Bing Blazer Park Life Race Review TW

Thanks to Tartan Warrior and elite racer Joda Quigley for providing her race review (www.tartanwarrior.co.uk)

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ParkLife was going to have two firsts for Scotland, firstly a multiple lap OCR endurance event, as many laps of a 10k course as possible in 240mins. Also Keep it Simple Timing (KitST) were using GPS to track athletes as they take on the course with a live link to allow people from all over the world to watch athletes battle it out on the course. 

I was extremely nervous about this event, firstly because it was my first race representing Team SISU Pro Team and also because this was my first endurance event of this kind so I wasn't too sure on how to pace myself or how my body would cope with a combination of time spent out on the course and potentially more miles than I have ever done before. 

It's race day and the weather conditions are looking good, light cloud and about 12 degrees, simply tropical for Scotland in October. This is a local event for us so after a 20min drive we are at the beautiful Beecraigs Country Park, this is the location for the race. 

We made our way to the main events area and got registered, we were given our chip timing and GPS tracking. Our chip timing went round our ankle and the GPS came within a crop top that we had to place under our own running stuff, the tracker sat in between our shoulder blades, I thought it might annoy me but I forgot it was there once I started running. We had time to catch up with our OCR friends in between lots of trips to the toilet to do nervous pees.

We got called to the start line for a quick pre race briefing and warm up by the super awesome Leeanne, a mixture of lunges, squats and star jumps got us warmed up nicely, then we were taken to the start line and before we knew it we were off. 

My aim was to take the first 10k as fast as I could and then pace myself after that, so off I went as fast as my WEE legs would take me. The start of the race took us into the forest running on forest tracks and before we knew it we hit an 8 foot wall with holds, up and over the wall. Quickly, we took off along the track to the next obstacle, this was a tyre carry up a hill for about 300 meters and then back again, this felt relatively good first time. Back into the woods and we met another carry, this time a traffic cone, this was a shorter flatter carry, I think we were all glad of that.
We ran on and crossed a road into the other side of the park, first we hit a dark crawl followed by hurdles. The hurdles hammered the legs but it was straight onto more running. 

After a short run we hit the next 8 foot wall, again with holds. As soon as we hit the ground I could start to see the next obstacle on the course, hard to miss the 24 foot scaffold structure. First was an 8 foot wall onto a platform and then another 8 foot wall onto another platform, then a 5 foot wall to the top. Then we made our way back down via a 5 foot drop, then ladders and a fireman's pole. Once we hit the ground we made our way to the side of the structure to the 15m long scaffold monkey bars. I think this was the obstacle that got most and if you failed it there was a 20 burpee penalty. I had prepared myself and my hands for this obstacle, lots of upper body training and my hands had been covered in Trail Toes, yes Trail Toes sounds like it's for your feet and it is, it's anti friction cream to protect your feet when doing long distance, so as I knew my hands were going to be doing a long distance on the bars I thought it could protect them and it did. I used it the night before and at my pit stop every lap. I just put a bit of chalk over the top so there was no excess cream that could cause me to slip. Check outwww.trailtoes.com for more info on this awesome product. I completed the bars with ease and with my hands in one piece, I was delighted. No rest for the hands or arms yet as the next obstacle was just round the corner and it was a hoist, 16kg for women and 24kg for men. This was tougher than I thought being straight after the monkey bars but I did it. There was also a fair bit of friction between the rope and scaffold making the weights feel heavier.

The next section of the course was a trail run that took us over a road to a spiders web that lead us to a run around the stunning loch then back over the road again. We then started a trail run up hill and came to some hurdles, this was a killer after the run up hill. We continued running up hill then back across the road to a net crawl. We then had a tough trail running section and the legs were starting to hurt, I remember thinking at this point how on earth am I going to be able to do multiple laps of this. The next obstacle was a dark hydro crawl, this was AWESOME, freezing cold water crawl through a dark tunnel, perfect for cooling the legs down. Out of the tunnel and back across the road to the tyre flip, one flip each way with a lorry tyre. This felt heavier than it was but at this point we are about 9 kilometres into the course, the home stretch is fast approaching. 

The last kilometre had a tyre run and then four round straw bales to get over, this was all on a slight up hill, a killer on tiring legs. I was glad to get over then continue onto the last few hundred meters. As we got closer to the finish line and events village we picked up speed and could hear the cheering from spectators as the finish line drew closer. A sharp turn off the track and over the finish line, lap one complete in 47mins, happy with my time but no time to rest, just a quick drink of Mountain Fuel Extreme Energy and Honey Badger Hydration. I also put Trail Toes and chalk on my hands then it was time to take off on lap two. My fiancé John was first to cross the finish line in a time of 40.05 he had waited on me coming in to do the second lap, I came in 2nd place with Stephen close in 3rd so we all took off on the second lap together. The second lap was great, we still kept up the pace and our positions as 1st and 2nd male and 1st female. On this lap we started passing racers from the second wave that were doing two laps, we were equally encouraging to each other and they all let us past and over obstacles when necessary, this was much appreciated. 

The second lap seemed to fly in and before we knew it we were back at the start/finish and refuelling again ready to take on lap 3. 

We all took off together but when we came to the tyre carry on our way back down we could see a few guys catching us. I told Stephen and John to run on, I was pacing myself and didn't want to hold them back incase the other guys got ahead. They picked up the pace and left me, I was still in front of the other guys when we came to the monkey bars, this was my third time but my hands felt awesome so I crossed them with ease. The guy behind me came off and was going to run on, he wasn't keen to do his burpees and kept running, I wasn't pleased about this nor were the Marshalls that got ignored but the Marshall at the hoist informed me later on as did the runner that he completed them. Penalties are there for a reason in Obstacle Races, if we skipped or failed every obstacle and just ran, that would be a running race. Its important for everyone in a race to listen to the Marshalls instructions at all times, if you are given a penalty and are racing for time and a position you must do your penalty. I caught up with Stephen and we met up with John at the end of lap 3. Another quick refuel and hands sorted it was time to take on lap 4. 

During lap 4 John and Stephen started to cramp, Stephen fell behind a bit but John and I managed to push on to complete the 4th lap before the 3 hour 45 minute cut off to start a lap 5. We finished lap 4 with approximately 15 minutes to spare, we rehydrated and set off, just John and I with no other racers in sight.

We were the only two racers to complete 5 laps, this lap was our slowest, John was suffering terrible cramps, I was unbelievably fresh for 40 kilometres, I have never ran any more than 21 kilometres before. I kept checking with John that it was cramp and not a strain as I didn't want him injuring himself, I kept his fluids topped up and we made it through the finish line together. I was so amazingly proud of us both, 50 Kilometres is the furthest either of us has ever done and it was emotional completing it together. 

Bing Blazer ParkLife was a step into the unknown for me, my first endurance OCR, I didn't know how my body would take it or if I would enjoy it but I loved every minute. The course was in a beautiful location with a fantastic mix of obstacles. The Marshalls were amazing, encouraging and helpfully from lap one to lap five, they didn't wither. This has been my best OCR challenge to date, I truly couldn't fault the event in any way. 

Thank you Michael, Edyta and the rest of the Bing Blazer team for putting on a fantastic event from start to finish, we can't wait to see what you have in store for us.