The Year of OCR… My Next Tough Challenge

Paid partnership with Black Tower Wine

This year has seen the return of OCR for me… I did my first Obstacle Course Race, Men’s Health Survival, back in 2011 and again the following year and I loved both, even though I’d done them solo. I also took on a local OCR called WAR with some friends and had the BEST time. But then I didn’t do another one until this year where so far I’ve completed 6 Spartan races! I also plan to hit up Nuclear Races sometime, but OCR season just couldn’t be complete without taking on a Tough Mudder, right?

To be honest, I don’t know how I’ve gone so long without having done a Tough Mudder – it’s the first race people think of when you mention OCR, with its infamous electric shock therapy obstacle. But so far Tough Mudder has escaped me… until now!

Joining the Tribe… Cheers To Me!

Black Tower wine, the official wine sponsor of Tough Mudder, invited me to be a part of their Black Tower Tough Mudder Tribe, conquering the Tough Mudder race and, of course, celebrating with some wine afterwards… #cheerstome! I’m a big believer in “no food (or drink) barred” and wine is absolutely in my diet and something I enjoy to wind down after a long day, or celebrate with when I achieve something, so I was absolutely on board.


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Ian and I have both signed up for the London South Half course on Saturday 29th September. With Ian still recovering from his ankle injury in March, and me currently suffering a double whammy of plantar fasciitis and peroneal tendonitis, we will definitely be treading carefully while charging headfirst through the obstacles. I can’t wait!

The official Black Tower obstacle this year is the Kiss of Mud – this involves crawling under barbed wire, but actually we’ve found from previous OCRs that the quickest way to get through is to roll… a great excuse to roll around in mud with my boyfriend!

Tough Mudder Prep

OCRs may seem a little intimidating, but with our history of running and CrossFit, I’d like to think we’re pretty well prepared for whatever Tough Mudder can throw at us! CrossFit is such great training for OCR, with exercises like pull-ups and toes to bar transferring well to monkey bars (although will someone please tell my body that as I KEEP failing them!) and deadlifts/cleans transferring well to pulling tasks. I’ve definitely found I need less help at obstacles than I used to before starting CrossFit. Although OCR, and especially Tough Mudder, is also about teamwork so I’m looking forward to taking this on with Ian by my side and meeting other runners to tackle the obstacles together.

Not really knowing what to expect with Tough Mudder specifically, my main focus for getting prepared is to get my mud smile on and my teamwork helping hand ready. I’ve also heard I need to get ready for an ice bath dip… I wonder if I can bring a couple of bottles of Black Tower in there with me?! Tough Mudder – here we come!

The Royal British Legion Major Series Obstacle Races

You may have already heard of “The Major Series” – British Military Fitness’ series of obstacle races – but this year is looking to be the most exciting yet with leading fitness providers BMF today announcing the most well-suited partnering since Reebok and CrossFit. Yup, you guessed it… the Royal British Legion are BMF’s main sponsor in what’s set to be the biggest and bestest (yes, that’s totally a word!) Major Series so far.

An Experience Like No Other

So just what does this partnership mean? Alex Stanley, Race Director and also Head of Events for British Military Fitness, promises that the upcoming Royal British Legion Major Series will be even more military inspired. Military obstacle zones will bombard runners’ senses with sights, sounds and smells… and perhaps the odd explosion too, to really immerse you in the military feel of the event. “We want this to be an experience like no other”, says Stanley, “the Major will be in his bunker dreaming up new and improved experiences that we’ll be releasing bit by bit in the lead up to the first race in March”.

The Royal British Legion Major Series

The Royal British Legion Major Series

That’s March 12th in the Midlands, by the way, with the second race hitting the north just 8 days later. The Royal British Legion Major Series prides itself in being one of the only races that is set almost entirely on natural terrain; something its participants revel in with the catch-phrase “no mud, no glory”. It’s the locations themselves that make this possible, with only the hilliest and muddiest locales being taken into consideration. The series takes place over seven different events, in four fantastic locations, covering most of Great Britain.

The Royal British Legion Major Series kicks off on 12th March for 'an experience like no other'... find out more: Click To Tweet

The Major Series’ Major’s Troops

With 5k and 10k options, there’s something for every ability. In fact, the BMF are keen to prove that they’re not out for being “the toughest” and insist that the Royal British Legion Major Series is accessible to all – even beginners. And in case you’re still a little unsure, there are even 40+ “Major’s Troops”, some of the finest current serving members of the armed forces, out on the course helping people through the obstacles. Some might expect the 10k race to just be two loops of the 5k, or even worse, just an added 5k of pure running, but the distance tackles an extra 10+ obstacles in addition to the extra cardio challenge.

The Major Series' Major rallying his troops

The Major Series’ Major rallying his troops

The Major's Troops show of their log carrying skills

The Major’s Troops show of their log carrying skills

And what of the Royal British Legion? They’ll be out on force on race day too, with a top secret sponsored obstacle, and staff to help you over it. You can choose to donate to the Legion on entry to the race, or go the extra mile and raise sponsorship throughout your training, earning yourself a special race t-shirt to wear with pride on the day. The partnership between BMF and the Legion is a great move, and one that, hopefully, will bring them forward to a younger audience. Some may not realise the work that the Legion do with people just leaving the forces, or suffering through injury – they’re not just for WWI and WWII veterans and working man’s pubs. 

Not only this, but Head of Events for the Legion, Gavin Spencer, is hoping to make the Royal British Legion relevant all year round – not just during the Poppy Appeal. But, of course, there’ll have to be poppies included somewhere – perhaps on the finishers’ medal…?

Royal British Legion Major Series

With races kicking off in March next year, early bird entries are now open. The first four races have been announced:

MIDLANDS: Saturday, 12 March 2016, Birmingham, Warwickshire.
NORTH: Sunday, 20 March 2016, Leeds, West Yorkshire.
SOUTH: Saturday, 9 April 2016, Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
SCOTLAND: Saturday, 4 June 2016, Port of Menteith, Stirlingshire.

No mud, no glory! Check out the country's most accessible obstacle race series here... Click To Tweet
No mud, no glory. The Royal British Legion Major Series catchphrase!

No mud, no glory. The Royal British Legion Major Series catchphrase!

Sign up at to bag yourself a special Legion-inspired medal, finishers’ t-shirt and a goody bag filled with some very generous sponsors’ goodies. You’ll also be eligible for a week free trial of British Military Fitness classes when you enter the race, as well as getting a training plan written by BMF instructors.

To find out more about the Royal British Legion, or to donate to the Poppy Appeal, go to

Let me know if you sign up for a race… I might just see you there!