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Dash of the Titan - the 'organic' OCR?

by Paul Hayward
Thursday 14th May 2015
Tags  Dash of the Titan   |   Paul Hayward   |   OCR
 
 

Race preview: Obstacle racing columnist Paul Hayward gets rather muddy at the Dash of the Titan on April 4, 2015

Dash of the Titan on April 4, 2015

Back in January we previewed Dash of the Titan (HERE) as an Obstacle Course Race (OCR) that set out to challenge the norm by offering 'natural' obstacles, amazing terrain and a race village that was incorporated within the course. I was pretty excited to make my way to Newark last weekend to take on the Titan.

On driving to the car park from the main road, I was met with a row of 'quadrants' (huge haybales to you and me) that stood ominously in formation for the length of around 500 metres. Sadly no competitors were on the course yet, so I was unable to judge just how high these were as I sped past them, but they did look fearsome and made me think that this course could be a challenging five miles as they appeared to go on forever.

Sadly I was running late so I missed my wave, however I was able to watch it go as 40 people carrying tyres started running in and across a series of muddy slaloms, before dropping the tyres and racing into the wilderness. I had to smile as this OCR was ticking the boxes to begin with. After finding a new wave and picking up my female tech shirt (they had run out of male sizes), I joined my fellow competitors and started eyeing up the tyres.

On being released I ran for my “medium sized”  tyre and began the climb into the slaloms. Luckily I was sporting a pair of Inov8 200 XTalons that planted me to the ground despite the additional weight. On making my way to the back of the leading pack of my wave, I glanced over as the course looped back and saw the rear of my wave reduced to walking. If the team at Titan had set out to be brutal from the start, then on this evidence they may have surprised a few people from the word go.

The course looped, after a tyre scramble, into the woodland and as the pack of competitors at the front broke up, I became to be on my own and I realised just how beautiful the terrain was. The course guided you through a forest, with a number of twists and turns, and over or across mixed terrain with branches, trees and the occasional cargo crawl blocking your path, literally. I have never done an OCR where the entirety of the route is blocked by natural obstacles, or in essence nature, and you were left to chose your own route to the finish.

I have never done a serious trail run but I had thoughts, as I pushed ahead to try and catch someone, that this race must be pretty close to that idyllic vision of going out for a run into the forest on your own and surmounting nature’s course. The constant dilemma of navigating across branches and natural foliage took its toll on me and my breath became heavier and heavier.  As I got deeper into the forest a number of obstacles presented themselves from cargo nets wedged in mud, with the net heavily weighed down forcing competitors onto their stomachs, to a huge crawl into darkness with the beams getting lower and lower.

Dash of the Titan on April 4, 2015

On breaking through the forest I came to a crossroads with three possible routes; the road to left, the forest ahead or the road to the right. As I stopped to take a cursory glance, I could not seen any signage dictating the route or hear anyone. This led me to become a little nervous and on being caught up by two gentlemen, we opted (thankfully) for the forest, on the basis the last route had been so good and to our relief we were shortly met with some signage guiding us forward.

The second forest provided more untold riches of brambles, branches and terrain that challenged competitors to find their own way through to the end. The forest housed some muddy bogs that were waist deep and another cargo net draped in mud. Although I am often suggesting that cargo net crawls should be weighted down, I may draw the line at the pure amount of mud that this method seems to attract. On emerging from the crawl; I was absolutely covered from head to toe.

Save for the famous “Sheep Dip” at RockSolidRace, I do not think I have ever been this muddy and I had not even been submerged in a bog. On trying to shake some of the mud off and regain my composure I made it to two walls. The first wall was just tall enough to be a problem and rather unhelpfully too thick at the top to really get any good grip. Luckily I was hoisted, after several failures, over the first wall and made the second with ease.

The final section of the forest housed a number of hill climbs and competitors were required to run up and down the hills through a number of directions. Although this sounds easy, with the addition of the natural terrain your pace could be destroyed at times as it was just too difficult to navigate, unless you were a proficient technical runner. It was highly enjoyable though.

On making my way past the hills I was pleased to see that the finish line was in sight, although admittedly it was blocked by the line of quadrants. On surmounting the first five I felt fine, but by the tenth quadrants I was gasping as they took their tolil and beat the pace out of me and seemed to get higher and higher with each step. 

After a quick climb of a man-made hill, I was facing the finish line with some sort of crawl leading the way. The crawl housed a number of logs overhead ensuring you had to duck and on running up to the crawl. It appeared that the crawl had sections that looked quite deep and I would be required to pull myself in and out of each section. Thankfully this was not the case and the obstacle’s bark was much worse than its bite and I made it to the finish line.

If I am honest this race will divide opinion. It was incredibly light on obstacles and if anything you could go as far to suggest that it was not really an obstacle course race. Yes it had some obstacles but these were sprinkled across the terrain; they played a very much supporting role to the main attraction - the terrain.

Dash of the Titan offered one of the most unique experiences I have had in an OCR. Each path was full of brambles, tree trunks, branches or other natural terrain that blocked your every step and ensured that competitors were constantly pushed to maintain their pace. The constant challenge of navigating through this terrain and maintaining some form of pace was the real obstacle.

Dash of the Titan on April 4, 2015

The next Dash of the Titan OCR takes place on 29 August 2015 and more information can be found here: www.dashofthetitan.com/next-race/

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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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