Return to Dirty Dozen – Dirty Dozen and Dash April 2015

The first Dirty Dozen weekend of the year dawned bright and breezy, the sun was out, but there was a chill in the air as we got ourselves ready to race. As usual a large number of RPCC people made the trip to the Hop Farm in Kent to run either the 12k or 6k race, or for some of us, both.

Getting ready to start with some of the usual suspects. Photo credit: Tony Jarvis Photography
Getting ready to start with some of the usual suspects: Photo Credit: Tony Jarvis Photography

 

 Dirty Dozen – 12km

We gathered near the start line just before 10am, the atmosphere was buzzing, MC Mark Leinster, getting us all to link arms, jump up and down and shout, this was followed by a warm up run by Bootcamp Revolution, which I completed with my normal gusto, (in other words dancing around and not really doing what I was told) then it was time for Doug “The Beard” Spence to be introduced, count us down and we were off. Starting with a run which took us across some fields and before long we were headed through some trees, mud and into the first of many river wades. This was followed by some high mounds of mud to clamber over.

Clambering over the muddy mounds
Clambering over the muddy mounds

Next came a stretch of running, winding up and down hills until you came to a large wooden box to climb up, over the top and back down the other side before heading down a hill and into “Bitch Ditch” a series of muddy water pools with heaps of slippery mud to try and climb over before you went down the other side back into another murky pit of muddy water.

Coming down one of the banks with a grin
Coming down one of the banks with a grin, Photo Credit: Epic Action Imagery

Once you had negotiated the ditches it was on to the first barbed wire crawl, as usual over some hard and bruising ground. Up until this point I had been running by myself, and I started to wonder why I was bothering, in the back of my mind were the big walls I would be facing at the end, and remembering how demoralised I was when I did the 18km by myself back in September, so I just stopped running! I waited at the end of the barbed wire crawl until I was caught up by my friends Dom Wright, Vince James, Kevin Coda and Ella Roberts. I then continued the race with them.

Once I had joined up with the others I started having much more fun, we weren’t racing for a time or position, we were just there having a laugh and it was wonderful. We hit another river wade, it was energy sapping and felt like it went on forever, every time you climbed out a quick turn and you would be back in again. We did however take the time to pose for a few (hundred) photos!

Taking things seriously with Vince, Dom, Ella and Kev
Taking things seriously with Vince, Dom, Ella and Kev

Once we had finally clambered out of the river and had a bit of a jog, we were under a second set of barbed wire, taking it seriously as always we yet again stopped for a few photos.

Isn't this how everyone does a barbed wire crawl?
Isn’t this how everyone does a barbed wire crawl?

Over some box hurdles next and a bit of a running stretch, where we jogged along at a comfortable pace and had a natter, found ourselves in yet more streams to wade through, then eventually found ourselves at the “screwball scramble.” A very wobbly cargo net strung up between the trees. This is my least favourite dirty dozen obstacle, high up and feeling unstable, the others talked me down and after a couple of hugs we were on our way again, back into more water.

Next was a really long log carry, my log was a manageable weight however and it was without much difficulty that we got round this section, and ran on to find ourselves confronted with the hangover walls. With a boost I was up and over with no problems, but Kev took a knee to the face when he stopped to help another racer. Another jog then took us onto the tyre drag. This was another long section, through uneven ground, water and mud.

Dragging my tyre - I called him Steve
Dragging my tyre – I called him Steve

We finally got to give back our tyres and re-grouped then headed off for another little running section which took us past a rope traverse obstacle that we got directed around by “The Beard” himself, they were just closing it “for maintenance” so we ended up going straight into a section of cold, deep water and eventually to the “smoking barrels” A set of 4 rows of barrels floating on the water that required you to fully submerge yourself. Ella was feeling nervous about these so I took her hand, and positioned her between myself and Dom, counted her down 3, 2, 1 and together we took a deep breath and swam under the first set of barrels.

Coming out from under the barrels with Ella and Dom
Coming out from under the barrels with Ella and Dom

 

The same tactic took us under the other sets of barrels, before we then swam to the edge and clambered back out onto the bank, before getting out though Ella and I recreated a photo we had taken at Nuclear Blackout – although this time photobomed by Vince and Dom.

Posing in the water
Posing in the water

Shortly after the barrels was the sheep dip, three walls set into a pit of water, which again required full submersion, but these didn’t feel too bad after the barrels and the water was certainly warmer! After the sheep dip was the Tarzan bars, which I predictably failed, earning myself 20 burpees, Then we were off heading towards some of the big obstacles that Dirty Dozen is famous for.

