Pukka Races: World War Run

Third and Final race in June, and bringing the first half of this year to a close was Pukka Races World War Run, a race to commemorate 100 years since World War 1. This race was set in East Grinsted, not far from home,  and with an 11am start it meant that for once it didn’t require a crack of dawn start.

Race Description

This race was a 5mile (8km) obstacle race, with a WW1 theme, which as well as the usual clambering through mud, through woods, streams and obstacles, also included a section where you got shot at by paint balls – not something I was looking forward to if I’m honest.

The RPCC crew were out in force again today, with somewhere in the region of 40 members of RPCC, as well as a few friends from further afield joining us to race. Thanks to a deal on last minute entries we ended up with a really good turn out for RPCC on the day.

Some of the RPCC crew getting ready to race
Some of the RPCC crew getting ready to race

Registration was straightforward and painless, there was a decent warm up, only I need to stop standing at the back of these as I never know what is going on, and the only thing I think they could have done with was a few more toilets (there were only 4!)

Before the race, with Bob Cornford, Kevin Coda and Cat Denning
Before the race, with Bob Cornford, Kevin Coda and Cat Denning

The Race

We set off at 11am, it was a warm day, not as hot as last week, but still warm enough, through a field, into some woods and pretty quickly through some mud, and when I say mud, think thick, deep clay like mud that sticks to you like glue, and that you disappear into up to your knees. There was an awful lot of this mud throughout the 5mile course, where you think you are going to be OK and next thing you know you are almost up to your waist.

I seemed to have real trouble remaining on my feet in this race, losing my balance in the mud quite frequently and having to crawl my way out. I found the first half of this race really tough, I wasn’t feeling too well and I felt like I was running at a snails pace.

There was a sandbag carry up a quite long hill, before coming back down the other side to drop it off, then having to run back up the hill to carry on, and later in the race you were required to carry an ammo box up and down a hill as well.

Other obstacles included scaling a few different types of walls – a couple of very high timber frames, a tyre wall and a very tall wall that had a grips on it to help you out. If you have read any of my other blogs you would probably already know that I am not really a fan of heights, but I just went for it today and scaled each obstacle without too much drama. I did require two attempts and help from a couple of friends (Bob Cornford and David Beatty) and a marshal to get me over the top (and back down the other side) but I did it, and I’m quite proud of myself for not giving up.

There was a lot of mud, I’ve mentioned it already but it bares repeating. There were places where you had to run through it, wade through it, and crawl through it, sometimes with barbed wire over the top to force you down onto your front and forcing you to crawl. At one point I almost lost my shoe – and considering how much it would cost to replace my inov-8’s this could have been a disaster! Luckily David came to my rescue once again and helped me out of the mud, along with my shoe.

At the paintball section you were handed a face mask to protect your eyes and sent off round a short section of running, I jogged up the first side, then paused behind a bush to catch my breath… then ran like hell! I had to hold the mask on as it was too big, and it was awkward to breath so heavily in as you ran, but thankfully I made it to the end of the section without taking a hit – Many of my RPCC friends were not so lucky, I’m sure there will be some good bruises tomorrow.

By this time the marshals had started to tell me I was about the 5th or 6th girl through, this really spurred me on, along with the constant encouragement of David, whom I seemed to be playing tag with.

There were stretches of running, and a few hay bails to clamber over, and some welcome streams to try and remove the mud. The only real criticism of the race I could make was the one water station part way round was unmanned, not obvious, and someone said empty – I just ran straight past it, even though I could have done with a gulp of water.

As we neared the end, I caught sight of the finishing arch and decided to give it everything I had left… and promptly tripped over a tree root and did the most spectacular face plant into the dirt- think a tree falling! After a bit of a giggle on the ground and shouting back to the spectators who seemed both concerned and amused, I got up and pushed on.

Just before the finish was a set of monkey bars. I have never completed a set before but this time… was no different. My hands were slick with mud, as were the bars, and I managed two before falling to the ground, leaving nothing left but to head to the finish.

Falling off the Monkey Bars - At least I tried!
Falling off the Monkey Bars – At least I tried!

Crossed the line, and grabbed a hug from my friend Linda, who always seems to pip me to the post by a minute or two, and another hug from David, who was amazing in keeping me motivated in the second part of the race, then it was time for a quick wash down.

This race, like last weekend, actually had a shower, it was cold, but it was there, and it was nice to strip out of my muddy top and have a wash down. Then it was time for the post race war stories, and general posing and sillyness as we cheered on the people coming in behind us.

Some of the RPCC girls, smashing some top 10 spots, and our friend David Beatty
Some of the RPCC girls, smashing some top 10 spots, and our friend David Beatty

Pugging my number into the computer at the end of the race, I was really pleased with my time, especially as I wasn’t feeling all that great to begin with. 54mins, with a place of 56th overall and 6th place girl.

