Beat the gladiators at the Gauntlet Games. Win a free entry!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sarah King, founder of The Gauntlet Games
Obstacle courses are the latest fitness craze.  Forget just running a 5K. Now you have to run through fire, get electrocuted, and swim for 100 meters underwater* to earn a medal and a pint.  One person though didn't like what she was seeing and took it upon herself to create a women-friendly obstacle course. Meet Sarah King, founder of the Gauntlet Games.

Her story is an inspirational one.  Rather than be disappointed with what life was throwing at her (in terms of race events), she decided to create her own.  How awesome is that?  Gauntlet Games obstacles include a ball pit, foam zone, dodgeball challenge, jumping beans, jousting and a the travelator, making it a bit more friendly (yet still challenging) to those who have never signed up for an obstacle course before.

Here is a bit more about Sarah, why she chose the British Red Cross as a charity partner, and her advise for women wanting to start their own business.

Did you try any obstacle courses before dreaming up the Gauntlet Games?
Yes! I’ve been in the obstacle racing Industry for over 6 years now, and have tried a lot of the races out there. My very first experience of obstacle racing was Tough Guy in 2009 – a baptism of fire, as it still is one of the toughest challenges I’ve done! It was January, it was snowing, and the course was brutal! I was not at all fit at the time and had never run more than 5km before, but somehow I managed to get through it and the sense of achievement was epic.

I have since taken part in huge numbers of obstacle races – it’s an essential part of the job!

What was your overall objective in developing the event?
I created the Gauntlet Games as I felt that many obstacle races can be intimidating for those who have never taken part in one before and that may be new to fitness – and particularly to women. I am really passionate about fitness and the outdoors, and I really want people to find an activity that they genuinely enjoy, so that they can make fitness a fun and sociable experience.

I wanted to create an event that was like an adult playground – letting people have a laugh with friends, do something different and hopefully raise some money for charity. Our obstacles include a giant slippery slide, a huge ball pool, foam pits, mud and inflatables, and all involve getting past a real Gladiator in some form – whether through dodging the paint guns, barging past an inflatable pugil stick or wading through mud!

How many of the obstacles did you design yourself?
I dreamed up the concept of most of them myself, but I also have an amazing course team who have come up with some amazing ideas. We also ask our runners to submit ideas for obstacles and our favourites are built for the next course. I am always looking for inspiration from TV Game shows in the UK and overseas, and in keeping with the ‘Games’ concept, I wanted each obstacle to be an interactive challenge against a Gladiator. Some of the obstacles require physical strength and some require a bit more strategy!

It is fantastic that the Gauntlet Games have a charity partner.  Do you have a personal connection to the British Red Cross?
I was really keen to have British Red Cross on board as their work is so far-reaching – all of us are likely to have come into contact with Red Cross’s work over the course of our lives. A lot of us don’t realise just how varied the work of the British Red Cross is – from First Aid training and health and social care in the UK, to responding to natural and humanitarian disasters in the UK and overseas. With so many current appeals – the Ebola outbreak, the Gaza and Israel Appeal, the Iraq Crisis appeal, and many more, I felt that it was a very important cause to support.

We are encouraging all our participants to raise funds for British Red Cross – no matter how small.

Do you think your event has any little touches that women will appreciate? (more toilets, changing rooms, etc?)
I would probably say that the biggest appeal for the ladies will be our Gladiators…..this year we have teamed up with rugby clubs whose players will be looking after our obstacles!

Eye-candy aside, we have a very welcoming and family-friendly experience at the event. Our event village will have all sorts of activities going on, including pre- and post-event massages from our physio partners. We’ll also have a games area for the children so we’re encouraging everyone to bring along their families and friends.

Finally, our Gladiators at our London event – Saracens Amateur Rugby Club, are inviting all our runners to come and enjoy a Barbeque and some drinks at their rugby club after the event – just a short walk from the park. So there’s even a chance to meet the Gladiators after the event! There will be tickets available for this nearer the time, which will cover the cost of the food.

How do you keep fit these days?
I try to take part in as many different types of fitness as possible – both to keep things interesting but also so that I’m constantly challenging myself. On a weekly basis I’ll run (outdoors, and ideally off-road), do a Pilates session, at least one HIIT session at the gym, and swim, and I also cycle everywhere as my preferred mode of transport. I’ll usually try to have at least one race that I’m training for – this year I intend to take part in my first half-Ironman, having completed many triathlons. But training for that hasn’t started just yet!

How many times have you taken part in the Gauntlet Games?  What's your PB?
I do the test-run before each obstacle race I manage, so as we’ve only run the Gauntlet Games once to date, I’ve only run the course once. However, as it is a ‘test’ run we are also thoroughly testing every aspect of each obstacle, so it takes us a long time – we’re talking several hours – so it’s more a case of my Personal Worst than my Personal Best!  

What advice would you have for women wanting to start their own business?
There has not been one day that I have regretted making the decision to run my own business – and I would encourage much more women to get out there and do it as it is fantastic to have female role-models out there for the younger generation. It’s definitely hard work, but the sense of achievement that you get from your successes is unbeatable.

The biggest piece of advice I’d have is ‘Go for it!’ There is never the perfect time to start a business and there are always going to be obstacles that get in your way, but if you have an idea, you are passionate about it, and you have done as much planning as you feasibly can into how you will make the business work, then you have to take a leap of faith.

This risk-taking mindset has to then continue on into your business. You have to understand that some risks will pay off and some won’t – but if you take lessons from your failures then you can turn these into successes too. People that can deal with failure are the ones that will succeed – as it makes you stronger.

How about women wanting to be more active but aren't sure where to start?
I would suggest finding an activity that genuinely interests you and find a way to fit it into your weekly routine. In addition to that, I’d look at your daily routine and see how you can build activity into what you already do.

So, start off by looking at your everyday activities. If you use the car for short journeys, think about walking or cycling instead. Use the stairs instead of the escalators – it’s a free treadmill! Get off the bus or train a stop early and walk the extra distance.

Then, find a new hobby or activity – dancing, climbing, swimming, yoga – anything you fancy. Sign up to a class locally so that you are going on a regular basis.

Plan these activities into your weekly schedule. Record your activity in your diary or calendar – it will give you great motivation to look back and see what you’ve achieved. If you can then start creating a routine out of this combination of activities, it will start coming naturally to you.

Finally, I’d suggest signing yourself up to an event or challenge, giving yourself a few months to train. You will work much harder at your activities when you have a challenge looming, and it gives you a target to aim for.

Do you have a motto or inspirational quote that you live by?
I love quotes that focus on taking risks and living your life to the full.

I love Mark Twain’s quote ’Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover’.

Giveaway time!
The Gauntlet Games have generously given PTMollie readers the opportunity to win a free entry to one of there upcoming events (any location, either 5K or 10K course):
  • 18 April, Hertford, Hertfordshire
  • 30 May, Trent Park, London
  • 8th August: Brighton (coming soon)
  • 5th September: Hertford, Hertfordshire
Entries start at £29 and include a free t-shirt and medal.  You can stay up-to-date with the latest news from the Gauntlet Games by liking their Facebook page and/or following them on Twitter or Instagram.

Enter the giveaway to win a free race entry to any of the 2015 Gauntlet Games and also a Flipbelt to hold your stuff on training runs (these are fab! Read my review here) with this Rafflecopter giveaway.

*I might be exaggerating about these tasks. I have never taken part in an obstacle race either.

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