The first of these was the containment II, a container with a wooden frame built around it to climb up, the catch being that the frame is built at an outwards angle to make it harder, this was followed by giant wooden A frame and then the irish table, a few leg-ups and we were all over the top. A run around the final field then took us to “Hang ’em Heigh” A tall wall that you climb with the help of a rope. Every other time I have done a DD race I have needed a bit of a push to help me up this, but I’m really proud to say that this time I did it alone.

Climbing up Hang 'em High
Climbing up Hang ’em High

A short trot later we came to the “Bladder Ladder” another very tall wooden structure, that we just had to sit at the top of and have another photo.

Suns out, Guns out!
Suns out, Guns out!

This left us with just a final run down to the last wall. This time they had added a little ledge at the bottom of the wall to make it easier to get over, and there was only this one big wall this time. I needn’t have worried so much at the start of the race. We were finally done and it was time to grab a quick drink, and our race goodies before getting ready to go again for the 6k race.

12km Run Completed
12km Run Completed. Photo Credit: Epic Action Imagery

 

 

Dirty Dash – 6km

This time I again teamed up with some more of my RPCC family, rejoined again by Vince James, along with my frequent training partner Linda Zeberga and Chris Williams. We were going to be taking this slowly, Linda having picked up an injury, Chris also having an incredibly sore ankle, and me with my usual niggles, but despite this, I was about to yet again have a whale of a time.

The race started out the same as the 12km, this time a bit slower and if possible ever more posing. The Bitch Ditch was harder this time, after being churned up by everyone running the 12km earlier in the day, even with superbly grippy shoes I had to be hauled out of the last ditch.

Stopping for a photo on Bitch Ditch
Stopping for a photo on Bitch Ditch Picture courtesy of Tony Jarvis Photography

Under the barbed wire and back into the rivers, not quite so endless this time, but much more muddy, it was more like wading through waist deep sludge rather than water. We spent a conciderable amount of time in here, as we kept stopping for photographs and messing around. Vince going for a full muddy splash, and me thinking it would be a good idea to try and get a piggy back, before knocking both myself and Vince into the mud.

Danger Deep Water
Danger Deep Water. Photo Credit: Tony Jarvis Photography

After wading through the river, under a few bridges, on one of which I managed to bang my head, it was time to clamber back out of the stream and continue on our way. The 6k route skipped out the second barbed wire crawl, tyres, logs and hangover walls, so before too long had passed we were back to deep water swim and  the smoking barrels.

Swimming across the water with Linda, Vince and Chris
Swimming across the water with Linda, Vince and Chris.

At the sheep dip we ran into David Beatty, and once we had posed for yet another photo it was back off to the Tarzan bars, which I fell off yet again, and then it was the home straight over the big walls.

Posing after the sheep dip
Posing after the sheep dip

Again the big walls posed little problem, a little leg up required on the Irish Table from Chris, but the wall with the rope was done on my own again, we predictably stopped for a photo on the bladder ladder and we were nearly done.

Posing again with Linda, Vince and Chris
Posing again with Linda, Vince and Chris

The little run towards the final wall was little more than a slow jog with everyones injuries, aches and pains playing up, and having run 18km, we still arranged it so we could get a picture of all four of us at the top of the final wall before crossing the final finish line.

On the final wall
On the final wall

We were finally done, and got our finishers photo with Doug Spence before going to get our race goodies and bags from the bag drop. There was quite a queue here so I’m glad I had my hubby around to hand me my dryrobe straight away, as there was the potential to get very cold had I left it in the bag drop, but other than this the day was brilliant. I don’t know that I’ve had so much fun at a race before. I can’t wait for my next one.

6km Finishers Photo
6km Finishers Photo

 

 

Judgement Day Copehill Down

Another weekend, another race, and I had been really looking forward to this one, as well as having rave reviews last year it was also going to be a chance to catch up with a lot of people that I hadn’t seen for a long time. My husband and I decided to make a trip of this so headed down to stay nearby the day before which meant very little rushing around the next morning, so with a reasonably relaxed start we were off to the race site.

