Mudstacle Review of Warrior Run

Last weekend Warrior Run returned to Brighton for their second instalment of obstacle race fun. This time they had a 6km and 12km (two lap) options available. I have great pleasure in welcoming the return of

Nathan, who’s written about his experiences on the two lap course. Take it away Nathan…

It seems like every OCR now-a-days is claiming to be the toughest, the longest, the hardest, the muddiest etc. This can leave us looking into a seemingly endless sea of impossible races to choose from. I myself am guilty of being a little complacent. With my last two races both being over 20km, I went into the Warrior Run thinking,‘12km, that’s not too bad, anyone can run 8 miles.’ Often complacency breeds over confidence, which leads to arrogance and often failure. When you’re lying at the side of the track rolling around with cramps, no-one will help you if you’ve been an arrogant so-and-so at the start line!

The weather in the week leading up to Warrior Run had been a little indecisive; mostly overcast and a bit naff. A tremendous storm on Thursday night got me thinking that the course would be an endless quagmire; the Tough Mudder Mud Mile, but 8 times over and with extra obstacles thrown in. By the time Sunday rolled around however, the skies were clear and the temperature was well up into the high teens, threatening to hit 20 degrees C! with it being so nice I decided to ditch the tights and have what might be my last race this year wearing just the shorts (and obligatory Mudstacle t-shirt of course!)

The Warrior Run event is held 6 miles north of Brighton. Those of you familiar with the area will know that this puts the course right at the base of the Sussex downs, a particularly beautiful part of the country, but also fairly hilly! Unfortunately the run didn’t incorporate the downs so it was mostly a case of up and down through fields and woods with a short stretch of paved running.

Having found the site and parked up it was a case of walking round to the event village, which was one of the better ones I’ve seen. It is normally an outdoor adventure site, offering activities such as archery, clay pigeon shooting and the like, so there were a few fixed amenities in place, such as a bar serving hot food, toilets and a decent area for families and friends to relax and wait for competitors to finish.

Registration was quick and simple: Hand over your waiver, deposit £5 for a timing chip and get your race number to attach to your clothing. It was a painless process with no queuing. After getting everything attached it was time for a warm up. It was run by a man who shouted all the usual instructions; jog on the spot, star jump, press ups, etc. over some pretty loud backing music, this led to the odd confused look amongst the runners in the crowd who couldn’t hear him. No matter, before long it was time to get to the start line and get out there!

By this point the sun was out and temperatures must have been approaching that 20 degrees although there was intermittent cloud cover which helped to cool things down. The starting gun was fired and we were off; immediately down a short, steep and muddy bank into some knee-deep water. It’s not often that you’re thrown straight into a water obstacle from the start line but it was apparent that water would have a fairly large part to play in this course. The mud was sticky and the water was stinky but this was what everyone was there for. It was good to see so many people happy to be so dirty!

Once I had escaped from the water it was onto some more conventional obstacles, a pair of small barriers to hop over followed by a pair of hay bales. Not a problem really but they helped to split the pack up rather than offer any real resistance. After a short run up hill and round a corner the obstacle village loomed. The first challenge was a log carry, something that most people will be familiar with. Find a log you like the look of, stick it on your shoulder and plod on for 100 or so meters. For a laugh the course organisers had thrown in a couple of small mounds to run over. After ditching your log it was off for a fairly long run down a rocky path, along a pavement (oddly) and then back around a field.

Then came the second of the water obstacles, a river that ran under a bridge. I jumped straight in, not realising the depth of the river and stacked it into the bank on the far side. After righting myself, it was time to wade up stream, under the bridge. There were a couple of fairly manky looking drains running into the river at this point. I guess that was why the waiver had made a specific point that the water shouldn’t be drank, it wasn’t very nice. A long cement tunnel and another river wade followed.

