Tag Archives: cold

The Eliminator Race

Early on a cold Saturday morning in February I found myself donning my race kit and heading out the door to once again face the hills of Pippingford Park. I had been asked by a lovely lady from RPCC to run a race with her, and I agreed to sign up to the 10 mile option of the Eliminator race. Unfortunately the lady I was supposed to be running with picked up an injury and couldn’t race, but there was a still a reasonable sized group of RPCCers making the trip to run either 5 or 10 miles.

RPCC crew before the race
RPCC crew before the race

Race Description

The Eliminator race is a trail run with only natural obstacles, there was a 5 or 10 mile option on the Saturday, and a full marathon option on the Sunday. Having raced a few times at Pippingford before I knew this was going to be very hilly and testing terrain, and not your average 10 mile run (not that I often pop out for a 10 mile jog!) It was very cold waiting at the top of the hill, and I was very grateful for my dry robe and Dirty Dozen bobble hat. We were there really early and hung around drinking tea and watching the kids race (and taking a few selfies – since that’s what we do). Eventually though it was time to get ready to race, the dry robes were reluctantly removed and we headed to get warmed up.

RPCC super selfie
RPCC super selfie

The Race

We set off down a hill, before swiftly being taken up the other side of the valley,  then after what felt like a long and slow slog to the top of the hill it was through the first bit of icy water, with shards of ice floating around and hidden logs submerged below the surface.

Coming up to the top of the first hill
Coming up to the top of the first hill

As the race wound up and down killer hills I found myself “playing tag” with a few people that I knew, so although running by myself I never felt on my own. As we splashed through yet another section of water I noticed that my friend Graeme Harrison was behind we, with a photographer up ahead so we grabbed a quick hug in the water for a photo before carrying on.

Mid race hugs
Mid race hugs

Every so often I would come across a marshal or spectator that I knew and the encouraging shouts (and high five from Mark Leinster) helped keep my running, as well as Graeme, Dave Cartwright and Ben Sallows who were all running near me for most of the race for a kind word.

As the mile markers slowly trickled passed, with more and more hills to navigate, some which almost had me crawling, trees to clamber over, weave round and crawl under, water to wade through and an amusing moment when I climbed over a gate, following the person in front of me, when it swung open with me sat on top of it, I was feeling tired and a few little injury niggles started to make themselves felt.

Under the bridge
Under the bridge

As we reached the final mile, the course was mostly through a wooded section that reduced running to a slow jog as you tried to navigate safely, and it felt like the longest mile in the world. Eventually you came across a marker saying 10 miles, this was the most demoralising marker in the world, I was only supposed to be running 10 miles, how much further was it going to be? Thankfully not much!

They were not going to make it easy to finish though, with a long slog up a hill to reach the finish line, I found myself walking most of this, despite my best efforts telling myself to run. Then Graeme was beside me again urging me to give a strong finish, and together we ran the final stretch of the hill to the finish line to collect our medals.

Finishing
Finishing

 

The Eliminator was one tough race, the cold and terrain taking their toll as you ran. It felt like a massive achievement to complete it, and I have so much awe and respect for the people who went out the next day to run the full marathon distance.

Cheeky after selfie with the 10 mile race winner Ross Brackley
Cheeky after selfie with the 10 mile race winner Ross Brackley

It was a privileged to then watch as my other friends finished the race, all having given their all and completed the tough course. With lots of hugs at the finish, and then finally heading back home for the longest bath I’ve ever taken to get warm again.

Caught unawares giving Tayla Playford a well deserved hug at the finish.
Caught unawares giving Tayla Playford a well deserved hug at the finish.

 

Mud Sweat and Beer Winter

The first weekend in December dawned cold as I got ready to take on the first of three races in this month before the year draws to a close.

We took a road trip back up to Daventry to take on my second Mud, Sweat and Beer race of the year, only this time there would be the added challenge of the cold to contend with.

Race Description

This time the race was set at Hellidon Lakes golf course and hotel. Registration was inside the hotel, where they had carefully laid down a lot of plastic sheeting that probably wasn’t going to cut it once we got all muddy, it was lovely and warm inside, which saved us from freezing before we had even started. We arrived with plenty of time so registration was straightforward, however with a number of people apparently making changes to their registrations on the day the queue quickly got longer and the race ended up being pushed back half an hour.

The race had the option of either 5km or 10km, and we had opted for the full 10km, which would take us on two laps of the course. While we were waiting we got some before photos taken in a Photo-booth, which was a nice touch, they posted these photos to Facebook, but also gave you a print out to keep.

Phil, Myself and Kev in the Photo-booth before the race
Phil, Myself and Kev in the Photo-booth before the race

A little later than advertised we were off up the hill from the hotel and gathered near the start line to do a warm up involving running around, rolling on the ground, burpees and sit-ups, then it was finally time to go.

