Lee Rooke

So, it’s the 10th of June 2018 at around 8am, I’m stood in the kitchen preparing breakfast; suddenly my heart is racing, then it’s not, there’s some discomfort and to a lesser degree, a ‘warm’ feeling across the upper part of my body...hmm?

After a period of contemplation and consideration I decide I probably should go and see someone to find out if there is anything to be concerned about, so I drive over to Hillingdon Hospital A & E and undergo some tests and stuff.

After a while, the Doctor who had been examining, me appears in the reception with a wheelchair and beckons me to climb aboard (maybe there’s something after all?), he takes me into a large room full of beds and patients and tells me to occupy one of the beds...hmm?!

“So Mr Rooke, you’ve had a heart attack!” (A partially blocked Left Anterior Descending Artery to be more precise)

“Oh…” I say

After a number of calls by the Doctor to Harefield Hospital in order to confirm the prognosis, I am wheeled into a waiting ambulance, wired up, strapped in and ‘blue-lighted’ across the borough to be greeted by a team of specialists, physiologists, radiographers (including my wife who was on the night shift), registrars etc.all ready to begin treatment before I had even entered the building!

I am wheeled (again) on to Acorn Ward where I spend the night before undergoing an angioplasty procedure the following morning. After some more tests, checks, information, issuing of medication, a lovely visit from a member of the cardiac rehab team and follow ups plus a 2nd night, I am duly discharged home.

After a short period of weeks I begin my 2 months (Tuesday & Friday each week) of Cardiac Rehab with my fellow ‘hearty’ people all with varying degrees of ailments and conditions.

From the very first phone call between Hillingdon & Harefield, through the ‘welcoming party’, the ward team, the consultants, physiologists, radiographers, porters, catering, pharmacist, rehab team etc. the service I received was nothing less than outstanding, truly wonderful.

So, where does this leave me?

Prior to the unexpected events of June 10th, I was relatively fit, with a good diet and a growing passion for Obstacle Course Racing (OCR); since then, I have had to slowly rebuild on my fitness and have only been able to complete a single Half Tough Mudder and a 6k Commando Series event at Hever Castle however; my aim for 2019 is to take part in more and a greater variety of events than prior to my heart attack - I want to challenge myself physically and mentally in order to support a magnificent cause. My target is to raise as much money as I can for Harefield Hospital which is where I hope, you come in...

If you feel inclined, you can sponsor me by event or for completing a number of events from those I enter. Some of the OCR’s I am considering, will be over a time limit and it will be for me to complete as many miles as I can in the time allocated so, you may want to sponsor me per mile in that case...you can dip in and out and donate based upon the event(s) you think will most greatly challenge my comfort zones, the choice is yours and I hope you will exercise your choice generously.

Some of the events I am looking to take part in include;

January - MacTuff
February - Brutal Run Bordon
March - Winter Nuts Challenge
April - Spring WOLF Run
May - Europe’s Toughest Mudder
June - Fan Dance Dark Trail
July - Tough Mudder Yorkshire
August - Beach Ballistic
September - Tough Mudder North West & London South
October - Rat Race Hell up North
November - Rat Race Hell down South & Commando Series
December - Brutal Run Longmoor

There are likely to be numerous other races of varying distances, throughout the year.

My first event takes place on 6 January in Scotland at Knockhill Racing Circuit (approx 25 miles north of Edinburgh) - MacTuff!

Overall, I’m looking at the possibility of entering 20+ events; if you are unfamiliar with the world of OCR & want a better idea of the sort of things I am proposing to undertake, you can catch videos of most of the above events, on YouTube.

Throughout the year I will provide updates with details of exactly what I will be doing each month so you can check them out.

Now, they are called obstacle course ‘races’ but this is not how I approach them; I would never by any means, call myself a runner nor technically proficient at some of the more, well...technical obstacles, I enter events because I enjoy the challenge. I do not expect to finish in anything resembling a fast time but I do aim to have a go at every obstacle and finish every event.

So, as I’ve said; if you want to support this world-class facility, please sponsor me...it can be for a little or for a little more, for completion of a single event or multiple events or by the mile such as, how many miles I clock up taking part in Europe’s Toughest Mudder.

