It’s always great to hear about a new obstacle course race, especially one that’s situated in the perfect natural playground of the Lake District. I’ve just had the pleasure of catching up with Kevin Bedford, ex Royal Marine Commando and organiser of the upcoming Born Survivor on 21st September, to find out a little more about what they've got in store for us...
So it definitely looks like Born Survivor is heavily influenced by your military background. Tell us a little about your time in the forces.
I’m an ex Royal Marine Commando and have been on active service with Elite and Special Forces in a number of theatres of operation. My specialisation is in mountain and arctic warfare, so have spent several winters in northern Norway and six months in Antarctica.
Wow, you’re certainly going to know how to keep everyone safe and warm at the event then! So, what makes Born Survivor different to other obstacle course races?
Our obstacles have a military feel, with all of the obstacles that you would expect from an authentic military assault course.
What really makes makes us different is the intensity - 10k with 38 obstacles - there are no long plods between obstacles, they come at you thick and fast, just like being on a real military assault course. People come for the obstacles not a cross country run... and we give them what they want.
We don't believe in gimmicks, so there won’t be any electrocution or flaming pits for example. It is authentic, raw and tough.
That’s really great to hear. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of electric shocks as a gimmick. If obstacle course feel that they have to include them, maybe they should make up a challenge where your job is to avoid them (I’d rather eradicate them completely though). Check out this discussion we’ve been having on the forum.
We have relented slightly and built in some 'fun' elements like an immense slide and the penultimate obstacle complex the 'Blood Bath', which we’re keeping TOP SECRET until the immediate lead up.
Sounds interesting. Be sure to let us know first about it 😉
Are you getting a crack team of marshals together?
We’ll have ex Marines and Para's who will be stationed at some obstacles encouraging people in their own special way! The Army will also be there with their display units and will be putting in a few teams to take on the course. So, as well as challenging yourself, it’s a great opportunity to take on the British Army as well!
Hmm... I’m pretty sure who’s going to win there!
Why did you chose Lowther Castle in the Lake District as your location?
Location, Location, Location - We wanted a prestige location, the estate is beautiful and there are fantastic natural features that we’re able to use to great advantage. The Lake District is the adventure capital of the country and has a fantastic draw for competitors. Mr Lowther and the estate team have been incredibly helpful and supportive in staging Born Survivor and that partnership is very important to us.
It's pretty hilly around there, are you making the most of that?
Absolutely - we have 1000ft of sinew straining climbs - and in one section we have the Killer K - that's 1km with 10 barriers and all of them nicely uphill for the hell of it!
Wow, I can feel my calves popping at the thought of it! So tell us a little more about the obstacles we can expect?
Expect the authentic military barriers seen on TV and films - 10 feet free-standing walls, tunnels through water and mud - one complex being 50ft long! Huge monkey bar complex over water, overhanging walls, 15 feet high scramble nets in woodland and river crossings with full submersion under barrels. We also include plenty of mud filled obstacles such as our trench complex 'The Somme', ' The Lair' and the 'Bomb Hole'.
Have you already started to construct the obstacles and when will you take them on site to see the course come to life?
We have started to construct many of the obstacles off-site and they will be transported to Lowther Castle prefabricated, our walls are being made and we have already dug one part of the 50ft tunnel complex. The scramble nets and ropes are being made to order by a specialist assault course net maker. Our construction crew will be on site for two weeks leading up to the event and we will have a trial run on the Thursday before to test everything.
How fit do people need to be to take on this challenge?
This is going to be tough. Our advice is to achieve a good level of basic fitness through a structured training programme - jogging, running, cross training and swimming are all great. Think a basic 10k training schedule plus a but more. A fair amount of upper body strength training is also advisable. We would recommend that people join a military fitness or bootcamp class - the specific training they offer is perfect preparation for Born Survivor. On our website we have details of a number of partner gyms, personal trainers and boot camps that are training especially for Born Survivor - and bringing teams.
Do you think this is suitable for first-time obstacle races or hardened vets?
It is suitable for both - for first timers, especially as part of a team, the course presents challenging obstacles that have fun element if taken at your own pace. The hardened vets will appreciate the hardcore authentic barriers and the intense nature of the course that they won’t have experienced before unless they’re ex-military.
Do you have any other entertainment planned for the day?
We are planning a fantastic event village with mobile bar, large beer tent, top quality food as well as a stage where our rocking live band 'The Seals' will entertain the troops.
Are you planning to organise any other events in any other locations?
Absolutely - we have an event planned for late April 2014 in the north of England and we return to Lowther Castle in September next year for Born Survivor. We are also looking at locations from the Midlands to Scotland for for 2014. Its going to be a busy and exciting year for Born Survivor!
Are they any other "surprises" or anything else that you can tell us about to whet our appetites?
If we told you they wouldn't be surprises would they! - Over the coming weeks we will be sharing details of obstacles - to whet your appetite - 10k of demanding Lakeland terrain, 38 authentic military style obstacles, a punishing 1000ft of hills, the most inspiring barriers specially designed to create the ultimate challenge.
Thanks loads for your time Kevin.
If you'd like to know more about the upcoming Born Survivor event, be sure to check out their website: www.born-survivor.com.