A last minute decision to do this race after a friend had to pull out with injury, I was looking forward to this race, I had enjoyed it last year but others who had run in previous years had been disappointed. I was keen to see if Rat Race had listened to the feedback.
Oh boy – we were not disappointed!
The change over of the name at the registration tent was seamless and very straightforward. This earned brownie points instantly, through to what I would call the event village. It was more concentrated last year which created a better feel about it and a massive buzz about the event.
My only disappointment was the lack of cover for the bag drop and lack of changing area, which worked out okay as the weather, for the most part, held out for us. Leaving that behind, we were warmed up in front of the big stage, under Edinburgh Castle with the statement ‘The UKs toughest obstacle race’ before being guided to the start line a short distance away. This made much more sense, it also meant there was less hanging about on the start line. As we listened to the countdown, the rain began coming down heavier, was this a sign of what was to come?
‘GO!’ We were off, straight into a series of hurdles, Men’s Health at work, great to get straight into some obstacles. I floated over these hurdles, well at least in my own head that’s what it felt like, this was followed by a stretch off running, up the stairs and then around the back of the event village and steadily gaining height. We were then into a series of obstacles including hay bales, several walls – made even more challenging with the rain, up and down over lorries, which I could swear became even higher with each one and when you are as short as myself, it increases the challenge dramatically.
Heading up Calton Hill, the views were simply spectacular over the city and looking out over the water. It definitely made the climb worthwhile . . . I think?! A series of obstacles met us on top of the hill, including the urban jungle. This involved climbing, sliding, dropping down and around a frame of scaffolding, going over parallel bars – ‘anyway you want except walking through the obstacle’, monkey bars – these were very difficult to even get to, shorties are us. Up and over a series of barriers, a quickly figured out a good tactic on this, hit the corners and you could clear two sections at once. There was a new obstacle a single bar which you had to cross with just your arms. Fairly challenging but I kept putting one arm in front of the other to the cheers of the marshall, great support. We had to duck under more scaffolding, not the friend of tall folks, cargo net crawl which, for a nice change, was on a downhill section.
Downhill from here the marshall called out, ‘awesome’. Eh NO!! Yes we descended for a short while but we headed out toward Arthurs seat. It could mean only one thing, following the inflatable obstacle, made all the more fun slipping and sliding, the obligatory cone carry and onto the climb.
Everyone I could see was reduced to a walking pace, driving their hands down onto their quads to propel them onwards and upwards into a wall of wind. Part way, a sight for sore eyes, guys with jelly sweets. I quickly learnt that I could not eat, chew, breathe and swallow all at once, so half of those were wasted. Despite the weather we had a clear view of the Pentlands in the background, fantastic. By the time you hit a flatter section, calfs and quads were burning, but felt good for a slow run. The next exciting obstacle was the slide, I was looking forward to this, THE best obstacle last year. Massively, massively disappointing this year, bone dry – I had to run down it.
Other obstacles included spiders web, scoring a football, more hurdles, sandbag carry which at one point felt like we were descending into a crypt. Coming back into Princes street gardens from the back we approached the final few obstacles, some new ones thrown in to keep you on your toes and mix it up. These involved sliding through urban jungle, over slanted walls, run up an incline, into the paddling pool for a belly slide under a cover, sliding through three sets of tyres, a climbing wall up onto a platform and then a vertical descent on the other side. There was deeper water to come to finish the section of, a very kind guy helped me here to get out of the water, what a true gent. Epic finish was the ‘Wall of Fame’ the guys are fantastic here, helping you up onto the wall. This a brilliantly run event, very seamless, marshalls were simply brilliant, they were motivating, gave simple instructions, the goody bag was well equipped, especially with . . . eh, lube for every runner – could of used that on the water slide.
This event was 100% better than last year in terms of the route and completely surpassed my expectations based on my first event the previous year. Epic views, tough climbing, taking in the key areas of Edinburgh in one race – fantastic! Is it the ‘toughest obstacle course’? Based on the numerous races I have taken part in I have to say no but a big improvement on last year from my perspective.