Welcome to a weekly feature on my blog – Ben’s Zone. Written by husband… Ben. A foodie, coffee obsessed, ex-smoking, ex-drinking and Ridgeback loving Dad. Who is also seriously into his fitness. You can find him on the blog (most) Sundays. Enjoy 🙂
Running Muscle Acre Summer Madness Review
I have to be honest and say I only really did Muscle Acre by chance. I’d decided to do the Wolf Run with friends in September and wanted something local in the mid summer to keep my training focused. I looked at a number of events but chose Muscle Acre because the dates worked for me and it was pretty near.
The race offers two distances, a 5km and 10km. As I am by nature tight fisted I went for the 10km option as it was only £5 more than the shorter race when I signed up. I didn’t have any expectations of the event. I knew it was local but had not paid any attention to views from the various OCR (obstacle course race) Facebook groups I am part of. Muscle Acre takes place on a horse farm outside Guildford and comprises a mixture of natural and man made obstacles.
The first thing that struck me about Muscle Acre was that it was really well organised. I got there pretty early and found parking well managed and registration easy. Timing chips were all allocated and ready to go and the staff on duty were friendly and efficient. There seemed to be lots of nice touches in the way the event was organised. The first thing was a ready supply of safety pins to attach numbers to running bibs – a small and welcome detail; and then the design of the number itself, on the rear of the number there was a form for next of kin details and at the bottom, a perforated strip to tear off and attach to your bag for dropping in the secure storage. It all spoke of an event which was well thought out from a runner’s point of view.
The event village itself was small but really, other than toilets, food and a coffee stall, what do you really need? Likewise the warm up was basic but exactly what we needed to get ready and into the spirit of things.
The course itself struck a nice balance between number of obstacles and still allowing a nice flow to the running sections. The breadth of obstacles was also quite wide. For the first time I encountered sand bag and log carries (which are as unpleasant as they sound), old favourites such as monkey bars (I’m not a fan) and mud crawls (don’t know why but I really like them), sat alongside stuff I have not seen before such as 3 skips filled with water. I don’t know why it was so much fun hammering through skips full of water but then nor can I explain quite why I wanted to be out on a rainy July Sunday morning running and throwing myself over stuff rather than lying in bed reading the paper. For me, my favourite part was the latter part of the 10km course which wound through some truly stunning woodland, that combined the very best of English forest running with natural obstacles (read logs to jump over and swamps to wade through) and it really worked well.
The marshalling and encouragement were top notch with many friendly people there to guide runners in the right direction. A highlight for me was at the penultimate obstacle, a 7 – 8 foot straight wall, I started to aim for the right side where a knotted rope hung down. A timely shout from a marshall to commit and go for the non-assisted side of the wall was all I needed to give it a go. With super energetic encouragement as I came over I made it and felt awesome for doing it, that was a real highlight of the day.
In conclusion, I had a great time. Muscle Acre ticked every box for me and a few besides. I had arrived without any expectation and found the event delivered on all levels. It was on the harder end of things, yes, but that can be as much fun as the more light-hearted Colour Rush which was my last OCR. The fact that the medal looked the business and the T shirt was also pretty boss just sealed the deal. If I had to make a criticism it would be that the wait for the chip timings to go up on the website was tortuous but worth it when they went up (I came 33rd out of 148 starters)
I’ll definitely be doing the summer madness again and perhaps a few more Muscle Acres before hand (there are events in January and November also) if I can get her indoors to sign off on it.