Myself and Linda Zeberga  Finishing in 5th (Linda) and 6th (me) place for the girls
Myself and Linda Zeberga Finishing in 5th (Linda) and 6th (me) place for the girls

In the end, despite having had a bit of an iffy start, a combination of not feeling fully fit, and some personal issues I had been having in the week, I had a really great day. I had a lot of fun, especially at the end of the race, and got to catch up with some people I don’t get to see often. I’m looking forward to running another Pukka Races event next month, but next up is The Obstacle next weekend – after I’ve been at a wedding the day before – the next one could be messy! Bring on July!

Back 2 The Trenches

Race two in June and the weather could not have been more different from two weeks ago, the day was sparkling sunshine from the moment I got up, and boy did it turn out to be a hot race. We set off bright and early and headed to Surrey to run Back 2 the Trenches in Redhill.

Race Description

Back 2 the Trenches offers three distance options, 6k, 12k or 18k. This was one of the first races that I had booked when I set out this year to do a race every month and I had picked the 12k option – although if I had booked it later I might well have gone for the full 18.

Me before setting off to race
Me before setting off to race

This was a race that was being attended by around 60 of the RPCC crew and the atmosphere at the start was really buzzing. As we waited to warm up (although admittedly some of us – me included – didn’t take the warm up to seriously, it was just too hot!) it was lovely having a chat with the huge gang of RPCCers waiting for the off – had a lovely talk with my friend Neil Phillips, who expressly asked to get a mention – and despite running with a hangover he smashed the course, so the mention was well deserved. Well done Neil!

The 60 odd strong RPCC crew at B2TT
The 60 odd strong RPCC crew at B2TT

The Race

We set off at 10am, with the sun beating down on us, and started off with a zigzaging run broken up with large hay bails to clamber over. It was really hot which made it a bit hard going, and we had only just got started.

The first section of course
The first section of course

The course took us up some pretty punishing hills, which you tended to have to wind your way up and down several times, it was hard on the legs, and if this wasn’t enough, we also got handed sandbags where we had to do two laps round a section of course before continuing.

There were two, two lap sandbag sections, and two, two lap tire carries on the 12k route, as well as having a section of woodland where you were handed a ball, then on exiting the woods you put the ball back and went round again.

There were lots of sections of ups and downs, the whole course seemed to be made up of hills, going through the woods it was a bit of a relief to get out of the blazing sunshine, and the sections going through water were really welcome.

A blessed section of flat-ish running
A blessed section of flat-ish running

There were a couple of tarpaulin slides down some hill, where they first had you go through a trough of soapy water to make sure you were good and slippery, these were fun, however I decided to take the first one head first and my left arm managed to find a hole in the tarpaulin, I got wrenched round and I have an interesting bruise and scratches on the crook of my elbow which is causing me some aggravation at the moment. It wouldn’t be OCR without a few bumps and scrapes though.

There was a pit of stinking mud/manure to wade through and some muddy pits topped with barbed wire to crawl through, which I think has added some more pretty OCR scars to my knees, and then a cargo net to clamber up and over before hitting some more hills.

Towards the end came a pretty punsihing section of up and down zigzagging a hill, which had trenches to get in and out of, tunnels to crawl through and lots of stinging nettles and thistles to negotiate as well. It also contained what looked like a tangle of string to get through – oh no – this was electrified and I got a couple of nasty shocks. I had to really psych myself up to have a second go and this lost me some time. I have said before in another blog that I am not really a fan of electric shocks at races as I don’t think its something you can train for. I got through eventually though, only to be confronted with some more a bit further round – after taking us through some water first to make it even more perilous.

Once you got through this section you were finally near the finish, you were handed a plastic grenade and told to throw it, I still haven’t really worked out why, then you had to clamber up over some tires, before another section of running round, through the tires you had just run over then down to the finish line.

Clambering over the tires near the finish line
Clambering over the tires near the finish line

After crossing the line and picking up my medal and wrist band I had a lovely time catching up with some of the other RPCC guys who had also finished while we waited for more of our friends to cross the line.

Messing around at the Finish with Linda Zeberga
Messing around at the Finish with Linda Zeberga
Messing around at the finish with Rich Pringle, Sara Williams and Lucy Warberton
Messing around at the finish with Rich Pringle, Sara Williams and Lucy Warberton

This race was hot, and tough, but really good fun. It also had some outside cold showers which was a nice touch, you don’t usually get a wash at the end. I always seem to end these blogs saying how much I have enjoyed the race but its always true. This was a great race.

I’m sitting at home now really, Facebook is buzzing with photos, I’m a bit sunburned, a bit battered and a bit bruised, especially my arm, but I can’t wait until next weekend to race again.

Some of the RPCC girls at the finish
Some of the RPCC girls at the finish
Me at the finish
Me at the finish. Muddy and Happy.

 

Mud, Sweat and Beer

June has arrived, and with it my next set of challenges. After two weekends off with no races, I was itching to get muddy again. This time the hubby and I took a bit of a road trip, choosing to spend the night before the race nearby as it’s the furthest I’ve travelled yet for the privileged of getting covered in mud.

