Judgement Day Borden

After arriving home rather later than I had intended on Saturday night following our day racing in London, the 5.30am alarm was not a welcome sound. I blundered around getting my kit together and running slightly late, staggered out the door with my hair undone and barely awake. Race two of the weekend was upon me and it was time to go!

Tired, not really ready, but about to head out the door
Tired, not really ready, but about to head out the door

Race Description

As we made the 2 hour journey from Hastings to Borden the weather was getting worse and worse, the rain was coming down and it was a bit miserable when we arrived.

This race was set at a MOD tank training ground, with 10 miles of both sandy and boggy terrain to run through. This race was always going to be tough, with their first race having great reviews, but the miserable weather and cold was going to add an extra challenge, before you even consider I was already tired from running the day before.

It was cold and wet when we arrived, so the customary hanging around and taking stupid photos was replaced with sitting in the car trying to keep warm until it was time to run.

The Race

We set off at 10am, the rain was coming down and so I set off at a run to try and get warm, quickly losing Phil and Kev who I was running with as they got held up behind me. We were straight into a section of water, water never really bothers me so I splashed past people, trying to keep my footing on the uneven ground.

We shortly came to a set of low hurdles, which should have been easy, but I somehow got my foot caught on the first one and fell right over it, giving the people around me a laugh. I managed the rest without any drama though and carried on round to the tyre carry.

Here was the first of a set of letters we needed to remember also adding a mental challenge to the physical ones we were facing. I managed the tyre carry no problem, but as I splashed through the water at the end and my tyre was taken off me, I got turned around, and unfortunately the marshal was not paying attention, and I somehow ended up going round the tyre carry section for a second time. This meant I was now somewhere behind the boys without much hope of catching up. A bit of a run followed with some round hay-bails to get up, difficult as there was nothing to grip. I managed this by myself on my third attempt and set off again.

As we ran back towards the event village for the first time we hit a set of monkey bars, where I managed to get about half way before falling off, we then looped back out for more running, and a concrete block drag, before coming back to the same obstacle but on the other side for the hang tough rings, which I, as is customary, fell straight off!

After falling off the rings
After falling off the rings

Following the hang tough we were confronted with the sandbags, red for the boys, blue for the girls. I hoisted mine up onto my back and it already felt heavy and uncomfortable, I set off for what felt like the longest carry ever conceived by man. Part way round the sandbag carry I finally caught up with Kev and we carried on together, the sandbag causing me to slow down more and more, my arms cramping and screaming and my shoulders and neck aching. We came to some barbed wire, another letter to remember, and down we went, dragging the sandbags along with us, heaving the bag back onto my shoulders I carried on staggering round the section, next coming across a waist high wall, tossing the sandbag over I struggled to find the strength in my arms to follow it, but once over having to pick that bag up again was a new kind of torture!

About to go over the wall with my Sandbag
About to go over the wall with my Sandbag

A final push up a small hill before the blissful relief of dumping the bad and grabbing some water. The next section of running felt great without the sandbag on my back, until we hit the boggy mud that is, one wrong step and you were in upto your hip.

We hit a second tyre, this time you had to drag it using a rope, then run it back out to where it started, and the next time we hit the event village it was for a hideous (In my “I hate hights” opinion) obstacle that involved us climbing up a rickety rope ladder, over a net strung high over the metal rigging and then down the other side. I was very relieved to get my feet back on solid ground!

Coming down back towards the ground.
Coming down back towards the ground.

As we headed back out away from the main village again we faced walls of different types, several sections of incredibly boggy mud and wades through water, all the time with the relentless rain.

Wading past some tanks With Kev Coda
Wading past some tanks With Kev Coda

As we made our way round other obstacles that we faced were a  run through a tank bath which ended with parallel bars, by this point I felt like I had no strength left, but at least I tried!

Kev and I coming up to the tank wash
Kev and I coming up to the tank wash

As we made our way round more running we came to one of the most unusual obstacles I’ve come across, we were handed a band which we had to put around our legs, where we had to do what can only be described as a penguin wobble around a short section of course, made even more interesting by having to navigate yourself over a tree across the path. Neither Kev or I seemed to be thinking straight at this point and both managed to come up with the least efficient way over, before watching someone else effortlessly roll over the top of it! This part really was quite fun.

