Fit Nation: Around the earth in 8 Races will air three times on Saturday, July 21, between 1 as well as 6 p.m. ET as well as one time between 5 as well as 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 22.
The Rat Race Dirty Weekend — which attracts thousands of competitors every year to the expansive grounds of a noble estate two hours north of London — shares a few qualities with the career metaphor. Ambition, pushing oneself as well as overcoming obstacles that will stand inside the way of your goal are common to both.
however the objectives between the rat race as well as the Rat Race are much different. The physical race is actually less about getting ahead than the item is actually about fun, fitness as well as the satisfaction of overcoming fear as well as physical limitation in order to accomplish the course.
With more than 230 obstacles spread over just one 20-mile loop, the Rat Race Dirty Weekend purports to be the largest obstacle course race (or OCR) inside the earth. Maybe the item is actually — the item’s impossible to prove as well as easy to outdo, depending how loose your definition of “obstacle” — however that will’s not the point. The point, the item seems, is actually to be the most fun OCR inside the earth. as well as via the smiles, Great humor as well as bonhomie among the more than 5,000 rats who turned up that will year, I’m going to declare mission accomplished.
For the event’s founder, Jim Mee, the balance is actually allowing adults to act like kids, while also producing the course very challenging.
Build a better rat trap
Rat Race, a company that will organizes Dirty Weekend as well as a host of different adventure courses throughout the earth, is actually Mee’s brainchild. He isn’t just the founder as well as director, however he designs all of the races, as well.
Mee had participated in various OCR courses, including the Tough Guy, a public, non-professional course in Wolverhampton, England, created by a former British soldier in 1987 as well as considered to be the first of its breed. Mee saw an opportunity to do these races bigger, safer, better organized as well as more enjoyable. More well-known OCRs — Mee describes them as “suffer-fests” — tend to be more testosterone-fueled than family-friendly.
The Rat Race series began in 2004, however the first Dirty Weekend event at Burghley House was in 2013. The family that will owns Burghley House — reminiscent of “Downton Abbey” with its Elizabethan architecture as well as expansive grounds — wanted to partner with Rat Race as well as use the grounds for more than just horse events. Some of the obstacles are so elaborate as well as large that will they live at Burghley House year-round.
that will year, more than 3,500 competitors as well as their families camped on the grounds of Burghley House. There’s a concert after the race, a beer as well as food hall, as well as hot tubs you can soak in after the race for a modest fee. The whole experience draws teams of friends as well as families via all over the UK, Europe as well as beyond; runners came via 47 countries that will year.
The weather on the morning of that will year’s Dirty Weekend race was as bright as the attitude of those competing. The mud-producing rains wouldn’t come until the afternoon, as well as even they didn’t sour any moods.
Runners left in waves of 400 or so, gathering for final reminders under a large circus tent before being dispatched to the estate. Roughly a third were women.
Some of the obstacles were more delightful than others. There were two giant Slip N’ Slide-style stretches, potato sack races, a ball pit, monkey bars, a “Laundrette” box full of bubbles, a bridge of overturned canoes to hop across as well as a massive “Ewok Village” of rope netting as well as balance beams inside the woods. There was a haunted shipping container that has a chainsaw-wielding “the item”-esque clown hidden inside the fog. Later inside the course, there was an even scarier (as judged by the number of panic-induced runners) 25-foot plunge into a pool. One section required pulling yourself through troughs of muddy water as well as then over a wall of tires. Plus another 0 or so obstacles.
When I described that will to my 10-year-old daughter, she asked, “is actually the item for adults or kids?” The answer is actually both. A 3-kilometer “young muckers” course was made up of the first 30 obstacles. More than 1,000 children ages 8 to 15 registered to complete one or two loops. Rat Race also raised more than 0,000 British pounds for children’s cancer research that will year.
Obstacle variety is actually the spice of the race, as well as team support was key to so many finishing. There were so many groups of friends as well as co-workers that will the item seemed everyone had their own support network, cheering them on or literally helping pull them up, over or under the next obstacle.
however cheeky signs along the course helped maintain spirits, too. About 2/3 of the way through, a sign read “Nearly there,” however then a bit farther along, the next one read, “Just kidding.” Another one — far via the kids’ course — read, “I wish my wife was as dirty as that will course.”
No one enforces obstacle completion at the Dirty Weekend, unless you are among the few aiming to win prize money. “You are not compelled to complete every obstacle,” the rules state. “Consider bypassing an obstacle if you lack confidence, have appreciable fear or are carrying an injury.”
Not content to just be the earth’s longest OCR, the Dirty Weekend also featured a potential Guinness World Record-breaking length of monkey bars that will year. Richard Heady as well as Thomas Wolfe await official recognition for each monkeying 56.6 meters of bars.