 Race Description

The race was a 10km Obstacle race located at Shuckburgh Hall, near Daventry and when we arrived it was chucking it down. We quickly went and found the registration tent and got our race numbers, took a quick snap by the start-line and then went and hid in the car until it was time to race.

Me in the rain before Mud, Sweat and Beer
Me in the rain before Mud, Sweat and Beer

After huddling in the car watching the torrential downpour we went up to the start to wait in one of the tents until it was time for the warm up. Thankfully the rain started to ease off as we did the rather cramped warm up, and by the time the race started the rain had stopped completely – the OCR gods smiled on me once again.

The Race

Once we started, the course took us straight away up a fairly steep hill, nothing like warming your legs up by trying to convince them to run up a slope, at the top of the hill we were then treated to a couple of low timber A-frames to climb over before heading into some woodland and then down into a couple of pretty smelly, black looking bits of water.

I have to say that at this point I almost despaired at the amount of MEN who were acting like wimps when it came to getting in the water, it’s frustrating to get held up over nothing, and those guys seriously needed some MTFU pills – just get in and get out people!

There was a lot of running through woodland, which was thick with mud, this race was really going to live up to its name, it was slippery and deep in places, and people were sliding around all over the place. My inov-8 X-Talon 212’s performed well though and I was able to keep my balance and was not slipping around as much as others. At the top of another hill we had to navigate our way through a “spiders web” of ropes strung up between some trees, then off through more mud and woodland. Even the areas with no man made obstacles were fun to run through, there were lots of trees to clamber over, under and round making this a really enjoyable race.

We later came to a deep pond, which you either had to swim, or pull yourself across using the rope – I found this the quickest method. It was cold, but quite refreshing as the day was turning out quite warm. Once out of the pond it was straight over another timber A-frame set over a fence.

Me climbing out of the lake
Me climbing out of the lake

A run up another hill, more woods and lots more mud, down some steep slippery slopes and under a cargo net and then up again to get to the first of two slides, this one was long but fairly shallow gradient, and was fun to leap down on your belly. Up again, and some more muddy woods and hills.

The mud was so thick and slippery that even my shoes, which have great grip, where sliding around. I saw a lot of people hit the deck as they tried to get through the mud in normal trainers. At this point I would like to say that some people really should take a bit more care when racing. By all means race to win, go as fast as you can, push yourself – its why we are there after all, but don’t act like a total idiot! The number of people that were trying to run down really muddy banks in inappropriate footwear and just falling over was astounding. Now this in itself doesn’t bother me, if you want to kill yourself I won’t stand in your way, however when you nearly take me down with you I have a problem! If I break my leg doing something stupid fine, but if I break a limb because of someone else and their stupidity I might have a bit more to say about it. Race safely people!

Once we had (safely) navigated some more muddy woods and hills we came to a second slide. This one was shorter but much steeper and it was fast, I shot off the bottom and skidded through yet more mud. It was great fun. Yet more running, yet more hills, some pretty steep, past some cannons (yup cannons) and then through a couple more deep pools.

Getting towards the end of lap one you had some large tires to crawl through and then down to where there were some hay bails (and a friendly marshal) to help you up and over a large box.

At the end of the lap, if you were doing the 10k you took a right and started the second lap, which was pretty much the same as the first, but they did add a few tweaks and changed the course slightly to keep things interesting. First you had to get over what they called the tower – a high obstacle that you had to climb – or do a forfeit run down the field and back. I actually made it over, despite my fear of heights, without too much drama and a little friendly encouragement from my fellow racers. Then it was on back up the first hill.

At the top of the first slide hubby Phil and I paused to pose for the photographer and then it was back off down into hills, woods and mud mud mud.

Myself and Phil Carrington before taking on the second round of slides.
Myself and Phil Carrington before taking on the second round of slides.

The second slide was even faster the second time around, and everything was getting even muddier as more people had travelled the course. We had started to catch up to some of the 5km runners so things were getting a bit busier, but I still felt fairly fresh despite being on the second go round and I was really enjoying myself.

As we got to the end, this time we took the left path, leaving us one final obstacle – a slightly taller A-frame timber structure to climb, then we gave our numbers to the guys doing the timing and went to claim our medals and beers!

Me finished and enjoying a well earned drink in the sunshine
Me finished and enjoying a well earned drink in the sunshine

The day had turned out lovely, which made getting changed much easier – as did my wonderful dryrobe, which I’ve mentioned in other posts. MSB also provided buckets, sponges, soap and water for a quick rub down which was nice as we had a long drive to do after.

The medal for this race is so cool I think it deserves its own picture – it even doubles as a bottle opener.

The Mud Sweat and Beer medal
The Mud Sweat and Beer medal

This was a really fun, enjoyable race, I think I was grinning all the way round. It was over great, challenging terrain, and had some good obstacles. It would be a great race for a first time runner too, as it had a few opt out points where you could take an easier route , for example to avoid the really deep pond. They also allow kids to participate (with a willing adult) in the 5km option so it could be a fun family outing. If I get the chance I will certainly run one again. It was well worth the trip.