I had my heart rate monitor on but the incessant pounding in my ears was enough to tell me that I was hovering above the 160 mark pretty much the whole way around the 5K course. After we extracted ourselves from the darkness (including bumps on the head) we climbed and descended, jogged and walked our way to the spider obstacle, so called because it resembles getting stuck in a spider web. Unfortunately I was particularly out of sorts when we got there and kind of bulldozed my way through tripping and tying up my fellow runners as I went.
That really outlines my one frustration with the day, I was really looking forward to the obstacles but there was so much damn running that when you got there you were too tired to really enjoy the challenge. I guess being a “better” runner would help but I am so unwilling to go down that training path I would rather find another way.
So far, it was great, we were pretty much completely in the forest, out of the hot sun and still having fun. When we got past the spider webs it was a long run up and down and around to get to the wall climb (I’m pretty sure that was next) which was really a simple 10 foot wall with foot holds and ropes, making it ridiculously easy to traverse. After that came the first really tricky obstacle which was the rope cross. It was a matrix of ropes strung across a frame that you had to navigate and although it was made easier by hanging onto the frame, it was by no means a piece of cake. I would have liked it better had it been a closer mesh that you could actually run across with some spring to it, those are deceptively hard to cross and far more fun. Especially since there was another rope based obstacle later in the race, something slightly different would have been cool.
By this time we were all silent, breathing hard, there were people standing around before and after each obstacle getting their breath back and the race was well and truly taking it’s toll. As we exited the rope nets the really tough climbs began, out in the sun, running up very steep ski hills, the fun part was definitely over. I admit I had to stop halfway up one of the hills, my heart felt like it was about to explode but more than that, I was starting to overheat. Fortunately, at the top of that hill was the water station, where they gleefully told us we were HALF WAY ROUND!!! Excited by the news and the added information that it was “all downhill” from there (a blatant lie!) we barrelled across the top of the hill and towards the first really big descent. Usually this would be a piece of cake, but with the distance already covered, going down a steep hill is just as painful as going up. Quads on fire, pulse racing and feet occasionally giving up their grip it was a harrowing and challenging change of pace. Of course, what goes down must once again go up and the long climb that lay ahead was almost too much to bear. There were participants littering the steep slope, the barely available shadows on the hillside crammed with exhausted and overheated victims. I was soon one of them! Nicole and her friends were racing ahead of me now, of course, Nicole didn’t leave me to suffer, she held herself back to keep me company. If not for me, I am sure she would have finished a good 10 minutes ahead such is her athletic prowess! At the top, we were welcomed by more obstacles, which for me was a welcome change from the monotony of running.
The next few obstacles were a great part of the course, a set of tires, (thanks to Tony for practice with this one!), a mountain of hay bales which was a hoot and a couple of old cars that we got to run across. It was pretty funny watching the boot of one of the cars come open as someone landed witha thud on the roof, her heart almost jumped out of her chest and she screamed like a kid hearing the ice cream truck! We could sense we were coming to the end, a short gully followed by a sandy hill climb assisted by ropes and wooden footholds once again and we were at the slip and slide, usually a happy and fun activity, this one was more of a plastic covered rock garden where I got multiple contusions and abrasions on my back and butt from the ground under the tarp. Both Nicole and I narrowly missed getting taken out by large out of control individuals whose battle with gravity was obvioulsy completely one sided! Had we made contact, there would no doubt have been copious amounts of bloodshed. Nevertheless it was bringing us closer to the end, which was almost in sight! The end of the slip and slide led us to the rope wall, which to me seemed like it would pose the biggest challenge for most people. Not only the fatigue, but also the fact rope ladders are notoriously hard to navigate. We managed to make it across without issue and were greeted by the sight of hundreds of spectators, two lines of fire blocking our path and the innocuous looking mud pit. We flew across the fire, but on entering the “mud” pit found that much like the rest of the course it was not mud but a muddy mix of gravel and sand which by that time felt like glass shards. The mud was thick, so thick in fact that it took all our strength to make it through. By the time we exited the pit, my shoulders were screaming, my knees were ripped apart but we knew, just by the raising of our tired eyes that we had made it!
58 minutes. About 45 of which was reasonable and the last 15 of which were a complete nightmare. Would I recommend the race? Absolutely! Would I do it again, HELL YEAH! But next time, I’ll be wearing knee protection!