I can’t actually remember when it was that I first heard about Rat Race Dirty Weekend but I do recall thinking “Wow, that’s extreme – I need to do it”. 20 miles and 200 obstacles…what’s not to love?!
In April 2015 I started taking my training more seriously with a view to smashing the RR in 2016. I was well on my way but due to being super fit and healthy, I got knocked up sooner than we had anticipated which sort of put plans on hold. So, I decided to marshal instead as I wasn’t missing out on this event. I went along for the weekend and supported my partner and my friends on their own journeys.
As always, I spoke with several runners and marshals to get a fairer view of what they thought about this OCR. Here’s what the outcome was…
Sign Up, Price & Info:
Sign up was easy and pain free however the cost was steep. For those who didn’t have a season pass, it was quite a lump sum to shell out for a race at around £130. Those who marshalled did get the option to race for just £10 though!
Registration was fairly simple but annoying as you had to queue for one wrist band then sent off to join another queue for the other. It would have been better if they would have adopted the same idea as toughest and pre-packed envelopes for each runner.
The marshal’s packages were flipping brilliant value in exchange for helping out. Obviously, I couldn’t choose the run for £10 option so I managed to bag some awesome goodies instead such as a crew hoodie, buff, hydration pack and more.
Camping was an option and the facilities were good and well serviced but many ended up with cold showers. Also, some paid for premium camping but we couldn’t see any difference between the standard and the premium?
I noticed here that whilst people were saying it’s pretty pricey for an event, they all signed up for it and said that they would again.
The terrain was great. There was good use of the water sections and not too many hills. One runner said that over that distance if there were lots of hills, she probably would have quit.
It was good that over 20 miles, there was maybe only one road crossing but plenty of runners did say that they found there was too much running in long amounts and wished that it was broken up a bit more often.
The sun was scorching and in the open terrain, it really wasn’t pleasant. Runners did complain that there were not enough water stations out there but this was soon rectified when a golf buggy came to the rescue stocked with water.
I did hear of two incidents where a runner had got injured and were told that nobody could treat them out on the course so they had to go to the first aid tent. One guy then had to run the remaining 4 miles to take himself to the medic. Needless to say he was not happy.
With 200 obstacles it was bound to be a mixture of ones’ people loved and hated. Generally speaking, everyone was very happy. A good variety of easy to hard ones and there was no pressure to complete any of them.
The marshals did an absolutely amazing job encouraging runners and helping them overcome their fears.
All of the obstacles were built to the highest standard and there was a team of people out on course fixing any that had minor issues. Out of 200 only ONE was closed.
There were fun obstacles and technical ones too, which made every single one a challenge in it is own way. The most talked about ones were the monkey bars, spanning 130 meters and ‘The Big One’ which consisted of mini sections, whilst climbing up and then a muddy slide to the finish.
There were 4 medals in total. One for the young muckers, one for half, one for full and one for the nutters who took on the double and completed 40 miles of 400 obstacles!
The medals looked good and I heard that the double was actually gold plated (I don’t know how true that is). The only difference between the young, half and full muckers was the ribbon.
At the finish line (where I was marshalling) we were told to ask finishers if they had done the half or the full and relied upon their honestly. I did feedback to the chief marshal that most people were so delirious, they didn’t have a clue what they were being asked and some ended up with the wrong medals or coming back to swap. I also found that some runners took it personally when asked if they did half or full – of which we got the brunt of. I didn’t mind that so much because when handing them a curly wurly, it was like I was an angel, sent from God and they soon loved me again ha ha.
Along with the medal and curly wurly, you got a choice of buff, a magazine and water before being sent off to get your finisher photo. (the only photo that was free).
I wanted to make a point of saying that so many of you who I asked “full or half” replied with “I ‘only’ did the half” and a look of disappointment. You guys did brilliantly. Don’t you forget that! Look at that medal with pride and remind yourself that at you did it, gave it your all – which is more than can be said for plenty of people who sat at home that day doing nothing.
The only improvement that could be made here is if the medal itself (between the young, half and full) was different.
Event Village and Atmosphere:
That is how it’s done! The event village was the best one that I have ever seen and I’ve been to a lot of events. Everything was well thought out. As you entered the venue, right in front was clearly labelled ‘registration’ which consisted of about 3 – 4 tents for this. There was a tent with disclaimers for those who had forgotten or lost theirs. A clearly labelled medic and volunteer tent and information and a map printed out and displayed.
There was the best range of food I’ve ever seen and I was pleased to see that it wasn’t just your standard burgers or hot dogs. I tried the duck wrap, the noodles, the chips, the coffee (and finally somewhere that offered decaff) and it was all beautiful.
One thing I will say is that it was really rather expensive. A duck wrap set me back £7.50. The beer was about £4.50 a pint which I’m told is about average at a festival. The event organisers did allow people to bring their own drinks but you were not allowed to drink them in the festival tent (understandably)
They had a Rat Race shop which took card payments and a massage tent too. One thing that I really liked to see here which I haven’t actually seen anywhere else yet, was the numbering stations. Pens on a string, attached to a wire fence for you to write your number on yourself.
The Festival was pretty epic. Now, I’d been up since 5.30am on my feet all day marshalling at 5 and a half months pregnant so I was pretty tired but I’m glad I joined in. Considering the distance that people had completed that day, it was amazing to see how much energy they all still had. Dave Pearce playing daft punk made my night but the highlight had to be the lady on the inflatable unicorn, crowd surfing. The OCR community is just nuts and I love it.
The atmosphere throughout the day and night was amazing. Not one person I spoke to had a bad word to say about it.
For those who want to camp; a word of warning. Many people didn’t sleep very well as there were a few very loud people who thought it was hilarious to try and keep everyone else awake but shouting “ALLAN, ALLAN, ALLAN” among other rude requests from the ladies. NOT what you need the night before or after a race of that magnitude or when you have children camping with you. Most campers were great but if you’re planning on camping next time, bring some ear plugs.
Lastly, the littering was a big issue which has been discussed on several forums. I really felt sorry for the marshals that I saw at 11.50 pm picking up people’s trash and the three marshals I saw at 9 am the next morning on their hands and knees collecting rubbish. There were plenty of bins provided, all of which were broken down into recycling so why there was so much rubbish left behind is a mystery. It doesn’t take a minute to walk over and put your rubbish in the bin. I doubt you leave your house in that state so please, don’t do it anywhere else either.
Amazing, well-built obstacles
Great selection of food and drink
Epic festival and atmosphere
Marshals were outstanding
Excellent use of terrain
Well stocked toilets
Seems like a lot of money to spend for one race (but you won’t be disappointed)
Some people ended up with cold showers
Loud campers and litter bugs
Overall rating: 4/5
All in all, this was by far the best event that I have been to. Yes, there were a few things that could be improved upon but overall I think it’s safe to say that everyone has been totally blown away by this OCR. The obstacles, the atmosphere, everything about it was amazing. Those who haven’t yet signed up – I suggest you do. I have…bring on Rat Race Dirty Weekend 2017!
Published by Keren – Mudd Matters
*Pictures courtesy of Rat Race Facebook page.