Sunday, 5 March 2017

Mad March Mare

As part of my aim to try and enter and support smaller obstacle events, I signed up for the mad march mare, an event that is quite local to me at Hexham race course. I hadn't been doing any training since I had ran the bootneck challenge, so I knew this wouldn't be the easiest event for me, I even forgot what the distance was  and ended up asking at the start line, a nice six mile run out. I had expected some hills but I wasn't expecting quite so many. We started off with a steady run across the field beside the race course, with a few people complaining about the mud and water, one runner even slipped and landed on their back, I hadn't expected to see so many people wearing running shoes for this event, although I did speak to a couple of people and one thought it was a fun run, which I guess I would say it was but not in the strictest usual sense of the term.

We rounded another field and ended up at a water slide which was good fun though the pool at the bottom was a little cold. An a frame to climb over and then along the road beside the race track and across another field and under a cargo net, then a sandbag carry which included a cargo net, which is truly an evil combination and really tricky. We rounded the field and ended up at the walls, there were two to choose from, I tried the largest and couldn't quite make it, so I went with the smaller one and as usual scratched under my arms. We continued along the road before heading into the wooded section.

This was the longest section of the course, with quite a few steep hills to climb and cold streams to climb up, I ran walked with another entrant for quite a while, talking about various events I've done mainly Tough Mudder and I felt quite good and thought about going for a second lap, I bid them farewell mentioning what I was doing and ran on. It was going quite well until I felt a slight pain in my foot, it seems my injury from a couple of months back was rearing it ugly head, I slowed down and drank the entire bottle of water at the water station before heading on, we had a cold stream to walk through before crawling through an uncomfortable tunnel and arriving at a large pool of water to jump into, the water was quite cold and I hoped that it wouldn't cool me down too much but I was fine soon after. I continued on round the race track and across some bumpy ground that had my other foot rolling a couple of times, which was uncomfortable, a tyre wall climb before heading to the finish and another large wall to climb.

I'm glad that I signed up and really enjoyed the day, though I wish that my foot hadn't given me problems, a great little event that would be better if made into a full ten miles, either I'll be doing that one again.

Bootneck challenge

I'd heard about another OCR that was being ran from Gaz, so rather than discount entry we took the option of marshaling and running the same day. I ended up staying over at Carly and Matt's as my earliest train wouldn't have gotten me there in enough time. We got to the event site a little late so we were assigned to different places than we had been given.
We were directing runners on course and when the first runners came through there were no markings so they ended up going the wrong way but it was luckily only a slight deviation to the course route, once one of the organisers came over it was sorted out and I ended up directing people up to the field where they ran round towards Carly and Matt before crossing the water and continuing on. There were some clay pigeon launchers in the field and loads of undamaged clays, so we through a few around and smashed them off trees, which was great fun. We were supposed to be the 12 o'clock wave but they put on a 12:30 marshals wave for us, they also taped off the part of the course we were at to direct people.

We headed over to the main area to pick up our numbers and get ready for the wave, we met John who had been taking photos for the event. At first we thought there was going to be just us and another runner but soon after we had 10 people taking part. After starting my watch we ran across the field and then back up to climb over some tires, then up a mound, round the top and through some water and back down the field, a couple of beams to climb over and under, then down to the part we were marshaling, we headed through the water which was biting cold on the feet, then a wall with wooden blocks attached to it. Through some more water and onto a sandbag carry, then through another field to a climbing obstacle. We then had to pick up a make believe rifle and carry it through a tunnel and hold it above our heads and run back round to where we picked them up.

Up another field with a bit of an incline and sadly the water slide had no water left so we headed onto the next field and some orange segment, which was refreshing, over an undulating part of the field and through a spider web being squirted by someone taking great fun with that water gun. Through some water where Carly hurt her ankle then through another field and some angled walls which showed how out of shape I am for these events. Then under some tyres, which reminded me of birth canal but was infinitely harder due to the weight of the tyres, another thing to climb over before heading through a large body of water and back to the start for the second lap. I liked the idea of having one or two laps to do, after skipping a couple of the obstacles we headed up the field to the quarter pipe which was steeper than everest but I don't know if it was my speedcross shoes or that there hadn't been many runner on course but I managed to get up without incident, then across the finish line to pick up our medals.

