25th May 2015
Although May seems to have been dominated by me competing primarily in Toughest events, the continued varying theme/terrain and host of different obstacles they have up their sleeves has made each race new and exciting. Stockholm was my third Toughest event and featured forest, hills and a big lake which saw the birth of the OCR world’s biggest slide.
Being on the hilly side compared to the last two events I knew the running would suit me but the abundance of swimming would not – especially with a 50m stretch appearing only 200m into the race!
I was lining up against the same tough competition I have seen in the weeks before as well some new faces who are more local to Stockholm. Fellow Brit Connor Hancock also flew out for the race which would make things interesting; Conor has only been improving and is being touted as my biggest competition on this side of the pond.
The start was intense as always but the swim made it even more so. Sticking to breaststroke I exited the water barely in tenth place. Not a good start but I had plenty of time to catch up as the course ended up being something like 10km as opposed to the usual 8!
The first 6km featured mainly technical running with some carries and minor obstacles like under overs, dip walks, walls and the sternum checker. We also had a dip in the ‘beaver pond’; an evil swamp strewn with fallen trees and underwater pot holes making progress slow and painful! Thankfully this technical running suited me down to the ground and by the time we got to the main obstacles I had a comfortable two minute lead.
Not feeling amazing on the obstacles I took the normal lanes on the rig and monkey bars. This left the only hard lane option I took on the swing walk; instead of the usual swinging bars I traversed using only hanging sticks and balls to hold on too, this meant I could skip the following over under obstacle.
Still feeling unhappy with myself I struggled further on the rings which felt too close together making swinging between them awkward. Another jump into the lake from a trampoline and I knew I’d only be in there one more time – from the biggest slide ever constructed for an OCR. The scale of the thing was immense and I still can’t believe Toughest pulled it of! With a meter lip at the bottom of the 3 story high slope, air time was impressive with a flight of nearly 5m high over the water. Taking the stairs to the top seemed to take ages, as I sat down I knew I couldn’t hesitate so just went for it. My entry was far from graceful but with this done it was only the ramp to go.
It wouldn’t be that easy though, pushing hard on the long undulating course had sapped my legs. This and a slight drizzle of rain saw me fail the ramp on two tries. Feeling further disappointment with myself I took the long running forfeit back down to the lake and up again to cross the line still over two minutes clear of second place. Slight consolation was that the majority of other competitors also failed the ramp but I still wasn’t too pleased at having to take my first penalty in a Toughest event.
I’m really looking forward to my next race which is a local mountain race in my hometown of Bergen. I then hope to fit in one more Toughest event before heading out to the USA for a Spartan race. After this I am into the summer with two skyraces to concentrate on!
Thanks to Mateusz Szulakowski for the truly amazing photographs – mateography.com. I swear the photographers seem to clamber around on the obstacles as much as we do to get the best shots!