We came round to another wall, with no one there I just copied the guy in front of me going under it, before passing the unmanned water station and carrying on. At the bucket carry I was handed a reasonably light bucket – a lot of sand seemed to have been dumped out as the day had gone on. At this point I lost Kev again and I was just to cold by now to wait around so I carried on alone.

I was getting really tired now, but there wasn’t too much left. A tyre flip and another run took me to the final obstacle, where you had to give the word spelled out by the letters “Sandbag” and (in my case attempt) a rope climb.  This just left a sprint finish, through one last bit of water, and across the line. A welcome hug and a foil blanket waited for me as well as my medal.

Finished!
Finished!

This was one tough race, even without the rain slashing down all day, and my only real criticism is that as well as at the tyre carry there were a few times where we got a bit lost in the course marking, which in fairness may have started off OK and gotten worse throughout the day. Luckily most of the time there had been a marshal to put me right before I ended up going the complete wrong way. Overall it was a great, challenging, race and I’m really looking forward to more Judgement Day action in December for the team event – what I’m not looking forward to is more sandbags 😉

Rat Race: Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest

Up early on a cold and damp Saturday morning in November meant another race day had dawned, so it was on with my kit, bag packed with supplies and off to the train station to meet up with some friends before travelling up to London to take on Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest with Team Muddy Race.

Race Description

Survival of the Fittest London is a 10km urban obstacle race run around Wembley Stadium. Three trains and several dodgy conversations later and we were at the registration tent, where we were told by one of the volunteers that we knew that the Muddy Race team were gathering in the bar so once we had got through the well organised registration we headed off to the bar where we were greeted with some rather lovely cakes (Muddy Races 3rd Birthday) and a lot of hugs and laughs.

Team Muddy Race getting ready to run
Team Muddy Race getting ready to run

With cake and maybe a little bit of beer before we started off, it was clear that we were all about to take this race really seriously, so with game faces on we made our way to the warm up area.

Taking the warm up seriously
Taking the warm up seriously

The Race

We waited until the back of our wave to allow for pictures of us setting off, then jogged up to the first obstacle which was a set of hay bails, followed by a vault up and over a lorry. It was clear from the offset that this race was going to be nothing but fun, with a group of 12 of us all sticking together and generally being a bit silly.

Team Muddy Race bringing up the rear
Team Muddy Race bringing up the rear

This was a great venue for a race, weaving your way around the iconic Wembley stadium, up right around the outside, we stopped to pose for the go-pro in front of the “Green Car Park” sign, then a giant cone carry up and down some of the many stairs. A slip and slide down one of the ramps and a quick pit stop on top of the hay bales at the bottom to pose for an official group picture, somewhat annoying the guys behind us as we blocked the obstacle a bit – oops.

After this we headed out away from the stadium where they even found some mud for us to get dirty in and some water to wade through.

A sandbag carry under some fencing, through mud, up a slight hill, with road shoes on was more difficult than it should have been, but a slide on top of the sandbag back down the other side was quite fun (probably not the way you were supposed to do it). A bit of criss-crossing some water, getting out through some slippery mud. A slide through some inflatables that must have been a bit more impressive earlier in the day as when we got there most of them had been deflated.

As we came down one section I was told by one of the guys who had already run once that next up was a basket ball dunk – I thought this was a joke as we were about to pass a small court, however that was exactly what you had to do, three attempts to shoot a hoop – I failed!

A bit of messing around on top of a table and a stop off in a play park to go on the slide (We thought we would add in a few more obstacles) and we were having a blast, and impressively managing to keep all 12 of us together.

There was a climb down some ladders into a stream to wade through, which gave me a wobble from the height, a really dark storm drain to run through, with everyone around whooping in the dark. A little later I was told we were going into the disco room – again I thought this was a joke, but into an industrial unit we went, which was dark, filled with smoke, pumping music with strobe lights. We danced our way through and back out again before heading back towards the stadium.

