On October 8th, I took part in my very first Bear Grylls Survival Race on behalf of the NDCS (National Deaf Children Society). The setting was Trent Park London and it was my first solo event. This meant getting my head down and absolutely smashing this race. I had heard a lot of things that were unique to the race itself and these were the reasons I couldn’t wait to take part.
I was taking part in the 10k version so the distance wasn’t a problem. There was also a 5k version for those less into running and a massive 30k (next year perhaps) which made the event accessible to everyone. The event village was probably one of the best I had seen. It was packed with a multitude of sponsors and mini events to keep early attendees entertained until race time. Clothing stools, pull up challenges and food stations were included in the selection.
One of the best things about the event village was the view of the tallest obstacle in the UK! ‘The Mountain’ peered over the starting block and was definitely the main attraction point of the whole race. As the MC hyped up around 120 people (released every 30 minuets) she also have you a 5 digit code to remember throughout the race. There were 2 more digits to find and remember along the way also which was a pleasant test on the memory. No one knew when they would be needed so It kept the crowd on their toes. After repeating this number out loud 4 or 5 times, we were off!
There was a nice mixture of obstacles throughout the race. One of the early tests was the Jungle Zone which was a monkey swing rig. Not easy as it swung so low to the ground so you had to keep feet high. Being 5’11” didn’t help so I pretty much hit the hay underneath me. My punishment was to bear crawl the rest of the way (nowhere near as painful as Spartan burpee’s).
Further on from that there were a few fireman carries and wall jumps which are always an addition. A strange (and really difficult) obstacle was a carry with a twist. A large tube filled with water which moved every time you did, displacing the weight of the large object was a tough and unseen addition. Once past that, and after further running you come to a box of binoculars and apparently the other 2 numbers somewhere in the distance. Most people had no idea where or what they were looking for (me included). Using my ears Instead, I picked up the numbers from someone shouting that they had it. Thanks guys.
Going through more forest and taking part in various jumps over pretty deep holes, you arrive at the big obstacle, ‘The Mountain’. A very tiring climb up ladders and a huge cargo net and you arrive at the top, which was when I started to wonder how I was going to get down. The pretty nerve-racking moment when they say ‘jump into this hole and you slide straight down’ was unexpected. Getting stuck in what could only be described as a stretchy cotton tube (also getting a touch of what seemed like ‘carpet burn’ along the way) I wriggled my way towards the bottom. Fun but pretty sore.
As soon as you escape the tube you actually need to light a fire! I loved that they included that. Assisted by a 10-year-old, I sparked up the cotton wool and was off only to meet a lady holding a bucket of mealworms! She didn’t hand me one, she gave me a handful and said ‘eat up’. Downing what tasted like dirt I ran on not wanting to think about what I just ingested and cool down.
Before being allowed into the next big obstacle, we had to recall the 7 did got number. The assistant was nice enough to have it written across his arm (not telling you to look, but guiding you with his eyes) so that no one needed to think too hard. Described as the ‘Arctic Zone’ and with snow resembling bubbles being pumped into the air, you needed to navigate a balance beam combined with a few jumps.
Seeing the event village once again you knew that the end was near. One more wall climb and then a scramble under some barbwire was followed by the final leap over some burning coals to mark the finish. All winners were awarded with their finishers medal, t-shirt and various post race snacks.
I thought that the race was fun and definitely inviting to those that would like to try Obstacle Course Racing for the first time. With both 5k, 10k and 30k options, there is something for everyone and the obstacles are easily completed. The soft punishments for not completing tasks are also perfect for those not as confident in their OCR ability.
This doesn’t take anything away from those not so new to OCR either. There is enough challenge to keep you interested and try to complete the course as fast as possible. With this said I was proud of my time of 1:13 for the 10k. I will definitely be returning next year to stand up to the 30k version of the race!
Did you take part in the Bear Grylls Survival Race this year? How did you find it? Are you planning on taking part again next year? Let me know in your comments below.