Once finally shot of the river, it was time for some more land running, through some woodland and then back towards the farmer’s field for a set of monkey bars, but not standard issue bars. They were scaffold poles set fairly wide apart. I’m not sure whether the course designers had done it intentionally or not but every other pole was shiny and brand new, so you’d find yourself going from having a decent grip on one pole, to having near enough no grip whatsoever on the next! As if the distance between poles wasn’t already enough of a challenge! Immediately after these monkey bars came a little scaffold board climb and more running.

After a few hundred meters and a large mud bank, I was back in the obstacle village; this time around it was apparent that there would be more than just a log carry to polish off before moving on. The first challenge here was a triple-threat combination of high walls, crawl under bar, and pit. The high walls were all about 7 feet tall, not much of an issue for myself at 6 foot, but some shorter people may have struggled a little, the crawl under bar was better handled with a sideways roll and the pits weren’t too deep so getting out of them wasn’t too difficult, but by the end of these tightly packed obstacles breathing was a fair bit harder!

Directing rope told me to double back on myself, so I did, and in front of me stood an apex frame set of bars, up one side then down on the other. After a little jog around some more double-back turns there was a decent sized cargo net with three platforms to help you back down on the other side. Closely packed next to this was a wooden post apex frame, and a tyre carry, but not until you’d dropped for 10 burpees! The tyre carry was a good 150 meters at least, looping back around the muddy field and coming back for (yet more!) obstacles in the village. There was a Jacobs ladder, a rope climb (or hold if you were knackered!), a cargo net to crawl under and more running back round the muddy field. This time a bloody massive mound had been added, again the organisers must have thought this would be a laugh…

On the final return to the obstacle village was a challenge that favoured the strong rather than the endurance runners – a tyre flip! Tractors tyres were required to be flipped three times in one direction and then three times back to where they started. This was also the first (much needed!) water station.

We set off back through a field and into the woods where we were confronted by a low crawl, exactly the same as any of the barbed wire crawls that you’d face at Spartan Race or Tough Mudder, minus the barbed wire, instead it had been replaced by some tarpaulin, but you won’t hear me complaining about it! Another wade through a bit of water and another double back turn presented a tightrope walk, apparently when the event was last run earlier in the year this tightrope had been suspended over a fairly deep river but, after the summer we’ve had, the river was nowhere to be seen!

Next up came a slip and slide. Who doesn’t love the combination of a giant sheet of plastic, a hose and some washing up liquid? I’m not sure whether any washing up liquid was involved, but the slope was steep enough to get a good amount of speed up! Once I got my feet back it was another Jacobs ladder (some fairly severe bottle necking here as I got stuck behind a large group from a gym!) and a tunnel crawl. These tunnels proved to be quite a struggle for me, being made of metal and only about 2 ½ – 3 feet in diameter, they were too tight to crawl through and there wasn’t enough grip on their lightly corrugated surface to push yourself along at a decent rate!

The next section involved a small ladder to get to the top of a hill, a bum slide/abseil down a steep and bumpy slope to a pit and then a quick but steep slog back to the top of the hill. It was at this point you were presented with the archery and clay pigeon stations. Unfortunately there wasn’t a challenge that involved them, instead a couple of banks, a cargo net crawl and yet more banks before the beginning of lap number two!

I found myself really struggling at this event. I can’t quite put my finger on what the issue was but I walked far more than I should have, which was incredibly frustrating! The course itself was a good challenge and the offer of lap number three to take the distance up to 18km was tempting but as I had travelled with friends I gave it a miss. With the form I was on, I would have probably failed halfway anyway!

There are only two gripes I had with this event and they were were the lack of water stations. There were only two, one just after halfway and another just after the beginning of lap two. With the weather being so hot, it made it a struggle. I don’t know about others but I was really sweating and could have done with more water. The other issue is that the goodie bags had run out by the time everyone I had attended with finished. That would have been understandable if they didn’t know how many people were going to turn up.

All in all I’d say that as a 6km lap course this would be a good way to get yourself into OCR, although the race was made up of practically two halves, (the first running, and the second obstacles) it was good fun and enough of a challenge for anyone, and if not you could always take an extra lap! I look forward to another one of Warrior Run’s events but I just hope they have enough t shirts for everyone! (I like collecting them…)