Today I got myself up bright and early to take on my second race of the weekend. I had decided to take the trip to Essex to complete the Dirty Dash race to enable me to have a go at all three distances offered by Dirty Dozen Races this year, having already completed the 12km race in April and with both their 12km and the 18km race booked in for September. After tweeting about booking this race I was asked by OCR superstar and elite athlete for Obstacle Kit Race Team Faye Caley to run with her and some “lovely ladies” she was bringing down, which was an offer I happily accepted.
Due to a really good drive with very little traffic, I arrived nice and early at the race site, set at Barleylands Farm along with my hubby, designated driver and photographer for the day.
The 6km course took in a fair few of the obstacles offered from the 12km race the day before, and I have heard some rumours that the 6km course was more like 8km, which makes a nice change from people moaning about races coming in under the advertised distances.
As to be expected from a Dirty Dozen race, it was well organised, with named race numbers, writs bands, and bands for your bag. Registration was easy with alphabetised registration tents, and the event village had a bar, bag drop, food and toilets, everything you need.
We set off at a leisurely pace as this was to be a fun run and not a race, with a nice run to stretch the legs and warm up across a field, all too soon though we were up against the “Barbed Belly” obstacle – a bruise inducing crawl under barbed wire, over hard, bumpy mud, meaning that you need to keep low to the ground, but makes crawling on your stomach, hands or knees very uncomfortable.
This was followed by a wall traverse across a pit of water, with the promise of 20 burpees if you fell off. Back in April I fell straight off this, but I had watched the Mudstacle video on how to do this obstacle, I griped with my toes, took my time, and made it across without taking a dunking.
After triumphantly making it across it was a short run to the next obstacle of the Monkey Bars. My jubilation on not getting wet was obviously short lived, as I managed about two bars before splashing down into the water. Then as I was already wet I went back for seconds to help a team mate who was a bit hesitant, my theory being, look how bad at this I am, you can’t possibly be worse 🙂
There were several rivers to navigate and a bit more running before we hit the rope traverse over the river. Again I had looked at the Mudstacle video before the race, and knew the theory, but theory and ability are not always well matched. It took me three attempts to hook my feet around the rope, but after that it was reasonably simple, you kind of slid down towards the river whether you wanted to or not. Once hitting the water you were advised to put your feet down and pull yourself along backwards using the rope, which is exactly what I did. By the time I had got to the other side I felt like my arms were going to fall off, but I had made it, and was feeling pretty good about it.
After crossing the lake, we had a bit more of a run, a log carry, and a second barbed belly to contend with, much to Faye’s upset, as she would have rather have taken on the overhang walls which we could see in the distance from the 12km race. There was a lot of wading through rivers, and, at this point I’m forgetting the order of the obstacles, but we were subjected to the sheep dip, three walls to pull yourself under causing you to get fully submerged in water, a cargo net (obviously one of my favourites as I love heights), and a wall climb over a goods container where the wooden “ladder” is at an outward angle.
As we headed back towards the finish line there were yet more river wades and then it was back to the lake that we had crossed during the rope traverse, this time you had to swim out to section of barrels which you had to swim underneath, before eventually coming to a platform to haul yourself onto.
Once out of the water it was another little run along to the big walls and towards the finish. In April I had struggled with these, suffering with cramp and then a crippling fear of heights, so I was very apprehensive approaching these obstacles, however with help from the team I was running with, I managed first to clamber up the wall with the help of a rope and climb down the other side.
After getting over this obstacle, it was a short run up to the Irish Table, a lower wall with an overhanging edge making it more difficult to get up and over. With a lot of help from my team mates I managed to get up and over this obstacle and then it was time for the huge wall. No ropes, no foot holds, just a huge wooden wall. I was honestly shaking at this point, but having failed in April I really wanted to get over it. Again with a whole lot of help from the people I was running with, I was given a boost and more importantly the encouragement I needed to get myself over the wall. I nearly froze at the top, unsure how to get myself back down, and in all honestly, it wasn’t a very graceful dismount, falling most of the way and landing on my bum, but I did it!
After the wall it was a short run up to the finish line, where we got a finishers photo, grabbed our hats, t-shirts and beer, and headed off to get changed.