Red Bull Quicksand returned for another day out on Margate beach and Lee went along for his second play in the sand.
Now in its second year, Red Bull Quicksand promised one mile of beachy goodness to destroy even the fittest of entrants. The course consisted of two ½ mile laps of man made sand dunes (or sandcastles) and due to a high spring tide the night before, some lovely waterlogged sections. Running on sand is hard enough without all this on top. Anyone thinking this was going to be easy should've left at that moment.
After taking part in the first Quicksand last September, I knew what I had let myself in for, however rocking up to Margate seafront and being confronted by sandcastles higher than the road… I knew Red Bull had upped their game. Registration seemed smoother than ever, having taken feedback from last year's event, they split it by name rather than the single queue we had last year and this seemed to flow a lot better
One thing I always love about Red Bull events is the athlete areas, and at Quicksand this is the centre of the event. The warm up area, start and finish line were only accessible from the centre of the course which was only accessible to those involved with the event (participants, guests, media teams etc.). This always helps create a lovely atmosphere for the event and with it being sunny, a great chance to sunbathe on the giant beanbags
The format of quicksand is simple.
For the men:
- 5 Heats with the top 50% from each heat progressing.
- 3 semi finals with the top 25% progressing.
And for the women:
- 3 heats, top 50% progress.
- 2 semi finals, top 50% progress.
I love the format of heats as it adds an extra dimension of competition however I was disappointed not to see the repicharge return (a second chance for people who didn't qualify in their heat) meaning if you had a quick heat and only just missed out on qualifying… Tough.
I was in heat five, meaning I got to see all four heats before mine take place, allowing me to see the kind of times that people were doing to qualify. The course looked bigger and badder than last year and the times were reflecting this in the early heats.
Soon it was time for my heat, and lining up next to a group of paratroopers, I knew this heat was going to be a quick one. Knowing it's top 50% going through I could allow people to go off quickly and settle into my own pace in the middle of a pack, sitting about twentieth by the halfway point. This is where the burn really starts to happen as your heart rate has rocketed and getting it to come down is impossible. Being comfortable in the top 50% I allowed myself to walk up the hills to allow me to maintain a jog on the flats. I finished the lap of with a total time of 10:15, 18 out of 86 and safely through to the semi finals.
Next up were the women's heats and it was great to see more women taking up the challenge of Redbull Quicksand this year. The heats seemed a lot more competitive than last year as well.
Semi final time: this is the stage I got to last year, and where the competition steps up a gear, with only the best 25% going through. I knew to be in with a chance I was going to have to run quicker than my heat (and my times from last year); sub ten minutes. From the off I knew it was going to be a tough ask, the top 13 people would qualify and, coming off the first section of dunes I was in 17th, I maintained this position going into the second lap and managed to get a nice gap between myself and 18th, however I knew pushing for 13th wasn't going to happen. Nevertheless, I kept attacking the dunes, managing to keep 17th with a time of 9:52. I was happy to have broken that 10 minute mark, even if it did try to break me.
Additional Photos Courtesy of James Carnegie / Red Bull Content Pool