It was a nice little obstacle run, that could do with some obstacles that are similar to other events but overall aside from the marking issues at the start it was a good day out and a great start to the year,

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Toughest Mudder

So late last year, Tough Mudder sent out a survey asking questions about finishers feelings on an event that was bigger than a regular Tough Mudder but not as big as World's Toughest. So I filled it in thinking nothing of it and going about my business, then in October last year, they unveiled Toughest Mudder, an 8 hour overnight event, that would take place at Belvoir castle in May one week after the start of the season.

Without hesitation I signed up, which meant I saved on the tax or administration fees, so my ticket was reasonably cheap, possibly in the same price range as my first event. I was looking forward to this, although 8 hours overnight will likely mean a wetsuit, for the entire event, which should be interesting to run in. They released a few scant pieces of info over the time between then and now. A new blog post has just gone up, detailing info about this year's World's Toughest, with changes to the bibs and other assorted changes but they also included info about Toughest events and the talk of patches and being a prize money contender for 25+ mile finishers, special headbands and bibs for finishers, I'm now looking forward to this even more than I was previously.

I think the new obstacles they release each year are one of the reasons I keep going back to take part in events, plus the community is always pretty cool, the team at TM always come up with novel ways to get people talking about the upcoming events. So come May I'll be doing up my shoes and trying to get round each lap in a good time as I'm after that 25 mole finisher patch.

Monday, 6 February 2017

No Ego Torch Challenge

So in a bid to take part in more local events. I found a local one a few miles from my house, the no ego torch challenge. A night run off road that required a head torch, or torch of some description, as it was only five miles I thought this should be relatively easy.

I got the bus over to the nearest stop and started to walk to the event site and of course I'd completely screwed up and plotted a walking route to Lambton Castle, rather than the event site. So luckily I'd printed off the information on where the event site was. So after walking through Lambton castle, I made my way across the grounds, finding arrows that mark the route and following some of those. I walked towards the sound of a main road and hopped the wall and made my way down the road.

After quite some time and the start time looming, I finally came upon the garage that marked the turning onto the entrance to the castle grounds. I made it with ten minutes to spare, quickly changing and pinning on my number as I crossed the start line.

As it had been raining the ground was pretty muddy and made me retie my shoelaces as I almost lost a shoe on the first muddy patch. I felt a little tired which wasn't surprising as it seems walking five miles before doing a race is never a good idea. Still I continued on passing a few people on the way. The ground was firm and boggy in equal measures with the occasional hard path, there were a couple of downward inclines that were a touch muddy and a couple of inclines that were also hard going, I opted to wear my regular trainers which was in hindsight not the best choice as they don't have a lot of grip on muddy hills but I didn't slip over which was good.

I ended up chatting to another runner who mentioned they were doing Tough Mudder Scotland in June so I offered some advice on how to prepare and what to expect when taking part. We walked for a bit and ran over the finish line, to some cheers which was nice to hear.

After getting changed I bought myself a t-shirt and headed for the bus, I discovered that I had the start of blisters on the soles of both my feet which wasn't great but if I'd went to the right location to start with, that could have been avoided, overall a cheap and rather decent mud challenge on my doorstep, I think I'll be taking part again next year.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Tough Mudder 2017

It's been a while since I've felt like putting words down in regards to life.

I mainly spent last year working on college assignments and taking part in Tough Mudder events, although given my lack of posts about them, you could be forgiven for thinking that I hadn't taken part in any last year.

I had been drafting posts about each event, I just never completed them, plus, they all started to resemble the same thing, a list of each obstacle and the order tackled. So I'm back with better mental health and college is going quite well, with graduation in the not too distant future. I'm also going to try and write about events in a different way, less of a focus on the order of obstacles and more about how the event was compared to other events, since each event location has its own unique differences to other events.

