We were at Toughest OCR in London last month as official partners, and boy did we have a good time! The Toughest team really know how to throw a great event!
As it happens, Toughest is an apt name for this event; this Facebook video from the Toughest page details the gruesome course at Pippingford Park. It was definitely not for the feint of heart!
With races like this it's always amazing to see just how many competitors are willing to put themselves through such gruelling tests of their physical and mental strength and by the looks on finishers faces you could tell they'd been pushed hard. Toughest has built its reputation in Scandinavia for putting on some of the er... toughest races going with tough obstacles and even tougher terrain but being in England, they added a new element that we Brits are particularly familiar with - mud and lot's of it!
There was a brilliant atmosphere with the crowd really enjoying watching and cheering on contestants. For a first race in the UK Toughest certainly made their mark on the OCR circuit; this was a brilliant race to watch and dryrobe team member Ben enjoyed running it:
The finisher photos featured people holding up a sign saying "I need a bath" and after getting around that course a bath was definitely on people's to do list ASAP! Unfortunately that's not possible when you're in the middle of Pippingford Park but thankfully we were on hand to provide the next best thing to keep you warm and dry and allow you to change into some clean clothes before you can get home for that bath.
Toughest London - Ross Macdonald
23rd April 2016, Pippingford Park
Photos by James Appleton
Ross Macdonald, dryrobe ambassador and member of the British Military Fitness Race Team, gives us his thoughts on Toughest London - one of the most eagerly anticipated obstacle-course races of 2016.
"Toughest Races have built a reputation up in Scandinavia for putting together hard, fast, innovative, obstacle-heavy races which attract the top athletes from around Europe. I had attended Toughest Oslo in 2015 and experienced just how good their courses are… as well as how great the Scandinavians at racing around them! After months of build-up, Toughest arrived in London to put the UK to the test.
Toughest brought with them obstacles such as ‘Dragon’s Back’, ‘Sternum Checker’ and ‘Platinum Rig’. These are obstacles which can test the nerve of experienced athlete’s, so for those attempting their first OCR, they had really jumped in at the deep-end. However, Toughest have hard and easy lanes- which is a concept I am a big fan of. Completing a hard lane means you can get straight back into working your way around the 8km course. However, fail the hard lane and you are straight into a penalty run which can often add a minute to your time. Alternatively, take the easy lane (which are still normally quite challenging) and upon completion, you have an extra net-crawl or walls to conquer before you can continue. Again, fail and you are off on the penalty run.
The obstacles which Toughest are already renowned for are their Dragon’s Back obstacle, the Ramp and the Super Slide. Dragon’s Back involves jumping several feet from one platform to another. This would be easy at ground level, but at 10 feet in the air it brings a mental element into play which causes havoc. Unfortunately the Super Slide had to be closed for safety reasons at Toughest London after the elite heat, meaning I was one of the lucky few who got to go down. The lip at the bottom created some great air and this is reason enough to enter next year (check out Toughest events abroad for even bigger slides and ski slopes!). Finally The Ramp is fantastic as it requires more technique than you would expect. When I ran the course for a second time this was much more challenging as it was covered in mud! Jon Albon has it easy.
The mud at Pippingford was new territory for Toughest. The events in Scandinavia largely take place on tarmac, with some events on sand and only small sections on trail or mud. Toughest London being at Pippingford was always going mean mud. However, everyone in the UK is used to getting splattered in mud and cold water so this wasn’t a problem.
In 2015 Jon Albon, OCR World Champion in 2014 and 2015, dominated the Toughest Race Series (as well as almost everything else he entered). This was the same result at Toughest London as Jon showed that if anything, he has gone up yet another gear. It is getting scary to think about how many gears Jon has got! What made this even better was Henriette Albon, Jon’s wife and teammate at Team Santander, crossed the line first in the women’s elite race. They may be living and training in Norway now, but Jon is still a Brit! Conor Hancock, of Team MuddyRace, made a great late surge to claim second place in the men’s. Freya Martin, my teammate at British Military Fitness, had a great race and claimed fourth in the women’s despite some obstacle controversy and I managed 17th, which given I had a semi-decent race shows just how strong this field was!
The event village had a great atmosphere, helped by several obstacles being in or around the same area. Thanks to dryrobe, everyone was kept warm pre and post-race.
Toughest Races take place throughout the year in Malmo, Stockholm, Oslo, Umea, Copenhagen and Gothenburg. They are well worth travelling to and making a nice weekend break out of it!"
Be sure to follow Ross and the British Military Fitness Race Team on social media to stay up to date with their activities!
Stay tuned as we have some official team kit in the pipeline for these guys coming very soon!
