Raw Challenge

By  Melissa Robertson

I was registered to run the first wave of the day at 9am so figured I had time to go do the 10k time trial at Trotters at 6am. Fresh from that run/race I headed straight up to Doyalson for The Australia Day Raw Challenge. The event site was already pumping by the time I got there and picked up my race pack, no bib – which was fine because I tend to either lose them (The Stampede sticky bibs) or get impaled by the pins when they come lose (Trying to climb over a net while being impaled at Tough Mudder). I met up with the Obstacle Racers group at their tent and dumped my bag there before heading for the start line with the other first wave racers.

The MC did the usual job of getting people pumped and then we were off, the run leg was the same as we’d practiced at the camping weekend only this time there was actual mud. The running spread the field out a bit for when we hit the web of ropes to crawl and climb through. Then onto the sandbag carry where all the competitors trudged around in a circle carrying 5kg or 10kg sandbags. The pipe hurdles were the same as the camping weekend so I had no great difficulty, then some mud, a rope climb, some more mud and clambering before we got to the highlight of the course – The giant inflatable waterslide.


The slide was huge, I used the straps and steps to get to the top and then realised how steep it really was, I pushed off from the top and started screaming as the slide seemed to drop away from under me, but it was really just a big jumping castle that I was sliding down. I screamed the whole way down until I hit the mud puddle at the bottom. Later in the day when I was watching other people slide down some of the guys were launching themselves superman style out into the air above the slide before bouncing their way down.

Some more trudging through mud and onto the Monkey Bars, I still hadn’t forgiven them for burning my hands the previous weekend, and even though I was wearing gloves this time I got nervous and fell off part way across. The balance beam was easy, especially as it was one of the obstacles I spent a lot of time practicing on after injuring my hands. The rope bridge was a complete disaster. The top rope had been raised since we’d spent the training weekend and I could no longer reach it while standing on the bottom rope, needless to say I did not make it far.

Running, crawling, some more clambering as I helped another female runner over the tyres then onto the slopped tunnel crawling were I lost the other lady (I found out later that she got a bit stuck). We left the main paddock and headed next door to a long walk through the mud and the most relaxing obstacle I have ever done. The lifesavers were all chilling by the dam as the muddy obstacle racers came running over and grabbed an inflatable tube to use to float across the dam. It was great, floating along on my tube, paddling or pulling myself along with the rope every so often, a nice change to all the climbing and crawling.


The final obstacles were all big, but not particularly difficult as I went over the rope A-Frame, the sloped climbing wall and the skate ramp and sprinted for the finish line where I gorged myself on Oranges and picked up my finisher dog tags. Overall, a great obstacle course.

With my run over I headed back to the Obstacle Racers tent where they were preparing to head out in the next wave. James gave me his camera with instructions to take photos so I followed them to the start line and took some photos as they all took off. I sat by the waterslide and waited for them to reappear and watched as the line for the slide got longer and longer. They were only allowing 3 people to go up at a time which makes a huge bottleneck when you have thousands of racers. The ORA group eventually got to the slide and I took some photos while they spent about an hour in line waiting for their go. Being a very hot day Raw set up an emergency drink stop to cater to the long line of people standing out in the hot sun. This was really the only downside of the course and although it didn’t effect me personally I could see a lot of the other racers getting very frustrated. However, I’m sure the Raw Challenge will address the slide bottleneck by the time they put on their next race.

With all the ORA’s down the slide I chased them around the next part of the course taking photos before they again disappeared this time off next door to float around the dam. Some more photos at the final obstacles until I had to return the camera with a full memory card and joined the group for a post-race debrief back at the tent.

The atmosphere at the Raw Challenge was great with practice obstacles and ropes scattered around the spectator grounds. A big thanks to the Obstacle Racers Australia group for making it a great day and giving me lots of fun people to hang out with.


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