NOT just another manic Monday – my day working with a Race Director

by Gareth Sparrowhawk

Those that know me, and those of you that don’t, I work in an office 9-5 as an Accountant; at the weekend I come to life trying to do all things Obstacle Race related.

I asked Rocket Race’s Race Director David Baird at his event in December “How is it all done?”. David said “I am here, always working away come see for yourself” and today was that day.

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Roll up at Rocket Race site (I am calling it the Launchpad) at 11am and up rocks David, big grin, bouncing energy ready for a day of graft, big things planned..(he has already been up doing sessions at his gym at a time that only exists as PM for me on a watch)

Meandering our way round the course, familiar sights and memories flooding back from past races attended, I see something that was being built last week (new builds being constructed in my news feeds). Knowing I was coming on site I wondered what the hell it was and how it worked; we stood next to it, my brain trying to work out what he had in store for all the racers on the day, chatting for a good 10 mins how the obstacle came to pass, the variations for racers to master the obstacle and beyond. Imagine if you can… take a wander through an RD’s mind, for them it’s more than an obstacle. There is a concept, it’s the transition to reality, in that there is the conundrum… theory, construction, reality of the build, the mechanics of the obstacle but most importantly SAFETY for build and for runners.

I won’t let on the obstacles in this post but on this one alone, as well as the others I got to see and to play on, you are in for a treat…
For info: race dategareths sat 23rd April, Sat 30th July and Saturday 22nd October – races for all the family.

We move to another obstacle and this in my first race here caused me difficulty POLE DANCER – a sternum checker. This now has been mixed up, a modification here, adjustment there and instantly something new and one that made me take stock and re-evaluate how it’s done. David is just watching not only how I do it, but how the construction, his work of art, holds up to the testing of one person; and thinking beyond that, the hundreds that will test it throughout the race day, before, during and after.

The last build is going to be dear to my heart. This was something thought about prior but there was nothing to be seen when we arrived at its location but a space in wooded area, nothing to see here… I was tasked with fetching some timbers (this didn’t go so good here). Clear guidelines were given but the office worker doesn’t know anything so off I go and come back, lugging some long, awkward and rather heavy planks only to find out they are wrong (a chilled reply from the RD and me cursing myself for being an idiot getting the wrong bits). I quickly want to make amends, I will get some more so off I go. Lug back another set of timber and now I am dripping sweat like a tap, my shoulders are aching as I cross through the mud and uneven ground, pleased with myself… When I get there and low and behold it’s the bloody wrong bits again!! All isn’t lost; David takes stock of what is put infront of him and after explaining what he sees (to me, it’s wood and a bit of this and that) he confidently says he can make that work. First stage is construct, then “stitching” it together. There is your basic form and beyond that the magic happens and your timbers come to life; I let myself imagine people arriving at what has appeared before me and relishing it’s challenge. I didn’t do that much here but proud to contribute on making this obstacle happen.

gareth2

To conclude my day (thanks for making it this far), like many I rock up, take a good go at the obstacles and yes I see them, think wow, that’s cool, how the hell is that done? The answer I know now it is from original thought, hard graft, ability, passion and technical know how to turn thought into a reality. To put that into context (for those that think oh that’s just B***S***), David showed me a huge pile of timbers of all different shapes and sizes; I just saw a pile of timbers but for David there lay 3 or 4 more obstacles in waiting! My own brain doesn’t think that way, I still don’t know a Phillip screwdriver from the other, which I think is the flat head one isn’t it?

After a cheeky pit stop for a cuppa and chat about things OCR, fitness and life in general, David checked his watch it’s 3pm “ok mate, thanks for giving me a hand today, really appreciate it. Time to get off and do my day job, I have classes to teach” – he laughs!

Getting a race prepared, visualising space, sourcing materials, turning those into obstacles, all those factors we don’t see; THAT is all in a day’s work for an RD. I was lucky just to get a look at the other side of the coin compared to just bowling up and having my race, my t-shirt, my medal. I am chuffed with my day, no buzzing from my day, but this is EVERYDAY for David and Team Rocket! I was proper chuffed to get onto a race site and see what and how it all happens and tomorrow I will sit in the warm, dry office, look down at my torn and bloodied hands, cut fingertips and know I may have only assisted with a couple of obstacle builds and slowed progress but chuffed my hands have done some PROPER graft for once and had a great day doing it!

Thanks for reading, and put Rocket Race in your diary, you won’t be disappointed!

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