Our new Jersey based USA office only opened for business in December 2015 but we have some friends over the pond and thanks to them along with the core UK & Scandinavian crew taking the dryrobes to last years OCR World Championships, dryrobes have definitely made a big impact in the states since their arrival. The race took place on October 17-18th in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the conditions were freezing. The dryrobes came into their own.
Photo (above) courtesy of Toughest Race
This year The OCR World Championships are taking place in the Blue Mountain Resort, Ontario, Canada on October 14-16th. We can safely assume that the weather is yet again going to be very cold and will add an extra element of difficulty to the challenge facing the competitors. It will certainly be #dryrobeterritory.
We were asked to design a custom dryrobe in collaboration with OCR Gear specifically for the 2016 event and what we've created for them is a seriously smart looking piece of kit.
Available ONLY by pre-order for the 2016 OCRWC event from the OCR Gear website. Order now and your dryrobe will be waiting for you at packet pickup at the event!
Here is the link to the page on the OCR Gear Website. CLICK HERE
Also check out our Facebook page, Instagram & Twitter accounts @dryrobe & @dryrobeUSA
The US website is live now at http://www.dryrobeusa.com/ :)
Time to head back to the outdoors! Beach lifesaving training is beginning again. As well as being an incredibly valuable skill and service, lifesaving is also a competitive sport and dryrobe are delighted to be providing kit for Team GB Lifesaving. As a competitive sport Surf lifesaving gives lifeguards the opportunity to practice and hone their skills.
Competitors in lifesaving take part in a beach sprint and a beach sprint relay, as well as a beach flags knock out event.
Also there's a beach run which is over a distance between 500-2000 metres depending on the age of the competitor.
The ocean side of surf life saving sport involves races for both individuals and teams, and a board race and board relay. As well as this, there is a ski race and ski relay, a pairs tube rescue, board rescue, a run-swim-run and Oceanman / Oceanwoman. In this, competitors cover a 1400 metre course including swimming, boards and skis.
There is also an IRB (inflatable rescue boat) contest and a surf boat section. All of this replicates all of the elements of the skills needed to save a life on the beach or at sea. Surf life saving builds confidence and team work in competitors, improving fitness and honing the ability to save a life in any circumstance.
All of this is incredibly hard on competitors, especially when competing at a national level. We are so proud to be involved, providing kit to keep competitors warm between heats and after events.
Team GB lifesaving will be competing in the Lifesaving World Championships later this year which will take place in the Netherlands. The pool events in Eindhoven and the beach/ocean events in Noordwijk aan Zee.
We're pleased to announce a new two-year partnership deal with Castle Triathlon. When the six weekend Castle Triathlon festivals take place, dryrobe will now be hosting Official Athlete Preparation Zones.
A dryrobe is essential for many triathletes to keep warm before their race, so we're pleased to be involved, helping them to prepare for their event. There will be bespoke changing and preparation areas for triathletes as they come in to begin their challenge. On top of this, each Bastion full iron distance triathlete will receive a free towel dryrobe when they finish their race.
(Pictured here: special edition dryrobe Advance Tri-Series Custom branded dryrobe)
We're really proud of our products and we know it's the pefect kit for both before and after events where competitors have undergone some really hard physical challenges before reaching that finish line.
The dryrobe is spacious enough to pull your arms inside and change out of your wet, sweaty kit and into something a little more comfortable. You can change out of a wetsuit or swim suit easily while staying warm and preserving your modesty.
dryrobes are already often seen at Castle Triathlon Series events, so it seemed like a natural partnership for us to join forces and offer Castle triathletes the chance to prepare for their event in a purpose built changing and preparation area. It's as much a mental challenge as a physical one, so that time before the race begins is really important to feel focused and ready.
We are looking forward to this season getting underway.
Red Bull #neptune steps has built a fearsome reputation from the first event last year. dryrobe provided all 100 competitors with a custom event dryrobe thanks to Red Bull. They were needed. It proved to be seriously cold. This year there were 200 competitors. We supplied the winners with the dryrobe advance as prizes this year & the air temperature was kinder but that water is cold!
The unique format open-water swimming race is an adventure race / obstacle course race which involve swimming through 420 metres of cold water, with 8 canal lock gates to climb along the way.
Well done to the winners! And What an achievement by Mark Deans (last years champion) winning this year again!! Awesome!