The obstacles were packed together towards the end, we climbed up and down tall towers, up ramps and over platforms, always finding time for a cheeky photo opp.

Bit of a pose on top of an obstacle
Bit of a pose on top of an obstacle

As we weaved around the final obstacles, we were taken into the beer tent carrying a keg, and then we hit a lot of walls. With a big team it was no problem, helping each other up and over walls and up the big pyramid at the end.

At the bottom of the pyramid
At the bottom of the pyramid

We had a crawl through a tyre mangle which looked like it had claimed more than its fair share of peoples race numbers (thankful for my X-Racewear shorts as I’ve not lost a number all year) and a splash through a pit of water and we were nearly done.

Popping out of the tyres
Popping out of the tyres
About to take the plunge
About to take the plunge

Finally all that was left was the Wall of Fame, we all helped each other over, in fact I was lifted bodily from the ground by Mark Allen and Ben Weeding pulling me up by my arms, then we gathered for a group finish.

About to cross the line
About to cross the line

I can honestly say this was one of the most fun races I’ve done. It seemed to take no time at all to cover the distance, and I barley noticed the miserable weather.

When we were finished there were more cakes and drinks before we headed off for a well earned team Nandos!

Enjoying a Muddy Race Birthday Cake
Enjoying a Muddy Race Birthday Cake

(Most photos courtesy of Rob Foulkes from Muddy Race – check out their website for everything OCR)

Nuclear Races: Nuclear Fallout

November has dawned, meaning just two months left of the year of challenges. The first November race saw me heading once again to Essex to take on my final Nuclear race of the year, Nuclear Fallout.

Race Description

Although I was running this race alone, joining me on the road trip to Essex was my husband and two of my best friends who were coming as my support team.

In the car, excited, on the way to Nuclear Fallout with Philip Carrington, Heidi Jones and Garry Stapley
In the car, excited, on the way to Nuclear Fallout with Philip Carrington, Heidi Jones and Garry Stapley

Having really enjoyed all the other Nuclear races, I was really excited about this run. I was taking on the full 16km option, although you could also opt for a shorter 8km. Experience told me it would be muddy, and add to that the rain that was slashing down, and the fact that I was running in a late wave meaning the course would be even more churned up, I was ready to get good and filthy.

We arrived with plenty of time, as this time I needed to collect my timing chip, and the registration queue was really long. That being said it didn’t take too long to get through the queue and everything seemed well organised.

After watching the first few elite runners come in, the rain had more or less stopped and it was about time to get warmed up to go.

The Race

The race started with a warm up, this one seemed to be a particularly fun one, now if you have read any of my other blogs you might know that I rarely take the warm ups seriously, and this was no different, however I gleefully joined in jumping, clapping and screaming “we love mud” along with everyone else, and before long we were off. As with rush after a short run it was straight into some cold water before hauling yourself out again with the help of some wooden slats, and straight through a second muddy ditch. Hitting the water so soon was cold, I was starting to think my decision to leave off my base layer was a bad one, but once I got running I soon got warm.

Crawling out of the muddy ditch
Crawling out of the muddy ditch

It wasn’t long before we hit a wall to clamber over, I was lucky to reach it about the same time as Richard Playford, a fellow RPCC runner who gave me a quick boost allowing me to carry on quickly and off through some trees and more mud. From the offset I was loving this race. I felt better running than I had for a long time and was genuinely enjoying pushing myself through the mud, despite running alone, which I usually hate.

With around 60 obstacles I know I am going to miss a lot out, and the start of the race is particularly hazy especially as my support team hadn’t caught me yet so I have no pictures to jog my memory.

