Tag Archives: obstacles

Nuclear Fallout 2015

Choosing What to Run

Another weekend, another road trip, up to Essex to run Nuclear Fallout for some of us, and the first independent UK OCR championship for others. I had taken my time deciding what to do about this race, I had signed up for Fallout very early in the year with my Nuclear season pass, then later qualified for the UK champs and I had thought about swapping to just run the championships, or running the championships then going out and running fallout later in the day, but in the end I decided to keep my entry as it was as when it comes down to it, I’m not really a competitive racer, in fact I’m basically a glorified fun runner in slightly better trainers, and I knew there was no way I could complete the course with an intact wrist band even if I was fast enough to push for a top place (which I’m not) so I stuck to running the 12km Fallout course, and on the day I asked my friend Lucy Warburton if she fancied a running buddy and we set off  together for a leisurely lap of the course.

Waiting to start in good company, with Vince about to run the UK champs and Linda up to support
Waiting to start in good company, with Vince about to run the UK champs and Linda up to support

The Race

I’m sure I have said this before, but Nuclear really know how to put on a race. It remains a favourite for me time after time after time. We set off in the rain at 10.30, it was wet, it was muddy, and it was cold. We headed straight into a ditch and then set off running along slippery muddy farmland, more than once Lucy and I talked about how glad we were for our Inov8s as we watched people slide around all over the place in normal trainers. We kept a pace that was steady, but fast enough to keep us warm, as we took on walls and muddy ditches, climbed up tyre walls and attempted inclined monkey bars and hang tough rings.

At the gorilla bars  we both swung off straight away and headed into the muddy penalty ditches, before coming to the endless feeling stretch of cargo nets, where we tried to keep with another group of racers to make it easier, but getting utterly covered in sticky mud none the less.

When we got to the section with the Aquaphobia obstacle we were shoved up the muddy bank by a helpful man behind us (nothing like an OCR to get groped and grope back in return), then we were up, over the slippery planks, and made the jump down onto the mats and into the cold cold water. Up and down more slippery muddy banks, on our bums, trying to use a rope to slow ourselves down but gravity doing its job and sending us ever so elegantly into the water again, up and over another tyre wall then across the inflatable nuclear pontoons

As we moved on round the course we started to notice more and more people pulling off to the side cold or hypothermic, and there were several racers still running whilst wrapped in foil blankets, the cold conditions were obviously starting to get to people, we were holding up OK though and enjoying the race. We soon came to a new obstacle called Risk Taker, which involved a short jump from a plank onto a cargo net, which although not a long way, took a lot of psyching up (for me at least) to make the leap, once on the net you had to climb down and underneath over some water to a bank on the other side, both Lucy and I were really chuffed and proud to have completed this obstacle.

Scaling the net - I'm in this picture honest ;)
Scaling the net – I’m in this picture honest 😉

Eventually we made it to the part we had both been waiting for, the zip line and death slide. First you had to wade/swim out in cold water to collect your rope for the zip wire, then come back and up onto the obstacle where you whiz out over the lake, then it was over some netting suspended in yet more cold water and then up onto the slide. On one side of the slide Nuclear have added an extension called the kicker, shooting you off the end and giving you more air time before hitting the lake. Having both done the slide before Lucy and I decided to brave it and took to the side of the slide with the new addition, we counted to 3 and slid off the top together, shot down the steep slide and were airborne in seconds, shooting into the air off the end of the slide before coming down hard into the lake, I hit the water with the flat of my back and it felt like my entire body had been slapped hard, it was so painful, I hit the bottom of the lake before surfacing, and squealing with equal parts pain and delight, it might have hurt like hell, but boy was it fun.

My best death slide photo yet!
My best death slide photo yet!

As we neared the end we were starting to feel the cold, but I was still loving the race. As I ran it occurred to me that this was why I do it, why I run races like this, shear fun and enjoyment of a really well put together course, challenging myself and spending time with like minded friends. Nuclear races restores any faith lost, removes any doubts about why I continue to spend my weekends in this way, and reminds me of why I still love this hobby.

As we came into the event village for the final time, we had to take on the 3/4 pipe, where Lucy and I were fortunate enough to be hauled over the top by the lovely Matt Stewart who was marshalling the obstacle, and the weaver, which we failed to weave but did clamber over the top, we then grabbed hands and sprinted the short distance left to the finish line, got our final photo then dived into the warm showers.

Sadly out of focus finishers pic with Lucy
Sadly out of focus finishers pic with Lucy

After…

Once I was finished I headed up to the Muddy Race tent where I had left my bag to get changed and catch up with a few people, then headed down to the bar tent where they were doing the presentations for the UK championship winners. My good friend Vince had run the championship course, which was an extended version of what I had run, with lots of additional challenging obstacles for them to complete, and I listened with interest to Vince telling me about the course which sounded pretty brutal.

