Tag Archives: obstacle race

Dirty Dozen UK Championship Weekend

I spent the week before this weekend hobbling around on painful feet that I had earned the weekend before running 3 races over one weekend and clocking up 34km of racing in 2 days so I wasn’t in the best shape come race day, and with the prospect of another three races it’s fair to say I was more than a little worried.

As I pulled on my x-talons they pushed in all the places it already hurt and I struggled to even walk out to the car, but I shifted them around as much as I could and eased up the pain in one foot, I just hoped that the combination of pain killers and adrenaline would work for me as it has done before, and that when I started running the pain would ease.

The RPCC crew before the race
The RPCC crew before the race

Race Description

The Hop Farm in Kent, where we had completed the Dirty Dozen back in April, was the venue for the three distances being offered over the weekend. The 12km race was being held on the Saturday, with the 18km followed by the 6km on the Sunday.

The race was well organised, as I’ve come to expect from Dirty Dozen. As we arrived in plenty of time registration was quick and easy, wavers handed over and race packs given out. Parking is free and smoothly organised by the marshals and the event village had a great atmosphere on both days.

The races are always well hyped on social media, and so we already knew it was going to be tough, especially as this was also the UK championships. When booking the 12k race I had originally hoped to beat the time I had set in April, but with my feet throbbing before I even set out, and a more difficult course this time round I decided before I even went to the start line, that the new aim was just to get round in more or less one piece.

Dirty Dozen – Saturday

After a race briefing and warm up we were off, and adrenaline was doing its job, my feet hurt but I could run, maybe not at my best, but I was moving. We quickly hit a muddy section in some trees when disaster struck and my shoe came clean off in the mud. I had to stop to dig my x-talon back out of the mud, and get it back onto my foot before starting off again and trying to pick my way back through the people who had overtaken me.

Soon after the muddy section were a couple of hangover walls, where I got a handy leg up and was able to navigate, this was followed by some small hills and a  big wooden box to climb up and clamber over. A crawl under barbed wire over hard mud and then it was into the ditches, an energy sapping clamber up, over mud, into muddy trenches, where you have to haul yourself out just to start again.

Clambering over the mud and into the first trench
Clambering over the mud and into the first trench

Following a run there was a fire jump, and then another section of running, with a few clambers into and out of streams to keep things interesting. Eventually you came round to the sheep dip, a deep trench of water with a series of walls set below the water level that mean you have to completely submerge yourself to get underneath them. At this point I had managed to catch up with my friend Lauren and we continued the race together.

It was a short run round from the sheep dip to the monkey bars, which were so slippery with mud and water that I found it impossible to hold on, so it was straight into the water, which earned  me my first set of burpees. Then it was on to the “2 smoking barrels” obstacle, a deep lake with barrels across it that you had to swim under to continue. Once you had clambered out of the lake it was onto the traverse wall. I was doing ok at this, well over half way, when the lady behind me stomped on my foot and sent me into the water, another set of burpees for me!

After a bit more of a run we hit a tyre drag, which was followed by a section of tyres on the ground to hop across, once these were navigated there was a run round to a log carry through a section of woods.

There was a pretty long section of running, and my feet were really aching, but Lauren stuck with me and we held a pretty steady pace.

We hit another barbed wire craw, only this time thankfully there was some softer mud beneath it, leaving us covered but not too banged up, and now it was time to start hitting some of the high obstacles that Dirty Dozen is famous for, but which I was dreading due to my fear of falling off high objects.

The climb up a shipping container using a wooden “ladder” at a slant was challenging but manageable, but not long after this came the cargo net. I pulled myself up, and shaking managed to get over the top with the encouragement of Lauren. By now we had also caught up with another well known OCR runner Mark Allen who very selflessly cost himself time helping me over the remaining walls.

At the Irish table, a wooden structure with an overhang Lauren and Mark hauled me over oh so elegantly with my cry of “just grab my arse” and then it was over the bladder ladder, a high wooden ladder that actually wasn’t too bad as it feels very stable.

Myself, Lauren and Mark on the Bladder ladder
Myself, Lauren and Mark on the Bladder ladder

This was followed by a large wall called hang ’em heigh where you pull yourself up with the aid of a rope (and maybe a push from a kindly friend) Once this was navigated there was a run around the edge of what felt like a large field, and then you were faced with the first big wall, I was terrified, and it took a lot of help from Mark, Lauren, and encouragement from Tom Nash one of the marshals to help me over the top, then it was a relatively short run back round to the finish, but before we could cross the line unfortunately there was one last giant wall to climb.

Lauren talking me down from the final wall
Lauren talking me down from the final wall

Helped over by Mark and talked down by Lauren, we grabbed hands and finally crossed the line.