Podium: Women - Red BullUK #NeptuneSteps 200 athletes, 420 metres of cold water, 8 canal lock gates. #dryrobe #dryrobeterritory 1st: Shannon Botham (08.08) 2nd: Helen Smith (08.29) 3rd: Cliona Ferguson (08.52) Photo: @Redbulluk
Podium: Men - Red Bull UK #NeptuneSteps . #dryrobe Proud to be an official partner for the second year! 1st: Mark Deans (05.47) - winner for the second year - undefeated champ. 2nd: Mark Austin (06.04) 3rd: James Walton (06.17) Photos: Red Bull UK
Great Event - but would you expect anything else from RedBull. Epic!
Video & photos - courtesy of Red Bull UK
We started with Sport Relief back in 2014 when Davina McCall did her Sport Relief challenge, Beyond Breaking Point, covering 500 miles in seven days We were asked by the Sport Relief Team to supply our dryrobe Advance product.
The TV presenter Davina McCall had to be carried out of the water after completing a 1.5 mile swim in a freezing cold Windermere as part of her Sport Relief challenge & the Team got her straight into the hotel & into her dryrobe to warm up & recover.
When we spoke to her after the event on facebook she said she had absolutely loved the dryrobe.
This Year 2016 Radio 1 presenter Greg James challenge was a tough one #gregathlon Greg James challenge was to complete a triathlon a day for five consecutive days, in five different UK cities. This meant covering more than 50 miles each day, and the weather was against him.
We were asked again by the sport relief team & were proud to supply dryrobes for this challenge. It was great to see Greg James & the legendary celebrity trainer Greg Whyte making good use of their dryrobes.
Photos & videos courtesy of Sport Relief
Greg completed his incredible feat in February you can see how he got on in this video:
For a while in the middle there he looked like he was struggling, but can you believe he actually jumped over the finish line on the final day!
So far Greg has raised over a million pounds for Sport Relief and we are incredibly proud to have helped him a little along the way.
We enjoy sports and a good challenge as much as the next person, but five triathlons in five days? We'll leave that to you, Greg if that's OK. Great Job!
Endurance athletes know that cold is an enemy. Second rule of fit club is - Never get cold. #dryrobeterritory
We are delighted to be supplying dryrobes to the BattleFrog College & League Championships athletes as they compete this week, March 17th – 20th down in Georgia at the beautiful Lenier Islands Resort. 128 Athletes between both events will go head to head in BattleFrog’s top obstacle course racing series is being filmed for ESPN.
The college championship will air on TV the first week of July via ESPN, ESPN2, WatchESPN, ESPNU, Internationally and with on-going airings.
The League Championships will air on TV mid-August.
Photo: Weeple Dave - @weeplearmy (instagram)
A SPORTS PHENOMENON RETURNS
The Battle Frog College Championship changed the face of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) in 2015 by introducing the world to the sport of “Sprint OCR. Season 2 promises to be bigger, faster and even more competitive. With a prime time premiere on ESPN in late June 2016, followed by ongoing re-airs on EsPN2, SPNU, Watch ESPN, and Internationally. The Battle Frog College Championship pits 16 of America’s top obstacle course racing teams in a single-elimination, winner-take-all format. It’s the ultimate test of physical skill and mental will as teams compete for the coveted Trident Cup and a $10,000 Grand Prize! Our Host and MC are Ron Pitts, former cornerback for the Buffallo Bills and Greenbay Packers and American Gladiator and Ninja Warrior, Evan Dollard.
AN OLYMPIC-STYLE SERIES
On the heels of the Battle Frog College Championship comes an opportunity for worldwide domination as co-ed professional teams represent countries in an all-out world championship – The Battle Frog Open! The world’s best OCR athletes go head-to-head in the Battle Frog Open premiering in Prime Time on ESPN in August followed by ongoing re-airs on ESPN2, ESPNU, Watch ESPN and Internationally.
dryrobe is gaining quite a reputation in OCR community in the U.S. following on from the fast uptake by OCR athletes in UK & Scandinavia, since its introduction in 2013.
Some of the biggest names in OCR have been wearing dryrobes on the podiums of iconic events like the (very cold) OCR World Championships & World's Toughest Mudder. Scrolling back trough the social media photos it's easy to see the story of the growing interest & awareness of the dryrobe products, & their benefits, in the U.S.
The dryrobeUSA.com website & office ( New Jersey), only opened in December 2015!
This Latest partneship with the Battle frog series is really exciting stuff. You can watch these airings on July and August on ESPN ! #staywarm #BattleFrog #dryrobeterritory @BattleFrogSeries
Earlier this month we headed to the Lake District for the Chillswim cross lake swim, the first of their events this year. As you might remember, the weather at the beginning of February was pretty awful, and there was question as to whether the event would even go ahead but luckily the weather cleared a little and it was business as usual.
