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The Beard does it again

by Paul Hayward
Thursday 20th August 2015
Tags  Obstacle racing   |   Paul Hayward   |   Dirty Dozen Races   |   Dirty Dozen Races London   |   OCR   |   The Beard   |   Doug Spencer
 
 

Race report: Obstacle racing columnist Paul Hayward reports from the latest Dirty Dozen Races in London - August 15, 2015

Dirty Dozen Races - London, August 15, 2015

Photos © Epic Action Imagery

Last year I attended the final weekend in Dirty Dozen Races’ calendar, the UK Championships, and commented that “this series is going from strength to strength and I only hope they will attract the number of competitors that they deserve” (HERE). It seems that the hard work has paid off as Hop Farm was bouncing with what seemed double the amount of people from last year and Dirty Dozen Races now had their own section of the farm (no chance of a cheeky tea stop).

If Usk last month (HERE) had been anything to go by the stage was set, with options of the 6k Dash, the 12k Dirty Dozen and the 18k “Destroyer”, for a whole day of fantastic Obstacle Course Racing.  However Hop Farm did not have the hills or scenery of USK, so every ounce of experience and innovation was required by Doug Spence, aka the Beard, and his team to end their year with a bang and show that they are ready to compete with the best.

As the sunshine broke and Mr Stuart Armoury welcomed the masses to the start line, you could tell something exciting was about to happen. The Beard had teased competitors with a few indications of what awaited, such as a floating wall to scale or a plunge into darkness. On being released into Hop Farm and starting off my 18k journey at a decent pace across the farmland I wondered what lay ahead.

Not surprisingly the first 3k featured some running with one or two walls thrown in for good measure. This was clearly designed to break up the congestion which it had achieved quite easily by the time we reached the first few obstacles in a row. These consisted of 'the bitch ditches', huge mud hills with ditches filled with water, which were followed by the sheep dip, a full submersion in cold water and the new obstacle 'Fallout'.

Fallout was a journey through a wooden tunnel with a drop at the bottom of the tunnel into water. Clearly an obstacle designed to play tricks on competitors' minds. I held my nose and went in. I should not have been surprised, but I was, that Fallout was quite deep and on submerging and swimming to the side I was gleaming. It was horrible, I can imagine a few people turning back, but I had to smile.

After this I was suitably cooled down and I enjoyed the next few kilometres and obstacles until coming to a pile of logs, with a marshal smiling and the realisation came to me that I had reached the 'carry'. The Beard’s races are not a stranger to carries , rather if he thrives on them, judging on last year’s log carries across muddy hills and on Usk’s brutal inclines, but I had not expected a 3k carry of a log across terrain and obstacles.

I have seen some pretty outrageous carries before but this took the gold star. Within minutes of running with my newly aquired log, I faced a mini 'bitch ditch' and the combination of the small climbs and the carry ensured that my rhythm was destroyed and the obstacle became harder and harder. After the ditch we were treated to a crawl, a wall and a run that seemed to never end. When I put the log down, I could happily have stopped racing.

Sadly this was not an option as a good 5k remained. Fortunately on reaching the river I forgot about the distance and the fact that my legs were screaming, due to the sight of a swim under some barrels, followed by a climb onto some floating decking ending with the scaling of a floating wall. These obstacles were enough to make everyone think the Beard had gone mad. However, this section had to be the best part of the course for me as I swam under and climbed over the obstacles.

Competitors around me were taking the opportunity to do some pretty spectacular dives (or bombs) and it was clear that everyone was enjoying this section of the course. Scaling the wall I spotted the Irish Table in the distance [see our Usk report] and I knew I was finally on my way home.

Last year we were treated to two 10 foot walls in a row; this year it was the trio of the A Frame, some horrendous play on the Irish Table requiring a muscle up to get over (or team work) and one last wall before making it into the arms of the Beard. Doug had managed to provide a roller coaster of a challenge sprinkled with innovation that had ensured you were challenged but finished with a smile.

I could merely murmur that he had delivered a fun, brutal and absolutely enjoyable dose of OCR that would be hard to beat. The views of Usk had been replaced with laughs, smiles and the odd misplaced word.

On spending some time near the river after the race, it was clear to see that everyone was having a blast, creating memories and doing so outside of their comfort zones. Whether it was the 6k Dash or the 18K Destroyer, Doug has managed to balance his races just right for beginners to the hardcore ensuring that they all go home with the same feelings - elation and pride.

A special mention has to go to Ross Mcdonald of Team Inov8 OCR who won against some big competition.

Dirty Dozen Races - London, August 15, 2015

Photos © Epic Action Imagery

Dirty Dozen Races kicks off in 2016 at Essex and more information can be found here: www.dirtydozenraces.com

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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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