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Chasing the elusive Yeti

by Paul Hayward
Thursday 5th March 2015

Race report: Obstacle racing columnist Paul Hayward  attempts to chase down a Yeti - February 28, 2015

Chase the Yeti -  February 28, 2015

I will confess that I had never heard of the Obstacle Course Race (OCR) series 'Chase the Yeti' by the team at Avalanche Run. However while spending some idle moments earlier this year on Facebook, I came across their race page, with images of snow and competitors chasing a Yeti - I was instantly interested. I had images of a rival to the 'Chase the Train' that fellow Run247 columnist Kirsty Reade speaks so highly of.

I decided to research the event a little more and found out that there was actually a Yeti and you actually got to chase him. I would be lying if I pretended that the thought of the chase did not fill me with excitement and when I arrived at Wrongs Farm in Leicestershire, I was more than ready to go all out to catch the Yeti.

So much so that I had told my mother, for once, what I was doing and anything less would now be considered a failure. 

Chase the Yeti -  February 28, 2015

The event offers three distances ranging from 5k to 20k. On joining my fellow competitors in the 10k wave, I noted the number of running club tops. Despite its billing as an OCR, I got the feeling that this event was a natural extension of the cross country season and this was not going to be an easy race.

My concerns were proven right minutes after the start. We were negotiating some of the 4x4 track, or more specifically a number of hills draped in mud that were relentless and by the fourth one I wondered if I would have to result to walking up them shortly. Thankfully the hills broke into a forest and we were treated to the first obstacle, a wall made out of logs.

Although not the hardest obstacle I have seen, on the basis that I was struggling for breath it had been placed perfectly and caused me to blow harder. Any feelings of being short of breath were soon forgotten though, and replaced with terror, as I arrived at a massive muddy bog known as 'the bomb'. The competitors’ bodies in front of me were not really visible and it was clear that it was going to be a deep wade across the bog to the other side.

Chase the Yeti -  February 28, 2015

Deep did not really do this obstacle justice, as the muddy water was up to my chin and I was effectively submerged in cold freezing water. I waded through, whilst shrieking, and I was glad for the decision to brave shorts and not go for leggings. The cold was bitter though and despite the sunshine, it tore into me and I felt frozen as soon as I was back out running. The Yeti clearly had the advantage here and I was going to struggle to catch him if the obstacles continued in this vein.

I pushed through and returned back to the fields for further hills and a combination of tunnels and a tyre wall. Both obstacles were fairly easy but combined with the terrain very effective in ensuring that I was breathing a little heavier. At this point I had broken away with a group of three males and two females (although in fairness the females were edging away at speed) and I started to think that if we continued at this pace we must surely catch the Yeti.

Yet, at 8k there was still no sign of the Yeti and I was becoming increasingly worried that I would not catch him. There was, however, a short energy sapping obstacle in the form of a log carry, that did manage to reduce my pace further and on reaching the river I was pleased that I could see the finish line and the walls blocking it.

Chase the Yeti -  February 28, 2015

Fortunately for competitors, and for Yetis clearly, the walls only stood at 7 foot and had holes to help you scramble over. Although considered cheating by some competitors, who opted to ignore them and bolt over, I was glad for the holes as my energy was dwindling. On making it across the final haybales and down the pipe, I could see the finish line and more depressingly a Yeti jumping around and having pictures taken.

Chase the Yeti had been a great blast through Wrongs Farm. The main selling point had to be the terrain. The mixture of muddy hills, forest trails and uneven ground ensured that competitors were pushed quite hard from the start and I often found myself struggling for pace. The obstacles were small, and in some instances caused congestion, but well placed and ensured that your rhythm was broken up suitably. I do not think I could have done the 20k, a testament just how hard this race had been!

Chase the Yeti -  February 28, 2015

I really enjoyed the race and my only concerns are that with increased participant numbers congestion might become a problem. I was also a little dissapointed to find out that the Yeti had lead out a few waves before then peeling off, as for me some of the excitement was about chasing down this beast. I was also really excited to see my picture with a Yeti on Facebook but an additional cost for this picture too is a bad thing; a lot of larger OCRs now do free pictures and I think Avalanche Run are missing a trick by not letting social media be flooded with people happily posing with their Yeti.

Finally, quite out of character for me, I would have liked a medal. Purely because this race was known as 'Chase the Yeti' and that could really make a special medal, with a big white Yeti on i, which I would be proud to show off. On speaking to fellow competitors this feeling is shared and a lot of people were a little sad to be leaving the event without one.

But the final points should not hinder my view; I really enjoyed the race and it was a good event.

Chase the Yeti -  February 28, 2015

Find out more about Avalanche Run and Chase the Yeti series at: www.avalancherun.co.uk


About The Author

Paul Hayward

I am 33 years old and spend the majority of my life within an office environment. Whilst I played football, I never really took an interest in sport let alone athletics. In 2011 I joined a gym as I was slightly concerned about my weight. However I was, like an awful lot of my colleagues, coasting and I considered spinning three times a week a workout.
This changed when I took up a circuits class and found myself entering Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest London in November 2011. I was assured by my friends that this was a good idea and would be a “challenge”.
I had never entered any form of competitive event before and training for this run changed me. I listened to my personal trainer, who assured me that if I quit drink I could be dangerous, and sorted out my diet, stopped drinking so much and focussed my training. I completed the race in just over an hour and I was instantly bitten by the racing bug, I loved the challenge the event offered. 
Nearly two years on I have completed a half marathon in 1hour 49 minutes, came 6th in the Rat Race Horseplay 5k event and usually come within the top 30% at Obstacle Course races. I am also a part time triathlete and I am lucky to find myself in a running club where we have a great coach and the focus is on members. If I am honest - I came to running through these events and I am not alone.
My aim through Run 247 is to promote, discuss and publicise Obstacle Course racing. It is becoming huge and over the coming months we will cover all of the major races and the new competitors entering the scene. 

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