the course. The wave was due to start at 9am; we arrived at 8am to have a look around. I was particularly excited to go and see the water slide and view the build quality of some obstacles that Mark Noble of Zeus races had built for them.

They also had good engagement with potential runners via social media and did a few little video’s which got us looking forward to this race.


THE REVIEW

Price & Info: 

Early bird prices started at £43 for a 5k and £53 for a 10k but went up to a staggering £74 on the day! What did you get for that? A medal, a t-shirt, (the website stated a goody bag but we didn’t get one and I couldn’t see any?) free car park and free bag drop. Oh, and a random slice of orange. Our Garmin also measured the course at 8.9k not 10k.

A bit more expensive than the average £30-£40 and a bit more than I would say it’s worth.

There was a course map on the website but none at the event – not even for marshals. I need to point out here that although most marshals had a briefing, some didn’t and the briefing was, well…brief. I stood in and listened.

There was a huge amount of confusion at the gecko walls whereby runners were getting so confused as to where they were actually supposed to be running and the marshal’s didn’t have a clue either. I felt so bad for them. It was painful to watch but hat’s off to the marshal who took it in her stride and whilst embarrassed shouted “it’s an adventure; I’m really sorry but enjoy the unknown”. I went over and spoke to the three marshals at the gecko walls who confirmed that they hadn’t been explained to about where to send runners or which way they were to tackle the walls, and one (the team leader) hadn’t been given any briefing.


Poor navigation was a common theme here throughout the course. We spoke to Matthew who said that he had been let down, last minute by his signage company (we won’t name them). Even so; there are alternatives which should have been implemented.


I am pleased that on the 2nd lap of the 10k, they seemed to have corrected this and marshals’ had readjusted some taping to make it clearer.

Rating:  5/10

Terrain: 

This event is set in the grounds of an equestrian centre and has a fantastic range of terrain. It’s got small hills, big hills, rolling hills, water, farmland, mud, woodland and more! Another event has previously used this area and included more of the woodland section but due to it being winter, we were told that it was closed off by the people who owned the land. As far as terrain went, the boot neck challenge chose a perfect location for their event!

Rating: 10/10

Obstacles:

With this being a 1st time event for the bootneck challenge, I wasn’t expecting anything amazing as purchasing or building obstacles is a costly exercise. I loved the way that they utilised natural streams and made good use of the land but found some obstacles to be somewhat uninspiring e.g. ‘Snipers’ Alley’ Where you ran up a hill and people were shooting water pistols at you.

The water slide was a hazard! There is no other way to put it. It is really hard for me to sit here and type this when of course, I want to be able to sing praise for all OCR events but when runners’ safety is compromised – there is no ‘nice’ way to talk about it. I’d heard quite a bit of hype about their waterslide and did a ‘live’ feed on our facebook page as I approached it but was sorely disappointed when I got there. It literally consisted of plastic membrane down the side of a hill, held down by some wooden stakes in the ground. There was a tractor at the top with a pipe that almost trickled water out as someone squirted washing up liquid across it. There was nothing at the bottom, no water, no barrier or anything just sloped grass that people continued to slide on. My BIGGEST issue here was the safety or lack of. In the 10 minutes I stood there I witnessed 3 people injure themselves. One man came down and took out one of the wooden stakes. One woman caught her elbow on one and a man caught his back on the remaining steak that was sticking out of the ground.

When I spoke with runners at the end about the slide, many said it was really poorly made and commented on the danger is posed. I am not here to give them a bashing but I am here to provide constructive criticism; perhaps find a safer way to secure the plastic down or make the slide much wider to avoid accidents? Also, add more water on the slide as I saw a few embarrassed faces that ended up having to pull themselves down the slide as it wasn’t wet enough.
Another talking point obstacle was the quarter pipe. This was really well made and I personally got up there, took some pictures – I’ll include them – and started helping people up. I loved the feeling this one gave runners’. The sense of achievement it gave them was incredible and right at the finish; so they ended on a high. Well done to Mark for the build quality of this one in particular!