On the start line
On the start line

The Race

We set off for a bit of a run, and this allowed us to warm up nicely as the temperature was really cold, as we ran round the golf course we came to a low metal A frame which was easily navigated, followed by a run down into some woods where some taller wooden ladders waited for us to climb up and over, along with some bungee rope strung amongst some trees to make a spiders web to weave under over and through.

It wasn’t long before we hit the first section of water. There were several lakes to navigate in this race, and my goodness were they cold. That first section of water took my breath away and left me gasping. It was deep too, no option but to swim or turn back, so immersed up to my neck I swam and splashed across to the other side, pulling myself out and trying to force some air back into my lungs. At this point it became clear just how good my Inov-8 merino wool base layer was, a short amount of running and I had returned to a reasonable temperature, but this was short lived as we hit the second lake.

As we splashed in and out of different depths of water, one lake had a slide into it that we had to miss out and take the “opt out” route as something had happened to it, other than that I ignored the marshals pointing out the easy option as I splashed yet again into freezing water. At one of the deeper crossings it started to heave down with rain, which turned to hail stones in short order, and boy was it cold! The hail stopped almost as soon as it started though and the sun peeped out, leaving a beautiful rainbow overhead as I continued to run.

After pulling out of the next section of water, a muddy wade took us to a concrete tunnel to crawl through, then up through some muddy woods. A pretty steep hill which I watched everyone near me walk up (myself included) and then a crawl followed by a couple of wooden A-frames, up a bit more of a hill saw us coming back towards the starting point.

Running up towards the end of the first lap
Running up towards the end of the first lap

As you came back towards the start you detoured off over some slippery rocks, and once you had managed to navigate these you took on a couple of tall obstacles, Once you had to climb up using some thin wooden slats, then a tall metal A-frame, a slope with a rope to climb followed by a second A-frame.

A the top of the metal A-frame
A the top of the metal A-frame

Once over the top of these there was a set of monkey bars, which I’m not great at, at the best of times, but with fingers numb with cold and even less grip than usual I swung straight off them and ran on towards the start, through the tunnel marked 10km and off onto my second lap.

Finishing my first lap
Finishing my first lap

At the start of the second lap you had to climb over the tall tower obstacle that I had struggled to get onto back in the summer, with a few more races behind me now, I actually managed this unaided and was quickly over the top, despite my fear of high obstacles. As I clambered down a spectator told me I was the first girl they had seen, and this spurred me on as I set off again.

Back through the woods and over the wooden ladders, with a bonus one thrown in for the second lap, all I could think about was having to go through that water again, my hands were so cold, despite my excellent gloves, that the ends of my fingers were painful, the rest of me was holding up reasonably well though, but as I got to the first lake it was with some trepidation that I threw myself, yet again, into the freezing water.

As I got round to the concrete tunnel for the second time, I had started to catch up with some of the 5km runners, and I paused to help a lady up a muddy bank. The mud was thicker and more slippery now that so many more people had been round churning it up. At one point the grip on my shoes failed me and I slid onto my backside down a hill, but got up and staggered on. Up the killer hill again and round for the final bit of the course.

Another swing and a miss at the monkey bars and I was done, giving my number to the marshals at the end and crawling through the final tunnel. I wanted to wait for the boys to finish, but it was just to cold, so I took myself off down to the hotel to get my bag and warm up.

Monkey bar attempt number 2
Monkey bar attempt number 2

Before getting changed I jumped into the photo booth to get an after shot, then took advantage of the fact you could have a hot shower for £2.50 before putting on as many layers as I could and heading back down to enjoy my post race beer with the boys.

After photo-booth photo
After photo-booth photo

At this point we weren’t sure what position I had come, with only the spectators word from my first lap, I knew I’d not been overtaken on my second, so we waited around to hear the results. I was beyond chuffed when it was confirmed that I had indeed taken first place for the ladies 18-39 category so still chilly, but happy, we finally headed to the car for the long drive home.

1st place "Ironlady" 18-39
1st place “Ironlady” 18-39

Judgement Day Borden

After arriving home rather later than I had intended on Saturday night following our day racing in London, the 5.30am alarm was not a welcome sound. I blundered around getting my kit together and running slightly late, staggered out the door with my hair undone and barely awake. Race two of the weekend was upon me and it was time to go!

Tired, not really ready, but about to head out the door
Tired, not really ready, but about to head out the door

Race Description

As we made the 2 hour journey from Hastings to Borden the weather was getting worse and worse, the rain was coming down and it was a bit miserable when we arrived.

