I’ve only recently got on the Timehop wagon, and I’ve found it quite amusing to see what random drivel I have posted to various social media accounts over the last few years. Actually, some of it is quite terrifying. I had to smile when this one popped up this morning:
About 6 months before, in roughly March/April 2010, I thought that 10k wasn’t too far. And I thought that an obstacle course sounded fun. Combining these, I also thought it would be a great idea to rope my manager and work friend into doing it. After all, it was for charity. So we entered the Commando Challenge. This was a long, long time before I’d heard of Spartan races or Tough Mudders. The Commando Challenge is made up of approximately 3 miles of the Royal Marine’s commando course, sandwiched between two 1.5 mile runs.
In typical Tub style, I was overenthusiastic to start off with, went hell for leather on a training plan, got bored, wandered back to the sofa and waited for the event to come around, hoping all the while that someone other than me would pull out. My manager had the sense to do so, but with a steep entry fee and a stubborn work friend, I didn’t get the chance to drop out, and she roped her sister into making our team up to 3 (you needed a minimum number of 3 in a team, and you couldn’t enter on an individual basis).
I was up bright and early, and was welcomed by a cool and bright autumn morning. Matt and I drove and parked up at Bicton Arena where everything started and finished. My team mates joined us and we went to pay our sponsorship money in and retrieve our number. After a brief warm up, we were off.
I couldn’t run very far, and found the hilly terrain hard going. I know the area well, so I’m not sure why I was surprised at how hard it was.
Learning point: wear proper running shoes (you’ll regret it later if you don’t!).
Then came the obstacle course. I’d always wondered why marines are so short. Most that I had ever come across were shorter than me (at 5 ft 8). As I crawled through the smartie tubes (corrugated metal tubes that are covered with soil), it became very clear why – I struggled getting through them, so anyone taller definitely would have had issues.
Learning point: wear knee pads.
Next up was “Peter’s Pool”. I have no idea why the pool is named after Peter, or who Peter is, but I could only deduce that maybe he was overly fond of ice baths. This was a wade through waist deep cold water. While it was refreshing for a moment, coming out of the other side was just plain mean – frozen legs trying to run up a loose gravel hill. Peters Pool was followed by the Sheep Dip. Two marines standing in the water, one of either side of a low concrete bridge – one to push you under, one to pull you through.
Learning point: wear trousers that will stay up, or have a strategically placed marine in the event of a photo opportunity.
I remember slipping and sliding up the bog, a couple more tunnels and a mud slide before being released back on to the road for the final 3k slog back to base and over the finish line. The last kilometre was painful for my knees and even worse in my hips and I did think at one point that I was going to have to call for someone to tow me over the line!
Learning Point: Smile at photographers – don’t bare your teeth…
I was so glad to get to the end. I was last back from our team, coming in at just over 2 and a half hours. I could almost die when I remember the time it took! This is why I rarely refer to it as my first 10k, as I don’t think that 2 and a half hours counts as a run.
I was so relieved to get home! It took me four long showers to get all the mud and foliage out. I then proceeded to sleep for the rest of the afternoon! It was at this point that I decided “never again”. I no longer get swept up in tales of Tough Mudders or Spartan challenges when I see glowing reviews on blogs or Twitter. I’m glad I completed it, but I have no desire to do it ever again.
Obstacle races – yay or nay?