We watched, cheered and clapped along as the podium winners for each category were announced. It’s wonderful and humbling to get to see these phenomenal athletes pick up their well deserved trophies. I always think it’s such a privilege to even be in the same place as some of these guys, let alone be able to say that I know some of them and could call them a friend!

Once the presentations were done we took on the last challenge of the day, getting the car out of the increasingly muddy car park, and headed for home, where I took the longest shower in history to try and warm up, having been shivering non-stop for about the past 5 hours! I came away from this day absolutely buzzing, Nuclear had done it again, a race to be proud of.

Just hanging out with the elites, as you do (including superstar winner Conor Hancock and 3rd place Ross Brackley)
Just hanging out with the elites, as you do! (including superstar winner Conor Hancock and 3rd place Ross Brackley)

 

Cambridgeshire Spartan Sprint 2015

I’m going to be honest here, I was about ready to write Spartan off and out of my race calendar permanently. I had completed the three distances last year, I had got my trifecta, I had had some fun and enjoyed the races, but really I thought they were a bit more hype than substance and although there was nothing wrong with any of the Spartans I did last year, there are plenty of other races out there to spend my hard earned cash on. Then they brought out new T-shirts and medals, and I got seduced by the new bling, so I decided to give them one more go and signed up to one sprint, one super and the beast for 2015.

Then came all the controversy sounding Spartan this year, changing dates, changing peoples wave times and making out that it was all brilliant with no apologies, and this managed to annoy me for no real reason as none of the changes had affected me, my races remained as I had booked them, all this along with lacklustre reviews, (other than Spartan Scotland, which sounded awesome!), and I found myself yet again thinking that this would be my last year doing Spartan, I would collect my Trifecta and call it a day.

Be all this as it may, I was still up at some ungodly hour on a Saturday morning to make the trip to the Cambridgeshire sprint (actually set in Peterborough). The long journey was filled with laughter as usual and we arrived in high spirits and got registered easily, leaving us a little time for a few photos before starting the race.

Before the race with the main man, Rich Pringle.
Before the race with Rich Pringle.

We clambered into the starting pen, the coloured wrist band we were given at registration checked as we climbed over the wall in front of the start line to make sure we were running in the right wave.

I was running this race with my friend Dom Wright, and we set off somewhere towards the middle of the pack and we hit the first obstacle in very short order. A series of low walls to vault over, coming so soon this did cause some hold ups but we were soon on our way across what turned out to be a very obstacle heavy course. They came thick,fast, and varied with very little running between them. This was fantastic, the course was amazing and you were never quite sure what they might make you do next. Spartan had done it, they had really got it right this time.

Carrying a bag of gravel, as you do. Photograph courtesy of Epic Action Imagery
Carrying a bag of gravel, as you do.
Photograph courtesy of Epic Action Imagery

Since I have already written this race up for Muddy Race I don’t want to repeat myself to much on this blog, but you can read my race review here.

It was great running with Dom, who was always there to give me a push over a wall and encourage me, he also had the patience to wait around while I completed several sets of burpees for failing to complete the traverse wall (I got a bit tangled up), the monkey bars (too slippery for me to grip), the rope climb (because I just can’t do it) and the spear throw (only about an inch short – damn it! 😉 ) He also waited to help me and make sure I got up over the final wooden slope, which after sliding back down it several times at Cambridge last year, I’ve had something of a mental block over. We finished together, along with Gareth Ernest, as we leapt over the fire to pick up our medals.

Fire Jump
Fire Jump

After the race everyone was buzzing, so many obstacles for such a short distance, so much fun, such a good race. The general consensus was that this had been one of the best Spartan Races most of us had been to. I am now really looking forward to seeing what they throw our way at the Super and the Beast in a few weeks time, and I can’t wait to get out there and do another one, and if they are as good as this Sprint was, then I may have to put Spartan back on my race calendar after all!

Finished, with the first piece of my Trifecta for 2015
Finished, with the first piece of my Trifecta for 2015

 

Dirty Dozen Races: Dirty Destroyer 2015

It’s 5am on a Saturday morning, your alarm is buzzing in your ear, and you only fell asleep about an hour ago anyway, all you want to do is go back to sleep, but your friend is picking you up in an hour, that’s right, it’s race day!

I travelled to Essex with my frequent race buddies Vince James, Linda Zeberga and Chris Williams, Chris joining us to cheer us on as he sadly broke his ankle and so had to pull out of the race himself.

Early morning car selfie with Vince, Linda and Chris
Early morning car selfie with Vince, Linda and Chris

We were all looking forward to the race, taking on the 18km Destroyer distance to complete the Dirty Dozen set and collect the coveted medal of honour.  A quick discussion as we were getting registered had us agreeing to run in a little team for fun rather than time, so Linda, Vince and I were set to run with our friends Lee Haines and Graham Gilbert, and their friends Daniel Lafferty and Andrew Peddar.