All money raised will go towards supporting the health and welfare of patients at Harefield Hospital as well as supporting cutting-edge research into heart and lung conditions so please if you can, donate if you want to see a middle aged heart attack survivor, suffer...go on, you know you do!

Thank you,



So, the first event of the year has been completed - MacTuff, Knockhill race circuit, Dunfermline


After a 7 hour drive up the day before and a good night’s sleep in a local hotel, I was up nice and early for the short drive to the venue and registration.


This year’s event was definitely not as cold as it could have been (thankfully there was no ice to be broken on the water obstacles this year) but it was FOGGY!


Around 1000 participants took part in the event over 3 different distances, I had entered the 15k event (“Why?” I asked myself; “You know there’s a 7k option?”).


Prior to the start, we were all lined up in the pit lane where we were seen off by a marching band of pipers followed by fireworks and explosions.


We’re off and the first obstacle awaits...the local American football team! Thankfully I got through unscathed (many didn’t!) and it was onward to obstacle number 2... what felt like, miles and miles of gravel run-offs around the race circuit - the worst obstacle of the day... 2 steps forward, 1 step back!

Further on was the Dragon’s teeth jumps - until you’re on top of them, they look relatively harmless, however; the jump between each is further than you think; if you miss the grab bar or slip on the wall where your feet will land, you can look forward to a 9 ft drop.


Other obstacles encountered on the day;

Car pull - simply pull a small hatchback across a slightly inclined car park

Sandbag and tyre carries up and down hills, through mud and water

There was a section of seating alongside the circuit where we were required to climb up and down them approximately 10-12 times - I guess there were not enough hills so they used what was available!!

Numerous walls of varying heights and inclines to get over with an 8ft wall as the final obstacle just before the finish line.

Rolling monkey bars

Mud...thick, sticky, gloopy, unpleasant smelling, energy-sapping mud! You could bypass some of this if you were prepared to make your way through a section or two of flesh-tearing bushes.

There was a slide - more fun than difficult, however; you do end up in a pool of cold, cold water at the end of it!

Tyre flipping - for some reason, some of us just couldn’t see the smaller, lighter tyres until we were already flipping the larger, heavier ones; there were numerous exclamations of: “Where did you get that one, I never saw it?”

Over a mile of hill climbing through an ever weaving circuit arrangement still, if you applied the ‘walk up, run down’ principle, it helped

There was a deep, muddy ditch - down one side up the other, back down, back up for what seemed like an eternity

Numerous water-based obstacles...cold, cold water

Hills - did I mention there were HILLS!


Thankfully I had decided to wear my neoprene wetsuit and compression gear - I began overheating right near the start but was grateful for it later in the day.


So by the end, I was well and truly ‘Gubbed*’!



  1. To be punched in the gub
  2. Broken, destroyed or otherwise burst
  3. Knackered, exhausted, jiggered, trashed


Would I do it again...already looking to next year’s event!


Once it was all over, I could look forward to the 7 - 8 hour return journey; I attracted one or two looks at the numerous service station stopped at along the way - large man wearing shorts, with mud and bruises (blood thinners will do that to you!)  on his face and legs (you wipe off what you can when you finish otherwise, you take it home with you).


The following day was my 55th birthday - birthdays usually bring about a number of ‘Ooh’s and Aah’s and mine was no different, they were just more about how my body felt as well as in response to the cards and gifts I received (I would not like to hazard a guess as to which came out louder).


If you want more of a flavour of what MacTuff was all about, the following video does an excellent job - I must highlight the fact this is a video I borrowed from the MacTuff Facebook page;



If you find your curiosity has been piqued and you fancy having a go then do it, you won’t be disappointed. 2020 is the 5th anniversary so the tech shirt and medal are likely to be awesome!


Next on the agenda (23rd Feb) is Brutal Bordon - more of a 10k trail run as opposed to an out-and-out OCR however; it will include marshes, hills, ponds and bogs; the week after that…”The Winter Nuts Challenge” 2 laps of a 7k circuit in deepest, darkest Dorking.


I now have a working action cam so hopefully, I will be able to capture and provide some usable ‘first person’ images and footage.


If you have committed to supporting my efforts for this wonderful cause - thank you so much; if you know someone who is yet to commit their support (namely, sponsor me to undertake these frankly, ludicrous activities!), please feel free to have a word in their shell-like and see if you can persuade them to put their hand in their pocket.


Lee Rooke