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There's something for every OCR lover at the Major Series

by Paul Hayward
Monday 21st March 2016
At the beginning of 2016 we previewed the all new Royal British Legion Major Series Obstacle Course Race (here) and after sneaking some tips on training and the kind of obstacles you can expect, I found myself on the start line of the beginning of their series ‘the Royal British Legion Major Midlands’. 

Major Series

The 2016 Major Series on 12 March 2016 had arrived at the iconic venue of Ragley Hall - home to 9th Marquess and Marchioness of Hertfordshire. Sadly there was to be no afternoon tea experience but as the weather showed signs of spring, you got the impression that something fantastic was going to happen. For those not aware of the Major Series, the race is supported by British Military Fitness who offer ‘no better way to burn 700 calories’ through bootcamps throughout the United Kingdom (here). The ‘warm up’ gave an impression of just what was in-store and I do not think I have ever done so many burpees, full chest into the mud, before I have even left the start line!
On being released into the beautiful grounds of Ragley Hall I, along with my fellow competitors, soon found our paths blocked by a river and the 'Marine Crossing'. This involved wading through the freezing cold river from one side to the other whilst going under the inflatable logs. I have to say, as the chilling screams echoed around me, that it was a brutal introduction into an Obstacle Course Race but fortunately the sun warmed you up just enough after!
After a quick succession of hay bales, requiring competitors to climb, jump or crawl across them, I found myself back in front of gentleman adorning BMF clothing and gleefully suggesting that I do burpees, pressups and squats before moving on. Although none of these are an issue for the majority of people, the succession in which these obstacles followed each other ensured that you were breathing heavily after. Some to the extent that finding any running pace after was short on impossible! 
With some daunting hills thrown into the mix, clearly the Marquess loves to horse ride, by the time I reached ‘Wright’s web’ - I was gasping for breath slightly. I have often faced the ‘web’ obstacle, a selection of ropes and woven wires acting as a web to get through, at a race but I have always found myself asking just what are these? The ropes / wires are often slack and are easy to navigate. However, no-one had told this to the Major Series and the wires were tightly hoisted and all at angles; ensuring that competitors were forced to crawl, jump or climb over them. 

Major Series Collage

Having now experienced the obstacle properly, I would have to say that it is a fantastic idea and ensures competitors are sent left, right, up and down all at the same time! I could not help but laugh as I lost my balance or I fell over one of them. On making it through the forest I could see to some disbelief some smoke and a fire in the distance on a wall. 
Behold the ‘burning building’ which consisted of a number of windows requiring competitors to jump or hoist themselves through in order to progress. On taking a run up and jumping for the ledge, I could not contain my joy as I pushed myself through and out the other side. Despite being a simple obstacle, the fire and height of the windows ensured that everyone smiled as they accomplished it. 
After some more traditional, but well built, obstacles such as a cargo net and balance beams it was on to the end and a massive inflatable slide down the hill and an A frame requiring competitors to climb up and down via the ropes. On making it to the bottom I heard a scream “come on, nearly there” and it was clear that the Major, congratulating everyone at the finish line, was not allowing any slacking for the last few metres! 
In a sport full of obstacle course race options every weekend, the Royal British Legion Major Series delivered a real coup - a challenging but fun obstacle course race that promoted teamwork and gave an excellent introduction to this sport. None of the obstacles were impossible to the 'normal' competitor, something that seems to be happening far too often now, and the onus was clearly on providing a challenge, but a fun one at that and that can sometimes be missed. 
As I walked round later on and noticed the reactions of the later waves, everyone was smiling, laughing and enjoying the experience. In a sport that can easily get sidetracked through promoting 'tough' or  giant obstacles, the Royal British Legion Major Series proved that you do not need these to provide an excellent race - you just need to make sure you do the race well. 
For more information on the remainder of the Royal British Legion Major Series see here: https://www.britmilfit.com/major-series/ 
All photos from My Bib Number Ltd

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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