Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest 2015

In 2014 I travelled to London to run Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest with a group of people from Team Muddy Race and had so much fun I didn’t hesitate to sign up to do the same again in 2015.

As we took the train from Hastings to London it started to Snow, from an unseasonably warm November to an unseasonably cold one in a matter of days, it was freezing cold with a biting wind. By the time we arrived at Wembley the precipitation had stopped but it was still freezing cold, registration was a little way from the main event village in an old Wicks building, and was as slick as I had come to expect from a Rat Race event. After registering we dropped off our bags then headed back up to the start area, which in all honesty was a bit lame compared to the previous year.

Some of Team Muddy Race before we set off
Some of Team Muddy Race before we set off

Due to the cold, I decided pretty quickly that trying to stick in a large group like last year would probably lead to problems dealing with the cold, so I chose just to run my own race so I could keep as warm as possible, I wasn’t relishing the thought of getting wet, and I just wanted to get started.

Eventually it was time for wave 11 to get warmed up and set off, I wormed my way close to the front and headed off clambering over hay-bails in the shadow of Wembley stadium, weaving up and down and a hop over a wall (it looked to be that there may have been more than one, but we were directed around the others, I believe they were shut for safety reasons, I read somewhere later that the walls were actually being moved by the wind).

The course took us up the steps of the stadium and around the outside, on one slope I hit my first big queue, not unexpected when running in such a late wave, it was at a water-slide, however there was only one side of the slide that actually had any water, the other side was dry and there was only a queue for the water side, so I decided that due to the cold I would take the faster route and ran down the second side of the slide, along with a few people, I did slide in the water at the bottom and nearly fall face first into a hay bail at the end but I managed to right myself and clamber over the bail and then crawl under a tunnel.

There was another hold up on a slope which, included a rope to help you get to the top, but wasn’t too difficult considering the queue that had formed there, this was followed by some parallel bars and a slack line traverse suspended on some scaffolding. My husband, who had come to spectate, caught up with me on a set of stairs by the stadium as we were made to carry a traffic cone up and down the stairs, before heading off into the streets around Wembley. It’s a bit strange to have to pause in a race to wait for a few passing cars!

Carrying a cone with the Wembley arch in the background
Carrying a cone with the Wembley arch in the background

Later it was into a storm drain, water no deeper than ankle height, but seriously cold. We were told to keep to the right where it was shallow, but going round people at one point took me too far to the left and I nearly fell in, luckily I just about managed to keep my balance and stay on my feet rather than end up fully submerged in the icy water. After the storm drain there was some balance beams, which were tricky as they were slippery, and then it was into the Wicks building again, I think this could have been one of the most treacherous parts for me, with the balance of a giraffe on ice and the floor slippery from wet shoes (*note – I actually have no idea how a giraffe would balance on ice, I may be doing them a great miss-justice here!)

While inside the building there was a tyre mangle to crawl through and a high wall to get over. On the top of the wall I had a bit of a moment where I couldn’t get down, I keep having mental blocks on walls, and I had to beg someone to help me down, and I still managed to land badly, luckily I think my feet were so cold that I couldn’t really feel the pain, as later when I got home and warmed up I was hobbling around for a good few hours!

Back in the event village for the last little stint there were a good few obstacles, including a hang tough made of beer barrels, a hang tough made of the more usual rings, (however this was shut due to someone coming off and getting injured – hopefully they are OK), some very high containers to clamber up and over, with a cargo net to help you down the other side, and a large structure that you had to climb up then jump off onto a huge inflatable pillow. No matter how hard I tried though I could not convince myself to get over the edge, I was up there for quite a while trying to get up the nerve to do it, It wasn’t even that it looked that bad, but I couldn’t do it – sometimes you really do need someone else there to encourage you, so in the end, I climbed back down and walked around it, feeling a bit like a failure.

At the top of the ledge, before I climbed back down
At the top of the ledge, before I climbed back down

By now there was not to much left to do, a crawl under some netting that also contained some giant balls, a hoist, a rope climb (that no surprise I didn’t complete) the large survivors wall near the finish where I had yet another melt down and needed a stranger to help me get down, and a travelator which had a massive massive queue. Right at the end was a large inflatable water-slide which was sadly closed, I heard the marshal say that it had been blowing and flinging around in the wind and was unsafe. This just left a run down the side of the slide to the finish line.

Stuck on top of the survivors wall
Stuck on top of the survivors wall

It’s fair to say I didn’t enjoy this race as much this year as I did last year, that being said I would still do this race again, but I would try and make sure I had at least one person to run it with. At some point I will be back to try this again, as I have a score to settle with that jump. In the mean time, I think I need to practice getting off walls, just need to find one to practice on!