Sadly, we say goodbye to this cracking little race, set just outside the quaint village of Penshurst, in the beautiful Kent countryside.
Race Director, Sam Winkworth, is well known and respected in the OCR community. To say, he lives and breathes this race, is an understatement. Sam had promised us, ‘ A bas***d of a course’, or words to that effect ! And he was not joking...!.
This was the 5th Dirty Rotten Scramble (DRS). I had previously ran twice and marshalled once, and each race has progressed…better and also harder.
This one was a lesson in proficiency, easy parking, and registration, down to the hard work of Sam, and his wonderful assistant Claire Watts Williams. I am glad to say, there were over 300 runners. Good going for a small independent race, with Rat Race Dirty Weekend and Tough Mudder South on the same weekend.
The friendly event village, with DJ, led to a cracking atmosphere, that carried round the course, thanks to the wonderful marshals.
I was on the 10.15 (second wave), and as it was the last DRS, went for the 3 laps, 18km (which was actually 20.7km). The furthest I had run in about 10 years. From the start, there is a long run, mainly downhill (he makes you pay later!), which opens up the runners, before the first splosh pool, a new addition, cut out of a very different looking area of the course, from the last winter race.
The course is on Penshurst Off Road Cycling Club (PORC), and the very hilly terrain just lends itself to an OCR, and Sam sure uses the hills to good effect. It’s still downhill till the ‘No hope Rope’, where we met our first queue, before leading to the Cargo net ‘A’ frame, inverted walls and Monkey Bars, all in a row. From here it’s to my previous least favourite bit of the course, ‘Sammy’s Slalom’, 26 slalom lanes, up and down an incline, on a rutted field, with a tyre carry.
It’s probably about 1.5km in total, and a killer. I had always struggled with this, but recent hill work, and the encouragement of my running partner, Big bad Brian Tinker, meant I ran it in full, with no problems (all 3 times). My first moan here, but at the competitors, not the race. Sam had asked people to complete this in full, and not cheat, in his pre-start briefing, but despite the brilliant marshalling of Caroline Watts, some people still cheat themselves. We overtook 2 guys on about lane 6, as they were walking, and then when we were on lane 13, they had got to 19.
From here it was on to the Lake Swim, which was cool and refreshing after the long run, but quite long….you certainly felt it on the arms on Lap 3. After this it was payback time, all uphill, with Walls, Cargo nets and a great Rope climb (when Brian found his ‘J’ hook !!). Next was the 20’ wall ladder, which offers just the best views of the stunning Kent countryside from the top, and then a number of obstacles at the top of the course, before you start descending down again, including Sammy’s shocker, which to my surprise was live, as my forehead can confirm, then a difficult 8’ wall, and a great wall combination of testing inverted and ramp walls, which we really felt third time round.
It carried on downhill to a series of ponds, water trenches, the sheep dip and the troll bridge. It was then a climb back towards the event village, and up to the ‘Monkey shuffle’ and then a climb over the scaffold ‘A’ frame, ‘Savage Summit’. 2 great obstacles, but I’m biased !! (and THE best Marshalls on the Monkey shuffle). From here, you think your first lap is over, after the pond drop zone slide (the 7th water obstacle) but you are sent off on a loop round the village with a wall, spiders web, a tyre carry before the sternum checkers mark the end of your first lap.
By our second lap, the field had spread out and there were no queues. We got into a good running rhythm, and felt really good, in fact we seemed to fly round and with taking on some gels, felt great for the third lap. Another little moan about competitors here… not good to see ‘elite’ runners, pushing in quite rudely to fun runners, on an obstacle.
So, the third lap began, and the downhill was fine, and surprisingly even ‘Sammy’s Slalom’ was achieved, with a heads’ down gritty attitude, helped by marshal Caroline Watts’ vocal encouragement. We were about 3 lengths away from completion with another participant about to start the slalom when the sweeper, Lee Cote appeared. So we headed for the final swim (briefly considering taking the burpees instead…but No, lets complete properly). The swim was a killer on the arms third time, and as we came out of a lake, to our surprise there was said runner, in front of us (missing out the slalom and the swim...Why?)
The sweeper caught us up and ran a fair bit of the uphill section of the course with us, assisting and encouraging (cheers Lee). The hills finally took their toll on me, and my legs just went. I was determined to run every bit of the course, but have to admit I had to walk some of these ascents, despite Lee and Brian’s encouragement. At the water section we caught up with some 2 lap fun runners, and Lee stayed with them as we overtook them to finish the course and receive a great piece of bling, coming 12th and 13th out of the 25 runners who started the 18km (really 11th and 12th !!!) Quite happy for a 53 year old git.
Big thanks to Brian for getting each other round the course, and the laughs (and building an obstacle with me). To Tony Jarvis for the brilliant photos. All the amazing marshals (never been offered so many sweets), and finally to Claire and Sam... I’m sure we will come across Sam and The Dirty Rotten Scramble again, in the future, in some guise, at a different location... I don’t think he can let it go and it’s just too bloody good to go away...
Just my opinion – Stewart Savage