I was really happy when I got my time and found that despite the lost shoe and painful running I had actually managed to achieve my goal of beating my time, taking 13mins off and I had managed 24th girl to boot, not bad for a hop-a-long.

Saturday Aftermath

After the race there was an amazing atmosphere, the RPCC crew all hung around to watch each other finish (and have a few wheel barrow races) and of course take a few obligatory after shots.

Some of the RPCC gang at the end of the Dirty Dozen
Some of the RPCC gang at the end of the Dirty Dozen

When I eventually got home I was straight into my compression gear, a bit of ice on my feet, and a bit of food then it was time for an early night

Dirty Destroyer – Sunday

The next morning I headed back to Kent, along with my friends Linda and Chris, ready for our second day of racing. I swapped my x-talons for my mudclaws hoping that they might not put pressure in the same places, this worked to an extent, but Its fair to say I was starting the race in even more pain than I had the day before.

Myself with Chris and Linda before the 18km Dirty Destroyer
Myself with Chris and Linda before the 18km Dirty Destroyer

We mustered up for the warm up and set off. I was struggling from the off and quickly got left behind by Linda and Chris, but at least this time my shoes stayed put in the mud.

For the most part the race was the same as the day before, but broke off for more running with a few more obstacles thrown in around the extra parts of the course. Unfortunately for me some of these extra obstacles were more giant walls, and hitting these by myself without friends or encouragement almost broke my spirit.

As well as the extra walls there were a set of lower walls to hurdle over, and an over and under obstacle.

Rolling under the wall
Rolling under the wall

I was struggling to get my running up to a reasonable pace and felt myself falling further and further behind, I was finding the obstacles more difficult than the day before and being alone was sapping my spirit.

Struggling to get myself out of a simple ditch
Struggling to get myself out of a simple ditch

I managed to rally myself for the fire jump, but failed both the monkey bars and traverse wall again, earning myself a few more burpees along the way.

My Fire Jump
My Fire Jump

My feet were starting to really drag, on one of the longer stretches of  running I tripped over a root and fell flat on my face, I stayed on the ground for a couple of beats before dragging myself up and carrying on.

Eventually I came round to the final section, I hit the cargo net and by the time I was at the top I was in tears, I was scared, tired and hurting and I just wanted to be finished. I sobbed my way round the next section of running, but pulled myself together and took the help offered to me by my hubby/personal photographer who had been following me round, to get over the final set of walls. I was so nearly there.

Wall Gun Show
Wall Gun Show

The last wall was finally in front of me and with the help from hubby I was over the top and could finally get over the finish line.

This effort to complete the 18km meant I had done one of each dirty dozen distance in one season and earned me the medal of honour, my hardest earned medal yet!

Dirty Dozen Medal of honour
Dirty Dozen Medal of honour

I came round from the finish and found Linda and Chris, and got ready to take on the Dirty Dash 6km race.

Ready to go again with Chris and Linda (and a cheeky photo-bomb by Obstacle Kit's Tim Lovett)
Ready to go again with Chris and Linda (and a cheeky photo-bomb by Obstacle Kit’s Tim Lovett)

Dirty Dash – Sunday

As we prepared to do this final race, my body was giving up, and I kept looking over at the final big wall. I really didn’t think I had it in me to get over them again. I finally had to admit, I was just to broken to continue. Right at the last second, as the warm up was starting I pulled out. I was devastated. I had never pulled out of a race before, and never wanted to but running this race would do me more harm than good, and I have the rest of the year to think about.

Chris and Linda went out though and completed the 6km in a great time considering they had both just smashed the 18km race.

Myself, Chris and Linda after they had finished the 6km race
Myself, Chris and Linda after they had finished the 6km race

At the time I didn’t even want to look at my race result, but it turns out despite a poor run I still managed to come in 18th place for the ladies which is not bad at all considering how badly I struggled with the race.

We hung around for a while after the race, had some food, and, of course a few more photos and then it was time to call it a day on an epic weekend of racing. Farewell Dirty Dozen, until next time.

Final finishers photo. (L-R Chris Williams, Linda Zeberga, Tom Smith, Doug Spence, Helen Carrington, David Beatty)
Final finishers photo.
(L-R Chris Williams, Linda Zeberga, Tom Smith, Doug Spence, Helen Carrington, David Beatty)

The Obstacle at Jimmy’s Farm

With barely time for my bruises to heal from the last two weekends of races, July has arrived and brings with it two races, the first of which was The Obstacle based at Jimmy’s Farm in Suffolk. A bit of a drive, and a last minute addition to the list after receiving an email from the people at Beat the Bog saying their race on the 20th had been cancelled for environmental reasons.