When I reached the obstacle “Aquaphobia” a clamber into and out of a muddy ditch was required first, where I could see people struggling to get up, despite the ropes and help from people at the top, and I was a little worried as my new shoes don’t quite have the same grip as my old ones, however I got there, grabbed a rope, and a couple of guys at the top helped to pull on the rope as I pulled myself up from the bottom and I breezed up past the others, impressing the guys at the top and earning myself a couple of high fives and a muddy hug. Then it was on to the obstacle itself, you had to make your way across a plank, which people were shuffling across on their bums, I took one looks and said to the guy behind me “wouldn’t it be easier to walk?” Which is exactly what I did, It was slow going as the people in front were still shuffling, and I’m not sure where this sudden bout of bravery came from as It was high enough over some water to give me some qualms, but the guys behind me followed suit and it was certainly quicker than trying to bum shuffle across. Then it was a jump onto a platform which again should have freaked me out but on this day I just went for it, this was followed by a bigger jump onto a soft raft type thing a meter or so below, I sat on the edge of the platform then just gave myself a mental shake, stood back up and jumped – easy!  Feeling pumped at my own bravery I got straight up and on, over the tyre wall which was stupidly slippery with mud, but that I still seemed to get over quickly. I’m honestly not sure what happened to me in this race but I was just going for it and having a blast!

Eventually the 8km and the 16km course split and the amount of “traffic” drastically reduced and as I headed on towards the hang tough I actually started to overtake people who looked like they must have been in an earlier wave. I gave the hang tough a good go, but ended up splashing into the water, which wasn’t a great surprise! Then running on for a bit we hit the log carry. Nuclear races do like a long log carry, and this one was in a spiral that seemed never ending, I still found time to pose a bit with my log for the photographer – about the only one I actually noticed on my way round. Once you finally found the centre you were confronted with two walls. You popped your log into a marked out area, got over the walls (a bit of a hold up at the second wall was a bit frustrating) then grabbed your log again and started making your way back out of the spiral again. Once you were finally free it was off over a tree and on for a bit more of a run, where my support crew finally caught up with me for a bit, and it was nice to be cheered on.

Enjoying a run
Enjoying a run

 

Eventually I made it to the gorilla bars and did about as well as last time – hands slick with mud I was straight off and into the muddy trenches, jumping and and clambering out with glee. Once past these it was onto the “Miles of Mud” cargo nets. I hit these at the same time as another guy, so we banded together to help each other keep the nets up, and I certainly got through them much quicker than I did at rush. The knee protectors I had brought came into their own here as my knees still bare the scars from last time, however having chosen not to wear gloves at this race, this time my hands did take a bit of a beating from the sharp stones in the mud.

Absolutely caked in mud now I nodded goodbye to my net friend as he waited from some others and moved on. before long the course wound back to meet the 8km runners again and traffic started to increase. As the course met up again it was time for the back-scratcher obstacle that was at Blackout, where you slid on your back up a hill, with water pelting your face as you use the net above you to pull yourself up. Again still baring the scars from last time I wasn’t the most overjoyed to see this again, but I didn’t let that stop me dive under the net and drag myself up.

Next up was the bit I had been waiting for, the zip line and death slide. My team of photographers had caught me up again and I was pleased there was not such a big queue as we had encountered at Rush, so I grabbed the rope, had to wait a bit for a marshal who was having trouble with someone else’s zip line, but it wasn’t too long before I was zooming out over the lake and having the time of my life.

Hitting the water on the zipline
Hitting the water on the zipline

It was over the next section of water, this time no annoying net to clamber over but a bridge, then there it was, the death slide, I climbed up the tyres, sat on the edge, looked down, hesitated for half a beat, but then remembered I had done this before and flung myself over the edge. Weeeeee it was as good as I remembered, I flung my arms up into the air at the end yelling happily as I crashed into the water, and with no one landing on my head this time I swam off towards the rope to pull myself out of the water.

Beautiful picture of me coming off the slide (Picture courtesy of Nuclear Races)
Beautiful picture of me coming off the slide (Picture courtesy of Nuclear Races)

The clamber out over slippery mud was followed by the smelly, bubbling manure pit, through this, and now covered in black sludge it was onto the rope traverse, in all honesty I took this a little over confidently and had a bit of a wobble and a giggle in the middle before regaining my balance and getting across to the other side.

Rope Traverse
Rope Traverse

After the rope traverse the next place my support crew caught me was as I rolled so elegantly over some low hay-bails and onto a tall wooden ladder that was slick with mud, and I clung to for dear life as I made my way up and down it.

