20 miles. 200 obstacles. Analysing Rat Race’s Dirty Weekend, the world’s biggest obstacle course race.
Taking place around the Burghley House estate in Stamford, Dirty Weekend is built on a vast scale, and the obstacles are absolutely epic in size and imagination. Giant washing machines, enormous haybail stacks, massive water jumps, four-story tall water slides and the world’s longest monkey bars make up a small handful of the incredible route.
The Muckin’ Analysis
A preface: Multiple course options always lead to errors in results data. There are a multitude of reasons why this happens, among the more honest are the inevitable instances where runners who intend on completing the full course pick up an injury and have to cut it short at the half course option or those who have to reconsider their limits.
Some times on the results board could not have happened. The later waves will be held up by queues and bottlenecks at the obstacles, they just won’t get a clean run for a fast time. Some race times also exceeded the elapsed time between the event start and when the results were published, times of over 16 hours couldn’t have happened between 8am and 10pm.
Before the Dirty Weekend analysis, outliers in each wave were identified and excluded. No aspertions will be cast here as to the reasons why these times had to be cut, they just don’t seem to make statistical or logical sense. The Full Mucker analysis is all based on the adjusted results.
The field is overwhelmingly male, an almost 3 to 1 ratio of males to females (2.97 : 1). Waves were stacked in the premium early waves, and numbers participating in the Full Mucker tailed off towards the end – worth noting that the waves were still very busy, these groups were just full of people taking on the 13 mile Half Mucker.
The fastest time was set by a male, 👏 Tristian Steed 👏 in 2:50:05, with the first female, 👏 Ulrikke Evensen 👏 crossing the line almost 38 minutes later at 3:27:56.
The average finish time was a shade under 6 hours 20 minutes, with the average male finish time being about 27 minutes faster than the average female.
The finish line congestion began to peak at around 5:30, with over 200 finishers every 10 minutes for about an hour.
I made it across the line in 3:45:28, having picked up a second wind and blasted through miles 18 & 19 at a 6:30/mile pace, picking up a few late positions along the way. The official results put me at 53rd out of the 3,885 Full Mucker finishers. I won’t put out my calculated adjusted positions, as the method is inexact, but I reckon if you placed in positions 30-100 according to the official results, you very likely actually placed a decent amount higher than that.
Male Muckers & Female Muckers
Rat Race award cash prizes for the top three finishers in each gender category, and the Mudstacle crew were zooming about the course during the race trying to keep up with and film the front runners.
Video: Mudstacle’s Dirty Weekend 2017 Frontrunner Coverage
The gender balance on the finish line is heavily influenced by the male-heavy ratio of competitors, so here we see the finish line trend broken down over genders as percentages of their categories, rather than absolute numbers.
The male trend is generally steep from the first finishers, to the peak congestion period. More interestingly, there’s a group of very strongly perfoming women who have smashed the course and created a mini-peak in the chart +/- 20 minutes of the 4 hour mark.
Also worth noting that one of these finishers, the mighty 👏 Nicola Duncan 👏, smashed out a top 5 performance then continued around the course a second time to support fellow training squad member 🤘 Super Tim Chad 🤘, who was taking on the Dirty Double challenge for charity. Twice around the course, 40 miles, 400 obstacles.
The Dirty Double is no mean feat, only 151 even attempted it this year, and not all of them made it to the end. The 20 mile Full Mucker course is designed to leave you sapped of energy, leaving some of the hardest obstacles until the very end. The Double Muckers must take on all 40 miles, and are given the mercy of not having to attempt every obstacle both times. Most still give them a solid bash though 😈
Of the 110 legends who officially finished the double mucker challenge, 99 were male and 11 female. The fastest time was a course record breaking 7:26:35, and the average just 10:01:00 – putting them at an average pace for 5:00:30 for each lap. Amazing pacing and endurance considering the average time for the Full Mucker is over 6 hours.
Super Tim and the Double Muckers have been immortalised in Rat Race’s Dirty Double Hall of Fame.
One look at the Hall of Fame will tell you that 2017 was a strong year, almost all of the top 20 times were set last weekend.
Full Muckin’ Performance Breakdown
Looking back to the 20 mile Full Mucker, we take a view on the wave performances broken out by their quickest, slowest and average times to see trends across the race.
The early waves have a very wide variance, as these waves will be full of runners who will compete for podium positions, and also runners who are out for fun and want to take their time.
There’s a convergence over time, probably due to the obstacles slowing the field down and creating natural bottlenecks in the course, dispersed waves will converge as they approach obstacles and begin to move in larger packs.
Average finish times are broadly quite steady, aside from the earlier waves, where quicker finishers have pushed down the average for their categories.
By the finish lines, many of the runners will have organically grouped with similarly paced runners and will end up tackling the final obstacle, a four-story climb to the top of an enormous water slide, together.
The Muckin’ Squad
On the day, we had one of our biggest race crews to date. A strong showing from the Warrior Fit crew, numbers bolstered with friends from Race Fitness, the squad came together to smash the race up – after party attendance and energy varied hugely. Shoutout to everyone who made it beyond 9pm.
On the course, the combined squad had a great day, and everyone leaned towards the faster edges of the field. Power performances all round, including Anna’s champion effort to officially clinch 8th female in Wave 1, the competitive wave! 👏🤘
My race data
|Obstacles||200 (minus the few I fell off)|
|Elevation gain||650 feet (pretty much flat, considering the distance)|
|Strava||My race on Strava|
|Timing||Results on racetecresults.com|