Gauntlet Games 2016 – Gladiators Ready!
After my 2014 Colour Run, and 2015 Mud Run, this year, I decided to give a slightly different obstacle course race a go. Gauntlet Games is an OCR race with a combination of inflatable, water and climbing obstacles. Not so much mud, but lots of water and bubbles!
The race was again held at Heaton Park, which seems to be the hot spot for Manchester’s 5/10k races. Once you’re there, you can see why. After 3 different 5k routes I still see beautiful areas of the park which are new to me each time.
We arrived on the morning of the 3rd September an hour before our scheduled 10:30am wave was due to set off. Pack collection was pretty quiet, and there wasn’t much going on at the start line. We suspected that this would be an overall quieter race than some others, but it was nice to not have to run in such a big group, and definitely improved queueing times.
Ticket prices for the Gauntlet Games range between £30 and £40 for the 5k, which isn’t bad compared to some OCRs, but we suspect this one is more aimed at the fun runners than the serious competitors. It’s not officially timed, and the obstacles are mostly inflatable. Included in the ticket cost is a t-shirt and medal, which is pretty standard, and kit storage, which we usually see as a hidden extra, so it’s nice for it to be included here.
Just before we started, the rain started to come down. It wasn’t heavy, and considering we were bound to get wet anyway, it wasn’t too bad. Thinking back, I’d much prefer to run in light rain than blazing heat.
Gauntlet Games is a fun packed obstacle course race, perfect for an OCR newbie to try their hand at some classic and some more ‘bouncy’ challenges. The 5k races advertise 18 – 20 obstacles, so after a quick warm up at the start line, we were off! Let’s have a look at what we faced…..
- See Saw – First up was the see saw, which is exactly what it says on the tin. You walk across a see saw and balance as you tip the plank, all while being squirted with a water gun. I was actually quite impressed at how quickly I did this one, especially considering how shocking my balance is!
- Monkey Business – It’s no secret that I have zero upper body strength, so knowing full well that I stood no chance of making it across, I simply took the plunge and dove into the water. It was really cold! But it was also really fun, especially trying to climb out at the other side.
- Wacky Walls – Being rather soggy and not the best at hauling myself over walls, I opted for the lowest of the three available, and managed to hoist myself over without too much trouble.
- Zig Zag Walls – I’m shocking at traverse walls, but thankfully the Gauntlet Games had two levels of difficulty. I went for the easier one, and was pleasantly surprised I made it across. My recent climbing lessons must have come in handy here.
- Unknown Obstacle – I couldn’t find the name of this one, but we basically had to traverse across a scaffold over water. You could opt for the more difficult route of shimmying across a rope, but I stuck to the safer option.
- Feeling Ropey – Here we had to balance on a rope while also holding one above and walk across the water. It gets really wobbly in the middle, and I even got papped by the race photographer.
- Over and Under – Our over and unders ended up a little more under and under at this point. A pretty standard OCR obstacle, but it’s nice to keep breaking things up with obstacles.
- Life’s a Beach (Ball) – I LOVED this one! Think crawling through a bouncy castle filled with those big gym balls. Because it was wet and slippy, I ended up at the other end, slithering out head first on my front, much to the amusements of the Gladiators who were ready to pound us as we came out. I felt like a slimy baby being born onto wet grass, but it was so much fun!
- Giant Web – A web of rope between the trees, not too difficult for the more nimble among us, and I managed to get through without tripping, which is always a bonus.
- Slam Dunk – I really enjoyed this obstacle. You take three tennis balls and have to drop one in each of the three drums in the ring. The twist? You also have a Gladiator swinging a club at you and chasing you round while you try and dodge her!
- Bouncing Rally – Another obstacle I really enjoyed, and I didn’t realise how fast you can go on a space hopper, or how tiring it would be. I was super out of breath after this one, but another one offering lots of fun.
- Bowling Gauntlet – The Bowling Gauntlet is similar to the Life’s a Beach obstacle, only with much bigger balls! I liked this one, but I prefered the first one.
- Flume of Doom – I’m 32 years old and I’ve never done a slip and slide. This one was huge! We made a decision to go down on bums over bellies, but then I got stuck, ended up very ungracefully rolling around before finishing the slide on my tummy. Tons of fun!
- Treacherous Tunnels – The best tactic here is to dodge the Gladiator (obviously) and then run and dive into the nearest tunnel. If you get your dive right you can almost slide all the way through to the other end. I got about two thirds of the way through and ended up wiggling the rest of the way.
- Swing & Smash – This is the only obstacle I really disliked. If you fell wrong you risk falling back off the inflatable into the scaffolding (which we saw a few people almost do) so after my race partner got her head a little bit jumped on, I opted to jump down rather than swing, so I could control the fall a bit better.
- Belly Slide – After the Flume of Doom I was looking forward to this, but there were so many bubbles! I held my breath as long as I could, but I still ended up eating, snorting and becoming blinded by the foam. It was fun, but it would have been nice if water/towels were available here so it didn’t take so long for me to be able to see again. I think I can taste the soap even now.
- Dive to Victory – After the Belly Slide this one felt a bit like it had been plonked there. The previous obstacle would have been a much better penultimate challenge, and I think this one would have been better placed further back into the course.
- The Gauntlet – The final challenge was to race to the finish past the final Gladiators. They were tough, but we were tougher, and after a great few hours we came to a very soggy, and very soapy end.
I had a great time at Gauntlet Games, it’s a really great OCR with lots of fun factor over competition. It wasn’t the most professional race, but the ticket price reflects this, and is really reasonable for what you get. The t-shirt is good quality (although sizing is a touch small) and there’s a good number of obstacles. Even though some are quite standard and simple, there are still plenty of stand out obstacles that offer not just fun, but something really different to your average mud run.
The only downside, the official race photos are extortionate.
If anyone wants to give OCR a try, but you’re a bit nervous, and not that bothered about the competition or ‘race’ element, then this one is for you!
Thanks for reading!
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