I woke up bright and early on a sunny Sunday in June to head back to the Nuts Challange course, where Pukka Races were holding their World War Run race this year. Collected by my friend Vince, along with my training partner Linda we had one of the funniest car journeys up to the race, with a lot of silliness, and snapchat banter as we were joined virtually on our journey by the gorgeous Tim Lovett, and the day was off to a cracking start before we had even arrived.
We had opted for two laps of the 5 mile course, and neither Linda nor I had put in that kind of distance for a while due to injuries, so we quickly decided to run this one together, take it a bit easy, have fun and help each other round. We joined by one of the RPCC Warriors Graeme Harrison, who also fancied taking it easy, and we set off for a reasonably leisurely run round the course. That being said, we weren’t exactly slouching either, finding ourselves overtaking quite a few people, particularly on our second lap.
It was a beautiful day, and we spent most of the race laughing as we waded through thick mud, clambered over tyres and jogged through woodland.
After two laps I was really happy that apart from a few twinges in the mud my bad ankle had held up really well, but having also been suffering with a bad back, this was really starting to make itself felt and despite the fun of the race I was glad when we were on the home straight. We had lost Graeme by this point, so Linda and I grabbed hands and did our best sprint finish, and managed to come in joint 9th girls even though we hadn’t really been racing.
Once we had, rather unsuccessfully, cleaned off some of the mud and got changed we hung around in the sunshine and sunk a couple of beers, chatting and generally messing about, until it was time to sadly call it a day.
I have kept this blog reasonably short, as I was also asked to review this race for the excellent Muddy Race website and should you so wish you can read that version here.
On a nice, bright and warm Sunday morning I took myself for a walk down to the park and signed up last minute for the 10km distance of the local Race for Life. After turning my bad ankle, yet again, at a training session I had wanted to wait and see how strong I was feeling before deciding on the distance. I had arranged to meet my friend and training partner Linda before the race and we decided to run together.
As they called over the runners to the start line, before the joggers and walkers, we edged our way as close to the start point as possible, before they counted us down and we set off.
Linda and I edged around the runners at the front, leaving only a few people in front of us, as we made our way on our first lap of the park. It was a route I’m now fairly familiar with after our frequent virtual runs round the park. We pushed up the hill, around the play park where people were cheering and we edged around a few more people but as we headed towards the reservoir around the back of the park we heard some people gaining on us, this turned out to be fellow RPCCer Amy Moore and her friend Kelly. They breezed past us, and Linda turned to me and said “They are going to be first, we are going to come joint second!”
As we made our way back down towards the main part of the park, we picked up a bit of speed down a hill, but my ankle was aching a bit, I might have moaned that I wished I had only signed up for one lap, but we pushed on, Linda never once looking annoyed at me slowing the pace. We ran around the end of the park back up towards the start line and took the left hand path to continue for a second lap, the Heart FM MC giving us a shout out from the stage as we ran past.
As we started our second lap and hit the worst hill the park has to offer, I felt like I was really struggling, with some cramp in my stomach and a dull ache in my ankle, but Linda wouldn’t let me stop and insisted we keep running. She was determined no one was overtaking us, and that we would be finishing together. As we got around the back of the play park for the second time we started to catch up with the people that were walking, this slowed us down as we weaved in and out of people yelling “excuse me, excuse me” as we passed.
The people we passed were really encouraging, cheering us on as we ran past them. The closer we got to the finish, the more we had to dodge other people, the main part of the park being particularly busy with both participants and spectators. As we headed towards the finish for the final time, we grabbed hands and sprinted to the end. We hadn’t been passed and so had completed in second place behind Amy and Kelly for the 10km distance.
We had managed to finish the run in 52mins which is only one minute slower than my quickest 10km, despite the weaving around people and painful ankle, Linda having really made me work as she is a much faster runner than me. This was the first time I have run Race for Life and I really enjoyed it, running with Linda is always good fun and it was a lovely day, with the added bonus that it is a run for charity, raising vital funds for cancer research, a cause very close to my heart.
There was a lovely atmosphere in the park, from the hundreds of ladies running, jogging or walking in pink, to the support from the spectators, and it’s defiantly a run I would do again and encourage others to take part in too.
Once we were finished we hung around in the park enjoying the sunshine, until hunger got the better of us and we headed off our separate ways to go home and get something eat!
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.