Rat Race's Survival of the Fittest was such good fun last year. In the brochure they gave us at the finish point was something called London River Rat Race. A 10k obstacle race claiming to be the wettest event of it's kind. This event has ran several times already in Stockton but they were bringing the event for the first time to London this year. I was excited, so was a lot of others until they heard you had to jump in the Thames..
I setup a team and everyone can join it by using my team username and password. This was great as it relieved the pressure of pestering people to sign up and asking for money upfront. If you get 5 people signed up you'll get a rebate of £5 and for 10 people a rebate of £10. Unfortunately the Thames was majorly unappealing for nearly everyone I asked. Team Scream At My Face had 4 people.
The event was hosted in the Excel Exhibition centre so was nice and easy to get to on the Docklands Light Railway. River Rat Race was well organised and registration was straight forward.
A friend had to pull out and our friend Irina took his place. This was also sorted out without too much hassle, just had to provide a letter confirming the transfer.
Staff were manning a desk for your small personal valuables and another area for your bags. It was nice for a change to have real toilets at an OCR event! No shower facilities still, but there were separate male/female changing room tents.
The guys on stage warmed us up with some exercises. I wasn't as breathless as last year, perhaps my fitness is improving! After the warm up I slurped down my mojito energy gel. (I was disappointed that it really didn't taste like mojito). We then threw back this can of energy drink, I don't usually have these so it got me wired! To pump up my other teammates I had them 'scream at my face.'
At the sound of the whistle Wave 10 (Gold) was off. The Excel Exhibit hall reverberated the stampede of runners leaping over the first obstacles of plastic barriers. We zigzagged up and down the hall and tackled other standard obstacles before we stepped out outside where the fresh air was welcome.
We were now required to complete two laps of the course. Some obstacles were repeated and others were specific to the lap you were on. As this was a Rat Race event, there were some familiar obstacles from Survival of the Fittest series.
On a few obstacles we had to clock out and clock in so our time won't be effected by the queuing. This was a great idea for people concerned about their course time, however they didn't actually clock you back in until you'd finished that obstacle. Andy missed one of the checks and so had an extra ten minutes on his final time. We were there for fun so he wasn't fussed.
I won't go over everything but here are some of the course highlights:
A formation of trees were tied with netting to form a maze. This didn't provide any challenge as a fellow participant kindly told us the correct path.
Giant floaty sausages.
Nothing too taxing but the first full water submersion was fairly early on. This woke you up as you swam under them.
Making use of the facilities by the docks, several flights of stairs got you to a bridge with a good view of the location.
Easy enough, but just got to watch that you don't knock another person at the same time.
Climb your way across. Nice challenge as it's slightly different from your usual monkey bars.
The pontoons. Swim.
There were a series of pontoons with the first task being swimming to the next. It was quite tiring, being fully dressed with shoes made this harder.
The pontoons. Rings bridge.
There were inflatable doughnut rings making a bridge across to the next pontoon.
The pontoons. Giant floats.
Leap across these free moving floats.
Into the drink.
A 20 foot jump into the Thames. This got my heart racing at the top. Dan was probably the most scared but we did it. Good to do something a little out of your comfort zone every now and again.
Like Survival you have two options to choose from. Shame it wasn't any longer either.
This was fun. Most people did this in pairs. (There was a three person team that seemed to be a lot slower). A shame we looped back to where we started but I guess this is the only feasible way of getting kayaks back to the start again.
It started at the same height as the jump, but the slide made it more fun than scary. Which is not a bad thing.
Make a leap to jump into this free floating obstacle. I think they need more of these kind of tasks, with a dunk in the water as the consequence of missing. However, we had to swim back to the pier anyway.
I've come to enjoy the walls after watching the tutorial from The Beard. The inverted walls are quite rewarding to slide down the other side too!