This race was set at a MOD tank training ground, with 10 miles of both sandy and boggy terrain to run through. This race was always going to be tough, with their first race having great reviews, but the miserable weather and cold was going to add an extra challenge, before you even consider I was already tired from running the day before.

It was cold and wet when we arrived, so the customary hanging around and taking stupid photos was replaced with sitting in the car trying to keep warm until it was time to run.

The Race

We set off at 10am, the rain was coming down and so I set off at a run to try and get warm, quickly losing Phil and Kev who I was running with as they got held up behind me. We were straight into a section of water, water never really bothers me so I splashed past people, trying to keep my footing on the uneven ground.

We shortly came to a set of low hurdles, which should have been easy, but I somehow got my foot caught on the first one and fell right over it, giving the people around me a laugh. I managed the rest without any drama though and carried on round to the tyre carry.

Here was the first of a set of letters we needed to remember also adding a mental challenge to the physical ones we were facing. I managed the tyre carry no problem, but as I splashed through the water at the end and my tyre was taken off me, I got turned around, and unfortunately the marshal was not paying attention, and I somehow ended up going round the tyre carry section for a second time. This meant I was now somewhere behind the boys without much hope of catching up. A bit of a run followed with some round hay-bails to get up, difficult as there was nothing to grip. I managed this by myself on my third attempt and set off again.

As we ran back towards the event village for the first time we hit a set of monkey bars, where I managed to get about half way before falling off, we then looped back out for more running, and a concrete block drag, before coming back to the same obstacle but on the other side for the hang tough rings, which I, as is customary, fell straight off!

After falling off the rings
After falling off the rings

Following the hang tough we were confronted with the sandbags, red for the boys, blue for the girls. I hoisted mine up onto my back and it already felt heavy and uncomfortable, I set off for what felt like the longest carry ever conceived by man. Part way round the sandbag carry I finally caught up with Kev and we carried on together, the sandbag causing me to slow down more and more, my arms cramping and screaming and my shoulders and neck aching. We came to some barbed wire, another letter to remember, and down we went, dragging the sandbags along with us, heaving the bag back onto my shoulders I carried on staggering round the section, next coming across a waist high wall, tossing the sandbag over I struggled to find the strength in my arms to follow it, but once over having to pick that bag up again was a new kind of torture!

About to go over the wall with my Sandbag
About to go over the wall with my Sandbag

A final push up a small hill before the blissful relief of dumping the bad and grabbing some water. The next section of running felt great without the sandbag on my back, until we hit the boggy mud that is, one wrong step and you were in upto your hip.

We hit a second tyre, this time you had to drag it using a rope, then run it back out to where it started, and the next time we hit the event village it was for a hideous (In my “I hate hights” opinion) obstacle that involved us climbing up a rickety rope ladder, over a net strung high over the metal rigging and then down the other side. I was very relieved to get my feet back on solid ground!

Coming down back towards the ground.
Coming down back towards the ground.

As we headed back out away from the main village again we faced walls of different types, several sections of incredibly boggy mud and wades through water, all the time with the relentless rain.

Wading past some tanks With Kev Coda
Wading past some tanks With Kev Coda

As we made our way round other obstacles that we faced were a  run through a tank bath which ended with parallel bars, by this point I felt like I had no strength left, but at least I tried!

Kev and I coming up to the tank wash
Kev and I coming up to the tank wash

As we made our way round more running we came to one of the most unusual obstacles I’ve come across, we were handed a band which we had to put around our legs, where we had to do what can only be described as a penguin wobble around a short section of course, made even more interesting by having to navigate yourself over a tree across the path. Neither Kev or I seemed to be thinking straight at this point and both managed to come up with the least efficient way over, before watching someone else effortlessly roll over the top of it! This part really was quite fun.

We came round to another wall, with no one there I just copied the guy in front of me going under it, before passing the unmanned water station and carrying on. At the bucket carry I was handed a reasonably light bucket – a lot of sand seemed to have been dumped out as the day had gone on. At this point I lost Kev again and I was just to cold by now to wait around so I carried on alone.

I was getting really tired now, but there wasn’t too much left. A tyre flip and another run took me to the final obstacle, where you had to give the word spelled out by the letters “Sandbag” and (in my case attempt) a rope climb.  This just left a sprint finish, through one last bit of water, and across the line. A welcome hug and a foil blanket waited for me as well as my medal.

Finished!
Finished!

This was one tough race, even without the rain slashing down all day, and my only real criticism is that as well as at the tyre carry there were a few times where we got a bit lost in the course marking, which in fairness may have started off OK and gotten worse throughout the day. Luckily most of the time there had been a marshal to put me right before I ended up going the complete wrong way. Overall it was a great, challenging, race and I’m really looking forward to more Judgement Day action in December for the team event – what I’m not looking forward to is more sandbags 😉