Runners said there was a good range of easier ‘natural’ obstacles through to tougher, more challenging ones like the incline walls.
Our competition winner and his friend also noted that the net in the wooded area was unsafe. They said that it didn’t have enough tension and marshals had to hold the bottom of the net to try and stabilise it.

It’s a difficult one for me to rate because when it comes to safety, it only takes one dangerous obstacle to really damage a score.

I’d like to point out here that if some obstacles didn’t pose such a threat, I’d have rated the obstacles a 6.

Rating: 4/10

The Bling:

The medal looked pretty cool and well made and has the year on so I assume will be the same for all 2017 events. The tee looked nice but sizing is an issue as they come up small and really quite short. Lovely colour and detail on though! No goody bag as promised by the website which was a shame.

Rating: 5/10

Event Village and Atmosphere:

The event village was good. It was small but so was the event. We grabbed a delicious bacon sandwich from ‘The horsebox’ for £4 – which I really have an issue paying for 2 rashers of bacon and two slices of bread.

There were two options for food and drinks; The horsebox and the gourmet burger place. Merchandising stalls included RunFlex, MySports, Gainz and Cotswolds.

There were plenty of toilets, female and male changing rooms and floating medics.

There was a great buzz here and I think they did really well for their first attempt. The only improvement would be to get bigger and offer more, which obviously comes with their own expansion.

Rating: 9/10

 

PROS: 

Great Fun

Good event village

Bigger obstacles were built well

Amazing terrain

Room for expansion – grounds

CONS:

Compromised runner safety on the waterslide and vertical net

Works out a bit expensive compared to similar events

Poorly marked out course

Overall Opinion:

Although this sounds like quite a bad review, I think they did pretty well for their 1st ever event. On paper if you look at all the things runners want i.e. the varied terrain, a good mix of obstacles, changing facilities, variety of food etc: They delivered.

Yes, there were some teething issues but there was always bound to be. This has great foundations to be a brilliant race. It just needs working on, adjusting and improving upon but I have no doubt that Matthew will do exactly that. Like I said, we are not here to bash an event and writing not great reviews is never pleasant but is sometimes just the tool they need to learrn and move forward. I would love to go back to an event of theirs in the future and see how it’s improved. For a first timer; the bootneck challenge did alright.

Overall rating: 5/10 

The Muscle Acre 22/01/2017

logoMuscle Acre is based in Guildford, Surrey and is headed up by Kev and Andrew. Kev comes from a Royal Marine background whilst Andrew works on the adjoining land with his family. Their ‘Winter Warmer’ was their 8th run and it was a very frosty start indeed. They have recently boasted becoming OCRA UK affiliated and part of the community league.

They offer a range of different races, catering for kids, 5k, 10k and a daring 20k.

 

THE REVIEW

Sign Up, Price & Info: 

The website is really easy to navigate and contains plenty of information. There is no post code given on the site but it is sent to you once you have booked onto a race. The reason for this is because the land is private; they didn’t want just anybody turning up throughout the year.

Prices start as little as £36.50 and go up to £60 for on the day prices for a 20k, which I think is amazing value for money! Why? Well because of everything that includes; car parking was FREE, bag drop was FREE, FREE hot chocolate, FREE beer, FREE banana, a Muscle Acre hat, timing and more!

Rating: 10/10

Terrain:

I felt that the terrain was very flat and very monotonous. Personally, I can’t stand running but then our competition winner, Roxane had said that she liked it being running heavy because it was where she could make up time and place a higher overall position. If you are good at running or enjoy it, then this one’s great for you.

They did make good use of the small amount of hills by making runners’ slalom with some obstacles in between.

Not much mud at all but then everywhere was frozen so what would you expect? They usually make use of a wooded area and marsh lands which they call ‘the wilderness’ but due to the ice being so thick (they couldn’t break it) they made the sensible decision to close that part of the course.

