My final race for 2014 saw me take on my third offering from Mud, Sweat and Beer. Having been quite successful at MSB races this year I was hoping to end the year on a high with a good race, I travelled to the race with hubby Phil, along with Kevin Coda joining us for his second MSB experience and Don Wright, who has raced with me a lot this year.
We were all doing two laps of the 5km course and we arrived as the first 5km runners finished. As we chatted we found out a little about the course, we knew there was one (very cold) lake that we were going to be asked to jump into (or take the longer opt out running route) and that there was also going to be a concrete tunnel full of water to crawl through (again unless we chose the opt out).
It was really cold and we went and sat back in the car until it was time to start the race. There was a short briefing but no warm up and we were directed to the start line.
At the start line we were told to grab a log, we were then counted down and took a sprint up the field towards a cone by a hedge to drop the log off before heading off for a section of trail running through fields and woods. The ground was difficult to run on, as in places it was soft and in places it was frozen hard. Puddles on the ground had a crust of ice over the top, and to start with my feet were really cold.
As we ran through the woods we hit a tall wooden ladder to climb over and we hit some hills to run up and down, there were also some sections of very cold water to wade through.
As we waded in and out of a stream, scrambling up the short but muddy banks, we eventually came to the water filled concrete tunnel, the boys left it to me to decide our fate – and I opted for through the middle, thinking a crawl through water wouldn’t be that bad and not realising that the tunnel got smaller towards the end, forcing us onto our fronts and getting wet from head to toe.
We ran on, my brilliant Inov-8 base layer again doing its job and allowing my core to warm up fairly quickly. A few more hills and we were headed towards the lake. Again the boys let me decide, and again I decided we were going for it. At this stage we had realised I was ahead of the other women running this race and I didn’t want to take a longer route so we all dived down the tarpaulin into the first part of the lake. The cold hit you like a fist and breathing became difficult, as you pulled yourself along using a rope.
Once out of the water the respite was short lived as you ran round a tree and onto a wooden platform where you then jumped into a deeper section of water and were made to swim out and round a tree before swimming back towards the bank where a kind marshal was there to help haul you out of the cold water.
Once out of the lake it was a push up a hill and over some small wooden A frames, another hill to push up and down then on towards the start and the main section of obstacles. We climbed over a cargo container, some low metal A’frames, some small wooden slopes, into and out of a skip and over a tall wooden slope with the aid of a rope, a set of monkey bars, which on the first lap we had to skip as someone had fallen off just before we got there, over one final tall metal A frame and then through a plastic tunnel on the right hand side taking us off to our second lap.
By now Dom and I had lost Kev and Phil somewhere behind us so we pushed on together. Taking a second pass at the wooden ladder and through the frozen fields. When we came to the concrete tunnel again we went straight through the middle, we had already done it once, might as well go again. We also went straight through the lake the second time, refusing to take the opt outs available, leaving us heading again back up to the obstacles.
As we ran up the last hill one of the marshals told me I was the first girl, and there were none others in sight, It looked like I had done it. We ran through the final section, I would love to say I nailed the monkey bars on my last race, but again my lack of grip, the cold, and my general pitiful upper body strength were against me and I fell off, then it was over the last A frame and this time through the left hand tunnel which took you directly into the registration tent to collect your medal, wrist band and beer. I had done it, last race of the year and I had finished in first place – what a way to end!
This race concluded my year of challenges, and by the end I had managed to raise over £4000 for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. More than I could have ever hoped for when I started this year, and what I would consider quite a successful year.