Hyrox Birmingham 2023
Finally had a moment to sit and write some of my thoughts on our latest Hyrox event in Birmingham on 21st of October. I say ‘our’ as myself and my training partner had another bash at the women’s doubles. Our previous dabble into a doubles event was back in November 2022 and we came in in a very respectable time of 1 hr 12 mins. Then we were mere youngsters and snuck into the 40-49 age group. We were 10th in what is possibly one of the most competitive age groups. Roll on a year and our average age has tipped into the 50-59 age group (AG). Don’t be fooled by the increasing age brackets, there have been some awesome ladies competing in this AG across all categories.
Emma and I had been training hard and joined the Hogans several months ago who set our training programme for each week.
Emma and I Meeting our coach ‘Tom Hogan’ at a training event
They are both experienced Hyrox athletes with various titles between them so we knew we were in safe hands. Early mornings, sore muscles, creaky, joints, self doubt all things we have had to contend with over the last few months. Together though we seemed to gel and had some cracking partner sessions which allowed us to push each other and see where our strengths and weaknesses lay.
We were in the 5 pm wave at Birmingham NEC; there were well over 450 women’s doubles going in total every 10 minutes so we knew the course would be busy. We had set ourselves a time of 1 hr 10 mins which we felt was achievable and gave us a good chance to podium. There were 33 pairings in our AG which is a lot! We had a good race strategy which we had cemented after our pre-event talk with our coach. The only station we weren’t sure about was the lunges, so we decided to let these be fluid.
We drove up in the afternoon with Emma’s hubby chauffeuring which meant we could switch off a bit. The venue was packed so we had a quick look round to check the layout which went in order of stations from 1 to 8. If you have no idea about hyrox then google it. It really isn’t like anything else I’d ever done when I started. Its loud, busy, sweaty, and full of some of the fittest looking people I’ve ever seen. It can be quite daunting. Being in the venue for too long is a complete senses overload and its easy for your heart rate to shoot above 100 by just being there.
We had a short warm up with an outside run and a nervous toilet stop. There is an athlete warm up area, but it can be quite congested. At 4.50 pm we headed to the holding pen at the start. The first part is a 1km run so you head straight out onto the running track with all the other athletes. It can be quite disorientating. We knew our first lap was 1.75 laps. The countdown began and then with an airhorn to bring your granny back from the dead, we were off!!!! We had a running pace we wanted to stick to so we didn’t go out too fast. We seemed to fly round and headed into the ski erg. We had broken it down into 200 meters- Me, Emma, Me, Emma, Me.
We nailed it and headed back out in the melee of running athletes. Sled push we had broken down so we were doing half a length each, hoping to prevent the build up and burn of lactic acid. 4 lengths and we were off again. 2 laps this time (and for the next 6). Sled pull we had opted for the same technique of swapping half way. We did end up getting a bit messy with the rope management and this slowed us a little.
Still feeling good we headed out for another 1km then into the broad jump burpees. This is my weakest station, so we had decided to do 5 each and keep the swap rate high. Looking at our results we nailed the burpees and having someone to swap in when you are blowing out of you’re a*** is such a nice feeling. That was us halfway and we had hit it at almost the exact time we wanted to.
Another 1km and into the rowing machine.
We messed about with getting in and out of the ergo which showed in our times. Definitely something to work on for our next event in 4 weeks. Back out through the roxone for another 1km. We had said we wouldn’t walk out of any of the stations so we could minimise the time we spent in the area between the stations and the exit onto the track. Farmers carry is basically carrying heavy weights for 200ms and we knew its one of my strongest events so had decided to see if I could do the whole thing so we didn’t lose time swapping over.
This seemed to work and we smashed our time on this. Another 1km run. We were keeping our pace consistent and we were keeping each other focused. We entered on for the lunges and I went first. We hadn’t really got a plan for this station and it showed on the times.
This is definitely a station we can improve on with better tactics. Finally we headed out for our last 1km and we sensed we were close to our goal time. Our tactics for the final station was for me to crack out 30-35 wall balls then swap. We wanted to keep our swaps to a minimum to save time. I did my 35 and we swapped and Emma noticed we had a 6kg wall ball instead of a 4kg.
The judge seemed totally unaware of what we should have had so there was a bit of a kerfuffle while the head judge and our judge had a bit of a confused conversation. I’m sure he missed a few reps, but we focused on the job in hand and did our 75. Emma literally grabbed my hand and pulled me over the finish line. She was ecstatic. We finished in 1 hour 10 mins and 40 secs. We knew it was a good time but felt we had been hindered at the wall balls and were prepared to raise a complaint if it came down to the wire.
We then had a very nervous wait to see if any of the 33 doubles would beat our time. We were sitting in first place but had to wait till 7.20 pm to confirm a definite podium position. We were absolutely buzzing as all the self-doubt and stress we had put ourselves under evaporated. At 7.21pm we were still in first place so we knew the coveted 1st place podium position was ours and a qualifying place at the Word Championships in Nice in 2024. To say we were relived was an understatement. It meant we could approach our next event with slightly less pressure. We had a lead of nearly 2 minutes over the second place pair so didn’t have to raise the wall ball issue.
We had to wait till gone 8pm for our podium presentation. There seems to be less interest in the older age groups but for me these are the hardest won ones. Women in their 40s and above are contending with training around families, peri menopause, post menopause and all the joys that getting older brings. The older athletes, even the men at hyrox are the ones that really inspire me to be better. I want to look strong into my 50s and beyond. Seeing doubles of father and son or mother and daughter are also hugely inspiring.
That evening was full of so many emotions. We were so relieved, so excited, massively proud and just generally mentally and physically drained. The following week our coach had given us a recovery week which I found tough as we had come off from such a high and wanted to get back into training full pelt. However, we are ladies of more mature years and recovery is absolutely vital so we stuck to the plan and reveled in the ‘eat what your body wants’ advice. Apparently, mine wanted a nice slice of cake and some chips in the week!! It didn’t all slide into food debauchery though as we both knew with only 4 weeks until our next doubles event in London we had to get back on the Hyrox wagon. Training has started again with some structure around our goals for the next event. Emma wants to improve her running so has more of a run focus and we both want to build more strength for the sleds.
We had a debrief in the week and were disappointed in a few elements of our performance. Or lunges were the biggest loss of time from our first event and the kerfuffling in the sled and the row was also obvious. So now we have 3 weeks of training and a taper week so we can tweek our changeovers and see what works best for the sleds. There’s no pressure for London as we have qualified but we are aware that we are up there with the ones to beat at the moment. We think we can shave off another 1-2 minutes with a slicker performance so lets go into the next 3 weeks with this self belief.
The hyrox webs site is great as you can see your ranking across all global events and currently our time sits us at 12th out of 382 with 7 of the times ahead of us from the same team. The world championships next year is a whole other goal as we have to step up to pro weights. We have plenty of time to build on our performance though.
London is going to be a busy event with more athletes turning to doubles. Good food, nutrition, training and positive thinking now for the next 4 weeks. Emma and I are fairly new friends so we are still getting to know how hard we can push or when to ease back. Its been great getting to know her though and seeing what drives her. I’m sure she wont mind me saying but as a lady in her early 50s with a young child and a business (or two) to run she is hugely inspiring and just doesn’t seem to want to take the easy option. I was so proud that we could grab each other’s hand as we crossed the line at Birmingham knowing that we had done it together……as an awesome team!!!
If you are curious about hyrox then take a look at their website. It really is an event for anyone, and I think it is a great way to spice up your gym routine. There are plenty of workouts available to try and many gyms are now offering hyrox style training or bootcamps. Drop me a message if you have any questions.