I think during warmer months, their trenches would be good and offer some muddy fun.

trenches

Rating: 7/10

Obstacles: 

There are no real ‘amazing’ obstacles on their 5k race although they do offer a fantastic range from crawls, wall, climbs and a sternum checker. If you are running anything more than the 5k the obstacles certainly step it up a gear or two. They introduce much more technically challenging obstacles such as a rope climb and a rig.

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(Steven on his invisible chair)

I loved the fact that almost all of their obstacles cater for any type of runner from a newbie to a seasoned runner. For example; there was an apex wall that had three different options. 1. The left hand side had small batons across with a rope 2. The middle had just a rope 3. The right hand side was just the wall. They also had similar for monkey bars… finally! I was ecstatic to finally find a race that had monkey bars that catered for everyone from tall men that glide across to short arses like myself who don’t have the arm span of an orang-utan.

Many of the obstacles were not flash ones that have cost thousands to make but all of them have been made to a fantastic standard and let’s be honest: That’s what matters.

The trenches that we went through were absolutely FREEZING! It was easily the coldest water I have ever been through, with the ice being about 2-3 inches thick.

ice

The difficulty I have in rating these obstacles is that prior to having our daughter, I was running a minimum 10k race with much more demanding obstacles. I will however say that for someone who has not done many or perhaps doesn’t have the best fitness currently; the obstacles of the 5k were perfect. They were challenging enough but still fun. I will be looking forward to running the 10k race once my fitness has improved so that I can see the difference in difficulty between the two.

Steven and the RD, Andrew said it was a shame that I couldn’t currently do the 10k as they both agreed that it offers so much more to runners. I have marked this a 8 because I found that some obstacles very quite repetitive and a bit boring – one involved climbing over crowd barriers.

I love that Muscle Acre has something for everyone. Well done.

Rating: 8/10

The Bling:

The medal was great. This year was a new medal and they change their ribbon for each event but I found that they didn’t have distances on so even though I did 5k and Steven did 10k, we both got the same medal.

At the end of the race we got given a cold can of Fosters, a hot chocolate, a finisher’s photo and a goody bag which included a Cliff bar and some funky tablets. It was excellent value for money.
The only thing that let it down was not having the distances on the medals but I understand that this isn’t cost effective.

Rating: 9/10

Event Village and Atmosphere:

For a small race, they had a good event village. There were no merchandise stalls and nothing enticing but they had great MC’s and music. They also had metal drums fires so we could warm up and heated changing rooms. I will say on a small note that although they were advertised as heated, this consisted of one very small electric heater and plenty of the women I spoke to said they were really looking forward to a heated changing room but were left a bit disappointed.

There was a burger van and plenty of well stocked toilets on site and everything was really easy to get to. It soon became deserted once runners’ had finished which left the event village feeling a bit eerie but this is to do with the weather, not the race itself. I am sure that they would have more going on if it was warmer. Nobody likes hanging around in the cold.

All of the runners that I had spoken with, from 1st timers to pros’ said that the marshals’ were outstanding and I couldn’t agree more.

Rating: 8/10

PROS: 

Excellent value for money

Great atmosphere

FREE parking,

FREE bag drop

Awesome bling

Well built obstacles

Give participants discounts for future race

Obstacles cater for every fitness level and take into consideration different height/build of runners

CONS:

Minimal event village (understandable in these weather conditions)

Overall Opinion:

It’s taken me a few days to produce this review because i have really found it difficult. Whilst this ocr has scored highly in the categories, it’s just not one that i have felt excited about, it isn’t one that I have happily boasted about for 3 days after the event either ( like i usually do). This is not due to the race. Being totally honest with you all, it’s down to me. If i would have done the 10k then I am confident that I would have been shouting about it to anyone who would listen. The course, the team at Muscle Acre, the obstacles and everything else in between was fantastic. Overall this is a really good race. It’s one of the best value for money races and I’ve not come across a race that properly caters for such a vast amount of abilities, body shapes and sizes.

