I love it.
How can you not love it?
I wish I could get away with a nine word review of this weekend, but somehow that wouldn't do justice to the incredibly hard work that the event team put in. So I’ll put in more effort and and let you know why Total Warrior is easily one of my favourite races on the OCR calendar.
Here are some video highlights (including the adventures of MORT)...
Total Warrior’s event village is a wonder to behold. Slick, fast and accurate processing of all the runners, getting them chipped, numbered, tattooed and ready to race is simply incredible. There's very little queueing and zero chance of confusion. If, like me, you wander around looking at the views rather than the 10 foot high signs, the marshals were highly visible and knew everything you would need to know.
There was at least half a dozen catering vans, a massive beer tent, stalls selling clothing and Water-To-Go bottles. Obstacle Kit’s stall sold race specific inov-8 trainers and socks and even the mighty Mudstacle stall was open for business, selling beautiful t-shirts and hoodies, and even had a complementary line of friendly chat and shelter.
Best of British:
I've hidden in my car at many races when it's rained because there was no cover in the event village. I’ve seen races cancelled because the rain has caused too many issues for parking. I’ve seen obstacles closed because of rain damage. But not this weekend. The rain came down hard and fast almost solidly for two days. Animals started pairing up and wandering over towards me. “Look guys I know I look like Noah, but chill!” The rain did nothing to slow down the Total Warrior machine. Nor did it dampen the spirit of the 8,000 runners.
Of course it is:
This is why we are all here! It’s all about the course and the obstacles. They get it right. They get it so right. The opening hill slalom thins the wave of 300 runners almost into single file, with the whippets at the front and the Saint Bernards at the rear. It was then a great fire leap into a muddy pool of water, crawls under barbed wire and more hills with high/low hurdles thrown in! The onslaught of obstacles is relentless, massive muddy moguls to clamber up and over with water pools between each one.
Once we were beasted by the hills and crawls, and muddied by the moguls, the walls challenged our climbing skills when wet and slippery. They got progressively higher and were so much fun. There was also a new addition of a huge overhanging wall, possibly the largest we've seen in the UK. Thankfully it had a few climbing holds to aid the accent and was one of the most rewarding challenges of the day.
The great thing about this course is the consistency of the obstacles. They are perfectly spaced apart and, when you're not tackling an obstacle, the running is technical and challenging.
The second half of the course has more hills, muddy crawls under barbed wire, ice filled skips and, a personal favourite of mine, a super steep climb with a cargo net over the top to aid the accent. The final kilometre is designed for the spectators, with a electric shock run, MEGA fast and steep water slide, an epic A-frame climb, log carry, river swim, technical wall climb and finally a set of monkey bars over water.
Bring a friend:
This year I decided to run the 10km course with MORT, our beautiful obstacle racing tyre. It was super tough but at every stage other runners offered a helping hand when it got tricky and, when MORT simply couldn't fit through a tunnel, the marshals were incredibly helpful and would carry her round to meet me at the other end. This was a team effort and the team consisted of ALL the other runners and marshals.
A mountain of love:
The only difference between Saturday's 10km race and Sundays 10 mile race was the extra 4 mile fell run, which this year was a bonus timed circuit. I was feeling pretty strong as I crossed the timing matt and decided to push hard and see how close I could get to the King Of The Mountain trophy. It was a brutal two miles of uphill running over soft grass and marshland, occasionally broken up with stream crossings and deeper bogs. After reaching the top there were two epic downhill miles. I was in full beast mode at this point and just went for it, running as fast as I could. I was so happy. I love running, I love running off road. I never get to run two miles downhill where I train. The trails are rocky and through woodlands where I live, so it was such a treat to run through open moorland, streams and stunning bleak scenery.
The Total Package:
Last year I wrote a review of Total Warrior and my closing statement was “So close to perfection, its scary!” Last year I had 3 minor niggles:
Last year - Water station on the 10 km was a little too close to an obstacle.
This year - Not only had they moved the water station to a natural slow point in the course, they added an extra water station!
Last Year - Add a bottle bar with plastic bottles to the beer tent.
This Year - No need, as the queuing had been massively reduced by having more staff and pumps!
Last Year - Add a 'quiet camping' area for those, like me, who are too old and grumpy to party all night after a race 🙂
This Year - I didn't camp this year, but one of the Race Directors made a special effort to come and find me and ask if I had camped in the quiet area this year!
This event is outstanding! The course is beautiful and has a challenge for every entrant no matter what their experience or fitness level! The organisation is spot on, nothing is left to chance.
So is this now a perfect race?
Surely you can’t have a perfect race, I genuinely can’t fault it though.
But is it PERFECT?
It is dangerously close!