Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest – Wembley, London

This month’s race was the Rat Race Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest. Based around Wembley, UK, the 10k obstacle course was 100% man-made and 100% tough. Rat Race is known in the UK for their incredible atmosphere, base areas, and impressive obstacles… and that’s exactly what we got.

Men's Health Survival of the Fittest Keg Bars

The first thing you saw as you approached the start zone was a tower of shipping containers, three stories high with people climbing up and down them. There were also some enormous obstacles around the finish line, but we’ll get to that later. The registration process was simple and there were no queues. The bag drop was secure, as well as having a separate valuables drop-off point which was free of charge and could only be accessed using your password.

Now for the fun stuff.

Men’s Health really stepped their game up again this year. I’ve done the past 3 years in a row and every time the obstacles have somehow managed to beat the previous year.

Once in the starting area, there was a warm-up video before setting off around London. Obstacles began quickly, with hay bales and hurdles before being soaked by a fireman’s hose, which was much appreciated in 29c heat, as we went on to tackle the stairs of Wembley Way repeatedly while carrying cones and sandbags.

The route back down Wembley way was a lot faster, as we slid down a water slide. Obstacle after obstacle, there were new challenges as we climbed scaffolding, did tightrope walks and leapt in and out of water before the real fun began.

Men's Health Survival of the Fittest - Slide

The course took us down into a knee-depth river where we found a tunnel. The tunnel was enormous and seemed to go on for a good few minutes, but participants eventually made it to the end and found the light again after stumbling around in the pitch black for a while.

The next area was called the ‘playground zone’ and it was exactly as you’d imagine. It began with a space-hopper race, which may have seemed easy as a child but it turns out they are exhausting when you are of adult size. We leaped over pommel horses, went head-first over spinning barrels and made our way through a giant net full of exercise balls.

Men's Health Survival of the Fittest - Spool Over

With obstacles to test upper body as well as core strength, this 10k was a proper workout, and left you feeling it afterwards, but had small foam mats at the bottom of some obstacles. I can’t imagine they would have helped much if you did fall, but they made it feel a lot safer at the time.  Having run through shipping containers filled with dry ice, and crawled through tunnels made from scaffolding, the course was almost over as we approached the main obstacle zone.

Leaping from a platform onto a stunt mattress, we set off up the three-storey shipping container pile, crossing a cargo net and making our way back down again, before arriving at the final obstacle.

It was, of course, the travellator. Being the second travellator I’ve encountered in UK OCR’s, this was definitely at a faster speed than the previous one, but it was one last push to the top of the obstacle and a leap down to the finish.  After collecting your medal, there was a free photo with your finishing time above your head, and a load of merchandise to look at, as well as being given a free rubber bracelet, headband and t-shirt.

Men's Health Survival of the Fittest - Car

The only negative aspects of the race were the fact that photos had to be bought (unless you were happy with the watermarked ones) and the water stations were a little too far apart for the temperature. But if those are the only two faults, you’re not doing too badly.

For a race with innovative, fun obstacles and the perfect mixture of challenges and achievable obstacles, I’d recommend Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest to anybody, from first-time runners to the experience.

Go get yourself signed up!

Adrenaline Rush – London: 2016 Race Review

This year I was invited to Adrenaline Rush in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. The event was publicized brilliantly with a lot of online hype before the race, and even Macmillan’s own Snapchat filter at the event village.

Having caught the train into Stratford, there was a walk around the Olympic Park to the event village where music was playing, and you could see a mass of obstacles… And every single one looked amazing. Registration and bag drop were quick and Macmillan staff had green war-paint for all runners, before lining up at the start line and setting off in waves every five minutes.

The race began with a lot of running, but being at such an amazing venue kept even the running fun. The course was complicated, with marshals at every single turn making sure everyone knew which way to go, and also giving the best support I’ve ever seen at a race. Before long, the number of obstacles started to pick up and as you began to hear the music from the event village, it was obstacle after obstacle. Although I’d never come across this in a race before, it was a nice change to get the running out of the way at the start of the course and then have an overload of obstacles towards the end.

Adrenaline Rush London - Slant wall

With everything from warped walls to the ‘big balls’ obstacle from Total Wipeout, Adrenaline Rush had a variety of exciting challenges. Inflatable obstacles added a fun factor and bubbly water slides had everybody sliding around, adding difficulty to the final obstacles. There was a water break before doing a second lap of the course, and it was time to get the running done and get back to those obstacles again.