Overall rating: 9/10 

Published by Keren – Mudd Matters

*Pictures courtesy of The Muscle Acre and R and R Photography*

Salming Trainers Review

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Initial impression and style;

Taking these shoes out the box, the first thing I noticed was how light they were. I have worn many different brands of trail trainers now and these are among the lightest I have had. The construction is top quality. The style is very eye catching and the materials used are very hard wearing.

The next thing any “OCR goer” would look at is the tread depth and amount of lugs on the sole to see if the shoe is going to keep the amount of effort put in by the wearer aiding in momentum, not slipping backwards and the Element ticks this box very well with a great sole. The shoe has a big loop on the tongue and the heel to help get the shoe on. Around the heel and toe there is thick material which looks it will stick the harshest of beating by mud, waking it on walls, and stones bashing it.

 Rating: 4.5/5

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The technical blurb;

Weight: 288g (size UK 9)

Drop: 4mm

“When adding the Elements model to our range we aimed at creating a performance off trail shoe which incorporates Salming´s running concept and principles. Elements enables you to run anywhere or swim for that matter and get the best out of you. The outsole provides exceptional traction on both wet and dry surfaces. Elements has a more roomy toe box compared to its trail sibling, the Salming Trail, in order to provide a possibility for the fore foot to expand properly in the landing phase, making it more effective in a biomechanic perspective.”

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Price;

Direct from Salming – £110

Best price I could find was £98.99

Initially this sort of price tag will put many people off as it is rather steep but when compared to the likes of the Irock 2’s they match on price and are very similar in construction and style. Knowing more about the trainer now, I think the price is justified.

Rating: 4/5

OCR suitability/ Functionality;

Having worn these shoes now for training many times and at an OCR, they are fighting to be my go to trainers. A great fit for accurate foot placing on those tricky balance obstacles and rigs. The drainage is really good, after about 200-300 metres after a full submersion 90% of the water is gone and the grip is to the level when you place your foot on any mud, grass or gravel you know you won’t slip.

To my knowledge, Salming haven’t really broken into the OCR market yet but with these shoes and further models they will be up there with the market leaders. One thing that lets the shoe down for me is that when the shoe is stuck deep in thick mud your foot does slip out somewhat. I did try different lacing techniques and I have found one with the least movement so sticking with that.

Comfort wise, you really don’t know you are wearing them. They mould to your foot excellently and the cushioning is enough and not too much.

Rating: 4/5

PROS;

Very lightweight

Hard wearing

Very good grip

Great drainage

CONS;

Some issues in deep, thick mud.

Short laces

Overall;

I think these are great…in the right conditions. As with a set of race tyres you don’t put slicks on in the rain. These trainers are good if you know the conditions on the given race are muddy but not the sort of mud that will suck you down to your knees or more.

Overall rating: 4/5

To get your hands on a pair, head over to Salming by clicking the link below;

https://www.salming.com/uk/

Published by Steven – Mudd Matters

Nuclear Races Fallout 12/11/16

Nuclear races are one of the most talked about obstacle course race companies out there. No matter where we go, we can almost guarantee that at least one person we speak to will refer to Nuclear which is usually when they’re comparing that OCR’s slide to Nuclear’s famous ‘Death Slide’.

James Parrish is the brains behind Nuclear Races and the Parrish family have owned and farmed the land for three generations, acquiring the secret nuclear bunker in 1991. James was formerly an equal partner of Adventure Race Essex and has extensive experience in organising OCR’s.

Steven and I were both running this event (Fallout) this time. I was a newbie ‘Nuker’ and wanted a fresh perspective on the race considering that Steven is a seasoned ‘Nuker’. Foolishly, I signed up to the 12k – I say foolishly as this was my second OCR after having our daughter 3 months ago. For anyone reading this…don’t underestimate just HOW tough Nuclear races can be in mid November with mud like I’ve never experienced before.

THE REVIEW

Sign Up, Price & Info: 

Sign up is uber easy through active and prices start from around £60 (early bird) and can go up to over £100 with offers to purchase a Dryrobe along with your race. I paid £75 and honestly think it was worth every single penny. I’ve always viewed Nuclear’s prices as extortionate which was the main thing putting me off but after being nagged by my friend David (who absolutely loves them and happily travels from Lichfield to Brentwood for them) I thought i’d give it a go.

