Well, as the name suggests, this isn't a race for the faint-hearted! The race's website says 'Run, Wade and Crawl - 8 mile off road challenge'. So when I woke this morning to torrential rain and gale force winds I wondered what on earth I was doing!
Thankfully the rain had stopped by the time we arrived at the race (set in Aldershot's Army vehicle testing ground!), and the sky was clear and there was actual sun! The announcer did his best to panic us while we were waiting to start with statements such as 'our two most common injuries here are people running into the water too quickly and jarring themselves and people falling whilst in the water and cutting themselves on rocks'. Hmm. He also said 'don't forget our motto here folks - if it looks deeper than a puddle, it probably is!'.
So off we went, and were greeted by a few puddles, which everyone mostly went around and then a steep-ish hill, and as I was running down the other side I could hear shrieks and squeals, turned the corner to be met with what can only be described as a pond (I must point out here the difference between a 'puddle' (small, no more than a few inches deep, space around it to walk around) and a 'pond' (big, 1-2 foot deep, no space around the edge, so the only option is through it!)). It was icy cold - my muscles siezed up and it was tricky to run for the first few steps afterwards. I especially enjoyed the Army man on the side shouting at us to 'get in'!
This continued for the next few miles; puddle strewn lanes, mounds, hills, ponds - even some camouflage netting to crawl under at one point! Then at mile 5 we were met with the boggiest, yellowist 'mud' I had ever seen - the muddy parts were a foot deep and the ponds were mid-thigh high! Even after we'd gone through it - the colour stayed on our legs - looking like we'd been painted! I think this guy might've fallen in!
Miles 5 - 7 were pretty boring - no puddles/ponds/netting, just plain running really! It got pretty boring at this point - many people were walking, and it seemed to take forever to get to mile 7. The last mile was suitably filled with more puddles and ponds and a few mounds - which we mostly slid down! As we rounded the final corner, we came within touching distance of the finish line, only to realise that the route diverted off around another corner (a mean trick at that point in a race!) after another 500 metres or so we came to the final (and deepest) pond and then we were finally 'allowed' to cross the finish line!
All in all, it was a really fun race. Anyone looking for a 'serious' race or a PB need not apply! But although it was challenging, because there were so many obstacles and points at which you couldn't run, you'd probably be able to do it if you could run around 4 or 5 miles. I would question the length though - they were definitely 8 'country miles' - I managed the first 5 (with all the obstacles) in an hour, and it took me 50 minutes to run the last 3 'miles'!
It was a great atmosphere - with many people in fancy dress, no one taking it seriously and lots of support and marshalls on the way round. Next year I will definitely be taking a water-proof camera on the way round to capture the muddiest bits, which seem to have been missed off of the official photos (presumably so as not to scare potential runners!). No goody bag, but we did get a great t-shirt which says 'Grim 09: Survivor' on the front! :D
Here's my feet, socks and trainers afterwards! (You can't tell from the photo, but my trainers and socks were sopping wet!).
Then it was off to the pub for a well deserved hot lunch! :)
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