The Major Series - through the eyes of an OCR fun runner!

Thanks to Si Bullows for providing the below race review.

I tried this event for the first time on and came to the conclusion that if you’re into natural obstacles (fallen trees, muddy bogs) you’d love it! However, if you want 8ft walls and manmade challenges to clamber over, this is not the event for you.

The road to the event had sparse signage with only a few starting around a mile out – good job I have Satnav!

On arrival, marshals directed me to the car park which was less than 5 minutes’ walk to the event village. A dozen porta cabin toilets were on route between the car park and the event village and seemed to have a constant queue outside them from the moment I arrived until I was leaving. The event village itself was sparse compared to others I’d been too, consisting of 4 army tents for changing, a replacement number/chip tent and the kit tent where you could drop your keys and mobile phone off. There was also a van providing mobile disco, a coffee and food tent and a tent providing free porridge courtesy of the sponsors.

As I’d arrived early I tried to adjust my race wave but was told that this would affect my chip timings therefore it was impossible for them to change it. Hanging around for a while was going to be inevitable so it was back to the car to stay warm.

The warm up by the BMF guys was good. They really knew how to get the crowd going and warmed up in the driving rain and heavy wind.  A bit of a laugh when the instructor leading it lost his footing and nearly slipped on his arse!  We were then ushered to the start line and were off running the first 100 metres, to the first queue of the day - a small single track path leading down to the riverside where 200 folk tried to all get through at once! 

After that it was “Hardy’s Hills”, up and down 6 slopes of varying gradients, climbing over the dry stone walls halfway up on the first part, with BMF guys shouting “Help another then move on.  Don’t leave anyone behind” and navigating steep slippery slopes at the end down to the water’s edge where we waded through the river for about 30m in knee height water where 2 safety guys helping strugglers.

Then it was back to running through fields. There was a lot of running through fields!

Back in the forest and we met with a lot of trip hazards with signs saying “Uneven surface. Watch out”.  The first of the man-made obstacles was “Postman’s Walk” - a double rope walk between 3 trees.  Further in we came across something they’d called the “Stench Trench” – this, for me, was the most memorable of all the obstacles. We met it at 2km into the 12km race and it consisted of a 50m bog with no way around, at mud depths varying between knee and waist height - that was just leg sapping.  Here there was one unfortunate female wearing a pink tutu who tried to run past us all to get through it fast. She accidentally discovered a deep part and face-planted into the mud – at least I knew where next not to put my feet for the deep bit!

Then we went back to field running. With its openness and cold biting wind I’m surprised I didn’t see any hypothermic cases!  This led us down to the river again where we had to scramble up the first of many muddy slippery slopes.

The next wooded section we encountered brought us to something that was called “Wrights Web”, over 30m of tangled rope to climb over, under, through whilst having to navigate underneath fallen trees that were thrown in the mix too. Then more fields were upon me.

After going down one field I encountered an ankle deep stream – poor thing was muddy from all the participants that had gone before. I had to crawl in it, under a fence, and around some poles to get out.  Down another hill to “Blake’s Bridge”, a small stone bridge we stooped under to go through another knee high stream. Then up a hill and onto “Lieutenant Leigh’s Log Carry”, a tame log carry up to a telegraph pole and back. I was expecting more but maybe I’d been spoilt at other events.

The first water stop was at 5km (the second at 7km). Pity they didn’t have coffee to warm us up in the cold but the water was well appreciated. 

Then after another field I came to my dreaded enemy of event’s “Edmunds Electric Jumps”, an electric shock crawl where I seemed to take everyone’s shock - 7 in total, but at least I got a hug from the marshal who was in fits of laughter from all my shocks.

Fields, fields, fields again.  Then came “The Wire” a barb wire crawl that right angled into a muddy wrist high ditch with a camera person sitting at the other side of it. Then back into the woods for something called “Jones’s Vanishing Bridge”, 5 rubber mats roped together to create a pontoon type thing over a muddy waist high deep pond.  Needless to say I fell off these and there was another camera person in a tent to capture all pictures (I hope she got my good side!).

Lots more mud at this point as we entered more waist high trenches having to get over a gate with another BMF instructor there, caked in mud, to aid everyone over.  Back into woods, we were up and down what seemed a gazillion muddy slopes with knotted ropes to pull ourselves up.  Then there was a cargo net with 2 BMF guys helping us all out.  As we left and went up a slope there were guys handing out Jelly Babies - brilliant idea.

Across another field to “Reed’s Rifle Range” with 2 marshals and water pistols – a bit tame but a laugh.  Then “Sander’s Slide” which was a downhill water slide – most folk I talked with loved this obstacle!

A little bit further and the finish line was in sight.  Over 2 plastic covered hay bales and a small jog to the finish and 12km later I was done.  A medal (which they could fit over my head!), a tech t-shirt and a goodie bag were given out to all finishers.

As I went to get my car keys and warm up in the changing tent I was disappointed to find all the tents apart from the keys had been closed down – even though there were still people out on the course!  Even the coffee and porridge stalls were getting packed away. This put a damper on the end of the event as there was nowhere for me to change or get something warm to drink and my only solution was to put my dryrobe on and drive the 3hrs home wet and filthy!!

As I entered late and paid the premium price of £50, I’m glad I did it for the experience.  The BMF guys there where knowledgeable, helpful and I couldn’t fault them with their encouragement at each obstacle - full praise to them all. This to me was more a runner’s race than an obstacle course. Would I do it again?  Probably not, as I prefer a mixture of natural obstacles and man-made high walls etc.