HY Runners' Buchanan is breaking records - at a very unique sport

Barry Buchanan has a unique set of skills - and he is using them in a unique way.

Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 11:51 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 11:52 am
Barry Buchanan

The 37-year-old from Hastings has recently broke the course record at Raw Fit’s Obstacle Racing course.

The former boxer has turned his attention to obstacle racing - a sport growing quickly around the world - and is using his skills to record impressive times.

In early August Buchanan did the 800m course in a record time of 4mins 55secs. Because of Covid there has been no races but the UK GGoverning body has got people competing by doing time trials across 12 centres across the UK.

Buchanan said: “I had done the course previously but I wasn’t happy with my performance, and went back a couple of weeks later and had tailored my training to make everything a bit shorter and sharper.

“I thought I would go back and just claw my way back up the leaderboard - everyone likes to have a goal in mind - and it all came together. I have managed to take top spot at the moment.”

The competition doesn’t close until October, so others can go and have a go to try and beat Buchanan’s time.

But will he go back to try and improve his time? “If I get really good conditions I may go back and have another go. I said to Rick [owner of Raw], I think there’s time you could shave off by being a bit bolder, taking more risks.

“But when you do that you increase the risk of failing.

“You get one attempt and each time you fail something you get a time penalty on your final time so the target is to do everything the first time whilst being as safe as you can.”

But how does Buchanan, who belongs to the HY Runners Club, train for such a unique event?

He said: “Mainly it’s a lot of running. I run with the HY club under Terry Skelton and I have an obstacle coach based up in Essex and he sets me training drills to maximise my grip strength and endurance. And he gives me some general strength and conditioning work to do, and I follow that.

“I run nearly every day of the week and with Raw being so local, we have been going there once a week just to keep practicing because a lot of people only practice when they are racing. “Because centres in the UK are quite sparse so we are fortunate in that respect having one on the doorstop.”

Buchanan has found the transition from boxer to obstacle course racer interesting. He said: “It’s nice to continue that growth and learning and becoming more efficient. I never really used to run. I come from a boxing background and used to box for West Hill for years and years.

“Obviously boxing is a young man’s game and I am in my late 30s now and I stumbled across obstacle racing maybe four years ago.

“I didn’t realise it was a competitive thing. I went to an event with a group of friends and it stemmed from there. Someone said they do a race league and suggested I sign up too their team and it snowballed from there.

“It’s incredible, I have met some really good people, and I have been to some pretty cool place, places I would never have gone to if it wasn’t for this racing.”

Buchanan went to the world championships in Canada in 2017, the worlds would have in Stratton Mountain in the US this year, but that event was postponed.

But as with most sports and events abroads, the athletes have to fund themselves and it’s been no different for Buchanan. However he has had the support of local people and the town itself. And he was full of praise for the people of Hastings for getting behind him as a boxer and as an obstacle course racer.

He said: “Fortunately when I went to Canada I had a former boxing coach who set up a funding page. I couldn’t afford that trip myself. But thanks to the generosity of people around the town and my friends and family I managed to get over there which is something I will never forget.

“But generally it’s all self-funded. Every now and again I’ll have a friend who is very supportive who will pay for a race and I have been sponsored once or twice by local companies who find races or pay for transport and accommodation. It does get expensive.

“You try to test yourself at the best level you can and thankfully, living in a small seaside town, people tend to get behind people doing positive things. This is something I have noticed. Even when I was boxing, people like to see others trying to push themselves and trying to be successful. It’s nice to see.

“To have people back you and say ‘go and be the best you can be’ is brilliant.”

And does Buchanan think the sport can continue to grow? “It’s quite a niche event at the moment,” he said. “It’s not classified as a sport by the IOC yet which is why we have now got a governing foundation. It’s going in the right direction and there are some seriously talented athletes about on the world stage and in the UK. Exceptional athletes who are suited to Obstacle racing rather than just running or gym work.

“It’s functional fitness, it fulfills every part of fitness. You are running, you climb and carry things so you have to be strong, there’s grip endurance and you still have to have that presence of mind of how to adjust if you slip for example. It’s a muilt-facated sport, that’s for sure.”