While we’re running through an industrial estate somewhere in Wembley during Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest (SOTF), a car slows down to our speed and the driver asks what we’re doing. We explain and he proceeds to ash, “why?”. Yup.
To bring you up to speed, SOTF is a 10km race run by Rat Race Adventure Sports who are the UK’s leading adventure racing company. The course is riddled with obstacles. All sorts of obstacles. If you can imagine it, it was there. Initially, I was on my own for this gig, then I was offered to bring along a friend. Hayley, of Simply Hayley, volunteered to be my partner in crime and I can honestly say I couldn’t have done it without her.
Somehow, I managed to look up the wrong information about SOTF so I thought there were about 6 obstacles, I wouldn’t get wet and I’d finish the event just a little slower than my slow 10km time. Oh boy. How wrong can a girl be?!
On the day, the weather gods served up rain, rain, and more rain. The saving grace being that the temperature was pretty moderate. On the start line for my 2.30pm wave, I was a whole heap of excited even though I had no idea what I was in for. The first part of the course was visible in the event village; it basically was the event village. I could see the start…and the finish.
I set off with a smile. The first part of the course was exhilarating. Running, jumping, climbing, ducking, crawling, wading, splashing…it was just like being a kid again. Except I don’t think I even had that much fun as a kid!
We then hit the outside of the event village with stairs (my nemesis) to conquer, while carrying traffic cones. Up and down, inclines and declines. Slides and splashes. The point where I lost a contact lens and gave up the second so I didn’t have a wonky view.
Then we were into the industrial park. A quiet bit. We’d lost the rest of our wave by this point – it kinda felt like the zombie apocalypse.
RACE LOW POINT: We came to a crossing, on a dual carriageway, on a bend…with no marshals, no lights. We just had to make a run for it and hope we survived. I know we signed our lives away on the disclaimer form but I kinda hoped SOTF would do everything in their power to preserve my life!
Swiftly the scenery switched up into a park. We ran past the river where we could see the next portion of the race but we had a long way to run before that. Everyone coming the opposite way to us looked muddy, wet and slightly broken.
We hit up the inflatables (oops, inflatable…the other 5 or so were deflated due to everyones excitement before us)….sandbags on muddy ramps (somehow I picked a massive sandbag) which I had to slide down on my butt to reduce the risk of injury! Remember, my health is my wealth as a fitness professional!
Somewhere around here, I lost my race number. I retrieved it though for a photo then donated it to Hayley for her collection!
Before I knew it, we were in a river, wading. The water started to get deeper and I won’t lie I got a little nervous. Randomly, a guy offered to carry me on his shoulders and before I checked if he was joking / serious I was on his back! I don’t know who that guy is, but I would totally marry him as a thank you for that! …more water, walls (with leg ups from Hayley and any guys who offered / responded positively to my girly requests).
A long time we were in that river. Through storm drains and what looked like hobos quarters. We were now also, muddy, wet and slightly broken. A little. But smiling, laughing, chatting, screaming. Ladders, monkey bars, more water. An out of action mudslide, hmmmmm, the volunteer doing the water quit?! (my guess!). Strobe lights in a warehouse. Random. Some beer barrel carrying…through the beer tent of finishers!
Finally, FINALLY, we were heading back towards the event village next door to Wembley Stadium. I was feeling amazing at this point. 9km done. Little did I know that the final km would be THE toughest. Obstacle after obstacle including the triple layered wall and then THE wall… oh and this thing where you had to crawl through water, very cold water, under railings. I really thought I was gonna have to skip this one but I DID IT!
And, all in all, I SURVIVED!
Not only that, I had THE best time ever. This event goes straight to the top of my favourites list. It makes a nice change not to be at a women’s only or female dominated event. And as a woman, I wasn’t there to lose weight or get fit as the media is portraying about women entering these types of events.
So why did I take part?! (to answer the drivers question)
BECAUSE I WANTED TO!
Sometimes you don’t want to run for a PB. Sometimes you don’t want to run to clock miles.
Sometimes, you just want to run as THERAPY.
Other: The medal doubles up as a bottle opener. Handy. The goody bag was male orientated, but food, y’know its the same for us all so the snacks will come in handy. Venue was easy to get to…if the trains were working properly. The marshals were amazing. Most of them. The one’s that were too busy chatting were frustrating. The one’s that helped, encouraged and cheered will be eternally in my thoughts. I never had to queue for a portaloo. Yay to there being more men than women. The atmosphere was unforgettable. Friendly and full of camaraderie. The changing area was juuussst about adequate in size, but nice and warm. Finally, a huge Thanks to www.ratrace.com for my place in the event!