Spot the dryrobe owners - No Umbrellas needed :)
Colin Hill, the director of Chillswim is an experienced open water swimmer himself, as well as having been the Technical Operations Manager for the Olympic Games Marathon Swimming at London 2012 - so he knows what he's doing! We also got the chance to see Lewis Pugh give a fantastic speech. He is the United Nations Patron of the Oceans, and has pioneered more swims around famous landmarks than any other person in history. It was very inspiring to hear what he had to say.
The event was brilliant all round; this one was a swimming gala rather than a single race. Events included 60m Freestyle, 4 person relay and a 450m endurance swim, as well as the 1000m British Championships. With so many people jumping in and out of the freezing lake, there were lots of dryrobes on show - which is always nice to see.
Here is the video from this year's event:
From there, we headed to London for the Telegraph Outdoor Show which is the UK's largest outdoor activity exhibitions. It was great, and we were right beside the pool with our biggest stand ever, for what turned out to be a very busy show.
The Telegraph Outdoor Show ran from February 11th-14th, after which we headed immediately to SMMEX, the Sports and Merchandise and Marketing Exhibition at Wembley Stadium. This year was the exhibition's 18th birthday, so it was extended to a two-day event. Unlike the Telegraph show, this one is more business to business, where you meet buyers from various companies; it was a very different atmosphere but still fun and we met some great contacts.
It's great to take dryrobe on the road, as we're so proud of our product - but after a full week inside exhibition centres with air-conditioning and no windows, Got to admit coming home to Devon wasn't all bad.
We've lots going on over the next few months, including Our next exhibition at Swim Expo, Manchester .
It was the last Monday of January when Oli Adams first spotted the swell marching purposefully across his computer screen on a collision course with the UK and after a few days of hurried preparations, we set off. Taz Knight joined us en-route as we made our way up country to catch the overnight ferry to Ireland.
The first few days of the trip were a swirl of grey skies and howling wind, punctuated by brief moments of the magic which draws so many surf explorers to The Emerald Isle. On many occasions we'd arrive at our go to spot in Bundoran, windscreen wipers on full speed and squint out through the horizontal rain, to discover near empty hollow overhead waves draining off down its flat bed of reef. Occasionally the storm would lull and the sun would appear casting bright light of many a surreal hue out over the angry sea. In contrast to their weather The Irish were indeed as warm and welcoming as everyone says. On one particularly bitter day, whilst taking pictures from atop a tall dry stone wall which fronted a row of largely empty houses, I saw a man out of the corner of my eye, carefully picking his way along the wall towards me. One hand was outstretched for balance, and the other was clasping a mug. 'I thought might like some tea' he said softly as he reached me, a little breathless from his precarious expedition. I thanked him and he smiled before turning on his heel and making his way back along the wall before hopping down into his front garden at the end of the row. Due to torrential rain I didn't get any photographic gold that day, but this brief encounter left me clambering down from the wall at the end of the afternoon feeling a strong and pervasive sense of positivity.
The unpredictable conditions inspired spontaneity within our planing and after a few days the call was made to set off in search of a distant break. As we entered the final stretch of our long journey we were stopped in our tracks as the road which lead us on looked to have been completely torn apart by the elements, making it impassable. We left our vehicle and preceded on foot, we donned our dryrobes, packed light and heading off into the elements in search of the wave we had come so far to see.
As we draw closer we could just about make out the sound of waves pounding onto shallow rock over the noise of the wind in our ears. As we rounded the corner the sound of our hoots joined the cacophony as a child like excitement washed over us all. The boys surfed for hours, pushing each other deeper and closer to the jaws of the wave as it sucked dry off the rocks at the top of the point. To be in the spot required a masterful back hand take off, right underneath the lip and many times as the bottom dropped out, the surfer would drop with it, their board disconnecting from the face milliseconds before the lip came over and they were swallowed up. A few waves however hit the point perfectly, with a steep drop catapulting whomever was surfing it through a perfectly cylindrical section which ran for a few dozen feet before spitting them out. After a few hours the boys got out and returned to our makeshift camp on the point and the warmth of their dryrobes. Just as they finished peeling off their suits they watched as the now totally unmolested waves reeling off down the point began to improve. The wind had dropped and they were becoming perfectly glassy in the evening light with each now opening up on the take off and barreling all the way through with no strange bobbles or chandeliers.
As we stood and watched in awe, it struck me that even in a world of increasingly accurate swell models and forecasts, webcams and eyeball surf reports, uncertainty at what exactly you'll find remains one of the primary allures for the surf explorer. And that's what makes Ireland such a perfect destination for such explorers; the land of a thousand set ups and four seasons in a day, where you never really know what's going to happen until it happens.
Words & images by Luke Gartside.