Rough Runner 10k was my fourth obstacle race. I guess you can say I’m a fan!
I probably would never do an obstacle race on my own. It’s not really a solo event in my opinion. It’s a relaxed and fun event and it’s about helping your team mates and giving out a deal of banter as you go. You wait for each other, you don’t run off and you encourage where you can but are equally willing to laugh at your team mates and yourself, of course. It’s not that serious.
But there’s a genuine level of fear I have of these races that’s incomparable to normal running events. I’m not a huge fan of getting wet (and with that, getting cold). So any obstacle that involves avoiding the water by its successful completion makes me really keen to not fail. That said, it’s not the end of the world to get wet. I say I’m scared but in reality, when it happens (which it always does), it’s always fairly fun, albeit a shock to the system.So Rough Runner races are done all over the UK and this was the first one in Bristol. And happily just a 10 minute drive down the road from my friend’s house. We were able to have a lovely lie-in and a relaxed breakfast before leaving. We arrived an hour before our wave and were able to check out the race village.We signed our life away (aka the waiver) and then picked up our bibs. By the way, the bibs were such a great idea. Instead of using pins, it just stuck straight onto your shirt. This is handy for an obstacle race because you’re sometimes dragging yourself through things or lying on the ground so pins can hurt or tear the bib and/or your t-shirt. My bib stayed on the entire time. Other events could learn from this!
The bag drop was easy peasy as well. It was all very smoothly run. No issues (FYI car parking was £5 – not too expensive but something to be aware of). The portable toilets had no queues either. The race gods were shining down on us. It’s also a very easy course to spectate. We saw many spectators walking around, following the route and taking photos of loved ones. At the race village there was an inflatable thing for kids to play on as well.The travelator (a main highlight of the Rough Runner event) was also front and centre in the race village and spectators could sit on chairs and watch the poor souls trying to do it – right at the end, the final obstacle.There were different speeds of how fast they were going (one on the far left actually went forward so you could stand on it and it would take you up…). Think gladiators!Our wave was the first one so we headed over to the warm-up area ready to go and, with the others in our wave, were led into the huge inflatable dome. We’d been wondering what on Earth was inside it and whether it was our first obstacle but actually it was far less exciting. It was the health and safety video…
The video was actually really well done. It was all cartoon and very funny. It was still informative and all that jazz but it was done in an engaging way that made people actually watch it. Very clever of them! Then we were released out of the dome (the smell of which reminded me so much of kid’s parties and the bouncy castles) and did a random warm-up (lots of running about and burpees…).
Then we were off. Kate, Jay and I were really lucky to be right at the front. This was just luck of the draw where we were stood by the end of the warm-up but this put us in a fantastic position for the entire race. We were ahead of all the big teams and this meant that for each obstacle we barely had to wait for anyone (which is such an issue with these races).
Most of the running was around farm fields and almost entirely flat, which was a nice change. But it did mean running on slightly uneven grass and through hay fields which just ruined me with my hay fever. It was also quite overcast but still very warm. Sadly this meant I wasn’t intelligent enough to consider still applying sun tan lotion…
Anyway pretty much every single obstacle we reached we could take our time assessing it and then doing it unhurriedly with no queue behind us. It was almost like we were the only ones doing it. We could chat to the marshals and ask their advice how best to do it or more information on it. It was amazing!
I don’t necessarily mind waiting for an obstacle in these kind of races but it does make it easier, and less rushed, if there isn’t a queue. Tough Mudder felt quite frantic and crowded at times with the sheer number of people. This was positively relaxed!
There were many obstacles, such as the Swept Off Your Feet one, where you had to get across an inflatable thing and avoid falling in the water to get to the other side.I love these photos because you can see Jamie laughing at me behind. This was one I didn’t last long on. I got knocked off the toad-stall thing by the big inflatable arm that was swinging around. It wasn’t too bad getting wet as it was such a warm day. Jay properly bossed this though and got a huge cheer from the nearby watching crowd (it was very close to the race village).He was far more tactical using speed rather than my timid stop and start approach. Though he did overcook it and end up flying off the end. He always manages to do something crazy in these races 😉
There was another obstacle where you had to run through a load of marshals dressed up as pigeons holding inflatable barriers to hit you and try and stop you from getting passed (they were pigeons because it was called “Nelson’s Column”. As we ran towards this obstacle we were the only ones around and the marshal dressed as Nelson (high on top of a column) started shouting to the pigeons with his megaphone to “get ready for war” as we approached. It was hilarious. but also very tough! They grabbed your feet and walloped you with these inflatable things, which though didn’t hurt did make getting passed tough.
I managed to do quite well on most of the obstacles and only got wet on the first one above. The fear of falling into the water was real. Though it wasn’t cold I do hate getting wet.Not every obstacle involved water though. There was a huge pen full of huge inflatable balls you had to get through (harder than you think) and things to climb up and over. Basically it was bloody good fun.
The travelator at the end though was amazing. Again we didn’t have to wait which was such a bonus. I decided to try the fastest one and see how it went (you could try each one, but only once).I almost didn’t make it (it’s like a treadmill but so much harder). I really had to dig deep at the end and I wasn’t too proud to accept the helping hand of a marshal to pull me up the last step. Jamie managed the first time as well, though Kate needed another try. Kate is hilarious. She will give everything a go but invariably does end up falling into the water…much to Jay’s and my amusement. 100% effort though – you gotta give these things a go. There was definitely one obstacle I almost didn’t do (involved being upside down holding a horizontal ladder with your arms and legs and shimmying across some water) but Jay and Kate encouraged me along and surprisingly I managed to do it. Doing these things with friends is the number one requirement.We finished feeling jubilant and on top of the world. Such a good race. Definitely our favourite so far. I did actually prefer it to Tough Mudder as it was far less busy and more fun. It had a game show feel whereas Tough Mudder has a “survive or die” feel. Don’t get me wrong, Tough Mudder is amazing and epic, but this was a lot more fun in terms of having a laugh with your friends.I was a bit sad we didn’t get a t-shirt but the photos were free. Obstacle races are more expensive than other races but I do think the price is justified. It involves setting up huge obstacles and having more marshals and health and safety, so you can kind of understand. I thoroughly enjoyed this race and would recommend it to anyone.
Have you ever done a Rough Runner?
Did you ever watch gladiators? I have a new found respect for them. They make it look SO easy.
Do you ever run races with friends as a group?