How often have you read a review of an obstacle course race you've recently completed and wondered if you were running the same race?
It's a very subjective view, isn't it? So at the risk of alienating my fellow runners who took part, please recognise that this is my take on the TrailTroopers May 10K OCR at Chatelherault Country Park, near Hamilton on Sunday 2 May.
Entering the race was straightforward through EntryCentral via the TrailTroopers website. There’s plenty of useful information for the novice, clear instructions and good email communication from the TrailTroopers Team prior to the event on how to get to the event, where to park and what to expect when you arrive.
TrailTroopers offer one of the best value OCR in Scotland and provide a series of prices from the early bird price of £23 to latecomers at £30 for the 10K.
There were 3 available distances to run; 10K, 5K and 2K. The 2K is aimed at Mini-TrailTroopers to encourage kids to take part and have fun. The different races took place over 6 waves starting with the 10K at 10.50 through to the last 2K wave at 13.10.
Waves 1 and 2 in the 10K and wave 1 in the 5K was timed using RaceSplitter on an iPad, which is why your race number needs to be visible when you cross the finish line so the Marshalls could note your time.
Driving to the event was straight forward using the SatNav postcode provided in the pre race email and plenty of parking available upon arriving, which was near the Registration Tent.
Registration was quick and easy and this is where you received your race number. A bag drop was also available if you had to leave car keys or bags. Toilets and changing areas were available and you could find a café in Chatelherault House if you wanted a hot drink.
The course is set in the magnificent grounds of Chatelherault Country Park and takes advantage of the natural terrain and woodland in addition to the man made obstacles throughout the race.
Wave 1 was called to assemble in front of the starting line and I was expecting a 10 minute warm up session described in the pre race instructions but unfortunately, it turns out the person who was going to do the warm up hadn’t arrived. The morning was a bit cold and light drizzle on and off meant that if you hadn’t taken it upon yourself to keep warm and stretch, you may well have started not properly warmed up.
The loudspeaker wasn’t that loud and I don’t think the front line heard the starting gun go off which prompted shouts of “Go!” from those that heard the gun.
The first obstacle was immediate; a few metres away was a huge cargo net pinned down on the side of afairly steep hill. The path at the top of the hill led to the woodland. A variety of fallen trees, muddy ditches and banks to clamber over became the first of many obstacles to overcome throughout the race.
It wasn’t long before we came across the first of 3 river sections; ranging from ankle depth to over your knees.
A variety of trails took us through streams, a tyre carry through some very boggy and muddy pits, several spider webs, a log carry, a rope climb, a water drainage tunnel, a monkey traverse, a long series of steps and some long inclines where some of the physical challenges encountered.
Towards the end of the race a crowd had gathered to see you overcome the final tests before you reach the finish line. These included a huge water slide (back down the hill from the start), a balance beam, climbing walls, a series of overs and unders, parallel bars and balance over a see saw.
All runners in the 5K and 10K races received a very nice medal in the shape of a jigsaw and a TrailTroopers T-shirt. A bottle of water and a wafer biscuit was also welcome along with some information about the Finding Your Feet charity. This cause supports people who have gone through life changing trauma and is supported by TrailTroopers.
Top 3 of wave 1 10K OCR were: First – Ross Keiron, 00:55:01 Second – Connor McGourt, 00:57:07 Third – John Denovan, 00:58:02
Top 3 of wave 2 10K OCR were: First – Lee Kinnell, 01:06:03 Second – Gary Gordon, 01:13:28 Third – Graeme Neilson, 01:17:55
Top 3 of wave 1 5K OCR were: First – Calum Ferguson, 00:32:23 Second – Emily Crusher, 00:34:07 Third – William Haley, 00:35:41
I later learned that vandals had moved signs and taken down markers and course tape overnight prior to the race. I didn’t notice this disruption at all during the race, so credit to the Race Directors and Marshalls who quickly put things right. In fact I thought the course was very well marked out and didn’t wonder once which direction to take.
So despite a bit of drizzle prior to the race, this was an enjoyable, sometimes challenging race that made the best use of the natural landscape. The event was well organised, with the support of friendly, encouraging Marshalls and volunteers.
TrailTroopers next event is Castle Dangerous OCR, on Saturday 13 August at Douglas (in-between Lesmahagow and Abington), a new venue for TrailTroopers and one that promises to be just as challenging and fun as Chatelherault.