Recently I entered Obstacle Run on the 8th October at Bay of Plenty – 8km designed by New Zealand’s first ever World Championship Obstacle Racer, Joshua Bishop. “Challenging but achievable, the Obstacle Run is designed for people to test their limits, discover their potential and have a great time doing it!”
The following is a brief writeup of my experience and the event itself.
The elite race
To my surprise I came in 1st place in the elite wave! At a time of 49 minutes over the 8km course.
The full results can be found here. Jason Palmer finished in 5th place starting with the elites but was registered in the open heat. The race provided the chance to race against other NZ obstacle racers, such as Jason Palmer, Matt Ansley and others.
I very much enjoyed the elite wave, pushing myself to keep running the entire time. There were a few hiccups: the elite wave hit the tyre carry obstacle before any marshals were present and so we just kept running loaded down with carrying a tyre each not knowing where to drop them. I was in the lead at that point and was expecting to either run into a marshal to tell us to turn around or drop them, or for the course to naturally loop back around to the starting point so the tyres could be dropped at the start ready for the next wave to pick up. We continued up hill, dragging them under a cargo net, and when we got to some slanted walls I finally dumped it at the wall’s base, figuring we weren’t meant to be carrying them over these obstacles. Later I learnt there was a turn-around marker just slightly up the hill from the starting pile, a lot shorter distance away than we actually carried them – so I’m not sure if the marker was there from the start of the elite race but we just all overlooked it or if the marker wasn’t in place yet. Either way, a marshal was needed to tell us the turn around point.
As another hiccup, I completed the balance beam obstacle successfully and was moving on just as the marshal was walking towards it carrying medicine balls. I just ignored it at the time and kept running, but I found out later that the obstacle was meant to involve balancing across the beam while holding a medicine ball for weight. Again, we were too fast for a marshal to arrive, and the first few of us across the balance in the elite wave got an (unfair?) advantage by avoiding the weight. I believe the final guys in the elite wave were given the weight to carry.
As a personal hiccup, I had to stop twice to tie my shoe laces, which didn’t seem to be cooperating during the race, losing some time.
From the starting line I lead the race up until the Jetts Fitness sponsored obstacle where after arriving before the following runner he smashed out the obstacle faster and took the lead before I could leave the obstacle. The obstacle involved a stop point with a series of yoga mats on the dirt where a few exercises had to be completed while surprisved by a Jetts Fitness Personal Trainer before contueing: pushups, squats and situps (the number of reps was increased for the elite wave). A bit further up the course as it narrowed into tight track Lucas Bennett, the person who had passed me, stepped aside and stopped saying as I past “I can’t run like you can.” It was a good move to do which I appreciate. And also a good sign hopefully that my running strength is improving, something I need to work on to truly get better at obstacle racing. From there I managed to stay in the lead until the finish line.
Passing one of the marshals I knew, he seemed both encouraging and surprised that I was coming in 1st place. I was surprised myself. Throughout the second half of the race after the Jetts Fitness obstacle I was expecting to have to surge to prevent being passed, but luckily it didn’t happen.
The scenery was great and constantly changing, from bush trails to open roads and deforested areas to even running through a cave. The venue of the TECT All Terrain Park provided an amazing backdrop to run through.
Notable obstacles included plenty of walls to conquer, tyres to carry and larger ones to flip over, a wall traverse, and not one but two sets of monkey bars. An obstacle failure penalty of needing to complete 30 frog squats before continuing running was enforced for the elite wave and encouraged for the open waves, but many obstacles – including ones which I imagine would be high failure points such as the Irish table, the hanging rings, the first 10-foot wall, or the first monkey bars – didn’t have marshals at them to give out penalties or ensure they were completed correctly and so it appeared the penalty rule wasn’t enforced during the elite wave. With a parkour background before coming into obstacle racing, I didn’t fail any obstacles to have to complete any penalties.
The home stretch was awesome, hearing the music as you slogged up a final hill to round a corner obscured by bush and encounter the festival area. The course then looped around the festival area with four final obstacles in the way: a low wall, Ninja Warrior quintuple steps, monkey bars, and a final 10-foot wall.
For 1st place elite I won a pair of Icebug Acceleritas 4s courtesy of Icebug NZ and sponsored athlete Joshua Bishop.
I was also at Obstacle Run to run with my 8 year old son, and we did so in one of the later waves later in the day after the elite wave. It was the furthest and longest he’s ever ran, taking us 2 hours – meaning I was both the fastest across the course and then one of the slowest across the course later in the day. Massive high five to him for making it through both the course and most of the obstacles.
Using these new Icebugs, the weekend after I entered my hometown race, the McDonald’s Mud Muster, and in came 2nd place. While not having as hard obstacles as Obstacle Run, it was a very wet and muddy race which provided lots of fun. A blog post on this experience will follow.
Get there next year!
Get along to Obstacle Run next year if you can. It was a quality event with a engaging course across changing terrain, an achievable distance, with obstacles ranging from small and easy to challenging and likely requiring team-work. The participation numbers were a bit low, around 200-300 I believe, but if an event were to gains growth in future years I would love to see this one do so as it provides a great OCR to the obstacle racing scene in NZ.
Freedom camping was available onsite TECT All Terrain Park – you could literally step out of your tent door and be 10 seconds from the race venue. We stayed in a unit we found through airbnb – it had a freerange chicken, alpacas, dogs and cats, and a great view over lake Rotorua.