After missing out on the JCB Mud Run last year due to a clash, I was determined to join in the fun this year. JCB organise and host the mud run to support the NSPCC and its great to see that with the help of the many sponsors, the race has raised £70,000 this year.
TLDR – Early waves for wet – later waves for epic muddiness!
I booked the OCRA UK wave to attempt to qualify – but as I am in one of the most competitive age groups, I was actually looking to see “where I am” and what I would need to work on for future qualification prospects. In truth, this was the only qualifier that was local, didn’t clash with any other race dates and wasn’t extraordinarily more expensive than the normal race (£45). It was the first wave (no queues) and added extra distance and a few additional obstacles (more about that later).
Parking was in the main car park of the JCB world head-quarters whilst a short bus ride was required (and provided for) to the course entrance. There was a huge number of buses, so even on the return, I didn’t have to wait for a bus. At registration you picked up your tech t, wrist band (for free burger after the race) chip and baggage tag. This was great as many of the participants did put their JCB mud run shirt on for the run and I am sure will be used in many gym sessions in the future. Bag drop and changing was right next to the start line – big tick here! It should be noted that there was no extra cost for bag drop or parking not even a donation to charity requested.
The qualifying wave was the only wave that had a “race start” with everyone going off on the gun. What was a refreshing change for all other racers, they had a wave time “slot” and could run at any time within the hour. This made for a more relaxed start – the emphasis is “mud run” not race – and I would assume, reduce the queues you inevitably get when 50 people all run off at the same time.
The race started straight into a stream then uphill towards the first wade. The first up-hill was really to give us a sense of what was coming – A lot of hills! The first few kilometers of the course was true trail run, up and down the hills and through (mostly) natural obstacles – logs, trail, lake wades etc. But the elevation! Looking at the profile most of the 224m climb was within the first half of the race – it was nasty. I really need to do a lot of hill work!
Once we got out of the trail, the run was peppered with a number of man-made obstacles such as walls, tunnels and ditches. We then hit a long run of obstacles incorporated into a switch back – inverted walls, Under-Over-Through walls, rope traverse, tyre crawl amongst others. We then hit the mud ditches – a long stretch starting with a slide that gives Tough Mudder’s Mud Mile a run for it’s money – Actually it beats it hands down! This part was very spectator friendly with many children clapping and shouting at the competitors to “jump, jump!”. Going from a very wet section into monkey bars was probably a miss – my grip wasnt great and slipped off towards the end! A few more obstacles including a 25% climb up concrete was interesting with my choice of wet trainers – I had to do it on all fours to get up. A short stream wade, another climbing obstacle and it was all over.
The course measured 8.7km – a lot shorter than the advertised 10km distance. But at the end, there was a wet shower to wash off the mud (really useful for the competitors in later waves) and a massive goodie bag, chocolate, water, banana and a really cool medal.
So for £40 I got a very good obstacle course – It’s not up there with Tough Mudder or Spartan for example – but its great fun and is one of the better independent races in the UK. Free tech t, goodie bag, medal, parking, bag drop AND then a burger and drink on top of that. Awesome value! And I know I said this at the beginning, but its worth repeating – over £70,000 was raised for the NSPCC through entry fees.
This is definitely one to put in the calendar for the OCR enthusiast who want a bit of fun or those that are new and want their first mud challenge.
JCB Mud run – www.thejcbmudrun.co.uk/