Friday, 6th December 2019
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The ever increasing popularity of Suffering

by Paul Hayward
Thursday 5th March 2015
Tags  OCR   |   Paul Hayward   |   The Suffering   |   Ultimate Adventures   |   Suffering Legend

Race preview: Obstacle racing columnist Paul Hayward chats to the organisers of the Suffering Race

The Suffering Race

On listening to some feedback from regular readers and speaking to some people in the Obstacle Course Racing community I was being asked why I had not raced at 'the Suffering' and covered their 'Suffering Legend' (a combination of 5k, 5 miles and 10 miles all in one weekend).

With this in mind I caught up with Rich and Markus from the Suffering Race and asked them to tell me a bit about their season in 2104 and their plans for 2015 and agreeing that we would take on the challenge in June:

PH : Can you provide us with a bit of background of how you came into Obstacle Course Racing?

R & M: The team at the Suffering are really outdoorsy and love a 'good challenge'. We regularly trek, cycle, swim, fight, climb, etc. You name it, we have had a go at it.

Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) was a regular past time for us, but we felt there was room for an event that could really live up to its name and the Suffering was born.

PH: Can you tell us how your previous events have gone with the positive experiences and the negative ones?

R & M: I am sure that we were no different to the majority of new ventures in that our first couple of race days provided us with a steep learning curve. My feeling is that you know immediately after an event whether you have done a good job.

Speaking to the finishers, while we are handing out medals and goodie bags, along with the responses on social media really keep you on the straight and narrow. Our main positive feedback was that we were able to offer both a physically and mentally demanding event whilst pitching the challenge just right.

The Suffering Race

PH: You have one of the most diverse spread of distances available in OCR; can you tell us your thinking behind this, and how it works out on the weekend?

R & M: We really wanted to expose as many people to OCR as possible. We love the atmosphere at OCR events and realised it is not all about beating a personal best, it is also about having fun. The people around you when you race are all supportive and are all having a great time, while literally working together to overcome obstacles. 

We agreed it would be good to attempt to capture the interest of those who were inquisitive about OCR, without scaring them, and appeal to the OCR hardcore community by offering multiple distances and options. The Suffering gives entrants the opportunity to graduate to the next challenge in an event that they can trust.

Another great effect of this ethos is that we get lots of returning entrants all coming back for more and we have a great time seeing the same faces and having a fantastic day with them.

PH: Please can you tell us what an inexperienced competitor and an experienced competitor can expect to see and be challenged by at one of your events? Please let us know some of the obstacles and terrain they can expect to counter?

R & M: Ha ha there is a long conversation. An inexperienced competitor can expect a tough couple of hours and the satisfaction of job well done. The distances and the content of the different routes are all challenging, whereas an experienced competitor can expect to have increased demands placed on them if they accept the challenge of the next distance.

Each of our venues offers differing terrain and have been chosen in order to make each race different. We do not want any of our entrants to get used to our events or get complacent. That would never do! 

We have added new challenges to every event we've put on and we are committed to continuing to do so. Our obstacles, terrain and Reapers ensure that the mind, upper and lower body are all tested.

For example 'the Pit' requires an entrant to climb over a wall from a nice muddy pool and 'the Gauntlet' is an area containing a dozen or more challenges while carrying objects with the special encouragement of the Reaper squad. There are wet slides which offer a good giggle and some great photo opportunities as well as suspended nets, pools, walls, tunnels and a countless number of other means of physical delights that makes up the Suffering.

The Suffering Race

PH: We are really excited by 'the Suffering Legend', please can you tell us how this came about and who should attempt this? How tough is it?

R & M: OCR competitors are a tough breed, whatever challenge we put out there for them there are always those who want to go a little harder, a little faster and a little further.

Hence the 'Legend' was born.

These entrants have to complete all the distances over the weekend to earn their Legend goodies. The new venues will give these 'machines' the opportunity to really test themselves further in a safe environment. We have laid down a 40 km Suffering challenge.

The reality of this is that only around 5% of those who enter our events will be up for this challenge but that's fine - we want the enthusiastic newcomer and the crazed elite to sample our wares equally.

PH: We note that you are holding more events this year which is fantastic. Please can you let us know how this growth came about and what the new venues can offer?

R & M: We felt once we were confident that our events were being well received and we were happy with the quality of the event that we were putting on, we would take the challenge to different parts of the country and attract more competitors.

We are pleased to say that more venues are planned, so these new venues for 2015 are really phase one of our expansion. Arley Hall on April 12th in Cheshire has some fantastic terrain. Mud, bogs, water and woodland. It is going to be a cracking edition to the calendar and one not to miss.

The West Mids Water Ski Centre on August 23rd is going to be great fun too. It has hills, water, great terrain and hopefully some fun in the sun to boot. We cannot  wait!

We also have our established Rockingham format March 7th & 8th as well as the new added dates of June 6th & 7th. Rockingham Park is the 'ideal' venue for an OCR' it just ticks all the right boxes. It has mud, water, hills and varied terrain. In short it offers the complete venue for an OCR and will push you every inch.

The Suffering Race

PH: With over 250 OCR events, this year is set to be a challenging one for all providers, what is your event's USP?

R & M: The events we put on have a personal feel to them; our entrants know us.

We are very hands on and visible - we want to hear what our entrants have to say, share their experiences and act on their suggestions.

We believe, and our feedback suggests, that our events are well organised and we are very selective in the products we sell and the value for money of the event. An enormous amount of time and effort is put into choosing the racing lines to make the routes of the race and challenges that competitors face along the way. We ensure that our obstacles are placed in the right position on the course to be encountered at the right point in time; and most importantly are safe.

Our Reaper Squad are also a very popular element in our races and again we give the entrants people to engage with as part of the experience. Friends and family have their part to play to in making sure the entrants get a "clean" get away. Our events are great fun!

The Suffering Race

PH: Please add anything we may have missed or you would like to say.

R & M: For further information visit www.thesufferingrace.co.uk or drop us a line at hello@thesufferingrace.co.uk. Also check us out on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/thesufferingrace?fref=ts and on Twitter @SufferingRace #theSufferingrace

Entry prices start at £38 and we are happy to talk to charities and organisations about preferential terms. There are still spaces for this weekend (7 & 8 March 2015) at Rockingham Park and entry can be found here: www.thesufferingrace.co.uk/ocr/rockingham-castle/


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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