An absolutely beautiful weekend dawned in mid July bringing with it a double race weekend at Pippingford Park for Judgement Day. A 10km race for Saturday, followed by a 20km race on the Sunday. Since I couldn’t decide which race I should do, I opted to run both over the two days.
We arrived really early at the race site having had a really good journey to Pippingford, so we hung around in the sunshine doing what we usually do, taking selfies and chatting to whoever was around, until it was time to (pretend to) warm up and take our place on the start line.
I set off running with Kevin Coda, my running buddy for the day, down a short hill, before turning and coming back up and encountering the first obstacle, as the course weaved up and down the field there were a set of low hurdles, Kev slightly ahead of me, as I cleared the first hurdle I looked up and found Kev on the floor clutching his ankle. It was looking a bad, he couldn’t stand, one of the people on the sidelines called over a medic while I watched feeling helpless. After a quick assessment by the fantastic medic, Kev decided to get up and see if he could walk, we walked down to the end of the field, at this point now last in our wave, jogged slowly back up the other side and got over the next hurdle without any more drama and Kev decided he could continue.
We slowly started picking up the pace again as much as Kevin’s ankle would allow, and as we were directed into the first section of water we had caught back up to the end of our wave. We picked our way though the water and clambered out the other side, up a bank to be greeted with what turned out to be a very long tyre carry. We hitched the tyres onto our shoulders and started weaving around the side of the hill in what felt like a random way, but turned out to map the JD trident logo if you had on GPS to track the route.
The tyre carry was followed by a bit more running, and water wades before coming back around into the event village where you had to jump into and clamber out of a set of deep water filled ditches, a slurp of water and then it was a crawl through a muddy, watery trench covered with a cargo net, then through a pond before heading back out of the event village again.
As we were running through a section of bracken by the side of a lake though disaster struck for a second time as Kevin rolled his ankle for a second time, and this time the pain wouldn’t subside. As we helplessly watched all the people we had managed to overtake run back past us, some people offered to tell the next marshal, and once Kev could stand again I helped him to hobble onwards. We slowly managed to get out of the bracken and onto a wider path, where we were met by a marshal in a golf cart. I waited while Kev chatted to the guy and decided what he wanted to do. We were not even half way yet, Kev told me to go on but I refused to leave him if he was staying on the course, he decided to carry on, but two steps past the golf buggy and it was clear this would be a massive mistake. I stepped in and told him he had to stop. Eventually he agreed and good thing too as we later found out it was a break. Now I was on my own.
I jogged down to the next obstacle which was a sandbag hoist and got on with the job at hand. Since hurting my own ankle my personal trainer has had me slinging a lot of weights around, and this had clearly payed off a bit, as I was able to hoist the snadbag fairly quickly without help (at Copehill, I had needed the help of my friend Dom to get it off the ground).
A slackline over a river was followed by what felt like a long slog with a sandbag on my shoulders up a hill and down the other side, with a hop over a low wall, and a couple of trenches, before eventually coming to a lake crossing where you had to swim out to a high platform, hoist yourself up a net then down a ladder the otherside.
A set of monkey bars earned me my first time penalty, Judgement Day had decided that for some obstacles there would be a 2min time penalty added if you could not complete it, as this was a qualifying race for the UK OCR championships. I like this idea for fairness but it still has its drawbacks, in this case I managed to get halfway across the bars and was so proud of this as it was the furthest I have ever got in a race on the monkey bars, but was happy to give my number to take my penalty for failing, what irritated me though was a woman I had managed to catch up again after stopping with Kev just walked up to them went “nah I cant do them” took her time penalty and just ran off without even attempting it, leaving me to catch her again, but both with the same amount of time added, this is just a small irritation though.
There were a set of overhang walls, and later an 8ft wall, that I managed to get a boost over, some under and over walls and a drag of a tyre up a hill before running it back down, then it was the last loop back into the event village again.
The end of the race included a low rope traverse over a pit, followed by a rope climb out of a muddy, water filled pit. I gave it a go, but as usual was unable to hoist myself up the rope so took another time penalty here. Up a tall mound of loose dirt, and down the other side, and then finally a set of hang tough rings to take you to the finish. I swung straight off the rings to take my final time penalty then ran over the finish line.
The next day it was another early start back to Pippingford for the second day of racing. Again we arrived nice and early so registration was quick and we spent some time chatting as the sun began to come out.
In this race I was going to be running with Dom Wright, Lee Cote and Syz Goss, with the plan of taking it easy and having fun while we got around the 20km course.
The start of the 20km race was the same as the day before over the hurdles and into the muddy water before hitting the tyre carry, taking this at a fast walk rather than a run and still finding time to pose with our tyres as we made our way around the trident.
In short order we were back into the event village taking on the trenches and wading through the pond, where Syz and I decided to do a bit of tongue in cheek posing in our Mudstacle and Muddy Race t-shirts.
After this it was back into the woods, through the bracken where I had lost Kev the day before, back round to the hoist, slack line over the river and in what felt like no time at all we were at the sandbag carry. If I had thought this was long and tough yesterday I had seen nothing yet! The distance had been extended, quite significantly. At the top of the hill, it was with longing that we looked at where the day before it had been back down the hill, before turning up instead and traipsing with the heavy bags through a section of bracken, into a ditch that was hard to get back out of with a sandbag on my back, and eventually into a log strewn pond.
After this is was mercifully back down the hill, until eventually it was over the wall, elbows and arms protesting heavily, and then down to the sweet relief of dropping the sandbag back onto the pile.
A section of running followed feeling free and light after losing the sandbag, then it was back into the lake for the swim and cargo net climb, which was followed by a river wade, made technical by all the debris – broken rocks and branches – in the water, I nearly made it out unscathed, but ended up taking a small gash to my leg from a submerged rock.
The course now diverged and we eventually came to a long rig made up of hanging rings, chains and ropes, I fell straight off the rings, but Dom and Syz both made it as far as the chain before falling off, and we all took a time penalty here. This was followed by a nice downhill running section, sadly though at Pippingford it seems what goes down must come back up, and more hills quickly followed burning the legs, followed by a section of high walls.
We next came to the monkey bars, where again I made it to the middle before falling down and taking another time hit, and another section of up and downhill running.
At the top of this section came two hang-over walls, the catch being that one was the opposite way round to the norm, giving a new challenge, but with the help of the guys I was up and over both without any problems. Yet more running then we came to a wooden beam set high up, another time penalty obstacle, this time though, again with a little help from my friends I was up and over and didn’t need to add any more time to my tally.
Some more running and we came to a long rope traverse over a lake, which once completed you had to climb out and round a tree, then swim back to the opposite bank and then hoist yourself out of the lake and up a rope. This earned me another time penalty, as I couldn’t even get onto the rope.
Once out of the lake and after a quick water stop, we were off again, across some parallel bars and then down and over the 8ft wall. Here Dom got cramp in his leg, so we took 5 mins to help him stretch it out and massage it back to life before setting off and coming to the over and under walls. After this was the tyre drag and then finally back to the event village for the final section of rope traverse, rope climb (time penalty for me) mound to run up, and hang tough to finish (another swing and a miss on my part)
By the time I crossed the line I was exhausted. This race had really delivered, it was tough, fun with great obstacles and a good atmosphere.