Last summer I travelled to Poland after the OCREC to race the Barbarian Race Arrow event. It’s a proper short course (200-400m) with 8-9 highly technical and grip-intensive obstacles – I was happy to try it and had one hell of a weekend! Now I’ve come back to Poland for both an Arrow and a Warrior edition, which is the 12k event with 30-something obstacles.

Going hard at the 2nd obstacle!

Barbarian Race – ARROW

The race format is simple: 4 people go head-to-head on the 400m course and the only way to the final, is to have one of the 4 best times of all participants. My starting group (heat 27) was with teammate Nikolaj Dam, fellow Dane Katja Christensen and OCR Audio host Luke DeBen!

3-2-1 and we’re off with 30kg battlebags on our backs. A 75-ish meter carry leads to the first obstacle, which is a technical combo that includes a low rig. I take the lead and cruise toward the next obstacle – a new one called Clik Clak. This is basically pure Ninja Warrior style, with bars that you have to rotate with a metal wheel. It’s quite demanding, but manageable. Oh hey, did I mention it was raining like hell?! That’s a game changer! Directly from Clik Clak we went to spinning wheels and into the rings.

I was in a comfortable lead here and some mistiming had me missing a couple of rings. At this point I made a huge mistake: I started chatting with the audience who were following and cheering on the side. This made me forget that it’s a damn race and in order to make it, I have to push hard. But in the moment, I forgot all about this attitude, which had me cruising comfortably through the last obstacles in 4:33. Long story short, that was the 5th fastest time, which had me out of the A-final…

After hearing that I missed the A-final with 3-4 seconds, I got pretty annoyed with myself. It’s not the first time that I forget to fucking race when racing… And that now cost me a race against the best, which was my hope for the day! Luckily I had a chance to redeem myself at the B-final, were I would be fighting Bokel Sobierajski for 5th place. There wasn’t anything to win but pride, which I was willing to fight for!

The B-final was ready to start and with just 2 athletes, it’s quite intense! 3-2-1 and I’m in battle mode, running hard with the 30kg bag. I drop it and Ninja my little ass through the first obstacle gaining a small lead. Bolek is super strong and he’s staying close to me, but I’m racing myself and this time my head is in the game! I make easy process with Clik Clak, manage OK at spinning wheels and go directly to the chicken wing technique at the rings. Why? I know the very last obstacle will be a challenge, so I was trying to save the forearms, which wasn’t too dumb.

Getting ugly!

I drop to the ground a few seconds ahead of Bolek and shoot towards the next obstacle; dragging a rope, swinging to a ring, a spinning wheel, a boxing bag and a wooden bar. I can see Bolek right on my tail and I’m impressed! I run towards the 2nd last obstacle and go hard on the trampoline, grap the bar and directly to the 2nd bar as well, getting enough momentum to lache out of the obstacle. Fatality is a Barbarian Race classic finisher and very demanding, but I make and OK attempt and sprint over the finish line – this time very happy and satisfied with my performance. The time was 3:42 and Bolek is not too far behind.

The A-final was quite the show, with Pavel Krejc from the Czech Republic taking the win in 3:42 something and a strong lead on 2nd and 3rd place. I’m not sure who of us had the fastest time of the day, but he was flying through that race and I was amazed!

Barbarian Race – WARRIOR

The +11k race with 30-something obstacles was bound to being pretty crazy! Teammate Nikolaj Dam, lightning fast Mattias Graute, Michael Schjøtt, Eugene Sheretov and yesterdays winner of the Arrow, Pavel Krejc, would all toe the startline along some of the very best Polish athletes. Everyone were hungry to do well, so when the gun went off it was a battle to stay with the pack!

I knew the first 1,5km would be pure running in terrain. So I didn’t open up the gas before after 1k, which meant I was swamped somewhere around 10th after the first 200m of the race. Opening up I quickly made 4th place just behind Luke DeBen (from OCR Audio) and together we were chasing Nikolaj og Mattias. The first obstacle was a 600m carry, which saw a few athletes take my spot and Luke pull away.

I was pacing myself and felt good, which was apparent on the next 2 obstacles (a traverse and some monkey business) which put me in 3rd position. Luke and Eugene hot on my heels, I focused on Nikolaj and Mattias making sure to time their lead every once in a while. I knew we would eventually make it to a obstacle-pit which would (hopefully) be in my favour.

The race was great for the next 5km, but without any special swaps in the lead. Mattias and I went back and forth a few times and Nikolaj was in a comfortable 40-60 second lead. Hitting the stadium with half of the Arrow obstacles (7k into the race) I knew it was my time to shine. I had been preserving my energy to keep my lactate low and my arms ready. A good investment, as I gained a good lead on the pack and took 2nd place just 10 seconds behind Nikolaj!

Swinging through the rings – a classic!

As Nikolaj was building a slightly bigger lead on the next running part I was pacing myself and felt good about having 2 Danes in the front. The next obstacle-pit involved a tricky multi-low-rig (I can’t explain it!) and some cannonballs. I was right behind Nikolaj now and told him we should keep pushing to keep the lead!

We did just that and build momentum on the trails leading down to the 3rd last obstacle-pit. During the low rig i overtook Nikolaj and maintained my lead through the monkey bars and the following hills in the forest. I arrived at the second-to-last obstacle-pit in the lead and now with Eugene and Polish Tomasz chasing close to Nikolaj! We had lost some of our lead and things were about to get interesting!

Photo by Alexandra Ziolkowska

The ‘jumping snake’, salmon ladder and flying monkey went very well and I pulled away from the group! I used a ramp to fly out and ring a bell, ran past the Wipeout-type of moving obstacles and dived underneath 5 wooden beams – that was tough! Another low-rig (yep, I know!), some rotating UFO’s and I’m out of the most demanding obstacle-pit with more than a minute lead! I felt strong and confident!

Photo by Alexandra Ziolkowska

What happened next surprised the heck out of me. There was a hammer throw. A damn hammer throw! And oh boy, did I miss that target… 6 times in total, which had Nikolaj, Eugene and Tomasz pull up to me and make their damn hammer throws. Nikolaj didn’t make it, but I was now off in a good speed with my Ukranian and Polish colleagues!

Eugene and I run simultaneously trough a few obstacles and I lose ground on a balance beam… I make up the time so we’re again head to head on the last 3 technical obstacles. We’re racing right next to each other and on the very last obstacle, Eugene has a better technique and kills me for the win! I’m happy to take 2nd though and I guess it’s time to buy a hammer and a spear to avoid problems like these in the future!

Photo by Alexandra Ziolkowska

The longer Barbarian Race was a good experience for me. My running has improved and I still feel strong on the technical obstacles. Now I’m ready to take on this season side-by-side with Nikolaj and the rest of the Danes!

Photo by Barbarian Race