The first Dirty Dozen weekend of the year dawned bright and breezy, the sun was out, but there was a chill in the air as we got ourselves ready to race. As usual a large number of RPCC people made the trip to the Hop Farm in Kent to run either the 12k or 6k race, or for some of us, both.
Dirty Dozen – 12km
We gathered near the start line just before 10am, the atmosphere was buzzing, MC Mark Leinster, getting us all to link arms, jump up and down and shout, this was followed by a warm up run by Bootcamp Revolution, which I completed with my normal gusto, (in other words dancing around and not really doing what I was told) then it was time for Doug “The Beard” Spence to be introduced, count us down and we were off. Starting with a run which took us across some fields and before long we were headed through some trees, mud and into the first of many river wades. This was followed by some high mounds of mud to clamber over.
Next came a stretch of running, winding up and down hills until you came to a large wooden box to climb up, over the top and back down the other side before heading down a hill and into “Bitch Ditch” a series of muddy water pools with heaps of slippery mud to try and climb over before you went down the other side back into another murky pit of muddy water.
Once you had negotiated the ditches it was on to the first barbed wire crawl, as usual over some hard and bruising ground. Up until this point I had been running by myself, and I started to wonder why I was bothering, in the back of my mind were the big walls I would be facing at the end, and remembering how demoralised I was when I did the 18km by myself back in September, so I just stopped running! I waited at the end of the barbed wire crawl until I was caught up by my friends Dom Wright, Vince James, Kevin Coda and Ella Roberts. I then continued the race with them.
Once I had joined up with the others I started having much more fun, we weren’t racing for a time or position, we were just there having a laugh and it was wonderful. We hit another river wade, it was energy sapping and felt like it went on forever, every time you climbed out a quick turn and you would be back in again. We did however take the time to pose for a few (hundred) photos!
Once we had finally clambered out of the river and had a bit of a jog, we were under a second set of barbed wire, taking it seriously as always we yet again stopped for a few photos.
Over some box hurdles next and a bit of a running stretch, where we jogged along at a comfortable pace and had a natter, found ourselves in yet more streams to wade through, then eventually found ourselves at the “screwball scramble.” A very wobbly cargo net strung up between the trees. This is my least favourite dirty dozen obstacle, high up and feeling unstable, the others talked me down and after a couple of hugs we were on our way again, back into more water.
Next was a really long log carry, my log was a manageable weight however and it was without much difficulty that we got round this section, and ran on to find ourselves confronted with the hangover walls. With a boost I was up and over with no problems, but Kev took a knee to the face when he stopped to help another racer. Another jog then took us onto the tyre drag. This was another long section, through uneven ground, water and mud.
We finally got to give back our tyres and re-grouped then headed off for another little running section which took us past a rope traverse obstacle that we got directed around by “The Beard” himself, they were just closing it “for maintenance” so we ended up going straight into a section of cold, deep water and eventually to the “smoking barrels” A set of 4 rows of barrels floating on the water that required you to fully submerge yourself. Ella was feeling nervous about these so I took her hand, and positioned her between myself and Dom, counted her down 3, 2, 1 and together we took a deep breath and swam under the first set of barrels.
The same tactic took us under the other sets of barrels, before we then swam to the edge and clambered back out onto the bank, before getting out though Ella and I recreated a photo we had taken at Nuclear Blackout – although this time photobomed by Vince and Dom.
Shortly after the barrels was the sheep dip, three walls set into a pit of water, which again required full submersion, but these didn’t feel too bad after the barrels and the water was certainly warmer! After the sheep dip was the Tarzan bars, which I predictably failed, earning myself 20 burpees, Then we were off heading towards some of the big obstacles that Dirty Dozen is famous for.
The first of these was the containment II, a container with a wooden frame built around it to climb up, the catch being that the frame is built at an outwards angle to make it harder, this was followed by giant wooden A frame and then the irish table, a few leg-ups and we were all over the top. A run around the final field then took us to “Hang ’em Heigh” A tall wall that you climb with the help of a rope. Every other time I have done a DD race I have needed a bit of a push to help me up this, but I’m really proud to say that this time I did it alone.
A short trot later we came to the “Bladder Ladder” another very tall wooden structure, that we just had to sit at the top of and have another photo.
This left us with just a final run down to the last wall. This time they had added a little ledge at the bottom of the wall to make it easier to get over, and there was only this one big wall this time. I needn’t have worried so much at the start of the race. We were finally done and it was time to grab a quick drink, and our race goodies before getting ready to go again for the 6k race.
Dirty Dash – 6km
This time I again teamed up with some more of my RPCC family, rejoined again by Vince James, along with my frequent training partner Linda Zeberga and Chris Williams. We were going to be taking this slowly, Linda having picked up an injury, Chris also having an incredibly sore ankle, and me with my usual niggles, but despite this, I was about to yet again have a whale of a time.
The race started out the same as the 12km, this time a bit slower and if possible ever more posing. The Bitch Ditch was harder this time, after being churned up by everyone running the 12km earlier in the day, even with superbly grippy shoes I had to be hauled out of the last ditch.
Under the barbed wire and back into the rivers, not quite so endless this time, but much more muddy, it was more like wading through waist deep sludge rather than water. We spent a conciderable amount of time in here, as we kept stopping for photographs and messing around. Vince going for a full muddy splash, and me thinking it would be a good idea to try and get a piggy back, before knocking both myself and Vince into the mud.
After wading through the river, under a few bridges, on one of which I managed to bang my head, it was time to clamber back out of the stream and continue on our way. The 6k route skipped out the second barbed wire crawl, tyres, logs and hangover walls, so before too long had passed we were back to deep water swim and the smoking barrels.
At the sheep dip we ran into David Beatty, and once we had posed for yet another photo it was back off to the Tarzan bars, which I fell off yet again, and then it was the home straight over the big walls.
Again the big walls posed little problem, a little leg up required on the Irish Table from Chris, but the wall with the rope was done on my own again, we predictably stopped for a photo on the bladder ladder and we were nearly done.
The little run towards the final wall was little more than a slow jog with everyones injuries, aches and pains playing up, and having run 18km, we still arranged it so we could get a picture of all four of us at the top of the final wall before crossing the final finish line.
We were finally done, and got our finishers photo with Doug Spence before going to get our race goodies and bags from the bag drop. There was quite a queue here so I’m glad I had my hubby around to hand me my dryrobe straight away, as there was the potential to get very cold had I left it in the bag drop, but other than this the day was brilliant. I don’t know that I’ve had so much fun at a race before. I can’t wait for my next one.