Race Description

This was a 10km run, made up of two 5km laps. Unlike the other races that I have run rather than going off road, through woods and streams, it wound its way up and down a field with pretty evenly spaced and frequent obstacles.

I was running this race with the hubby and we had signed up to a later wave to start as it was a two hour drive and we had been out at a wedding the day before, but we had a good drive there and arrived in plenty of time to get registered, we were told we didn’t need to bother wearing our numbers, just our timing chips, as they had run out of safety pins – not actually a problem for me with my X-Racewear top complete with bib protector pocket – but I didn’t bother with mine either.

Hubby and I before the race (in the rain)
Hubby and I before the race (in the rain)

The Race

We gathered just before 11.30am to have a warm up, followed by possibly the most disorganised start I’ve seen, there was no countdown suddenly we were just off, which put us on the back foot a little bit. The start line consisted of some hay bails to clamber over before starting up the first zigzag of the course. You were quickly confronted with some hay bails that had mini trampolines in-front of them to give you a bit of bounce as you went over them.

The ground we were covering was a really gentle slope that the course wove up and down, it was easy running over grass, with nothing for me to trip over for once. At the first large wall there were a couple of hay bails to stand on, but still not enough of a boost for me, with the upper body strength of a flea, so Phil gave me a leg up and I was off again, through a spiders web of bungy ropes strung up on a frame, through a skip that had about an inch of muddy water in the bottom  and across the back of the field.

Running up one of the many zigzags
Running up one of the many zigzags

As we continued to race we traversed the field what felt like endless times, the obstacles were frequent and fairly varied, without much running in between. As it was two laps criss-crossing the fields I’m sure I will get things muddled, so I’ll just talk generally about the obstacles, but probably not in any order.

There were about three skips covered in tarpaulin, at different stages, these had a tiny bit of water in, and we overheard that they had been fuller the previous day but the water had obviously leaked out by the time we got there. I think getting out over the side of these is going to account for some interesting bruises once they all come out.

There was a set of monkey bars, which although I did fall off, as usual, I got further than I normally do – both times round – so I’m quite proud of that. There were also several traverse walls, which I managed every single one without falling off – another first.

There were walls to climb over, nets to crawl under, wooden hurdles to jump, tyres to carry, clamber over and crawl through, pallets to clamber over, a log carry, tunnels to crawl through and a huge slope that on one leg you had to climb up the back of and basically abseil down, then after another zigzag down and up the field again you had to do it the other way round – up the slope and down the scaffold – I think I did this pretty well considering my love of high obstacles.

Action shot over one set of pallets, picture courtesy of Muddyrace.co.uk
Action shot over one set of pallets, picture courtesy of Muddyrace.co.uk

Other obstacles included a set of bars that if you were strong you could hoist yourself up and do using just your arms, or if you are a bit of a weakling like me you could hitch your legs over the bars and oh-so-elegantly drag yourself along that way. A section of netting that you had to climb up, then crawl across the top of, before climbing back down. Some wooden tree stump “stepping stones”, some wooden balance beams, and a couple of sets of seasaws to run up, and back down again. I have to say my x-talon 212’s were brilliant, I had great grip, even on the wood when I thought I might slip. Then towards the end of the lap a couple of walls, which I was helped over by a couple of young lads who seemed to be either slightly ahead or behind me the whole way round (by this point I had left Phil behind – he wasn’t feeling too well today).

Getting over the wall. Picture courtesy of MuddyRace.co.uk
Getting over the wall. Picture courtesy of MuddyRace.co.uk

You then headed down to where the finish line waited tantalisingly, but it was off to the right and round for a second lap first. I’m sure I have missed out quite a few of the obstacles but I’m tired and my poor brain is feeling a little fuzzy!

This was a great race for people who prefer the obstacles to running, and it was completely different to all the others that I’ve done so far and I’m really glad we made the trip. I think it would have been a fantastic race to do as a group, as while snaking up and down the field you would see a lot of each other. It would also be a really great race for spectators as you could see the whole course. I would defiantly do this race again. I ran the race in 1h05 and I’m really pleased with this time, considering its only 9 mins slower than I ran a flat 10km in February without obstacles, which hopefully goes to show how I have been improving this year. I ended up placing 82nd overall, and 11th woman.

Me at the end of the race
Me at the end of the race

After the race it was time to jump into the dryrobe and get changed, it was a bit of a rainy day and I was pretty soggy, but the one thing this race did lack was mud, meaning that I wasn’t half as dirty as usual. Then it was back in the car and home to Hastings, until next time!

 

 

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.