One of the highlights of my year so far has been, without a doubt, Rat Race Dirty Weekend. An obstacle course race…of course.
Held in the absolutely stunning grounds of Burghley House, this 20 mile event included 200 obstacles and an absolute ton of different terrains. It was all topped off with an epic festival at the finish line that continued through to the next day. As soon as I finished I was ready to sign up again and have been telling anyone who’ll listen about it ALL about it…and I’m not quite ready to stop…
The event began on Friday afternoon – we’d secured an area for BMF to set up camp beside Mudstacle and The Dutch Mud men, creating a camping village. There’s such a great community in OCR, and in the UK never more so than with the Mudstaclites. Everyone arrived and excitedly set up camp – raring to go for the weekend.
Friday night included a 3 legged race in the event village. After my last attempt at such a race resulted in me sitting out the party with an ice pack on my foot and an ankle the size of a child’s head I decided I would sit this one out. But then, within seconds of seeing the masses gathered on the start line, I got carried away and Thomas and I were tied together and we were off!
I think we took wooden spoon for the race, but not a complete surprise, given that it included Thomas handstanding a large chunk of it, whilst attached to my foot, and me realising I’m faster at 3-legged races when I go backwards. WAY less trippy-overy.
Saturday was race day.
The first Highlight for me has to be the start of the race.
Mudstacle, Dutch Mud Men and BMF gathered together in the tent for wave 2, everyone SUPER excited to get started! 3….2….1….we were off! As one big wave we flew out the tent with yellow, orange and blue smoke grenades and flags….raaaaaaaaah!
The first few obstacles were quite simple climbs / scuttle-through and carries with some daft ones added such as running through a rugby scrum, trampolining onto a platform and space-hopping. From here we had a bit of a run before we hit a sort of military zone – sandbag carries over ammo boxes, rope climbs and cargo new crawls – intensified by the number of stinging nettles I rolled through – a definite disadvantage of an early wave!! At this point, we lost the Mudstacle crew, who had paused to rave under a cluster of trees. 100% right attitude to racing!
After about 10k we hit one of my favourite zones – the water zone. Despite starting the race early, the heat had already picked up and I was looking forward to getting into the water! However I was terrified at having to do so from a 10m jump! We donned life jackets and began climbing the scaffolding. There was no way I was jumping from the smaller ledge – I headed straight to the top, took a deep breath and jumped off with Annie by my side. Honestly terrifying!
I simultaneously loved and hated it – the sheer fear of falling through the air before being submerged in water for far longer than I expected filled me with racing adrenaline! We climbed out the water, gasping from the shock, and still in our life jackets, headed further round the course to another set of scaffolding. This time we threw ourselves down a slide into the lake. If it had been a cold day this may have been a different story, but in the hot sun it was absolutely glorious!
We swam to the far bank and clambered out, only to be sent round a corner and back into the lake, this time across inflated obstacles and monkey bars suspended across the water. We climbed in and out of the water more times than I can remember, but despite how absolutely energy-sapping it was, it was SO much fun.
From water, we were back onto a solid track to continue our run – which would eventually snake through trees, across fields, up and down tracks and through more lakes. It wasn’t just the terrain that prevented boredom, but also the group and camaraderie as we ran in a group of 6 but would also constantly bump into other people we knew – whether taking part themselves or just spectating.
There were so many obstacles to contend with too (200, to be precise!) so it really was never dull at any point in the 6 hours of running! Well, maybe as we passed the 13 mile “Half mucker” turn-off and were immediately faced with a hill…
Overall, the run was tough, as regardless of obstacles, you’re still having to cover 20 miles, but at so many points the miles would fly by. Some took 25 minutes, others took less than 10 minutes, so there was something for everyone! Even had a few sit downs…got this racing mentality NAILED.
Leading up to the event I was very excited to try out the Nutcracker, a metal pole that swung like a pendulum between two ledges. The idea was that you stepped onto the metal ledge and pushed off so that you smoothly ‘pendulummed’ across to the opposite ledge. I didn’t quite achieve this dainty finish as my take-off foot slipped and I swang perilously midway before careering back to the start point, followed swiftly by the very heavy metal pole. BOSH. Lumpy head a reminder of my poor obstacle technique.
To be honest though I still think it’s an awesome obstacle!
I also LOVED the final obstacle, a huge set up of containers to run through, climb up and slide down from. It was great for racers and spectators alike, and challenging enough to finish on a high (pun totally intended), but achievable for everyone who took part – even if it meant grabbing a helping hand or leg-up along the way.
I’m not sure if the smiles on our faces at the finish line show a look or relief, or reflect just how much fun we were still having, but either way I think the fact I’m doing it all again next year speaks volumes 🙂
Unlike most races, the finish line was really just the beginning! From here we got showered up and regrouped in camp for drinking games, races and general debauchery.
And then…the festival began! The festival, just like every other aspect of the event, was so much bigger and better than I had anticipated! The main stage and tent were given every bit as much thought-out as the previous 20 miles had been, and after the winners prize giving (aka ‘BMF Race Team’ prize giving) we got our rave on.
And now, as we look back on just the most super-duper weekend, we wait and count down the days until we can DO IT ALL AGAIN NEXT YEAR!
If you want to join BMF for Wave 7, give me a shout!