Barley a week after my last race in March and it was time to take on my one and only challenge for April – The Dirty Dozen. A 12km obstacle race that would be my longest distance to date.
This race was set at The Hop Farm in Kent, and I’m sure I’ve read somewhere it being promoted as “the home of large obstacles” or something similar – it did not disappoint!
There was quite a bit of build up for this on Facebook, with a few of the obstacles given a preview, this was enough to stoke the nerves!
We arrived to a really well organised race, free parking a short walk from the registration tents, which were split into queues based on your surname. Here you were given your race pack which included your (named) number, wrist band, timing chip and band for your bag to enable you to use the bag drop.
The event village was buzzing with a great atmosphere and some good stalls around to take a look at, as well as the bag drop, bar, food and toilets.
This was another race where RPCC was out in force, which made the atmosphere, for me, even better.
This race also had a cracking warm-up, which included press ups and burpees to really get you going. We arrived in plenty of time and watched the elite athletes set off at 10am, then it was our turn.
We were all raring to go at the start line, laughing, joking and posing for a few pictures, a short speech from the organiser Doug “The Beard” Spence and then it was time to go.
This race had fair stretches of running between obstacles which meant that you didn’t get held up, as people naturally spread out and found their own pace. The terrain was pretty flat, with lots of running through fields and areas of woodland, this didn’t stop them building in muddy banks though.
There was a sheep dip obstacle which involved you getting yourself fully submerged in cold water to get under not one but three walls in quick succession – this was more a mental battle than a physical one, but it certainly took the air from my lungs as we went through.
A high cargo net only secured at the top tested my nerves as I have mentioned in other blog posts how I am somewhat scared of heights, but I managed to get over it without too much panic at the top.
There were plenty of high obstacles in this race to test my nerve as we went round, Dirty Dozen doesn’t do things by half’s!
There was a pretty long tire carry, through thick mud and just when you thought you were safe, they gave you a log to lug through the woods!
After a water station there was a fire jump that was much bigger than the one at Warrior Run the weekend before – as with heights, i’m not a big fan of fire, so I just ran, jumped and hoped for the best… and made it to the otherside without any drama.
As with many races of this type, there were ditches to clamber in and out of, monkey bars to try and get over (I failed and had a nice refreshing swim), walls to climb and streams to wade through.
By far the worst obstacle (by this I mean most painful!) was the one aptly named “barbed belly” which saw us crawling low under barbed wire. Now this is not un-typical at obstacle races, but what made this so hard was the ploughed up, rock hard, mud that was under the barbed wire. This is where I think I picked up most of my bruises from the day. Just when you thought it was over you ran a few feet and then there was a second one. Right at the end of that one was some soft mud which felt like rolling into silk once you got there!
The end of this race saw us trying to get over some huge walls, the first had a rope to help, the second required some teamwork, then it was a sprint to the finish.
Crossing the line I was exhausted, but exhilarated, I had made it around the brutal 12km course. You then typed in your race number to a computer to get a personalised print out of your race time (1h50mins) and I picked up my dirty dozen t-shirt, hat and free beer.
Final results showed I came 152nd overall and 21st woman. Coming in the top 30 also means I have now qualified for the OCR world championships in the US – something I would dearly love to do and will see if I can actually get there, as that would be an awesome challenge to add into this year!