So here's to the new Tough Mudder season and bring on the mud.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Tough Mudder 30

I decided that I fancied doing a German Tough Mudder event this year and found the easiest one to get to was NRW near to Neheim Hüsten so I booked my tickets.

The first of my troubles with trains came when the first one was delayed, so I managed to miss my connecting train to Stansted airport. I finally got there and through security and there was a delay on the flight out, which was fine as, I had to stay at the airport until my train which was leaving at ten to five in the morning.
After trying to get some sleep I was woken by security for sleeping somewhere I shouldn't. So I had a wander round and eventually went downstairs to the station. After a long wait the train was finally here and I boarded, because I was so focused on not missing my stop I didn't get off at the right stop, so ended up missing my connection, I did find another train going the same route and jumped onto that. I was hoping that this train would have no one checking tickets like the first, unfortunately they did but thankfully they were cool about it and me travel without paying any more money.

I found my next connection but the board only listed the destination, so I couldn't tell if it was the right train, so I crossed my fingers and waited to see if it would stop at my station, it did, which gave me such a feeling of relief. Then I had to find the event site, as my power bank hadn't charged my phone had almost no power, so I had to conserve it, and after setting off in foot I had to use maps to discover I was walking in the wrong direction, once I was in the right direction I made note of the time, so I could see how long it takes to get back to the station.
The walk there was steep, which started to tire me out, although walking back would be easy. It only took about 20 mins, which was good.

I picked up my number and got changed, discovering the bag wasn't quite big enough for all my stuff, I managed to get it all in and into the bag drop, I met Christian and Tina from TMHQ, Christian, suggested it was the toughest course in Europe, which sounded like it wouldn't be fun, especially the incline on the course. I said I would report back on how I found it.

I didn't bother with the warm up and just got into the start, where the wall was higher than usual, which added to the toughest course vibe. I think they did the checking on legionnaire status but I couldn't tell.
We set off running through a wheat field which was nice and different, someone said something and I understood Gladiator and it did look like the field from the film. Kiss of mud was slightly different in that it had a muddy hump to crawl over and a deep water pit, so that was a nice variant on the usual version.
Liberator had notches in the side like back stabber but I felt more secure climbing up, it felt safer than liberator usually does, probably due to not having the tiny lat which doesn't feel safe.

Christian wasn't kidding about the incline, killer gorilla was impressively hard, long sections to run or rather walk up, before sliding down and heading back up another long steep incline.
I eventually came upon pyramid scheme, which was enormous, instead of the usual stand on someone and get pulled up, thus has a section in the middle with a bar that you can rest on or hold on and get yourself to the middle before getting help to get over the top, this is a true challenge and very much about teamwork.
There was a swamp stomp part that had people crawling through and then a 45° hill that was very muddy, I got part way up before slipping and heading back down to land on some rocks, thankfully they had a layer of mud on them, so it didn't do any permanent damage, it did hurt and I had people asking if I was alright but that could have been much worse, I found a way up and was very wary near the edges.

It started to rain and I suddenly realised that the changing area wasn't a tent but harris panels with scrim attached, so if I finished there was nowhere relatively dry to change, this brought my mood down a little but by the time I finished it was clear. I bypassed everest as I didn't want a repeat of the last time and felt too tired to climb high flyers club, I had though about doing electro shock for my 30th but decided to keep it for my 50th, also I was clean and wanted to stay that way.

