I flew down to Melbourne the afternoon before the race and checked into the YHA before heading out to Docklands to scope out where the race would be taking place. The start line was being setup and all the volunteers were very busy. I followed the course around the waterfront, past the parallel bars & monkey bars and got as far as the ramp at the finish line. The parallel bars and ramp both had me worried, I’d never done parallel bars before and the ramp looked really large. The rest of it seemed to be mostly running, so that didn’t worry me at all.
The next morning I was up early and headed for Docklands. The OCRL racers were in the last wave so I had plenty of time to pick up my race pack and drop my gear around at the OCRL tent, which was located about 500m away at the finish line. There were plenty of League racers all getting ready to run. I found Deanna at the start line with a heap of other League racers, some of whom I recognised from Facebook but hadn’t met in person before. Deanna was very nice and braided my hair for me so it wouldn’t get caught in the nets.
With all the other racers off and running around the course the League racers stepped up to the start and then we were off. The first obstacles were some water filled barriers that we had to leap over, the was a slightly lower narrow gap where there barriers joined together so I headed for that and planting my hands on either barrier I could jump over and through the gap. The large run legs between the obstacles meant I was still maintaining pace with Deanna, but she is strong and I didn’t know how long it would last. After following the water and running over a bridge we hit the climbing walls and also a lot of the earlier racers. The walls were a bit of a bottleneck and by the time I’d gotten over Deanna was about 50m in front of me. A lot more running, then the super easy crawling obstacle. They were so against people getting dirty that even the grass that you crawled on had matting over the top to protect the racers. We ran out to the end of one of the wharves and a sandbag carry, the bag was maybe 10kg. It was a flat run with the sandbag, a straight out and back. Then back along the wharf, through a spiders web of ropes, over the bridge and back past the start line.
I hit the parallel bars and really didn’t want to fall off so I swung my legs up onto the bars and tried to slide across. I really needed to wear longer pants to pull it off because the my skin just stuck to the cold metal, I ended up doing a sort of wriggle across. The next set of parallel bars on the other side of the monkey bars I came up with a better strategy and planted my hands on the bars and my feet behind me, dragging myself along with only my shoes touching – no more painful rubbing. Clearly I need to work on my parallel bars technique.
At this point I was running with a group of about half a dozen other non-league racers and was at the back of the pack as we hit a timing mat and everyone took off sprinting, I had no idea what was happening, we weren’t near the finish line and I couldn’t see any obstacles that we needed to sprint for, but when everyone around me starts sprinting for their life I’ll also pick up the pace. Turns out that it was a 100m sprint obstacle which I’d missed the volunteer giving the instructions for. With the excitement of the sprint over I was back running at my regular race pace. The course took us past the finish line and out to the end of the wharf where we hit some more plastic barriers, piles of tires and three skip bins that we had to go through. The first two skips bins were shallow and very easy. The third skip bin however was much larger (taller then me). When I was climbing up the outside wall I didn’t realise it was hollow inside and I got a surprise that there were all these other racers stuck inside the bin. I wonder if they had to check it after the race, I mean you could easily have a short racer stuck in the bin requiring rescue. Anyways I made it through. I saw afterwards in photos that some girls climbed to the top and then made their way along the side edge of the skip bin rather then going into it at all. I thought that was a clever idea, but I’m not sure if it would count as cheating. I mean they still got up and over the obstacle, they just had a more efficient method of getting through it.
It was now down to the final run to the giant ramp at the finish line. By this stage Deanna was a good couple of minutes in front of me and she’d picked up even more speed. I had no chance of catching her. I headed for the ramp and sprinted at it full speed, it turns out it wasn’t as hard as it looked, I managed to grab the top and pull myself up and over rolling onto the top of the ramp, run down the other side and across the finish line.
I headed back to the OCRL tent to get my stuff and my Bounce jumper (Melbourne is really cold). The event organisers phoned me while I was hanging around collecting free energy drinks and told me that I’d placed, so I was stoked. They had the presentations not long after the last racer crossed the finish line (I bet they got stuck in the skip bin). I didn’t know the racer who got third, but apparently she was in the first wave and was the first female across the line, which was impressive. They announced me for second and I had to go on stage and collect my Women’s Health showbag, it was embarrassing. But the photos aren’t too awkward. Then when I thought they’d announce Deanna for first, they called someone else who wasn’t there. Turns out Deanna’s timing chip didn’t work, which was terrible. So while according to the official results I got second, really I came third. At least Deanna will get the League points.
Overall the race was good. A lot of running which suits me, but the obstacles weren’t that hard, or unique. I would consider it more a running race with a few obstacles thrown in rather then a full-blown obstacle race. However, if you are looking for an easy obstacle race where you don’t have to worry about getting dirty then it’s certainly worth doing the Sydney Urbanathlon.