The Nuts Challenge

As March arrived I knew I had three races to run, originally I had planned to do two, one at the beginning and one at the end but the trail run that was cancelled in February got moved to mid March so three it was!

Race Description

First up this month was The Nuts Challenge, a 7km race with over 100 obstacles to navigate, This was going to be tough… really tough!

This was the first race this year I would be running with a large number of people from the group I train with in Hastings (RP Combat Conditioning – If you are in Hastings you should check them out) and there was a great atmosphere before we started, despite many of the RPCC crew being stuck in the queue to get in and missing our start time – note to any potential new OCR runners, always arrive with plenty of time!

I was about to give some of my new kit a proper test, My Inov8 Mudclaw 300s were about to have their first race, along with my Inov8 mudsocks, x-raceware shorts and new darkfin gloves. I also had on a Nike base layer under my RPCC vest and Nike running leggings.

Some of the RPCC crew getting ready for the off
Some of the RPCC crew getting ready for the off
Myself with some of my RPCC "family"  (From left to right, Viki Stapley, Ella Roberts, Myself, Rachel Poile)
Myself with some of my RPCC “family”
(From left to right, Viki Stapley, Ella Roberts, Myself, Rachel Poile)

The Race

This race was very well organised, but it was hard to hear the announcements at the start line from inside the nice warm registration tent, and we had a bit of a muddled start. We messed around a bit in the warm up as we didn’t realise it was ours and we were at the back of the pack setting off as a result.

I set off with my friend Viki but this lacklustre start meant that we got held up on some of the obstacles at the start, and it was a little frustrating when there was a large group of people who were a bit afraid of getting in the first lot of cold water! Not really a big deal as we were running for the fun not the glory.

The obstacles on this race were challenging, although we had tried out some of them previously having had a training day on part of the Nuts course a couple of weeks before. There was a lot of running though very cold streams clambering over tire walls and pulling ourselves up nets.

Wading through a cold stream  (picture courtesy of Tim Lovett from Obstacle Kit Ltd)
Wading through a cold stream
(picture courtesy of Tim Lovett from Obstacle Kit Ltd)

My first real challenge came with the fireman’s pole. When we did the training day I stood paralysed with fear at the top for quite a considerable chunk of time being talked down by Rich Pringle from RPCC. This time though, I gritted my teeth and just went for it, The sense of achievement was enormous.

Then came a rope swing over more cold water, a crawl under barbedwire through some mud, and a roll over a couple of nets.

Myself and Viki Stapley rolling around on a Saturday morning! (Picture courtesy of Tim Lovett from Obstacle Kit Ltd)
Myself and Viki Stapley rolling around on a Saturday morning!
(Picture courtesy of Tim Lovett from Obstacle Kit Ltd)

Many, many more obstacles were still to come, the ones that stand out in my memory are a tire carry up a steep, muddy hill, then straight back down it, followed by a lot more ups and downs. This part of the course is where my Inov8 Mudclaw 300s really came into their own. The aggressive grip on these shoes saw me able to climb up these hill easily even as I watched other racers slide back down them.

By around the 3km mark I was running on my own again having lost my friend on one of the longer stretches of running, but I was having a great time.

The last few obstacles saw me battling my fear of heights again over a couple  more cargo nets and then crawling underneath one or two, which got me more covered in mud than I have ever been in my life.

A few wobbly pontoons across a lake, and a crawl over some inflatables (which I promptly fell off, leaving me to swim) and a massive load of hay-bails piled high came towards the end. Luckily obstacle racing is such a friendly sport, and a man sat on top of the bails helping his team mate also gave me a hand to haul my tired body over the top.

I have missed out so many obstacles here, but I can’t honestly get them all straight in my head there were so many.

This was a fantastic race, and for people wanting more of a challenge you can opt to do 2, 3 or even 4 laps.

Across the line and grabbed my medal and then hurried to get out of my wet clothes. I was done!

My Finishers Medal
My Finishers Medal

Final results for me in this race were 1h41mins, 154th over all and 35th Female

As a final note, all the kit mentioned at the start of this blog was fantastic and really did there jobs.

Kenley 10K

My second race of the year was a last minuet substitution as the race I had planned to run was postponed until March at the last minuet, so after a frantic internet search for races in February this is where I ended up.

