The first weekend in December dawned cold as I got ready to take on the first of three races in this month before the year draws to a close.
We took a road trip back up to Daventry to take on my second Mud, Sweat and Beer race of the year, only this time there would be the added challenge of the cold to contend with.
This time the race was set at Hellidon Lakes golf course and hotel. Registration was inside the hotel, where they had carefully laid down a lot of plastic sheeting that probably wasn’t going to cut it once we got all muddy, it was lovely and warm inside, which saved us from freezing before we had even started. We arrived with plenty of time so registration was straightforward, however with a number of people apparently making changes to their registrations on the day the queue quickly got longer and the race ended up being pushed back half an hour.
The race had the option of either 5km or 10km, and we had opted for the full 10km, which would take us on two laps of the course. While we were waiting we got some before photos taken in a Photo-booth, which was a nice touch, they posted these photos to Facebook, but also gave you a print out to keep.
A little later than advertised we were off up the hill from the hotel and gathered near the start line to do a warm up involving running around, rolling on the ground, burpees and sit-ups, then it was finally time to go.
We set off for a bit of a run, and this allowed us to warm up nicely as the temperature was really cold, as we ran round the golf course we came to a low metal A frame which was easily navigated, followed by a run down into some woods where some taller wooden ladders waited for us to climb up and over, along with some bungee rope strung amongst some trees to make a spiders web to weave under over and through.
It wasn’t long before we hit the first section of water. There were several lakes to navigate in this race, and my goodness were they cold. That first section of water took my breath away and left me gasping. It was deep too, no option but to swim or turn back, so immersed up to my neck I swam and splashed across to the other side, pulling myself out and trying to force some air back into my lungs. At this point it became clear just how good my Inov-8 merino wool base layer was, a short amount of running and I had returned to a reasonable temperature, but this was short lived as we hit the second lake.
As we splashed in and out of different depths of water, one lake had a slide into it that we had to miss out and take the “opt out” route as something had happened to it, other than that I ignored the marshals pointing out the easy option as I splashed yet again into freezing water. At one of the deeper crossings it started to heave down with rain, which turned to hail stones in short order, and boy was it cold! The hail stopped almost as soon as it started though and the sun peeped out, leaving a beautiful rainbow overhead as I continued to run.
After pulling out of the next section of water, a muddy wade took us to a concrete tunnel to crawl through, then up through some muddy woods. A pretty steep hill which I watched everyone near me walk up (myself included) and then a crawl followed by a couple of wooden A-frames, up a bit more of a hill saw us coming back towards the starting point.
As you came back towards the start you detoured off over some slippery rocks, and once you had managed to navigate these you took on a couple of tall obstacles, Once you had to climb up using some thin wooden slats, then a tall metal A-frame, a slope with a rope to climb followed by a second A-frame.
Once over the top of these there was a set of monkey bars, which I’m not great at, at the best of times, but with fingers numb with cold and even less grip than usual I swung straight off them and ran on towards the start, through the tunnel marked 10km and off onto my second lap.
At the start of the second lap you had to climb over the tall tower obstacle that I had struggled to get onto back in the summer, with a few more races behind me now, I actually managed this unaided and was quickly over the top, despite my fear of high obstacles. As I clambered down a spectator told me I was the first girl they had seen, and this spurred me on as I set off again.
Back through the woods and over the wooden ladders, with a bonus one thrown in for the second lap, all I could think about was having to go through that water again, my hands were so cold, despite my excellent gloves, that the ends of my fingers were painful, the rest of me was holding up reasonably well though, but as I got to the first lake it was with some trepidation that I threw myself, yet again, into the freezing water.
As I got round to the concrete tunnel for the second time, I had started to catch up with some of the 5km runners, and I paused to help a lady up a muddy bank. The mud was thicker and more slippery now that so many more people had been round churning it up. At one point the grip on my shoes failed me and I slid onto my backside down a hill, but got up and staggered on. Up the killer hill again and round for the final bit of the course.
Another swing and a miss at the monkey bars and I was done, giving my number to the marshals at the end and crawling through the final tunnel. I wanted to wait for the boys to finish, but it was just to cold, so I took myself off down to the hotel to get my bag and warm up.
Before getting changed I jumped into the photo booth to get an after shot, then took advantage of the fact you could have a hot shower for £2.50 before putting on as many layers as I could and heading back down to enjoy my post race beer with the boys.
At this point we weren’t sure what position I had come, with only the spectators word from my first lap, I knew I’d not been overtaken on my second, so we waited around to hear the results. I was beyond chuffed when it was confirmed that I had indeed taken first place for the ladies 18-39 category so still chilly, but happy, we finally headed to the car for the long drive home.