Dirty Dozen South Wales Race 2015 – Review
This was to be my third Dirty Dozen Races event, after having rated the first two very highly I was excited to see what the South Wales Race had to offer.
It did not disappoint.
In true Dirty Dozen style the obstacles were big, sturdy and plentiful; providing a variety of different challenges. However, the biggest challenge at this event was undoubtedly the uncompromising terrain. The course had been thoughtfully and mercilessly designed, capable of testing even the fittest of athletes. ‘The Beard’ certainly had confidence in his relentless creation, throwing down the gauntlet and offering a £2,000 prize to anyone who completed the 12k course in under one hour.
South Wales race = Hills, hills and more hills
After a smooth registration process and a wander around the event village I joined the warm up and got ready to set off in wave one for the 12k. No time was wasted in making the most of the beautiful yet punishing landscape. After a short run we were taken around to the bottom of an abrupt hill, almost steep enough to require the use of hands as well as feet! From there the hills just kept on coming. From short, sheer and gravely to long, steep and grassy. Hills that just got steeper, hills that you thought you’d reached the top of only to find out there was more hill yet to climb, hills that were off camber, even a hill you had to carry a chunky log around. Another with a series of about 10, 4ft hurdles ruthlessly placed on it. It was gruelling; with tired legs making each hill feel more brutal than the last. I even began to curse the downhill stretches, knowing that it would inevitably lead to having to climb back up.
The incline onslaught was of course interspersed with Dirty Dozens finest obstacles, including the majority of their classic constructions alongside a few new additions to the collection. The obstacles had been thoughtfully located, with some of the higher structures perched in prominent positions with stunning views of the local scenery. I paused momentarily at the top of the “bladder ladder” to absorb the panoramic spectacle.
I particularly liked “shiver me timbers”, which comprised of a narrow plank of timber between two elevated platforms over a dug out water pit for added suspense. It was not particularly physically challenging but a test of balance, agility and co-ordination, which I failed first time around! Thankfully it was a hot morning and I was quite glad to have a refreshing dunk.
As if the course didn’t provide enough natural elevation, there was the menacing “mud mountain” to summit, and in the woodland a series of muddy mounds with putrid bogs to overcome. The seemingly simple barbed wire crawl “barbarella” was engineered into a taxing scuffle over an extended distance upon uneven ground.
Over half way through and I faced the “pontoons”. A series of large pond crossings, with the “smoking barrels” to submerge under and a floating platform to scale. A nice run through the trees followed and before long I was at the cruel combo of the “sheep dip” then the “monkey bars”. The latter made much more difficult once I was soaking wet and muddy. I slid off the monkey bars after the first few slippery rungs, earning myself a 20 burpee forfeit. Just what my tired legs needed.
Now it was just a short way around some fields and the finish line was in sight. However, before I could get there, I had to take on the new “underworld” obstacle. A series of intelligently spread out barriers to roll under. They were too far away to crawl from one to the next but equally not quite far enough to get up and run. This was another great example of a simple obstacle made into a considerable trial, with 10 walls in a row to drop and roll under. 100m on and I faced the “Irish table”, a nemesis of mine, which on this occasion I was able to conquer single handily. All that remained between me and my ‘Doug hug’ was the formidable 12ft wall right at the finishing line. Thanks to some technique training at a Dirty Dozen masterclass I was able to master this final obstacle without much difficultly and was welcomed over the line into the pitiless arms of Doug ‘The Beard’ Spence himself.
In my opinion this was Dirty Dozens most challenging race by far. Every element of its incredible location was utilised in an intelligent yet savage way. The obstacles were, as always, strong and reliable, placed in well thought through settings. One of my favourite things about the obstacles at any Dirty Dozen race is that they are tough, demanding and problematic; whilst at the same time attaining the difficult balance of being achievable to the masses. In addition to the impressive race itself, there was the familiar Dirty Dozen atmosphere of camaraderie and togetherness within the OCR community. The event finished off with a local folk band playing popular covers in the village which ended the day off perfectly with an almost festival feel. I cannot wait to take part in the next Dirty Dozen event.