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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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 😉