We sent Paul and Cat to test out River Rat Race in London, a wet obstacle race around the Thames. Here’s their thoughts…
1. Why did you sign up?
P: Whenever RatRace come to town through their SOTF races; you can be assured that it will be a rollercoaster through a city.
C: This one caught my eye because it was utterly different to anything else. It had the swimming of the triathlon, the setting of a road race and the obstacles of an OCR. The mutant baby of all those races combined
2. How did you find the venue / facilities?
P: Excel was an excellent location. It was on the Docklands Light Railway ensuring that it was easily accessible from central London. Also there was adequate parking underneath to ensure that it was easy to get to. For once it wasn’t a burger van or nothing.
C: There was a massive stage, a DJ, MC’s warming everyone up and shooting the breeze and a variety of merch stands. The major bonuses for us were the fact that there were real toilets and over 20 options for lunch.
3. Talk me through the kit you chose for this event?
P: I went a little overboard probably and wore Mudsocs, inov-8 elite race shorts, a pair of Brooks and my Team Muddy Race vest of course!
C: X-Racewear Ladies Shorts, Shock Absorber Ultimate Run Bra, Muddy Race Vest, Prosok’s, KT Tape, 2XU Compression Calf Guards, Alago Ultimate Heated Gloves and Inov-8 Tri-X-Treme 275.
5. Describe the event in three words?
P:Different, fun and challenging.
C: Wet, Urban and Playful
6. What was the best obstacle and why?
P: I think “the Plank” had to be the best obstacle where you jumped off a ledge into the Thames. It had to be 25 foot up; if not higher. It was truly terrifying and I stood there looking down thinking this is not a good idea. On jumping it took ages to hit the water and I felt a little ill by it to be honest!
C: I think I will have to say the kayaking. It was just so different and amazing fun.The kayaking was really clever and fun, the inflatables were great and the jump from height was good too. Plus I’m always a sucker for ropes climbs (out of the water! I’m spoilt!).
7. What was the worst obstacle and why?
P: I would have to say the rubber rings across the river from one floating ledge to another.Not due to design or imagination; purely down to being so hard!
C: On a fear basis, I would say the slide. I think the only reason nobody heard my screaming is because it was at a pitch only dogs could hear
8. How wet did you get? would you class yourself as a drowned rat?
P: After negating all of the obstacles; I was drenched. Smiling but drenched.
C: Soaked! Probably to drowned rat proportions! The first soaking was a full submersion under an inflatable pretty early on and the water obstacles made sure we were soggy throughout.
9. Out of ten; what score would you give the event? did you enjoy it?
P: As a fun blast round London with friends 9/10. It was immensely enjoyable and there were a number of moments that made you laugh or smile.
C: Probably a 9/10 and that’s only because of the running to make up distance element. This would be a great event for beginners as the course is wide enough for them to walk it without feeling like they are holding others up. It was really cool to have an urban race.
10. If you could sit down with Rat Race for coffee, what would you have and what would you tell him to improve this race?
P: Bring back those huge inflatable icebergs that we see in the videos from the original DirtyWeekend.
C: Think I would ask for a few more obstacles thrown in to the final leg of the race when you re-enter the Excel, kayaking across the river instead of doing two trips over the bridge.
11. What was it like swimming somewhere that has an enviromental health rating?
P: It made a welcome change from bogs or lakes. Although it was just as disgusting and was pretty green!
C: Pretty normal! I do swim in the sea for fun you know, and we get all sorts in there from marine algae to inquisitive mackerel. When we signed up for the race plenty of people went “Yuck. The THAMES? Why?”. These same people have gone to OCRs in the country where quite a bit of the mud has an… aromatic quality more associated with a pig’s rear end.
**** Bonus question ******
12. At what point did you take your medal off on the way home / that evening? and why?
P: I’m pretty bad with medals. I wore it into Central London and a lot of people gave me looks at the Punch and Judy in Covent Garden. I think it was on me until I ended up home for about 11pm? So a good 12 hours of wearing – it was a good medal too. I also really liked the special Shelter Rat Race tech shirts that the fundraisers were running in. Very jealous!
C: When I got in the bath! Because medals and baths don’t tend to mix all that well. It stayed on for the obligatory bottle of Cava on the Excel centre steps (that’s some quality street drinking, that is) and the car ride home. It’s always fun wandering into the Blue Boys service station all blinging! I’d also like to say thanks to the lovely marshals who really helped me out by catching me when I jumped off things so I wouldn’t risk landing on my ankle and damaging it further (usually I just kind of jump and hope)