So we’ve all heard of Bear Grylls and probably watched him on TV do some whacky skinning of an animal to keep warm whilst camping out in a freezing forest and also evading being eaten by bears or something equally as sinister.
Well Mr Grylls has launched a survival run and when my crazy friend Laura was getting a team together for this I jumped at the chance of taking part and we all signed up including my friend Helen who is equally as crazy. It was marketed as a tough race and a substantial challenge, requiring both physicality and courage. They were ensuring there were at least 35 obstacles and saying that you needed to complete lifts, carries, water obstacles and a variety of medium and difficult obstacles. If you couldn’t complete an obstacle you were warned there would be a penalty and told to think of a 25m bear crawl through xxx (wait and see)!
Yesterday morning we headed to Trent Park in London and made our way to the ‘Festival Area’ where the race began. This area was full of people, stalls, segway experience, bungee jump, a huge inflatable that you jumped form a height on, which I was disappointed to see in this area as I had seen a pic of this and thought it was one of the race obstacles. There was a stage, food stalls, and loads more including stacks of stuff for kids and spectators, which was good considering they were charging £15 (if paid in advance) to be a spectator!
We headed over to the bag drop and there was only one word for it – carnage! The queues were ridiculous and a complete mix of people dropping bags and those who had already run and were collecting bags. There was no structure to it and at the front of the queues there were staff just chatting as our wave time drew closer and closer. When we got to the front they asked where our plastic bags were – what plastic bags? The staff on the table with the bags to be given out that you put your kit in were to one side chatting so no one had these! The race had not begun and we were miffed already especially as there were people everywhere who had completed the run and were not happy about a lot of things!
We managed to get all bags checked in just as our wave went off so we all ran over to see if we could nip through the cloud of orange smoke that was now the start and the marshall had no idea so we went anyway only a few hundred yards behind the wave anyway.
The rest of this review leaves me a little baffled as to what structure I put it in or what order. Do I mention first that the ‘obstacles’ were poor? Do I mention first that the signage was useless? Do I mention first that pretty much apart from the start and finish there were no marshalls? There’s more but where to start?
The last obstacle race I had done was The Commando Series at Hever Castle and it was brilliant. The group of 9 I was in have all done Nuclear Races apart from me and Helen and they also said that was brilliant. Helen has done Tough Mudder and I have spectated when my husband has taken part and that looks brilliant. My husband has done the Spartan Trifecta and I have spectated at the sprint, super and beast distance events with him and want to do those myself next year as they look brilliant too! Now I know that Bear Grylls is not mentioning any of these events or comparing his to theirs but the reason I am mentioning here is to show that between us we all have more than enough exposure or first hand experience at other OCR events.
It was lucky that Bear Grylls showed us how to survive without water by drinking out own urine because all of the water stations were unmanned or was simply a sea of empty bottles that had been discarded!
The first ‘obstacle’ was some wood that was across the path that you had to get over and when I say wood I mean about half a metre high and a couple of cms wide – just walk over that then! We had a cargo net and then another cargo net, then monkey bars, and more monkey bars, at least 2 or 3 ‘walls’ to get over, 2 ‘walls’ to get over or through, some hay bails to jump over, some hay bails covered in cargo net to crawl through, rings, pulling a weight on a rope to reach the top of a metal construction, wires in the forest, getting across a wall using pegs in holes, getting across a wall with foot and hand wooden cubes on the wall, carrying a rucksack weighing 20kg up a hill through the forest and then back down, carrying tanks of water up and down, carrying another weight up and down, pulling a weight up and down a length of floor, shimmying across some metal bars without falling on the floor, getting across slack ropes and a sloped wall to climb up with a rope. Barely any mud and the only water was a ditch you ran through where the water covered your feet.
To make it more interesting we ended up kicking the mud and water in the ditch over each other. When we finally found a bottle of water we threw it over each other to make up for the lack of water. And at one point we decided to roll down a hill and make up our own obstacles.
I am still struggling with my wrist injury and can’t put much weight on it at all so some obstacles I had to do the penalty and it was just a bear crawl or 10 burpees or star jumps not through anything like they said with wait and see!
We finished looking barely any different to when we started. But we started as a team and finished as a team and we made it fun and laughed along the way. Though to be fair we could have probably done most of that in a local park!
On completion, where a 70 year old lady ran to the end – kudos to her – awesome, we were met by some more event staff who were mostly chatting but when we walked over to ask what we were supposed to be doing they offered us a tshirt, then a medal, then we asked for a bottle of water and then we just helped ourselves to an energy bar as no one was giving them out – shoddy.
Back into the festival to wander round and hunt for some more freebies we were promised which were beer and coconut water and the guys on these stands were lovely! Also Newton Faulkner was performing on stage and the atmosphere there was great (apart from everyone moaning about how sh*t the actual event was).
When we collected our bags there was a stand for magic towel company MazMik and I was so impressed by these and would recommend buying them – I will be! If you have seen the film Spy you will have seen where the waiter brings over what looks like a little marshmallow, pours water on it and it expands. In the film the lady eats it thinking its food but its actually a towel and amazing and only £2.99 for 50! Best thing at the event ha ha!
So all in all I can say that this is overpriced (way, way, way, overpriced) you are basically paying for the festival area which is great but if you are going for the event you expect your money to represent what you get from the event and this did not. Bear Grylls should hang his head in shame at his weak attempt at trying to rival other obstacle race leaders such as Spartan. This seems to not just be my opinion either as the Facebook event page is filling with bad reviews and complaints as well. And whilst I mention Spartan it is because some obstacles were similar (pretty much the same, well exactly the same) so no originality there! Where could they have come from? Who knows? No idea where the bins in the festival area could have come from either *insert sarcastic face here*!