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 (mostly) on Sundays. Enjoy!
Summer Zeus Obstacle Race Review
‘This is not a race, there are no timing chips, I don’t care if you come first, I do care if you come home’.
These were the words of the Zeus OCR Race Director just prior to starting our wave last week and, to me, they pretty much some up the ethos of what was a really superb experience. I’d found myself there, on a relatively rainy June morning due to an offer my friend and RAW colleague Andy had turned up. A summer obstacle race for £15, yes, £15, we’d be mad to knock that back. So, we sorted out tickets and made plans to return to the land of my forefathers.
Zeus takes place on a Motorcross track near Burton on Trent so it was about 2 hours drive from our base in Berkshire. The race itself has several waves of runners with each wave being an all abilities group. There was no elite wave or wristband to lose although there were some pretty good athletes there. The first couple of waves out there were Canicross and we were assured that the dogs do indeed get medals.
Andy and I got there early and there was no hassle getting on to the earlier 10am wave. Registration was well run and fuss free, we got given a bag for car keys to be held at the desk and a band to show we were cleared to race. Nothing else, but then what else do you need? Parking was easy and really close to the race village and so all we needed to do was to make sure the keys were safe.
The start was straightforward and without further ado we found ourselves out running the course. Anyone who’s read my reviews before will know I like a good run in my racing and I definitely got that. Terrain was varied from field running through to forest trails and out onto wider mud roads. I certainly found that I got into a good rhythm early on. Another thing that is a common feature in races I like is water and we weren’t disappointed on that front. There was tons of wading and splashing from early on and even a short swim, which was lush.
The obstacles were a mix of what was obviously from the motor-cross track, which is good, through to natural terrain features and purpose built stuff. The purpose built stuff went from simple things like sternum checkers between trees right through to aerial frames which took some care to negotiate. All the obstacles had a marshal most of whom were from the Zeus team. Everyone, without exception, was super friendly. My favourite obstacle was one I’ll call the refrigerated tunnel of mystery. All I will say (so I don’t spoil it for others) is that it’s the best thing I’ve seen done with a Smeg fridge, ever.
One of the things I really liked was the use of wood in the construction of obstacles. I do not doubt for a second that the obstacles were 100% safe but there’s just this extra frisson when you’re crossing a wooden obstacle. You know it’s safe but there’s just a bit of an extra charge and that really gets the adrenalin pumping. In terms of safety, it was clear that this was a priority as one of the obstacles had been shut down due to the recent heavy rain. I’m never happy to see an obstacle closed but it does reassure you that safety is a top priority.
It seemed over all too soon when we came over the final obstacle (given how ruined I feel the day after it probably wasn’t too soon at all) and got presented with our medals. Honestly I don’t usually care about medals but you have to take your hat off to this one, it’s massive, they do not mess about up in the midlands let me tell you.
The only regret I have is that the race is open to kids and I did not know. Both Andy and I said it would be perfect for our eldest children and I shall definitely bring Logan next time around.
In conclusion, it was a mission to drive up to the midlands but it was well worthwhile. Zeus encapsulates everything I enjoy about obstacle racing, fun, challenging, friendly and rewarding. I’m really glad we found out about the race and can say with surety that I’ll run that course again.