Race Description

We arrived around the same time as the boys from home I would be running with, and got registered with ease. The race was a 10mile obstacle race, at the end of which your time is stopped and you get to go round the confidence course. Copehill Down has a FIBUA village training area (fighting in built up areas), which we would be climbing up, around and through, this was going to test my fear of heights to the limit. The race would also involve the infinity jump, a relatively short leap, but onto a lowered platform that I promise felt very far and high once you were up there. This had been filling me with fear for days but as it wasn’t until the end I was enjoying catching up with people at the start of the race until it was time to set off.

Before the race with a bunch of likeminded nutters
Before the race with a bunch of likeminded nutters

I’m sure there was a warm up and briefing but I was too busy chatting to a lot of different people to notice, and suddenly I found myself on the start line, I frantically found Dom Wright, Bob Cornford and Kevin Coda whom I was running with and we were off.

The Race

We set off at a comfortable jog, along Salisbury Plain, eventually coming to the first barbed wire craw, through a very muddy puddle, and following a bit more running a bucket carry. The buckets were full of gravel and felt really heavy. I managed to hoist it up onto my shoulder but as we made our way round the course took us into some mud pits, the bucket came down and I was pretty stuck, it took me some time to haul myself and my bucket back out again.

Bucket Carry, and a little chat with the lovely Laura Dudley
Bucket Carry, and a little chat with the lovely Laura Dudley

 

Once we had deposited the buckets there was more running before coming to a rope climb, that I never really had a hope at anyway, but slippery and thick with mud was impossible, I could barely even hang off it. One of these days I will learn to climb a rope!

Attempting the rope climb with Bob, Kev and Dom
Attempting the rope climb with Bob, Kev and Dom

We continued round the well marked course, sticking together as a team of 4, with lots of silly banter and singing, the latter mostly from Dom, although Kev did give a rather beautiful rendition of a One Direction song, We ran on until we hit the tyre carry. After the buckets this seemed like child’s play, and  we navigated this section fairly quickly.

The tyre carry with Bob, Dom and Kev
The tyre carry with Bob, Dom and Kev

Shortly after the tyres came the monkey bars, I gave these a go, but slipped off the first rung, landing awkwardly on my ankle. I didn’t seem badly hurt however and was able to walk it off while I watched the boys have much more successful attempts than me. I did grab a cheeky mid-race hug with the lovely Will Fyfe while I waited though.

Mid race hugs are always good
Mid race hugs are always good

Following on from the monkey bars we had a second muddy barbed wire crawl, some parallel bars to swing across, some low hurdles broke up the running and then a wooded section with some walls to climb under, through and over, a bit of a leg up from the boys and these were completed no problem. Down a hill and we were handed a rubber band to put around our ankles, Kev and I had done this before at Borden, and it was with amusement we penguin waddled around the short wooded section. Unfortunately this obstacle really aggravated an injury I have been carrying in my hip, and the running from this point started to get very difficult.

Happy in the mud

Happy in the mud

After these we crested another hill to find ourselves faced with a hoist. I have never struggled with hoists before but this one required us to lift one of the infamous sandbags using a rope and it was heavier than it looked. I got my sandbag to the top in the end with a lot of help from Dom, who came to give me a hand after finishing his own lift.

Hoisting the sandbag with a little help from Dom
Hoisting the sandbag with a little help from Dom

This wasn’t the last we were going to see of the sandbags either, We hit the sandbag carry and hoisting the up onto our shoulders we carried them down a hill, over a wall and back up the other side, a mercifully short carry when compared with Borden. At the wall we saw the 9mile marker and knew we didn’t have to much further to go (although we had been told before the start that the course was going to exceed the published 10miles).

Sandbag slinging with Dom
Sandbag slinging with Dom

We made our way round the last section of the course, coming across a platinum rig, which we all fell from at some point, with the exception of Dominic, who even stuck in a couple of pull-ups at the end (show off). We were also given a concrete block to drag through some mud, and somewhere in there we also had a tyre flip and a tyre drag. When we got to the 10mile marker we decided to stop for a photo before heading up back towards the main village.

10 miles - and the rest!
10 miles – and the rest!

As we came back into the FIBUA village we were stopped at a buzzer toy, which you had to complete or take a forfeit run over some low walls. We didn’t do to well at this, once again only Dom completed it, but he stuck with us as we hopped over the walls, then took the run to the timing mats which finished the “race” portion of the day.