Some of the OCR family before the race. Photo courtesy of Tony Jarvis photography
Some of the OCR family before the race.
Photo courtesy of Tony Jarvis photography

We set off at a gentle pace on what was to be quite a long starting run, before clambering over a big wooden box, and then continuing to run before we hit the Bear Crawl, consisting of the first set of barbed wire to crawl underneath,  and this is where disaster struck our little team. I first knew something was wrong when I heard someone say “get out from under here and over to the side”, I looked up to see Linda and some drops of blood. We all got out from the barbed wire to take a look. Linda had been caught just below the eyebrow by the barbed wire and the cut looked pretty nasty.

Linda and I climbing down from the box
Linda and I climbing down from the box

We happened to be just behind our friend Amy Moore, who is a paramedic, she took a look at Linda and recommended she stopped, but Linda really wanted to carry on, so we took on the next longish section of running, up and over the high wooden bladder ladder, then eventually came to Bitch ditch, Muddy walls with watery pits down bellow. Linda had to miss these as she couldn’t risk getting mud in her wound. The next obstacle was the wall of mud, a similar obstacle to navigate, as I came out of the last trench Linda called me over, she hugged me and told me she was dropping out. She has way too much integrity to complete a race skipping obstacles, it was a hard decision, but she really did need medical attention, and she is my hero.

Getting Splash down in a muddy ditch. Picture courtesy of Epic Action Imagery
Getting Splash down in a muddy ditch.
Picture courtesy of Epic Action Imagery

Had I not know that Chris was around somewhere I would have dropped out with her, although I doubt she would have even entertained the idea, but knowing she wouldn’t be alone I carried on, leaving her in the capable hands of a marshal and keeping a look out for Chris as we moved on to the next section of obstacles, the sheep dip, a section of submerged walls that you have to duck under, and then fallout, a new obstacle where you crawl into a box, that drops you out into a pit of water.

Coming out of Fallout Picture courtesy of Tony Jarvis Photography
Coming out of Fallout
Picture courtesy of Tony Jarvis Photography

This obstacle was followed closely by the Tarzan bars where I found Chris waiting to watch us. As the others started their attempts at the bars I stopped to tell Chris what had happened and sent him off to find Linda. After the Tarzan bars we re-grouped and were joined by Amy Moore and Suzannah Martin for the rest of the race.

What followed was another long section of running before another barbed wire crawl and before too long, a log carry. This log carry was 3km long and included a set of muddy ditches, another barbed wire crawl, a wall climb and a cargo net crawl, all with your log (you did put it down for the wall). More running, a few walls to roll under, some box hurdles, and more running and we got to a shipping container to climb over, where we paused for a team photo.

Team shot on Barley Contained. Photograph courtesy of Epic Action Imagery
Team shot on Barley Contained.
Photograph courtesy of Epic Action Imagery

We continued, over the cargo net, and eventually into the lake, by far my favourite part of the run, as by now I was overheating and desperately wanted to get into some water. Under floating barrels, over a pontoon of wooden slats, and then up onto a floating platform containing a wall. Now I don’t like being at the top of walls at the best of times, but this one was floating and therefore less stable, with the help of the misfits I was running with though I was helped up, and back down, the wall and then it was back into the lake for a quick swim to the bank.

Coming over the floating wall Picture courtesy of Tony Jarvis Photography
Coming over the floating wall
Picture courtesy of Tony Jarvis Photography

This just left us with the Irish table, where yet again I was given enormous help, then a trot along to the giant wooden A-frame, afterthought, where again we stopped for a bit of team posing.

Just hanging around at the top of Afterthought Photo courtesy of Epic Action Imagery
Just hanging around at the top of Afterthought
Photo courtesy of Epic Action Imagery

This was followed by the True Irish obstacle, again a big leg up for me, then it was finally time to head for the big wall at the finish line, where, true to form, I pretty much froze. The guys helped me up and I got stuck at the top unable to get myself down, but was rescued by my team, who encouraged and talked me down, and were there to catch me at the bottom.

At the top of the final wall with Vince
At the top of the final wall with Vince

Once across the line, it was with relief that I found Linda, with Chris, in good spirits, patched up by the medics on site. I was utterly beaten and very glad I had only opted for one race that day. I had blisters, a painful hip and pain in my back, but I had my medal of honour and was ready to collapse with a beer and my friends.

WIth my medal
With my medal

This was only supposed to be a short post as I have already written up Dirty Dozen for Muddy Race (which you can read Here) but it seems I’ve waffled on for ages instead. Dirty Dozen Races, thanks again for another wonderful day!