The Backyard Jam
25th July 2014

Categories: Obstacle Race

The Backyard Jam is a mini invite only obstacle race that focuses on the strength and technique of completing the obstacles, negating the more usual running sections in between. In the winter edition earlier in the year I managed to best Jason Brunnock’s amazing run to win by just 7 seconds. Jason couldn’t make a return trip due to injury but I would be facing some new competition as well as a longer and harder course!

The main competition would be in the form of inov-8 OCR teammate Ross Macdonald as well as Thomas Blanc, Tim Lovett, Alex Money, Martin Carrera, Steve Hammond and organiser Doug Spence. Some of these athletes are my usual competition and some more strength based athletes that wouldn’t normally finish too high in a running based OCR.

The obstacles we were faced with were the same as before but with the addition of a rope climb, heavy carry, parallel bars, longer rope traverse, ring flip, hang tough & Irish table – a much more challenging course which looked to be roughly twice as long as before.

On the journey down I wondered how the day would pan out. I felt far from confident about my win from last time and I know some athletes train towards the obstacle completion side of things a lot more than the running, which usually takes preference in my training. I figured the day would turn into a battle between Thomas Blanc and myself; he is very good at the obstacle aspect of OCR’s, a trait that would suit this event.

My prediction was correct and Thomas set a blistering first time looking smooth and making the course look easy. I countered and managed to shave 4 seconds of his time but my attempt felt scrappy, rushed and full of mistakes. I was sure Thomas would go faster but felt that my attempt may have been all I could give.



I didn’t watch Thomas’s second attempt but heard the gasps from everyone watching as Thomas beasted a lap over 40 seconds quicker than his first. I was now looking down the barrel of a gun and everyone knew it. Thomas had to leave for work but looked fairly confident he had set a time out of everyone’s reach. I faced conversations with people along the lines of ‘loosing my crown’ and ‘it had to happen one day’ all of which I was agreeing to.

I didn’t feel as if I had a chance but would have to go down fighting. I popped to the loo and a strange crazy humorous smile came over my face as I assessed my situation. Funnily enough I found I didn’t really mind that I was about to get beaten in an OCR.  Then I thought again – ‘is 40 seconds quicker possible for me?’ Probably not was my conclusion… but I was nevertheless going to give it a damn good go! I knew where I could make up snippets of time but still felt my fresh run from the morning wasn’t going to be matched by my second attempt. All the same I lined up at the bottom of the rope climb ready to give it my best shot and at least see how close I could get.


Without thinking I grabbed the rope and was underway, I started methodically completing each obstacle every time thinking this is still fast enough. The rope traverse I took at a more even pace than before, concentrating on arm after arm, leg after leg steadily moving along. I reached the required mark but had fatigued a lot. This showed as I completed the cage snake and then fell from the top of the net climb; my leg went through but I managed to shake it out and jump to my feet before anyone could react. This was going to be a theme from now on as I threw myself at the rest of the course. Flipping the tractor tyre and completing the next few obstacles I was still quick enough and before I knew it I was at the big wall. Lacking strength, I heaved myself over rolling and falling to the ground. Once again I was up and running before a second past and was at the bottom of the caving ladder – only having to climb it to ring the bell at the top to finish.

One foot in front of the other I climbed as fast as I could. Once at the top and finished it took a couple of seconds before it was clear whether I had done enough… I had. Finishing with a time of 3mins 58secs I was 6 seconds under Thomas. I descended to congratulations, which for once I felt I actually deserved. This was a race where my back was completely against the wall and I had somehow managed to come through. This was a performance I am truly proud of and still can’t believe I managed. With Thomas not present to counter, the day was mine by the skin of my teeth.



There are many more performances that day that deserve a mention. Doug once again set an amazing time around his own course proving he is far from just an event organiser. Ross had a great run, performing exceptionally well even though his training is far more cardio based than mine. Alex Money impressively bossed the course at just over 18 years old. I missed the battle between RPCC’s Lucy Martlow and our inov-8 OCR Clare Miller but I was told it was an amazing display with both pouring there all into their 3rd and final attempts – Clare eventually just trailing Lucy by 10 seconds.

With the times tallied on the back of fine performances from Ross and Clare, inov-8 OCR had also managed to win the team prize. As I made my way home my thoughts started to turn towards the Maldon Triathlon that Ross and I were to race the next morning, a totally different kettle of fish… Check back soon for my write up!

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