Originally published in Obstacle Race Magazine.


Before we get started, let’s just get this out there. As much as I love a Sunday run in the sun, running some sprints or smashing some hills, my fitness nirvana is the gym. I love picking up heavy stuff, putting it down, picking it up again. Swinging some kettlebells, snatching a new PB, flipping some tyres, or making waves on the battleropes. Needless to say, Superhuman Games is an event that I’ve looked forward to ever since competing last year.

Inspired by CrossFit, OCR and functional fitness, Superhuman Games is a same-sex partner competition consisting of 5 20 minute events throughout the day. Held outside in Greville Smyth Park, Bristol, I’ve always been lucky to compete on beautiful sunny days, which adds to the great feeling surrounding the day. The events vary from a more cardio focus, to more pure strength, but all require you to really dig deep into your reserves of real grit and endurance.

Our first event was probably our most dreaded. 30kg thrusters (a front squat followed by a push press – as one fluid movement) then 30 16kg American kettlebell swings, shared between you and your partner as a team. The difference from last year’s event was that this year you could share the reps as you desired, rather than simply alternating rounds. And so, as I ‘love a squat’, I picked up more of the thrusters, and my partner Ellie (squats are harder when you’re almost 6 feet tall) picked up more of the swings. I think this change was a really good one – making for a more tactical event, and certainly less of the standing around watching your partner slowly die from farmer’s carries due to a recent broken finger (2015’s review may have gone a bit differently!).

A 5, 10, 15 minute call is made over the PA during the 20 minutes (as all 5 events are taking place at the same time) – an audible sense of disbelief is in the air when the announcer calls out that we’re only 5 minutes down. 15 whole minutes to go. The countdown across the park adds to the sense of occasion, and drives everyone on when the final few minutes are counted down. Only fully completed sets of reps count for points – and so tension rises as the clock ticks and the athletes fight for the extra points gained in that last set of reps. As the event is run in heats, we had friends and fellow competitors cheering us on, which makes the world of difference. In our dying minutes, we fought hard for the final reps – finishing our last set of thrusters before crumbling to the ground when the final klaxon was blown. 1 down, 4 events to go. It’s going to be a long day!

The events ran like this… 

Event 1 – Strength & Honour
Max reps in 20 minutes. Reps shared between partners
– 15 thrusters (front squat with push press) (40kg M and 30kg F).
– 20m run
– 30 American kettlebell swings (swings finishing overhead) 24kg M and 16kg F).
– 20m run

Event 2 – Vo2 Max
20 minutes.
– 800m run each
– Max calories on a rowing machine in the remaining time (can alternate with partner as many times as you like)

Event 3 – Unconventional Beast
Max reps in 20 minutes. Reps shared between partners
15 atlas stone ground to shoulder (60kg M and 40kg F)
– 20m run
– 30 ‘down ups’ (burpee without the jump)
– 20m run

Event 4 – Brutal Beat Down
50m tyre flip (165kg tyre) (females complete the tyre flips together, males alternate)
– 100m partner carry (can alternate as much as you like)

Event 5 – Obstacle course
400m obstacle course with 18 obstacles. 10 burpee penalty for failure on monkey bars and traverse wall. Max laps in 20 minutes, alternating with your partner.

Flippin’ a heavy ball watched on by the Rumble Fitness Crew.

My second favourite event of the day was probably ‘Unconventional Beast’ – atlas stone ground to shoulders, and (modified) burpees. Basically because nothing makes you feel like a bad ass like flipping a really heavy object over yourself. Again, Ellie and I split the reps – I picked up more of the strength, Ellie took on the cardio. Like all the events, you start out confident that this all feels ok… we’re making progress, we feel good. As time starts to tick, even the most accomplished athletes start to tire – as you’d expect when everyone is pushing themselves so hard. And there were some very accomplished athletes around – the amount of six packs and bulging trap muscles was a sight to behold, and that was just the wo27299155731_e9cabe9dc5_omen (#goals)! Of course everyone is not only pushing themselves to their limits for themselves, but also for their partners – nobody wants to be the weak link! This really does spur on some inspirational performances and displays of teamwork throughout the day. Time ticks on as I count Ellie’s burpees and she counts mine. The sun is really beating down on us now, and the atlas stone becomes slippy with our sweat (ok guilty, mainly mine). Few words are spoken, but we help each other through – I chalk Ellie up before she tackles another throw over the shoulder of the 40kg stone, and she cheers me on as I finish our final reps – again to the countdown of the PA. All I can hear is the countdown and the cheers, as we were lucky enough to have support from our team Energise Mud Runners and Rumble Fitness. The klaxon is blown, and again we collapse to the floor before hugging. An embrace only possible over shared exertion and exhaustion – relief and pride in each other. Still 2 events to go.

The ‘feel-good’ nature of the event was highlighted to me before our next event, ‘Brutal Beat Down’(50m tyre flip and 100m partner carry), whereby two Crossfit girls were showing other nearby teams how best to tackle the flip, and teaching partner carry technique (they’d done the same on the Atlas balls too). You’re obviously competing against the other teams, but really everyone is just trying their best to get through the day as well as possible.

A case of acute sun-stroke and lots more hugging later, and we were onto our final event – the obstacle course. The OCR contingent was out in force – people were sporting Ram Run, Spartan and numerous OCR team t-shirts across Greville Smyth Park. This was our time to shine! For me this was the fun end to an awesome day. The 400m course included OCR staples such as hay bales, monkey bars, traverse wall, balance beams, crawls… this was our playground. The laps were just long enough for you to get your breath back while your partner ran, to go out hard again. It’s not often we get the chance to really sprint a course like this, and so OCR regulars were reveling in it. A special mention must go to Dave Peters and David Tucker of Rumble Fitness, who completed their last two laps with such speed, it really was an absolute pleasure to watch. Again the countdown rings out, as each competitor charges to complete their lap or reach a checkpoint (points were also given for half and quarter laps), cheers drowned my ears as I raced to tag Ellie to complete our final lap. The klaxon is blown for the final time, as we’re done. Some more sweaty hugging.

Something else to add is that the event is always run extremely well. Organisation is top-notch and the day runs like clockwork. Which is incredibly important when you need to constantly fuel yourself throughout the day – knowing when you’re going to be pushing your body to its max again is vital. This is part of the reason why I’ll keep coming back to Superhuman Events.

Regardless of your position, you really do finish the day, side by side with your partner, feeling like Superhumans.