There were some growing pains on race day. Some route confusion met runners approaching one wooded area. A bouncy obstacle couldn’t be inflated in time. however with 230 others, what’s one or two fewer? Every year organizers make adjustments, adding different as well as more challenges.
Most participants say their favorite obstacle is actually the last one: a 60-foot-high water slide. Competitors barrel down the chute to a splashy end, just feet away via the rentable hot tubs as well as beer tent.
Technically, the winners that will year were Jason Burgess, who completed the course in just over three hours, as well as Nicola Johnson at just over 3½ hours, as well as they each won a modest prize amount of 500 pounds. however the real winners were everyone who turned out for the most fun that will a stately English estate can provide in just one day.
Everyone — kids as well as adults — was in a great mood afterward, enthusiastically recounting harrowing moments. A concert that will night was headlined by Dave Pearce as well as the Ministry of Sound. Festivities ended at midnight, however the happy memories as well as sense of accomplishment last much longer.
Use the Force
Training for OCRs is actually multidiscipline. Athletes need to master long-distance running, weight training as well as then specific skills related to obstacles, such as rope climbing, swimming, balancing as well as swinging via rings.
“You can’t genuinely train for the item; that will’s kinda why I like the item,” said Dominique Searle, a UK police officer who came in third among women last year, her first time, despite a goal just to finish.
In addition to putting inside the training miles for what is actually nearly a marathon of running alone, a variety of strength as well as conditioning workouts are important for building up more than just running fitness. One runner attributed his amateur boxing training with giving him upper body strength that will served him during the Rat Race. OCR athletes who have space as well as the budget might build mini obstacle courses in their backyards.
OCRs are all-body workouts: arms, legs, core, heart as well as lungs. “You use parts of your body you don’t normally use,” Mee said. “that will’s part of the beauty of the item.”
however the item’s also a workout for your psyche. “I know my legs can do the item,” said John Burrows, the gardener at Burghley House, who competed in Dirty Weekend for the third time that will year. “the item’s just my head that will needs to be told, as well.”
One of the largest of the Rat Race obstacles, the “Ewok Village” rope structure, greets racers that has a giant banner written in Star Wars font: “May the Force be with you.” as well as the item does seem that will in addition to physical fitness, there is actually another force at play.
For some, the psychological obstacle isn’t endurance or managing pain however rather fear, particularly the common phobias associated with height, water as well as confined spaces. One obstacle combines two of those as you plunge two stories down into a pool of water via which you swim out.
Searle said the Rat Race Dirty Weekend helped her combat the PTSD she felt after being hit on her bike by an off-road vehicle. “These races have totally brought me back out of myself as well as having fun with [my] kids again, rather than being scared as well as not wanting to go out,” she said.
“We see a lot of our participants doing that will for mental health,” Mee said. “You have to face your fears.”
Newcomers should ease into the sport with shorter or less competitive races. The Dirty Weekend Rat Race, for example, offers a 13-mile option. There are many OCRs available, however given that will the sport has little regulation as well as some degree of risk, the item may be prudent to stick with more established providers.
There is actually not a lot of gear required for OCR. “A pair of trainers, my mates, grit, determination, as well as that will’s all I need,” Mee said. Reebok as well as brand new Balance are among the manufacturers jumping on the trend to make “OCR shoes,” distinguished by added tread (Great for climbing) as well as Great drainage (for water obstacles). Some OCR competitors wear gloves to help with grip, especially when they are soaking wet.
Many runners use modest running backpacks that will hold water containers as well as protein snacks; staying hydrated between water stations as well as replenishing burned calories is actually vital. however for some obstacles, having a backpack was a liability. Many throw their vests to the different side of an obstacle before tackling the item.
One of the toughest aspects that will Dirty Weekend runners cited was the cold. The race has various parts in which you must get partially or fully wet. Having quick-drying running clothes is actually key to letting your body reheat. Avoid wool socks or clothes, because they chafe when they get wet. As with many outdoor sports, OCR requires managing clothing to avoid getting too cold or too hot. Whether the item’s sweat or muddy pond water, wetness cools your body even when you don’t want the item to.
There aren’t any public data on injuries via OCR events, however trails, jumps, inclines as well as the obstacles themselves create opportunities for twisted ankles, shoulder strain as well as pulled muscles.
Bad form or poor training can cause repetitive stress, given the length of the race. that will said, unlike in most purely running races, there is actually less emphasis on speed, as well as many OCR participants prudently take their time getting over, under as well as through them.
In general, OCR athletes should compete defensively, staying alert to potential hazards. that will’s what a smart rat might do. that will’s how they get the big cheese.