Are you traveling to OCRWC in the UK?
For those of you who attended the OCRWC at Blue Mountain for the last two years, you may have a certain image of what the World Championships will be like. Whilst the course will be just as epic as its ever been (if not more so!) the location will be something more akin to the 2015 Ohio event.
Whilst everything will be set up for the athletes and their families and supporters to have an amazing time, it’s understandable that there’s a little trepidation amongst those travelling to this unknown event. In order to make your time a little more comfortable, and your research a little easier, I’ve put together a few top tips for your ultimate OCRWC 2018 trip.
The best way to think of the location is as your own town. It’s not a purpose built tourist venue like Blue Mountains, it is a regular town, and the event will be taking place in the surrounding countryside. Think of how you would advise someone visiting you (Unless you live somewhere like central NYC and then it’s totally not like that…)
The venue address is Secret Nuclear Bunker, Kelvedon Hatch, CM15 0LA. Yes, that is the GPS address.
Without a doubt your easiest option is to rent a car. As someone who was terrified of driving abroad, I did it alone for the first time ever for the OCRWC 2016 in Canada with no issues (OK, so I had no idea how to drive an automatic and bunny hopped out of the lot, but I made it there safe).
Make sure you request an automatic, and get a sat-nav (GPS), and don’t forget, cars in the UK tend to be a lot smaller than in the US & Canada.
To get to the site or a local town from either Heathrow or Gatwick by car you won’t be going through London, so don’t worry about driving in the city, (or the congestion charge). You’ll take the circular road the M25, often full of traffic and pretty slow, but it gets you there. Depending on which route you take you could pass the Dartford Crossing, which incurs a toll between 6am and 10pm. People have been known to miss the signs, so check your route before you travel. You’ll need to pay the fee of £2.50 by the midnight of the day after you cross.
A rule of thumb is that the speed limit is 70mph on the motorways, but if you ever see a sign with a slower speed posted, either on the side of the road or electronically above, adhere to it, as there will be cameras.
Here’s an interesting one for our friends from the US & Canada. Don’t turn left on a red light. Don’t turn right on a red light. Do nothing at a red light but sit and wait.
Roundabouts are something that cause a bit of worry amongst drivers from the States, so just remember, give way to the right, and indicate clearly when you want to get off (and check out YouTube for handy videos if you’re really worried!)
Parking at the OCRWC site will be more than plentiful, this is a site used to hosting thousands of visitors over several race weekends a year. A small fee will apply to parking on site Friday-Sunday, and will cost £5 per day, or £10 for a weekend pass.
To get from the airport to your hotel, you’ll probably be able to use the trains and a taxi, but for travelling from your hotel to the race site, I just wouldn’t risk it. Buses run very irregularly, and whilst a few run close to the site, it’s not something you want to be relying on. Check out www.gatwickexpress.com for your train options from gatwick and www.heathrowexpress.com for Heathrow. However, after a long journey you may want to pre-book a taxi to take you straight to you door if funds allow.
Taxis and Uber exist in Brentwood town, but I would not rely on getting one of these out of the site. Make friends on the the OCR World Championships Athletes page and look for car shares if you don’t have your own mode of transport.
The Rome2Rio app is a great tool for displaying travel options in any city or town in the world, if you think you’ll need to use transport at any time, download it before you go to make sure you’re covered. If you wanted to visit London whist you are over then public transport is your best option, and the above app or the Tube Map app will be your friends.
Keeping in touch
Unless your provider allows the use of data abroad, you’ll be left racking up huge bills if you use your phone in the UK. To avoid this, when travelling to a country not covered by my plan I always hire a wifi hotspot. I particularly like the sky roam hotspot from TEP Wireless.
You can either order this to your door before you leave or collect and drop off at Heathrow Terminals 2, 3, 4, & 5. A week’s hire in October including drop off is around £60, and the beauty is it can be used by more than one person at a time -so long as you’re all in range- so it’s great to share the cost between friends. Don’t forget to google coupon codes for hire as there are always some floating around. Whatever you choose to do, expect coverage on the day to be slow due to the amount of traffic.
It could be cold in October, and those with smartphones know this drains your battery. Keeping an external battery in your kit bag is always a good idea, you can pick a good quality one up on amazon, my brand of choice is Anker.
Prepare for the worst: it could be incredible weather, but it could just as likely be raining and chilly, so pack your Dryrobe and some good quality boots to stomp through all that mud. Wellies, whilst not glamorous are useful, otherwise waterproof walking or military boots will never let you down. Pack your kit accordingly too, and call it on the day.
On site there will be a multitude of food options, so you needn’t worry about going hungry. If you want to eat out at night then on the weekend (Thursday-Sunday) I advise booking a table whichever town you’re in: they’ll be busy on a regular weekend, let alone a World Championship Race weekend.
If you’re in an apartment with a kitchen you will be able to easily stock up at one of the local supermarkets, look out for Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Morrisons. Most supermarkets are open 24 hours a day Monday-Friday, until 10pm Saturday, and then 10am-4pm Sunday. Some smaller “Local stores” have longer hours. Personally I will be taking advantage of the ProperMeals guys and pre-ordering meal prep for the whole weekend so I know I’m covered without having to worry.
Don’t forget your travel adapters as we have different plugs over here, one top tip is to bring one adapter and a four way extension so you you can use a few items of the one plug.
Pre buy any cash before you leave as this will be your cheapest option, especially over buying at the airport or using your card.
Most hotels offer a laundry service, to avoid you carrying ridiculously muddy kit home, and most apartments will have washing machines, however, you will find several laundrettes in Brentwood such as Washeteria, but expect all services to be busy. Alternatively, rinse it in the bath, wring it out, and carry it home in a dry bag and deal with it when you get back.
Above all, don’t worry! You will have an incredible time, surrounded by amazing people. You’re near one of the most famous cities in the world, attending an amazing event. Relax, and enjoy.