This weekend’s race (races!) was my first of the ‘Suffering’ series following a linkup between them & my sponsor Bio Synergy. I’d also heard great things in the past about their Legends race. Suffering put on 3 race distances over a weekend 5km, 10km & 10 mile although they are notorious at under-estimating the distances as part of the challenge!
I’d not entered one of their events before so took the plunge with their biggest challenge ‘The Suffering Legend’ which is to complete all 3 races over one weekend – 5km, 10km and 10 mile. A recovery & overall fitness test!
I went into the weekend unsure how strong I would be after 65 miles last weekend with zero sleep at Primal Events On Trial (Separate blog / thoughts on this event coming soon) with the plan to go hard in the 5km for time then just finish the 10km and 10 mile races to get the ‘Legend’ status. On the 5km I felt great, I set off near the front, and when we hit the first wood with the heavy PT sections (Suffering have people called Reapers that force you to do various PT exercises when you get to them, a nice element to reward fitness over pure run fitness) and a rope climb we started to see a group of 6 of us break away from the rest. I was really surprised as normally around this stage of a race I would suffer with my breathing but I felt ok & very headstrong. I gave it everything I had and finished in 4th place not too far behind 3rd. The 5km worked out 5 miles, with some big hills and overall a good athletic challenge.
We then had a very limited window to get fuel on board, I hit a Bio Synergy ESF (Essential Sports Fuel – Protein recovery drink) with added Creatine and an Active Man Energy charge and was ready to go. We set off from the line and I felt really good, talking to two others from the podium in the first race we decided to push and we started to break away. Sadly Sam Cleveland dropped away with a knee issue but James & I kept up the pace and took the early lead. I felt strong, and we pulled out a great lead. Sadly in the woods about third distance we lost the trial, it was the only badly marked section of course all weekend and we were head down so partly our fault, but after a few minutes we found the route. We hit the first section of hill repeats (a series of up & downs on a steep incline) and James looked strong, I also could see the 2 guys behind us catching me. My legs felt great but my knees were screaming with the punishment on the big inclines
I held on as long as I could as I knew I had good pace at the obstacle heavy finish area, however the organisers had added another mile loop of running that I really suffered on, I got caught but finished the race a strong 4th place. The race had been 14.5km not 10km! Knee burning I went straight to the Physio for a massage (awesome!) and advice on my patella pain, which Amy seconded the opinion of my normal Physio that is related to my VMO muscle. I also made sure I had another ESF and took my Active Man Free Motion supplements to help the inflammation overnight.
Waking Sunday I knew I was sat around equal 3rd place overall due to the sequence the others finished. My energy levels felt great, and my head was in race mode – However I could barely walk without a limp. My legs felt strong & recovered but my right knee was particularly painful and inflamed. A 2nd trip to the physio for some heavy strapping and I came out of the tent feeling bionic!!
I knew my knee would only take so much so decided to push hard from the off, and try to have a gap that if I dropped off I could manage. I took the lead early on and I went as hard as I could. Half a mile in we had a tyre carry and friends Laura Try / Karina Grimes where there cheering me on which helped me keep the race mind-set no end! Through the wooded section I found myself running with a Marine, and James from the 10km not far behind. I knew the pace was fast for a 10 miler (suspected to be half marathon distance) but I just wanted to do what I could, when I could. To my delight mountain buddy Simon Small was also not far off and we both gave encouraging shouts on the switch backs when we saw each other which was awesome for us both.
By 1/3rd distance I was sitting in 3rd place overall and was suddenly passed by another Racer, Ross Brackley. I couldn’t understand how he was so fast but after a chat realised he was only in for the 10 miler, and hadn’t raced on the Saturday (to be fair Ross always has amazing pace regardless!) The fresh racers catching us actually made it hard to judge our pace as really we were only racing the other legends not the people here just for one day. It made a great mind battle!! As I thought the hills took their toll on me and James started to draw closer, which was great as we kept pushing each other for the greater good!
OCR is a sport like no other, sure it’s competitive but we also all cheer on each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I’m not sure you get that in other sports. At the 3rd set of hill repeats (dubbed Bio Synergy hill due to logs painted like Active Man tins, a nice touch) James was hot on my heels but we both passed a Legend ahead of us. Now we were confused on position but we think that sat James and I first and second in the Legends race at that stage.
We pushed as hard as we could but got passed by several runners, a couple of legends but guys we’d not seen in the 5km / 10km so were not too stressed due to aggregate time (and besides we were putting in our 100% anyway!) at this stage friends LT & Karina where back alongside me cheering which helped picked the energy levels up no end!
The last stretch got very intense as the course overlapped with the kids race, the marshals managed it well but it made it quite intense! James was directed around one crowded area and he actually waited for me as a true sportsman. We were neck and neck into the finish straight walls powering over them together. I managed to pull a slight advantage at the last section of PT – 20 plyometric push up kick outs. I crossed the line a mere 30 seconds ahead of him but I think he has done enough to take overall Legend victory which is very well deserved. I’m waiting on final results to understand my overall position.
All three races totalled 27 miles – over a marathons worth of racing & I was very glad of the Bio Synergy ‘RTD’ (Ready To Drink) Protein shake at the finish line.
I am very impressed with the Suffering. It’s a true athletic event that rewards fitness over pure running. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of running, and they don’t have the huge salesy obstacles other races have but as an athletic event it was brutal, and when I compete that’s that I’m after. The terrain really makes this event, the hills are evil, as is the route the organisers set through them.
At this point I have to say a huge well done to Daniel Herman from Bio Synergy. He did the 10km (which worked out 14.5!) as his first OCR and I have to say it was a brutal race. The hills were so hard, without much rest, a 3 mile OCR on the flat would have been way easier undertaking, so maximum respect. Daniel & his friend finished so strong too muscling over the finish walls.
My wife Becky was supporting all weekend, offering drinks to all those racing around me to keep us all going in the heat. I use Active Man Energy Charge as a late race boost and also an isotonic / electrolyte mix. Amazing products – 3 races in one weekend and feeling fresh (knee aside) the Monday afterwards speaks volumes.
Lastly I have to comment on the amazing cheering from Wife Becky!!! She has the loudest cheer in OCR and it helps no end when your feet are heavy and knees are burning to hear her cries across the hills. Bex – you are the best x