Still loving heights
Still loving heights

This was followed by a box to clamber over and then a run along to a cargo net slung over an A-frame, which wasn’t too bad to get over. A bit more running, and some wading through some more thick mud and we got to a section of large tyres that you had to climb in and out of before coming to a rope swing over another muddy pit – swing, splat!

Clambering out of the muddy tyres
Clambering out of the muddy tyres

The course wound us back round some woodland and more mud until, absolutely covered, the event village appeared again, and the large walls from blackout with the ropes faced me. There was a huge queue at one of them, but hardly anyone at the second wall, I couldn’t work out why as I headed for the second wall and grabbed the rope, I gave myself a huge heave – at blackout I had needed help with this each time, but I had no handy friends about this time so I composed myself then somehow managed to hook my leg up onto the next slat and using that as an anchor and the rope I got myself up to the next level, where I had to sit for a bit as I had awful cramp in my leg. Suddenly a guy was next to me checking I was OK, and with words of encouragement I got myself up the next bit to the top of the wall, then under my new friends watchful eye I got over the top and back down. It was lovely of him to check I was going to get safely over, but I’m massively proud that I did it alone, without help. I found out after why that side was less popular – it was higher and harder!

My at the top, with my new friend keeping an eye on me to make sure I didn't fall off
My at the top, with my new friend keeping an eye on me to make sure I didn’t fall off

It wasn’t long before I was round to the firemans pole, another obstacle that scares me, as I got to the top of the cargo container the poles were attached, I just though, you’ve done this before, and without (much) hesitation I was off and down the pole.

Coming down the fireman's pole
Coming down the fireman’s pole

This was followed by the dreaded quarter pipe, I wasn’t looking forward to falling down this several times, and there was only one marshal at the top to catch me, but I took a run up, grabbed his hand, the photographer ran over to help and grabbed my other hand, then leg as I swung it up, and I was over first time, all be it with a few bruises that I could already feel.

Running up the pipe
Running up the pipe

It was a bit demoralising at this point, having been in the event village to be taken back out and up a muddy hill, but I was still loving every minuet of this race. The wooden stepping stone obstacle, the name of which escapes me, that I had slipped off every one at Rush, I managed with ease, I don’t know where this new ability to balance has come from but I like it! There was also a set of really muddy steep hills to work your way up and down with the use of ropes. Here is where I met the most traffic, as people were taking it really slowly (not that I blame them). It was really slippery by now, but frustrating to get so caught up. After the hills at the race in America though I took on these with reckless abandon, although this was silly as although no where near as big, they were slippery as hell! Once finally clear of the hills I was glad to be moving on.

Once back near the event village for the final push, there was a muddy crawl under a tunnel, which I popped out of grinning to find my friends snapping away.

Cheeky grin as I crawl through the mud
Cheeky grin as I crawl through the mud

This was followed by a tyre mangle that I squeezed myself through with all the grace of a muddy slug, and then up and over a tower of hay-bails, before hitting the final obstacle, a balance beam with muddy punch bags  suspended above it. Again I assumed I would slip right off this one, but actually managed it easily and quickly, and feeling happy I set off up the hill towards the finish line.

Coming off the final obstacle
Coming off the final obstacle

Not sure I quite managed a sprint finish, but I did run up the final hill to come across the finish line with a massive smile. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this but I LOVED this race, from start to muddy finish.

Finished!
Finished!

Once finished it was time to grab a medal, have a picture and then get a quick wash down in the handy bath tubs thoughtfully provided, then a rinse in the warm shower before being given a t-shirt and a shot of Nuclear Races own sloe gin, followed by a cup of warm tea,

Always time for a quick bath
Always time for a quick bath

This has to be my absolute favourite race of the year (I should add so far, as there are still a few to go) I would recommend to anyone to come and give any of the Nuclear races a go, they have all been excellent. On a personal level this was the best I had felt physically running a race for a long time, I enjoyed it, I felt strong and had a great race. Nuclear Races – Thank you for another awesome race.