The website is really easy to navigate and full of useful information for participants including how to get prepared, kit etc.

Just a quick mention here about marshalling for Nuclear; Nuclear has a waiting list for marshals and is renowned for how well they treat them. You can get a dry robe or a free race in return for marshalling at one of their races.

I was due to marshal at ‘Rush’ in May but I had to be there very early in the morning and it was a 3+ hour drive I asked about camping there due to not wanting to drive 6 hours in my day and marshal while 6months pregnant and I was told that it was not an option so I withdrew from marshalling. A friend of mine who was also due to marshal asked about camping and was allowed to do so which left a very sour taste in my mouth and I felt discriminated against for being pregnant. Other than my own negative experience, I have not heard about anyone else who has had any issues or anything bad to say about marshalling for them.

Car Parking was FREE, bag drop was FREE, hot showers were also FREE and they had heated changing rooms!

Rating: 9/10

Terrain:

Depending on what time you got around the course depended on what type of terrain you got. Steven and I both went off in the same wave but he is obviously ALOT fitter than I am so he said that the terrain was good, twisty turning through woodlands, grass, fields. “Where they don’t have mud, they make mud”. Crossing fields became an obstacle as the mud sucked you in and was very sticky.

By the time I had made it around everywhere and everything was covered in mud. EVERYTHING! I don’t think I saw one blade of grass but that was due to the weather as it was raining and had been for quite some time. Taking away the ridiculous amount of mud everywhere then the terrain would have been really good. There were woodland sections, fields and hills. It has a good mix of everything and the water sections are great.

It is difficult to review the terrain as the weather had a massive impact on it which wasn’t Nuclear’s fault but I have to say that I have never known mud like it. It absolutely zapped all of my energy and while people were chanting “Love Mud” I was grunting “F**k Mud” under my breath. The sheer amount of mud made it near impossible to actually run sections of the course and most people walked it which was when the low temperatures became an issue.

Due to the cold temperatures and risk of hypothermia Nuclear had taken steps to prevent harm to participants so much of the water sections were removed. There was also a pitstop which consisted of a fire to huddle around, some warm squash and sweets. Perfect and I was really, really impressed (and thankful) for them making runner safety paramount.

Rating: 9/10

Obstacles: 

Packed FULL to the brim with a great mix obstacles both manmade and natural. The obstacles here are made for a range of abilities and are made to be fun and challenging. It is no wonder that Nuclear have won so many awards, especially the Mudstacle award for ‘Best Obstacles’. With a permanent location for races, it means that obstacles’ can be made to be very sturdy and you’d have no issue throwing everything you’ve got at them. They really are unlikely to break.

I genuinely lost count of the amount of ditches I got dragged out of and Ebenezzer was the almightiest of ditches: Thick, black sludge that you had to attempt to cross with the most ungodly smell to it.

Obstacles were technically demanding but really good fun and ensured you got a full body work out.
There were slack lines which were simply hilarious to watch and I had to have a little rest half way across when the photographer said “that’s the first picture I’ve taken of someone that looks like I’ve just photographed a dead body”. Luckily, I have a great sense of humour and have even decided to share the horrid picture of my lardy ‘dead body’ with you all.

A few obstacles to mention here are the Gorilla bars which total an enormous 119meters! Don’t let that put you off, not many complete them but if you do, you get a FREE dryrobe. If you complete the monkey bar then you don’t have to do what feels like never ending ditches that run alongside them.

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Nuclear’s Death Slide has won an award for ‘Best Individual Obstacle’ and is one of the most talked about obstacles in OCR. I absolutely love slides but I really struggled to get myself to do this one. It looked amazing and looking back I don’t really know what I was terrified of but I sat at the top of the slide for what felt like an eternity, getting annoyed with myself for holding up the line and being a scaredy cat but thanks to encouragement from the marshal, a random woman and her also petrified friend, we did it, together and had a high five, a hug and a warm cup of squash after.

