The Scribbler

16 October 2011

A wee bit clarty

Filed under: run — The Scribbler @ 18:36
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Me getting muddy on the Newcastle Stampede

Swamp monster emerging!

So this weekend was all about the Newcastle Stampede, or the ‘daft race’ as I’d called it. Billed as a 10k with obstacles, I’d seen a couple of people do this last year and it sounded right up my street. It promised mud, water and a challenge that I couldn’t predict a time for. So I was in.

I was actually a bit nervous. I was looking forward to it, but not knowing what to expect gave me pre-race jitters. I turned up to race HQ at Gosforth Park race course and picked up my T-shirt, number and timing chip, stopping for a chat with Natalie from parkrun and then bumping into Peter who was on support duty. He kindly offered to look after my car key for me, but I didn’t manage to see him again after I went to get changed.

I knew it would be muddy and Penny had warned me about the sticks and stones and potential scratches from the obstacles. But by the time I saw my PT, Ian and a couple of his other clients I was just wanting to get going.

Lee, Ian and me at the end of the Stampede

A muddy team Inspire

There was talk of barbed wire and much taping of shoes and loose bits of clothing, even a plea for gloves. But I think the boys were trying to scare me and I was having none of it.

I was expecting a bit of a boot camp style warm up from what I’d heard about last year’s event, but we all just lined up on the race course and set off in rough groups of around 100 or so. We were near the front of the wave and set off at a conservative pace, running across the grass, with Ian saying he was just taking it easy to keep something in reserve for later on.

I managed to stick with Lee and Ian through some woody paths and out onto a field stacked with haybales – our first obstacles. A bit of a run and jump to get my knee on and over the lower ones and then a real run, arms up and push up to get over the tall versions. At 6 foot odd, Ian had the advantage over me and was hurdling his way over, soon leaving me behind.

Ten hay bales later and through the woods to our first dip into a cold muddy puddle up to my waist and then through a couple of tunnels that I managed to duck through quite easily. And then out into quite a good run over trails and through the trees. My feet were uncomfortable, shoes filled with stones but I managed to keep running and even stayed upright despite the muddy ground underfoot.

Climbing a steep bank with the help of a rope

Climbing a steep, muddy bank

Running through the trees over the autumn leaves and through the dappled sunlight, I absolutely felt in my element. Some of the other Stampeders were walking by now, but this was where I felt strongest and most confident, finding my feet with a nice easy paced run. I didn’t wear a watch of any sort, so I have no idea of my pace, but I was regularly catching and overtaking people and didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard.

Time to get down and dirty in the mud with a plodge through a watery ditch filled with tyres and then a crawl underneath a wire mesh, face down with just a view of muddy trainers in front of me.

More water obstacles, getting deeper and longer each time and a bit of a delay where people were going one by one through a water filled pipe and being papped by photographers as the shock of cold water hit their chests. You never really knew how deep the dips were. You’d start off in up to your knees or waste then wade forward and drop another half a foot or so.

Me emerging from one of the tunnels

How deep is it?

It looked like the tunnels filled with water were on the same level and these scared me a bit. But each time there was a hidden step up, so you went through crouched down, still up to your chest in water. I did have to take a deep breath before each one though. There was a section of the course that ran alongside a long deep ditch and the people running behind me said they’d walked through it the year before and in general, the verdict was there was more running and fewer obstacles this time round.

Towards the end the water got deeper, muddier and stinkier and the tunnels and wire crawls got longer. And there was still another field of hay bales to come. But finally, finally after a last dip in the mud bath, I was back round to the race course and just a run over the grass to go. The last dip had rather taken my breath away and I found it hard to summon up anything like a run over the last section, but then seeing and hearing the crowds at the finish, my legs kicked in and I found a bit of a sprint for the line. A guy next to me obviously didn’t want to be ‘chicked’ so put on a spurt to finish just ahead.

What fantastic, silly, ridiculous fun! Muddy, wet with straw scratched knees and thistle nipped palms. I was grinning all over my face as I collected my medal and goody bag and met up with Ian and Lee at the finish.

Muddy trainers

Clarty trainers

Back to the car to change, chucking everything wet into a plastic bag and revelling in the feeling of warm dry socks and trainers. I certainly didn’t feel like I’d just run 10k and it was like no 10k I’ve ever done. But I loved it.

And most of all I loved knowing that I wouldn’t have even considered it three years ago. The distance, the cold, the mud, the challenge – I would have thought they were all beyond my reach. It was great to share the day with Ian, who got me started on my journey to fitness and still keeps me going, finding new goals and setting new challenges. And that keeps me smiling.

1 Comment »

  1. Great write up – I read it this morning as part of my weekly digest of blogs. I remember doing “the Grim” 8 mile off road challenge in December of around 2008. Lots of fun and v v v muddy. Its definitely the time of year for it. The warmth you get from having such a good time more than makes up for the temporary freezing and sogginess!


    Comment by Bad Wabbit — 17 October 2011 @ 22:41 | Reply

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