Putting the Bear Grylls name to any Obstacle Course Race is an easy way to get adventure runners attention, but to add the 30 km distance after the title is a sure fire way to weed out the weak. The Bear Grylls Ultimate Survivor 30km event came to North London for the first time last weekend with the Saturday festival seeing over 20,000 people in attendance. We took on day two of the two-day event on Sunday where athletes were faced with 6 survival techniques and 3 laps of the 10km obstacle course race… We couldn’t wait!
Any inaugural event is going to be tough on the organisers and affect the opinion of the athletes for all future events. The Bear Grylls Survival Race didn’t disappoint! The festival was a monster of an occasion with what has now become ‘the standard’ product stalls and live stages. However Bear had pushed the Bear boat out and put on a bungee jump, burrito food stand and more knives on sale than a kitchen ware shop.
The 10km loop might not have been the most original obstacle course race but nonetheless a nice array of obstacles including a 15ft rope climb, monkey bars, cargo nets and a fire jump. All of these were great fun but nothing new to an OCR. What made this event unique were the ‘survival challenges’, these included, fire starting, a memory test, observation skills, accuracy and strength. Without a doubt our favourite had to be the air rifle shooting… Yes that’s right, we were firing guns during an obstacle course race which was certainly a first. There was a short queue for a seat where you were given a gun, 5 air rifle pellets and a target to knock down. This took me way back to scout camps in the 90s… shooting kids from the trees in my mismanaged youth. This really was a great addition and definitely distracted you from the upcoming 20kms ahead… for a few seconds anyway.
A further lap of the 10km course and we were onto our next survival task. The challenge was to light hay and use the fire to burn through a piece of parachord (This proved reasonably simple due to the starter fire kit and cotton wool, which I never realised was so flammable). Again very ‘on brand’ and offered an alternative to what probably would have been a tire carry!