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There were some obstacles that I simply didn’t even attempt which has never happened to me before but being short, I found that I couldn’t even reach some obstacles without someone holding me up like a daddy helping his daughter at the park and as they were absolutely covered in mud by that point I knew full well that I’d just slip off them and wasn’t willing to slip from that height when I knew I wouldn’t complete the obstacle anyway. One of these was the spinning monkey. I said to Steven (who found them too low as he is well over 6ft tall) I think that Nuclear could have made one side higher and one side lower to accommodate for all heights. We found this with Helix also.

There were a few obstacles that I found difficult because I am short. I found some of the obstacles that required me to climb to the top before coming back down, made me feel really uncomfortable and genuinely scared because the step up was too far for me to reach and I relied on someone else pulling me up on a very slippery surface. I think the obstacles would benefit from some sort of grip on them as I felt that I was really putting myself in danger because of this issue and the mix of mud making everything so slippery.
It’s so hard to critique Nuclear for their obstacles as they really are outstanding but constructive criticism is what helps races improve.

Rating: 9/10

The Bling:

The bling is awesome, so much detail and a great design. You must be looking at this picture thinking why the hell is there parts missing? Well, I am not ashamed to admit that this was my first ever DNF (Did not finish). I completed 10k of the 12k and was pulled off the course for chest pains and being SO cold that they struggled to get a reading using their machines or even find my pulse. The medics (who were great by the way) gave me a polite telling off for attempting a 12k in those conditions 3 months after giving birth. People have varying opinions on whether or not to take a medal if you didn’t fiish a race. My opinion is this; I was only 2k short so I earned that medal minus the 2k so I clipped my wings. That’s a reminder for me of how hard I tried, what I achieved and that next time I will get my wings.

I got given a T-shirt which ironically says “survivor”. Great quality though and I am told that finishers also got a FREE cup of tea and a ‘Trek’ bar which is just what you need after such a cold and tough race.
If you are stupid or brave enough to complete rush, blast/blackout and fallout within one season you earn bragging rights to “The boss medal of all medals” (as our son calls it). This is the almightiest of medals and is bigger than the palm of my hand.

Rating: 10/10

Event Village and Atmosphere:

The event village seemed a little small for such a huge race but suffers because of weather. I am told that at other nuclear races, the event village is bigger and better.

There was a good variety of food from duck wraps to burgers. One of our friends got a double burger with bacon and cheese for about £8.00. Toilets were clean and well managed and the Mc’s were full of energy and offered a good warm up.

The only thing I would have liked to have seen is for more things for people to do, entertainment activities or something to keep your mind off the horrid weather.

The upbeat atmosphere was felt across the course and whenever I questioned what the heck I was doing there and my body felt like giving up, there was a fellow runner or marshal there spurring me on shouting “Love Mud”.

Rating: 8/10

PROS: 

Outstanding obstacles

Great mix of terrain

Huge amount of fun and technically demanding obstacles

Great atmosphere

FREE parking,

FREE bag drop

FREE hot showers

Awesome bling

Runner safety is paramount

Give participants discounts codes for future races

CONS:

Some obstacles do not cater for different heights of participants

Overall Opinion:

Being honest, I had a bitter taste in my mouth after how I was treated by Nuclear in the past but overall they have great customer service so feelings aside; this race was fluffing brilliant!

It’s been hard to find any faults with it no matter which angle I tried. It is no wonder that Nuclear has won so many awards or that it seems to be the one that people often refer to.

Looking back, I should have opted for the 6k rather than 12k but even though it was my first ever DNF, this one will always hold a special place in my heart as it took me on my own personal journey.

Nuclear gives you everything you look for in an OCR and more, so at first the money may seem too much but trust me, it is totally justifiable and excellent value for money. I look forward to attending one of their future events to see if they can keep up the good work.

Overall rating: 9/10 

Published by Keren – Mudd Matters

*photos courtesy of nuclear races.