This was the hardest course I've done in terms of the landscape, it was also so much fun, I really enjoyed it, I would recommend it to anyone who's done a UK event and thinks they aren't challenging.
I made it back to the station and got my trains, then had a long tiring wait at the airport before flying into Stansted, this time I noticed that people were sleeping on the seats and decided to sleep, which I needed. I bought an open return thinking I might get home a bit sooner but Sunday service means it took much longer. If I can find a better way of travelling I'm going to do NRW next year, hopefully bringing friends.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Relentless suffering

So back in last year John got in touch to query if I'd be up for a slightly different run, which took three events that were being held on one day at a venue called Rockingham castle, where you could do all three races in the space of one day. Ten miles, 10k and a 6k, so around nineteen miles or so I thought.
As time went on, there was literally no information being released about what to expect, aside from an email with entry number and a little more to say not less than twenty miles, which given I'd done double laps at Tough Mudder which were about eleven didn't seem so bad.
I did think about doing training for this as I also want to be able to complete three laps of a Tough Mudder course this year which could be thirty six miles. Sadly my training was put on hold when an old injury decided to flare up, then after that seemed to subside, I had problems with my legs. So needless to say not a lot of training has been done.
Got down to Nottingham and John picked me up, then we headed over to the hotel which was a lovely Hilton place. Got settled in and then headed out for the meal. We met up with Gaz and Evee or rather puffin muffin to give him his full title. I went with a large mixed grill, tiny steak, gammon, chicken, chips sausage mushroom and egg, very nice if the steak was a weird shape. A couple of Guinness and black and we were chatting to our own groups,  although it only changed when I mentioned the Arctic marathon which has a $15,000 entry fee, which puts Tough Mudder's entry fee into the shade a touch.
We chatted amongst ourselves and someone suggested sending salad to the other table, with 22 forks, or a steak shaped lettuce, basically a lot of talk about lettuce. We eventually finished and after a second portion of chips. We headed over to the hotel and got off to bed after John got his waiver and entry number printed off.
I was out like a light and woke a couple of times due to the bed being so warm but got a good night's sleep. Woke around 6 and got ourselves down for breakfast, more sausage, eggs, beans and hashbrowns.
We walked over to the event site and got ourselves into the reception area to collect race number, timing chip and wristband, waited a bit in the tent set aside for relentless suffering entrants, a sort of food and drinks station. The warm up talk seemed important but no one was really listening, then a warm up, which I took part in as it was a bit chilly, then we were a bit delayed in starting people off so we finally set off at 9:30 which was alright as they were delaying the time you had to be setting off for the last run.
The first obstacle was a small triangle wall to climb over, which was easy then a slightly taller one, again not too bad, we then had our first varying obstacle, water barrels before into a really cold stream to walk along before some press ups before having a bunch of metal barriers to clamber over which was physically draining, then more stream and a skip of water which had a drop into the skip and a jump off the end of it which was pretty unsafe, especially as you had to use the edge of the skip to get out.
Most of the other obstacles were a combination of carrying things cargo net and mud. We got through a forest section and it seems someone removed the signs, so we ended up going in the wrong direction and having to turn back after finding we'd missed the sandbag carry, so back over the course we headed and found it, it also meant we got to so the kettle bell drag.
It turns out we were carrying 40kg bags of sand up and down a hill eight times, the hill had an incline of around 45° or more angle, Gaz and John had enough and decided to take the forfeit, which was less than the 25 press ups I ended doing by completing the obstacle. They went on ahead as they wanted to get into the OCR championship, I just wanted to finish it. I don't know how long it took me but it must have been close to ¾ of an hour easily, towards the end I was just resting at the top, finally back on track I skipped the part that we had already done.
I continued running and occasionally walking until the next obstacles but they all pretty much blended into each other after this point where they were climb over something or carry something. I did manage to split my shorts on the tyre flip as they were stuck in mud. I eventually gave up with obstacles as I had no energy left and my motivation to do them was in the toilet so I took the forfeits.
I finally saw the finish line and four walls to climb over so I just walked past basically going "yeah, screw that, I'm done" before crossing the line after five hours and forty minutes, which for eighteen and a half miles seems quite long, especially as I can usually do Tough Mudder in three and a half.
Aside from the slight issues I had with safety and people not really helping each other, it was definitely something that was challenging and I'm glad I took part, I just wish I knew how hard it might have been before hand and that we hadn't gone in the future wrong direction, I might be up for doing it again next year, possibly over two days instead if just the one.