As I start typing, it’s clear this is going to be a tough one to review for Obstacle Race Magazine. I want to share as much of the experience as I can but am reluctant to give too much away. It’s one of those events that I really think you should just do and find out for yourself.
With that in mind, I’ll try my best to give an insight into what was, in my opinion, an awesome event. Roots aims to take participants back to their roots. To share the love of outdoors, enjoy the simplicity yet complexity of nature and the wilderness, to teach the skills needed to survive in the great outdoors, impart knowledge of local history and encourage team work in stressful and uncomfortable situations.
Roots BirthDAY event was no different. Pre event information, kit list and correspondence was clear and concise; giving little away about what would be covered on the day. Party hats and an inflated balloon were in amongst the usual kit items (clothing, knife, compass, rope etc) so we knew that we were going to a party! Information shared via emails and on event pages of social media also encouraged participants to talk to one another before the event, sharing information about kit, strengths and weaknesses. On arrival at the camping barn in the the Peak District, after a 7 hour drive in gale force winds and heavy snow lying on the single track lane, would this be a taste of what was to come?
Luckily, our 5am wake up call (or get up call if like me, the 4 snorers in the room had kept me awake all night!) saw a clear and crisp morning; perfect conditions for a 12 hour + event!
After a brief introduction about Roots and the team of marshals, we were from that point on, known as seeds. We would soon become a close knit and supportive team of seeds who would get through the day by learning and working together.
A key component of Roots is navigation and before we even stepped outside, our first lesson was to ensure we could navigate using a map and compass, understand how to take a bearing and grid references. This, until now has never been my strong point. In fact, it still isn’t a strong point, however, after the hour spent that morning, I now believe I could get myself out of being lost if I had to! A clear and important lesson before 7am and a chance to put it into practice was just what I needed. What was to come over the rest of the day and the strengths of some of my team members certainly helped my confidence grow!
Before we could set off, there was one thing I knew would have to happen which could have an impact on the team. Kit check. I’d seen before how something so simple could add so much pressure and that phrase “The kit list is a kit list for a reason” had stuck in my head since my last event. Sure enough, even the most experienced in endurance and survival events were given penalties and punishments for not following instruction. I won’t say any more here but as I said… it’s worthwhile remembering for future reference, “The kit list is the kit list for a reason!”
Packs correctly loaded, equipment and belongings checked and accounted for (or not in some cases!) it was time for a taste of the PT we would face over the day. For me, a very welcomed chance to warm up. Over the course of the day, I’d have liked more PT, or at least more intense, but looking around and listening to feedback from the team, I think it was just right. It wasn’t meant to break us, it didn’t, but for some it was close! A decent level of fitness and training in a similar style (think rucksacks filled with weight, lots of shoulder and upper body work and the ability to get down to the ground and back up efficiently!) and equally as important, mental strength and self belief is enough to get through this type of physical challenge. The team element of the physical training was interesting, as we very quickly recognised the need to stay at the pace of the least fit member. Often leaving the fittest in uncomfortable, stress positions for longer than our thighs or shoulders could handle!
Incorporating various elements of team work throughout the day provided every seed with the opportunity to lead and manage the team. Navigation skills were key across the day, but other team activities included carries, scavenger hunts, river crossings and memory tests; all in all, an opportunity for every seed to show the marshals what they were made of! The range of terrain also encouraged team work as we made our way over peaks, into caves, along ridges, through marsh, mud and rivers. The history lessons across the day were very interesting and provided reasons behind the challenges and a story and background to the day.
By sunset, seeds had no idea of the time, no idea how far we’d gone and no idea how far we had to go. The unknown was starting to play on some of the teams minds so a quick opportunity to change into dry clothes, some food and a team sing song up the ascent towards the final section raised moral, much to the surprise I think, of the marshals at the final check point.
team-river team-stretcher carry
The event ended with a team carry back to our starting point where the fire was burning, beers were chilling and possibly the coolest medal I’ve received to date was awarded.
Overall, the Roots BirthDay was a diverse day of PT, team work, history and challenges. It was a learning event and one suitable for every skill and fitness level. The dynamics of this particular team of seeds were strong, mainly due to the varied fitness levels, navigation skills and practical knowledge. It meant that we could utilise the strengths of fellow seeds to support each other through.
Roots day (12 hour) events aren’t meant to break you; instead they are designed to encourage learning, promote team work and make the most of the great outdoors. With that in mind, there’s enough challenge in there to ensure that comfort zones are left behind.
To find out more about Roots Adventures, check out the website, visit their Facebook page or join the adventure team page and share your latest adventures and outdoor experiences!
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