Adrenaline Rush London - Inflatable

Adrenaline Rush London - Olympic Park

Lap two was just as fun as the first time round, with obstacles to test everybody. Balancing beams, cargo net crawls and rope swings broke up the running and marshals even remembered me the second time I passed them! Spacing participants out in waves of every five or so minutes also meant there was no waiting for obstacles, which is always a plus!

Adrenaline Rush London - Swinging

Back at the event village, there was one final obstacle added onto the first lap… The leap of faith. Climbing up to a 5m high platform before jumping onto a stuntman’s airbag, then a run to the finish where motion activated cameras took photos. This was another nice touch I’d not previously seen, making sure everybody got a picture crossing the finish line.

For a fun race with plenty of challenges and a lot of different obstacles, ranging from monkey bars to leaping off 5m high platforms, Adrenaline Rush is one brilliant day out, and I’d recommend it to absolutely anybody.

Adrenaline Rush London - Jump

Will I be back next year? Definitely, and I can’t wait to see what Adrenaline Rush brings in 2017!

Nuclear Rush, 12k, Brentwood, UK

Simply put…Nuclear Rush was one incredible race based in Brentwood, Essex, UK, but I’m about to explain in a lot more detail just why you should try a Nuclear Race.

From the start, it’s well signposted, everything is easy and bag drop is even free… Something you rarely find! There are 6km and 12km options, with the 6km containing the majority of obstacles, but the 12k adding that (big) bit of extra difficulty.

The warm up had everyone raring to go, and before we knew it, a massive explosion had gone off ahead of the start line and we were running down a hill straight into knee-deep mud. The perfect stuff to get stuck in.

Nuclear Rush - UK - Mud

Now when I say this race was muddy, it was a whole new scale of muddiness. Having experienced many extremely muddy races, I’m 100% sure this has beaten them. From the majority of the race being on mud so slippery you may as well have been running on ice, to getting stuck in waist-depth mud on the ‘ice-cream’ obstacle, by the time we reached the finish line we were completely exhausted.

Nuclear Rush - UK - Free Aqua

Every obstacle was brilliant. There were no random walls just to add to the number of obstacles, but every obstacle was something completely new.   This brings me to the water area.

Nuclear Rush - UK - Free Mutts

Beginning with a jump into freezing water, a swim, bodyboard paddle, zipwire and finally the famous Nuclear Death slide, we were in the water for a good 45 minutes. Every obstacle was incredible, with some serious heights and what they call ‘air-miles’ on the death slide with a kicker to fling you into the air before eventually landing back in the lake.

Nuclear Rush - UK - Mr. Mouse Slide

Queueing was kept to a minimum but the time in water made it difficult to get the body temperature back up. It got to the point that running didn’t even help, and the warmest I felt was when we went into swampy mud. You know your life has taken a strange turn when bogs feel warm to you.

Nuclear Rush - UK - Aqua

The volunteers were brilliant, cheering on every participant and constantly reminding us “you paid for this”. Nothing like a sense of humour!

With obstacles that tested everything, from mental strength with high up leaning to reach poles to cross gaps, to physically exhausting mud-pits, there was something to challenge everyone.  There was even the new Nuclear Helix – a never before seen set of rotating, twisting monkey bars.

Nuclear Rush - UK - Nuclear Helix

There were no normal monkey bars, but hanging rings like in Ninja Warrior, spinning monkey bars, hopes to swing across trenches, spinning rings to make your way across and countless variations of things to make your arms hurt. In terms of different obstacles, this race had so many I’ve never encountered before.

As we got closer to the finish line, the music could be heard and with a few last drops into muddy ditches, we had crossed the finish line… Bruised, cold and exhausted, but also pleasantly surprised at how good Nuclear Rush had been.

Nuclear Rush - UK - Mud

You then walk through the warm water.  Yes, WARM water showers after being given your medal, which was nothing short of perfect. Unfortunately, we also had a lady noisily reminding everyone that people were getting cold behind us, so the majority of mud stayed on. Either way, warm showers were a real treat and something I’ve never come across at a race before!

After our showers, we were handed a hot cup of tea. Most of my tea went over my GoPro and legs as I was shaking so much that I physically could not hold my cup anywhere near still. Either way, it felt warm on my legs and I’m sure my GoPro (which was now looking a little worse for wear) appreciated it too. The staff at bag collection were also very amused by my inability to hold a cup.

To sum it up, for anybody looking for a real challenge, but a doable distance, get signed up for the next Nuclear Race. A mixture of man-made and natural obstacles, with a great atmosphere and a lot of mud. It might have been a challenge but I have nothing bad to say about the race. The only negative was the fact that my car couldn’t make it back up the slippery hill we’d parked on.

Nuclear Rush - UK - Finish