 Race Description

The Race was a 10km run at Kenley airfield that took you round the edge of the airfield three times plus an extra kilometre to the finish line.

This time I was running alone, and I wish I had thought to bring along my Ipod, most often races don’t allow this, but this race was completely off road and posed very little risk, and there were many runners there that were using  them.

Again it was a little chilly to start with, but at least I had a nice new pair of Inov8 Mudsocks to try and keep my feet warm! I had actually picked the right trainers for this run as well, a new pair of Nike Flyknits which are really light and very comfy. In this race I also tried out a new pair of X-Raceware shorts which have a pocket to put your race number, eliminating the need for safety pins – admittedly not really a problem in a road race but I wanted to give them test drive.

Cold but smiling, waiting for the off
Cold but smiling, waiting for the off

The Race

Me at the start line, cold but ready to go.

Waiting at the start (that's me in the orange)
Waiting at the start (that’s me in the orange)

The race organisers explained what we were doing, three runs around the airfield, then an extra 1km around to a war memorial to round off the 10km. After that we were off.

I have to say this was not the most exciting of races, three laps round got a little dull, and mentally I think I gave up a bit (hence my wish for an Ipod as I mentioned earlier). It was a really windy day and on my first lap around a race siding fell down on top of my leg. It was at this point that I realised how unfriendly this kind of running is compared to the obstacle racing that I had done previously – not one person near me at the time even paused to ask if I was ok!Luckily I was ok, and was able to carry on with the race.

On my second or third lap at this point
On my second or third lap at this point

Once, twice, three times round and at the 9km mark I checked my watch and realised that if I didn’t slouch off (which was tempting at this point) I could potentially finish in under an hour. This spurred me on around the final kilometre, and once again I was so happy to see that finish line.

Kenley Airfield 10km run completed
Kenley Airfield 10km run completed

I glanced anxiously at my watch, had I managed it in under an hour? I was thrilled to bits to see I had completed in 56mins, and when the results were posted I was also pleasantly surprised to see I had come 12th place in the female results list (results were split so I don’t know where I came overall). I actually couldn’t find myself on the list to start with, I was looking to far down!

So that was February’s challenge completed, and onwards to March where three races now awaited me…

Final time and Medal
Final time and Medal

 

Glow in the Park

This was my first race, it was a cold, dark 10Km in January.

Race Description

The race took place at Polesden Lacy which is a National Trust property in Surrey. It was an evening race, run in the dark in the light of your own head torch.

My husband agreed to run this race with me for moral support, and as we drove up to the venue the heavens opened and  we drove through a pretty horrific thunderstorm, which didn’t fill us with much confidence. At this point I had never run further than 8km in one go and I was feeling pretty nervous.

By the time we arrived the rain had stopped and the stars had come out, although the wind was still pretty bitter.

We had opted to run two laps of the 5km course and we were ready to go…

The Race

This is me at the beginning, nice and brightly coloured:

GlowInTheParkHelenStart
Clean, bright and glowing

The race was billed as being mostly on path, so after much discussion at home we both went for our road running trainers, this was something of a mistake as the race was almost entirely off road and I wished I had worn my brand new inov8 Mudclaws.

The race started off across some fields and quickly entered a downhill section, which thanks to the rain earlier in the evening, was really quiet slippery! I quickly regretted both my choice of shoe and the glow sticks around my neck – very annoying to run with.

I lost my husband early on in the dark so ended up covering most of the distance by myself. There were a lot of steep uphill sections and perilous running through woodland, keeping an eye out for roots and debris from the earlier storm, with only the light of your head-torch to help you along.

There were several times when I had to stop and walk, but at least the running had staved off the cold.

Up a final hill and across a field and the 10Km runners started their second lap. In a way I found that the second lap was easier, at least I knew what was coming next! It was a relief to cross the line, and get my medal, I then hung around catching my breath and waiting for my hubby to catch up (not long).

In the end I managed this tough but fun 10Km run in 1h15mins which was 70th place over all and 25th female.

The only criticism I could say about the timing is that they started all the times at once and clocked you back in at the end, so the people at the back’s times wouldn’t be that accurate.

Happy to be finished, enjoyable race
Happy to be finished, enjoyable race
The amount of mud took us by surprise
The amount of mud took us by surprise
First "bling" of 2014
First “bling” of 2014

Mostly about running races with some other bits and bobs

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