BMF x Royal British Legion Major Series Obstacle Race

The BMF Royal British Legion Major Series was crazy good fun. Thanks to Blacks for inviting me to race!

I ended up travelling to the race with my mum in tow. We easily found Cardross Estate- the race was very well signposted on the roads- and were ushered into a parking spot. It was easy to grab my bib and timing tag from the registration tent, then some safety pins from the kit tent. I went in for the 10am 'Major' (10km) starting time. I did have to state my preferred time on the entry forms, but I got the impression that they were highly flexible about changing times if needed.

Pre-race.
The changing tents- very cute and thematic.
After a toilet break I headed to the starting corral where they held a group warm-up in classic bootcamp style. The Major then marched the 10am group to the start line and off we went! 

About to start.

The flare caught my attention, so I'm not looking at the camera!
The first obstacle was a collection of tyres to jump through (the lady in front of me decked it), then there was a strength station with press ups, burpees, and squats. The first real 'built' obstacle required a short climb up wooden walls, over a horizontal netting roof, and down the same kind of wall on the other side. Next, we walked on balance beams and did the 'postmans walk' which is a rope walk with feet on one rope and hands on another, across a pit of mud. Some more running and we went up and over a vertical rope net- I had forgotten that these bend a lot and can be quite nerve-wracking!

Then appeared the mud that we came for... the motto isn't 'No Mud, No Glory' for nothing! The first of the mud pits was very thick and I managed to fall in up to my waist. Saw lots of  abandoned trainers in the pit too. Clearly my fears that Scotland had been too sunny and that the mud would be all dried up were unfounded. Sadly when I saw my mum at 4km there was no evidence of this muddiness as before then we had a quick dip in the river, swimming under three water barriers.

Soggy hello! at 4km.
After waving at mum it was back on course. We crawled under nets and barbed wire through mud, then dodged camouflaged people with water guns in the woods. Camo is pretty effective stuff- I spotted the water flying long before the man lying on the ground shooting! This obstacle was silly but highly funny. The real mud then came into play - stinking 10m long mud pits up to the middle, with mud the consistency of thick tomato soup. Some of it actually felt a little like a luxury spa treatment... I think sometimes I forget I'm in relatively good shape as some competitors from the back of the wave below were really struggling with pushing through the thick mud. Word of warning- don't try to straddle the mud pit unless wearing very lugged trail shoes, I saw lots of people fall entirely in attempting this move to avoid the mud. Just embrace it. Embrace the mud.

There were quite a few haybale vaults on the course, and they also used built-up haybales to get over walls and fences which was clever. There was another funny obstacle where you had to collect a 'grenade' (potato), crawl under a net, yell "GRENADE" and throw it at a target. You missed? More burpees! One thing I didn't love was that the volunteer here gave the guys beside me more burpees because, "you look fitter than her". I'd be cautious judging the fitness of people on their looks, lady!

Next there was a clamber through a rope web, which was harder than anticipated. I was suspicious this would be electrified, and glad it turned out not to be! More thick, thick mud trenches followed, then planks to go up and over or to crawl under. We ran over a vanishing bridge that sunk into the mud. I made it to the last board before coming off. I really liked the obstacle- it was like being in a videogame. 

Water slide!

By this point we knew we were close to the end! We carried logs around a loop (the one I chose was heavier than intended so I ended up carrying it like you would a squat bar). There was also a 'burning building' to climb through where you could choose your own level of difficulty (going through the door was easy, the high windows were more difficult options). 

Then down the water slide! My Agravics ended up being too grippy- slowing my slide. The water at the end was hard on the eyes and soapy in the mouth. After the slide there was only a tiny tunnel, and then up and over a roped ramp. I literally fell over the finish line immediately after jumping down from the ramp. The volunteers were on hand with a medal, a technical tee-shirt, bananas, water, and free porridge.  

A brilliant action shot by my mum.

Up and over!

I have to say just how much I enjoyed the day. It was like being a kid again- splashing through mud and clambering over wooden structures. The experience reminded me of being in the woods with my brother as a child. There were also cute and funny signs dotted around the course ("Tally Ho!" and similar sentiments). I think races like this are a great antidote to the stresses of the modern adult. 

Additionally, I'd say that the Major Series is a great starter/accessible obstacle race- none of the obstacles are hugely individually difficult, nor do they require immense strength. The obstacles are largely just muddy and amusing, although I did see some struggling with the strength required to plow through long trenches of thick mud and with the length of the run. I felt like the run sections between obstacles were in fact quite short. The vast majority of people I spoke to were having an excellent time (one lady with previously-white sneakers on was not enjoying being dirty at all and just said, "Never again").

Finished! That is the Major's impressed face.
I was impressed by how beautiful the course was- I had been worried that it would be endless field laps but the terrain was incredibly varied passing through woods (with trees to vault), alongside fields, and past the country house with lilac trees falling over the stone walls. I genuinely wouldn't have been upset if the course was merely a 10km without the distraction of obstacles. There was some hard ground underfoot, and lots of lumps and holes; so I'd recommend rubber-lugged trail shoes like the Adidas Agravic Boost I wore and keeping an eye on your feet! 

The marshall support was really strong- they were encouraging, funny to chat to, and endlessly friendly. I thought in keeping with the military feel they might be very stern and bossy but that wasn't at all the case. The 'Major' who patrolled the start area was hilarious (especially with his fake mustache). He stayed in character constantly, told people off (including my mum), instructed them to take photos, congratulated finishers formally... Very amusing- a nice touch of thematic comedy. 

There were some areas of organisation with room for improvement- I don't think there were quite enough toilets at the start, the official photographers seemed to be only at two obstacles at the Scotland event (and not even those which would have produced the best photos in my opinion) and because of their timings will have missed a lot of people. For Saturday in particular another water station would have been appreciated, it was warm and the sole station was straight after the muddiest section so it was hard to grab the cups without getting muddy water! 

If you're looking for an insane, strength-based obstacle challenge, or you hate getting dirty, this isn't for you. However, if you're looking to have a brilliant day with your mates, get some full body exercise, and act like a kid again, you'll love it


------------------------------------------

Have you ever done an obstacle race?


Blacks kindly provided me with entry to this race, and gifted me the shoes I wore to run in addition to the backpack featured in my Gym Bag post in return for a review of the race and of the gear. As always, I have given my honest opinions- I had a great time at the race, and will happily enter myself next year with friends.



Post written by Scallywag and published on Scallywag Sprints on 18/06/16

6 Comments:

  1. Ah I was invited to this too but didn't get my arse in gear in time! Looks fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was brilliant fun, I think I will enter next year too with a gang of friends :)

      Delete
  2. I was invited too but couldn't do the closer one - it looks like so much fun and I'm bummed I missed out :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hopefully you'll get to do one in future. I loved that it was so accessible and not 'serious' like Tough Mudder and that ilk!

      Delete
  3. Sounds amazing!! Love this. I'd love to do an obstacle course race.
    I would be annoyed at that volunteer though. I hate it when people judge you on how you look!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah I was pretty annoyed. I work out 6 days a week and those guys had just been telling me how out of shape they were...

      It was fantastic fun, I'd recommend the experience!

      Delete

 
Strava