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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

Mud, Sweat and Beer

June has arrived, and with it my next set of challenges. After two weekends off with no races, I was itching to get muddy again. This time the hubby and I took a bit of a road trip, choosing to spend the night before the race nearby as it’s the furthest I’ve travelled yet for the privileged of getting covered in mud.

 Race Description

The race was a 10km Obstacle race located at Shuckburgh Hall, near Daventry and when we arrived it was chucking it down. We quickly went and found the registration tent and got our race numbers, took a quick snap by the start-line and then went and hid in the car until it was time to race.

Me in the rain before Mud, Sweat and Beer
Me in the rain before Mud, Sweat and Beer

After huddling in the car watching the torrential downpour we went up to the start to wait in one of the tents until it was time for the warm up. Thankfully the rain started to ease off as we did the rather cramped warm up, and by the time the race started the rain had stopped completely – the OCR gods smiled on me once again.

The Race

Once we started, the course took us straight away up a fairly steep hill, nothing like warming your legs up by trying to convince them to run up a slope, at the top of the hill we were then treated to a couple of low timber A-frames to climb over before heading into some woodland and then down into a couple of pretty smelly, black looking bits of water.

I have to say that at this point I almost despaired at the amount of MEN who were acting like wimps when it came to getting in the water, it’s frustrating to get held up over nothing, and those guys seriously needed some MTFU pills – just get in and get out people!

There was a lot of running through woodland, which was thick with mud, this race was really going to live up to its name, it was slippery and deep in places, and people were sliding around all over the place. My inov-8 X-Talon 212’s performed well though and I was able to keep my balance and was not slipping around as much as others. At the top of another hill we had to navigate our way through a “spiders web” of ropes strung up between some trees, then off through more mud and woodland. Even the areas with no man made obstacles were fun to run through, there were lots of trees to clamber over, under and round making this a really enjoyable race.

We later came to a deep pond, which you either had to swim, or pull yourself across using the rope – I found this the quickest method. It was cold, but quite refreshing as the day was turning out quite warm. Once out of the pond it was straight over another timber A-frame set over a fence.

Me climbing out of the lake
Me climbing out of the lake

A run up another hill, more woods and lots more mud, down some steep slippery slopes and under a cargo net and then up again to get to the first of two slides, this one was long but fairly shallow gradient, and was fun to leap down on your belly. Up again, and some more muddy woods and hills.

The mud was so thick and slippery that even my shoes, which have great grip, where sliding around. I saw a lot of people hit the deck as they tried to get through the mud in normal trainers. At this point I would like to say that some people really should take a bit more care when racing. By all means race to win, go as fast as you can, push yourself – its why we are there after all, but don’t act like a total idiot! The number of people that were trying to run down really muddy banks in inappropriate footwear and just falling over was astounding. Now this in itself doesn’t bother me, if you want to kill yourself I won’t stand in your way, however when you nearly take me down with you I have a problem! If I break my leg doing something stupid fine, but if I break a limb because of someone else and their stupidity I might have a bit more to say about it. Race safely people!

Once we had (safely) navigated some more muddy woods and hills we came to a second slide. This one was shorter but much steeper and it was fast, I shot off the bottom and skidded through yet more mud. It was great fun. Yet more running, yet more hills, some pretty steep, past some cannons (yup cannons) and then through a couple more deep pools.

Getting towards the end of lap one you had some large tires to crawl through and then down to where there were some hay bails (and a friendly marshal) to help you up and over a large box.

At the end of the lap, if you were doing the 10k you took a right and started the second lap, which was pretty much the same as the first, but they did add a few tweaks and changed the course slightly to keep things interesting. First you had to get over what they called the tower – a high obstacle that you had to climb – or do a forfeit run down the field and back. I actually made it over, despite my fear of heights, without too much drama and a little friendly encouragement from my fellow racers. Then it was on back up the first hill.

At the top of the first slide hubby Phil and I paused to pose for the photographer and then it was back off down into hills, woods and mud mud mud.

Myself and Phil Carrington before taking on the second round of slides.
Myself and Phil Carrington before taking on the second round of slides.

The second slide was even faster the second time around, and everything was getting even muddier as more people had travelled the course. We had started to catch up to some of the 5km runners so things were getting a bit busier, but I still felt fairly fresh despite being on the second go round and I was really enjoying myself.

As we got to the end, this time we took the left path, leaving us one final obstacle – a slightly taller A-frame timber structure to climb, then we gave our numbers to the guys doing the timing and went to claim our medals and beers!

Me finished and enjoying a well earned drink in the sunshine
Me finished and enjoying a well earned drink in the sunshine

The day had turned out lovely, which made getting changed much easier – as did my wonderful dryrobe, which I’ve mentioned in other posts. MSB also provided buckets, sponges, soap and water for a quick rub down which was nice as we had a long drive to do after.

The medal for this race is so cool I think it deserves its own picture – it even doubles as a bottle opener.

The Mud Sweat and Beer medal
The Mud Sweat and Beer medal

This was a really fun, enjoyable race, I think I was grinning all the way round. It was over great, challenging terrain, and had some good obstacles. It would be a great race for a first time runner too, as it had a few opt out points where you could take an easier route , for example to avoid the really deep pond. They also allow kids to participate (with a willing adult) in the 5km option so it could be a fun family outing. If I get the chance I will certainly run one again. It was well worth the trip.