It was just a really fun event. The obstacles were nicely spaced out so you weren't running a huge stretch of the course before tackling another task. Our course time was 90 minutes, but that didn't include the time on some of the obstacles we'd clocked out on.
My friend Dan hadn't done any exercise for months so by the end he was really struggling. However he is a testament to the fact you don't need to train for these things. That said, if he had trained he might have been able to enjoy it a little more! Dan has already said about "next year!"
This is my third London Inline Marathon. (Half marathon). However this time the remnants of Hurricane Bertha made it certain it was to be a wet race. With this in mind I accepted that I was not going to touch my personal best time, but instead I was going to set a new benchmark time for the Hillingdon Cycle Circuit in the rain.
After my experience in Mittelrhein I have decided not to chase or join people who are beyond my league, to instead go at my pace and not play into anyone else's higher level game. I do want to better myself but I most importantly want to enjoy the race.
Richard asked me if I'd worked out who my competition was. I love how focus he is for these events but I just had to laugh the comment off.
When we were warming up my thoughts were reinforced by the fact that all the speedy people had Storm Surge wheels on. They were holding the road much better than my Matter F3 wheels, that slipped if I tried the full push.
The line up for the race was definitely smaller than last year. I know for a fact a few friends had held off signing up because of the weather, which was a shame. For me most of my marathons had at least some element of rain, so I've given up worrying about a bit of water.
(I do not whine - kids whine).
The half marathon started first with a couple of guys bustling for lead. I took a steady pace up the hill. Alex was not too far behind and we made the decision to stick together. Best move of the race. We took it in turns each lap to tackle the crazy rainy headwind on the last section of the lap. It was also handy that he was keeping tabs on our laps better than myself.
I like to pick up the pace if I can for the final lap. So as I started moving away from Alex, he encouraged me to go ahead. I acknowledged but said to him that he'll probably catch up with me on the windy stretch. Which he did. After passing the final corner the wind cut and had a pretty decent sprint (even if it was still wet) to the finish.
After I finished I helped out my friend Chidi who didn't seem to be enjoying it as much as some of the others. She was even more disheartened when she found out her final lap wasn't actually her penultimate. Chidi said to remind her next year not to sign up. I will remind her to sign up early to take advantage of the discounted price.
Very typically the track started drying off at this point. So I had a little sprint around the track just for kicks. That wind was still there though. 3 minutes 33 seconds for a lap.
My time was 54 minutes 39 seconds.
It turns out I podium-ed.
3rd place in the Men's Half Marathon.
1st place in my age category. Seniors.
This is the first time I've got a trophy which is awesome. However we all know if the elite were to have partaken in the Half marathon instead of the Full then I definitely wouldn't have got those shiny prizes. (The top guys lapped us three times!).
I'm pleased with my skating all the same. The race was great despite the rain and it was a pleasure working with my teammate Alex to get the time we did.
We ended the day with the traditional trip to the pizza parlor.
A successful day.
All photos are courtesy of London Inline Marathon.
Several updates to the Scream At My Face interweb.
Firstly all of the the Youtube videos have been re-uploaded with interactive 'end cards.' Youtube advises this will help drive traffic around the videos, apparently. It was not as straight forward as I thought to incorporate external weblinks as I think Youtube wants to make it as difficult as possible for users to leave their site, but it's all sorted now.
All of the Youtube thumbnails have the Scream At My Face, logo face. This should make it easier for people to recognise my videos when searching, as well as making it stand out against other similar videos. (Search 'tough mudder funky monkey,' it's currently on the second page but it's prominent).
A new menu option has been incorporated. 'Guides.' This is in response to a Facebook recent query with regards to starting inline slalom. It just makes it easier to find and pass on essential information I've written countless times already. I will update it with other sporty beginners guides as well soon...
"Any tips, reviews and advice are my own opinions and are not to be taken as professional view points. The information on this site is what has worked for me and is here for guidance only, but I hope you gain insight into the various activities I partake in." Jonathan Chen