Coming across the finishing mats
Coming across the finishing mats

This wasn’t the end of the course though, now we were about to hit the part I had been both looking forward to and dreading in equal measure. We made our way into the FIBUA village and were taken up a ladder, over a roof, onto another ladder and into one of the buildings. My fear of heights taking over I was shaking and this was no where near the worst of it. Eventually we came to the two girders up high between two buildings, I had actually had nightmares about this leading up to the race, Dom went first then I was up, I crawled out, and quickly backwards again, hardly able to breath I was so scared, a quick re-group and I tried again, the guys giving me the encouragement I needed, and after what felt like a decade I was there and Dom was pulling me through the window of the second building.

Crawling between the buildings
Crawling between the buildings

Hyperventilating now I had a little time to regain composure while Kev and Bob made their way over, Bob also successfully battling his fear of heights, then it was into a set of small tunnels. This time I went first, with Dom this time facing his fears of inclosed spaces, I was chattering to him constantly and telling him what was coming up, once we were out of the tunnels it was my turn to freak out again as we headed up into the rafters of yet another building.

Up in the rafters with Dom
Up in the rafters with Dom

With barley a moment to catch my breath there it was, the infinity jump, and with a bit of a queue my plan of just get up there and jump without thinking about it was out the window. I followed Dom up the ladder and onto the platform. Dom made it look easy and then it was my turn. It looked miles, and felt very high. I geared up to jump, then bottled it, tried again, and once again changed my mind. The marshal there was brilliant, really encouraging and getting the spectators to shout encouragement as well. I closed my eyes and decided there was no way I was going to fail this now, took another deep breath, Kev was below and called out 3, 2, 1… a pause, then I finally leaped off the platform. I landed on the second platform and was caught in Dom’s arms. I had made it, I was sobbing, Dom had me in a huge hug, I then did the most ungraceful jump down off the lower platform landing on my arse, and stood shaking and trying to remember how to breath again, while we waited for Bob and Kev to make their jumps.

Making my Jump
Making my Jump

After we were all safely off the infinity jump it was a stooped run through some barbed wire topped trenches and a last couple of crawls though some small concrete tunnels and we were finally finished, clutching our medals and t-shirts we had our final finishers photo before going to get changed out of our muddy gear.

Finished
Finished

This race did not disappoint, it was tough, it was fun, and it forced us to face our fears. Thanks Judgement Day, looking forward to the next one.

Muddy Race Virtual 10k

Having finally recovered from running the Hastings Half Marathon followed the day after by the Nuclear Races Virtual 5k, Kevin Coda and I met in the park to run a virtual 10km put together by the guys at Muddy Race.

Kev and I ready to start running
Kev and I ready to start running

The Brief

This brief asked you to run 10km anywhere you like, with 15 reps of a different exercise each kilometre, to simulate different obstacles in a race.

You can complete the run as many times as you like in the 4 weeks that the race is open and log your times on the leaderboard, if you are of a particularly competitive persuasion, I, however, will only be doing it once, I just want the bling!

Our scrappy list of exercises to complete
Our scrappy list of exercises to complete

Our Run

We set out on a meandering route around the park, not really worried about where we were running as long as we covered the distance, when Kev’s watch beeped us we stopped to do our walking lunges before carrying on. It was a nice day for a run, really windy but the sun was shining and in sheltered parts of the park it really was quite warm.

As we headed up towards the back end of the park we couldn’t resist hitting some of the trails rather than sticking to the paved areas, although both of us were soon shouting about wearing the wrong shoes for this!  Another kilometer down and we stopped to complete our press-ups before moving on.

As we made our way down one of the trail routes we found that the aforementioned wind, which had been howling around Hastings for the last 24hrs at least, had brought down a rather large tree in our path. Rather than turn back we opted to find our way over and through it, although this rather messed up our time, it was more fun and neither of us was bothered about our place on the leaderboard.

Finding my way through the tree
Finding my way through the tree

We eventually got past the fallen debris and completed our next set of exercises, finding a nice muddy patch to sit in and complete our sit-up twists.

The rest of the run was reasonably uneventful, other than having to dodge numerous dog walkers and slip sliding through some more muddy patches with more shouts of “Wrong shoes, Wrong shoes!”

We completed each allocated exercise every kilometre, looping round to the entrance of the park a few times to make up the distance, finishing with star jumps at the end by the park gate.

Triumphantly completed
Triumphantly completed

We logged a time of 1:11:43, not too bad considering the tree pit-stop and the fact that neither Kev nor myself are particularly quick or gifted at any of the exercises. This was a fun way to train, with a medal to come through the post as an added bonus.

10km Completed
10km Completed – spot the tree on the splits 😉