Beach Obstacle Course
A damp and windy Sunday is not what most are looking for on the Algave. But on Praia da Roche Beach, in Portamao, Portugal, it is perfect if you are about to run the length of the beach, approx 3.5 times, whilst throwing yourself over, under and across some challenging obstacles along the way.
Elite Police collecting the suspicious barrels from the beach
We had tweeted the previous day a picture of several containers sat on the beach and wondered what they were for. A reply informed us they were for an elite police force beach obstacle course race. We were roused the next morning at the marina, by loud music and tanoy Announcements; the competition had begun.
We took a wander over to the beach to see eager competitors everywhere. The music was for Portugal’s version of a dynamic Mr Motivator, who was warming up the teams in an aerobics pen. The assembled were leaping to his commands whilst waiting to be released onto the course. There were teams already tackling the obstacles, with bodies jumping, climbing and running up and down the beach. The numbers in each team seeme to vary from 4 to 44, but the look of eager anticipation of what was to come, or concentration of what they were to accomplish, was evident on all their faces.
Sprint 100 yards, then throw themselves under a bar
We followed one such team as they took off from the pen to sprint 100 yards, then throw themselves under a bar a foot off the ground. With glee, we then watched them approach the waiting (heavy) containers. Each competitior was to carry a container to a marker and back again, in whatever means they cared to. “Our team” had the cast of Ben Hur in it, so was strung out. A melee of bodies collided, as those returning with barrels, met those just arriving – I’m sure one or two might have managed to slip by without lifting a barrel or anyone noticing.
Whilst it was a race, we got the impression it was a race against yourself and a team building event. Not all taking part were elite athletes and there was great camaraderie with team mates assisting weaker members get across some of the obstacles with pushing, pulling and even half-carrying! Not all were adults, as we even saw some youth teams, who were doing sterling work to scale the obstacles as much as possible by themselves.
Ten burpees and you could be on your way
With strength warning half way into the course, with help or no help, some upper body obstacles were proving too much for some. One such obstacle was a set of monkey bars, but each person had a peg for each hand, and a row of holes across the bar in which to insert them to get them sevles across. Marshalls were granting an alternative – ten burpees and you could be on your way. Not sure which is worse actually, but plenty took the alternative route. The look of exhaustion on the finish line, was replaced by smiles and elation at completing the grueling course. We applaud everyone who took part today and the event was a true example of what can be achieved as a team, no matter how big or small. A lesson to us all there I think.