Wairua Warrior O.C.R. – Saturday 9th April 2016
Wairua Warrior Obstacle Course Race (WWOCR) 2016 was the first OCR to take place in New Zealand with an elite wave for seasoned competitive athletes, so naturally (and arrogantly) signed myself up! The race was held at Happy Valley Adventures near Nelson, New Zealand. There were 6km and 12km options for the race so I signed up for the 12km elite group. It was nice to find out that the 12km option wasn’t just 2 laps of the 6km option but had additional segments to the course, CHALLENGING segments!
The race registration was early in the morning about 7:15AM and the race started at 7:45AM. There were about 24 competitors in the elite wave, male and female, and we were ushered to the start line for a briefing and Maori course blessing, which was quite interesting and enjoyable. It was a fair day with no rain but the ground was soft with rain from the night before. After a few screams of “I AM A WARRIOR”, prompted by the race official, we counted down to start the race.
The obstacles varied from natural to man-made problems, such as rivers and fences, and also those which required strength vs endurance, and also balance. Along the valley bottom we ran through streams and crawled under barbed wire, followed by fences ranging from 1 meter to just over 2 meters high. I got stuck behind someone trying to leap onto a wooden hurdle which set me back a bit, and then got held up by a 30 burpee penalty a bit later when I fell off some balancing beams. After making our way under a bridge through a stream and through a field full of tyres we had to crawl under more barbed wire, uphill! By this time the leaders had shot on ahead. Then came the first horrifying sand bag carry!
We had to carry a sandbag each up a pretty big hill and back again. I’m hoping to get the exact details from the course organizers because it felt like a long way. This was an addition for the 12km course. Someone said the bags were about 35kg and they were pretty hard to carry. I found the best way was to carry it on the back of my neck holding it either side with my arms. After that long and grueling exercise I finally got rid of the bag and carried on back along the valley floor. We had to hoist a weight up to a height and lower it down again, which seemed very easy, then run up and down a short but steep hill in several places with the aid of ropes. Crawling through a muddy swamp came next followed by a refreshing cup of juice. We then had to run up a stream and climb another steep, almost cliff like, section in woodland with the aid of some thick ropes.
The 12km section once again branched from the 6km and headed on up another steep hill. It was then I realised I was on my own and suddenly doubted whether I had gone the right way because I couldn’t see any course arrows. Another competitor caught up with me and we carried on up the hill and eventually found some marshalls, so we had gone the right way. The next task was to flip and tractor tyre 3 times, which was really hard after what we had already done. And as if that wasn’t enough then had to carry another sandbag up a steep hill and down again, collecting a token from the marshall at the top so that we could prove we had done it. After dumping the sandbag there was a good long run down the hill and back along the valley bottom where I gave the token to another marshall and rejoined the 6km course.
We then had to tackle “The Grind” which was a very steep section of woodland with lots of loose leaf litter. At the top there was a marshall egging us on. Once we got to the top he said “Well done! Now carry this tyre up the hill, around the cone and back again. Best technique is to carry it on your shoulders around your neck.” After this there was another long downhill run and then through a stream on the valley bottom, where we had to do 30 compulsory burpees. This was followed by monkey bars, including a kind of bar which you had to shuffle along with a strap. I fell off so had to do another 30 burpees as a penalty, during which I got passed by someone. I then had to tackle another set of balancing beams which I fell off pretty much immediately as my legs were shot, so had to do another 30 burpees! The end was in sight though and the last obstacle was a climbing frame in the middle of river with a fire hose spraying water over it. A refreshing end to a tough course!
All competitors were immediately offered a free beer at the tent and I collapsed on a bale of hay. It looked like everyone had enjoyed the run and was buzzing off it! I asked the course timer where I came in the race and I came 19th out of (I think) 24 people in the elite wave, but more importantly none of the fun runners beat my time, so I am now truly elite! Even if the winner did beat me by 45 minutes!
All in all the race was very well organised. All I could say was a few extra arrows may be needed here and there but the course route was pretty clearly marked. The thing I enjoyed the most was the course wasn’t too crowded so you could go straight into the obstacles without any cues and just have a great day at your own pace. Well done to the organisers! I AM A WARRIOR!