Obstacle racers in the north of the country are no doubt aware of the River Rat Race that takes place in Stockton, but this year London are being included in the wet and wild fun!
London River Rat Race will be taking place in ExCel on 16th August 2014. We spoke to the organisers to find out more...
Very few people in the south would have experience River Rat Race. What kind of an experience can they expect?
Well, it’s very wet! It’s an OCR but the theme is very much an aquatic one. The general idea is to create a riverside or a dockside 10k running route, interspersed with land-based and water-based obstacles. The water-based ones include short swim sections, some kayaking, multiple dunkings and each event has a legendarily-high “walk the plank” too. In Stockton and previous Glasgow events, this has been off the side of some amazing ships moored on the river and in London we will be building a giant platform off which to launch people.
With it being 10km in a city centre location, will it be a fair amount different from your Survival of the Fittest series?
Yes, the water is the key difference. People will be going in and out of the water constantly and the use of water-based obstacles is key to this one’s uniqueness. It’s splashy but not massively muddy. The venue is also a draw and will be unique in that it will be undercover – the race will be based from within the ExCeL exhibition centre itself which will host some classic Rat Race obstacles.
Why did you pick ExCel and what can we expect from the venue?
It’s indoors, which should be useful once you’ve got in from a good soaking. The venue is really easy to get to by public transport, has loads of food options inside and is just a really handy place to base the race. The fact that it has a major dock, with a good precedent for swimming and water-sports right next to it, was also a fairly major factor! There’s not many places in London that this format could work and we think we’ve found the best home for it.
ExCel in 2012 (Photo: Sludge G)
On the scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is “family fun” and 10 is “ultimate brutality”, where would you place River Rat Race?
It’s a 4. The emphasis is squarely on fun here. But it’s still 10k and, if you want to run hard, it will still give you a punishing day out, as the competition at the front end is normally quite fierce. The wet saps your speed and it is very different from anything else in the market because of the amount of watery interludes. Plus if you are hopeless in a kayak, you may just end up going round in circles! So there are elements that, even as a seasoned OCR-runner, you really should not underestimate here. But the event is not designed to be ruthlessly tough – it’s designed to be the wettest 10k on the market.
Is it chip timed, for the element of the community that want to compete?
Yes it is still a timed event and the competition at the front end is fierce. This will be a high-profile race due to location and due to numbers so expect a good calibre of racer up top. It’s a fast course as it’s smooth tarmac for the most part and very flat too. So it will favour the racing snakes and those who dominate on out-and-out running speed.
If this suitable even if you’re not a particularly strong swimmer?
Yes it is. You do need to be able to swim, but if you are a weak swimmer, that’s OK. The swim sections and the full immersion sections are short and sharp and there is no long-distance swim stages to contend with.
Do we need any experience in a boat for the kayak section?
No. We use our own fleet of very stable sit-on-top plastic boats. I won’t say they are unsinkable or un-capsize-able but they are pretty close! And poor technique will just lead to…well, you’ll be out there for longer, that’s all! But they are very easy to paddle and they definitely fall into the no-experience-required category.
Is there anything else that London obstacle racers might not have seen before or any other exciting features?
I think the use of pontoons and obstacles that are physically based on or in the water is something that definitely stands the event apart. Apart from that, the ability to jump into the Royal Docks and generally run amok in Docklands is pretty unique!
Should people wear road running shoes or trail shoes?
Definitely road. The course is fully on tarmac and is ultra-flat.
Do you have any other clothing advise, or is regular running gear okay?
Regular running gear is fine. Generally speaking, anything highly-wicking is good as it will dry off quickly. I would also recommend a close-fitting baselayer. Avoid cotton and heavier materials and definitely don’t wear baggy shorts! And water-proof socks are no use if you are thinking they will keep your feet dry. You’ll be fully immersed a number of times so your socks will just fill up from the top. Lightweight, breathable (and therefore well-draining) footwear and socks are recommended.
Great news for Mudstacle Members - like other Rat Race events you'll get a 15% discount off your entry (but not off the £10 Shelter donation element of the cost). Get in there while the prices are low; Super Early Bird rate ends at the end of the month. www.londonriverratrace.com