The Scribbler

15 October 2012

Newcastle stampede 2012

This was meant to be a fun race. A chance to get wet, muddy and throw myself over silly obstacles on a run. Which it was, and a lot of fun too. But I’m paying the price for it now, with a sprained ankle 😦

But let’s start at the beginning and try and give you a flavour of what this rather daft event is all about. Hundreds of people gathered at Gosforth race course in Newcastle on Sunday morning, ready to take on the challenge of a 10k obstacle course  in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

Me, Ian, Les and George the pug

Go Team Inspire!

There seemed many, many more than when I did this event last year and spirits were high as I met up with the rest of Team Inspire – my PT Ian, and Big Les and spotted my friend Erika in the queue for registration. We’d been promised a harder challenge this year, after last year’s course was deemed to have been too short and too easy. After heavy rain during the week, it certainly promised to be muddy, so we prepared by taping up our trainers in the hope of keeping them on our feet.

Out onto the race course and we started to be directed towards the start. Someone yelled that if you were after doing a good time you should move into the front section. Well, Ian and Les were off, and after a moment’s hesitation I followed. I had no illusions that I’d manage to keep up with them, but it would be good to start together.

A quick warm up lead by a couple of guys standing on top of hay bales and then we were off over the grass and the mats to start our timing chip. The first section was a run across the grass and onto the ambulance track that runs around the race course. I was keeping it steady, trying to conserve my energy for the obstacles ahead and on the first bit of an uphill, Ian and Les pulled away from me.

The first real obstacle was a field full of hay bales which you had to pull yourself up and over. The double height ones took a bit of a jump! Then it was off the field and into the first water drop and up a muddy bank with the help of a couple of ropes tied to the trees. The cold muddy water got a few gasps, but I knew there was much more to come.

The first of the tunnels soon followed. A dry one to start and get us used to crouching down and heading through the darkness. I was a bit tentative of these last year as I’m not fond of confined spaces, but this year i knew I’d be able to manage them.

Then a run up another grassy bank. Here people began to walk, but I kept going, determined to run all the bits I could, even at a slow pace. It was worth the effort to get to the top though as what followed was my favourite obstacle on the whole course, a long stretch of black plastic hosed down with water for a mammoth waterslide!

I made it down in one piece and then proceeded to fall flat on my face about three steps afterwards. A girl in front of me asked if I was okay and offered me a hand up as I laughingly found my feet.

To give you an idea of what I went through, here’s a video.

More muddy trails and then onto a second field of hay bales and tyres that you had to step through. I negotiated a few of these and then on the second set of tyres I lost my balance, went over hard on my left ankle and came down.

I knew as soon as I’d done it, that I’d hurt it and it wasn’t just a case of carrying on and brushing it off. I stepped away from the tyres and started to assess the damage. Immediately a marshal with a radio came over to see how I was. I managed to stand on my sore leg, so I figured I hadn’t broken it, but the pain wasn’t subsiding quickly. She asked if I wanted to get checked over by one of the medics and I said yes.

I was doing my best to walk around, willing the pain to subside, wondering whether I would have to pull out or if I could continue. A guy came over to speak to me, asked if I could move my foot. I managed to circle it and felt like the initial shock had died down.

I thought, if this guy advises me to drop out, I will, but he basically said “It’s up to you. If you feel okay, carry on. And if it’s painful later on, you can drop out anytime, just find one of the marshals. But take it easy – complete it – don’t compete it.”

I wish I’d had the presence of mind at this point to ask how far I had to go. but stoked up on adrenaline and never really believing I can properly hurt myself, I was off again, walking this time and avoiding the rest of the obstacles. Over the uneven ground I sometimes winced and yelped a little, but I managed to keep on moving and after about ten minutes, tried a little jog trot.

After a while, I found the jog trotting on the flatter trails was actually less painful than walking and concentrated on keeping light on my feet. And while the sunshine was coming through the trees, it was an enjoyable day to be out in the woods.

I was actually looking forward to the next water obstacle, as I hoped the cold water would ease my ankle. It came soon enough and although I stepped down into the muddy ditch with some caution, I was able to wade through fairly easily. I only struggled getting back out the other side, and generally managed to grab a helping hand.

The next obstacle I remember was a crawl wire, where we were forced onto hands and feet in the mud. After all the bear crawls I do in training, I made short work of this one.

But when it came to the muddy tyre filled ditch, I opted out, not wishing to risk my ankle again. I explained to one of the marshals that I was skipping this one and he jokingly said “Okay, give us 10 press ups then,” but I duly obliged and then headed off along the trails.

It was a bit frustrating not being able to run properly and I gingerly picked my way through the mud, cautious of doing more damage. More muddy drops, each one deeper than the last, a sheep dip of three skips in a row and then the final tunnel and mud bath. Here I saw the guy that had helped me when I hurt my ankle and he was pleased I had made it and was still smiling a he helped me up and out the side.

Me and Ian at the end of the Stampede

A muddy looking pair

The last little run over the field into the race course was actually one of the more challenging bits as the ground was ridged in waves and the last cold dip made it hard to catch your breath. And then there was one last obstacle before the finish – three guys with rugby tackle pads who shoulder barged you off track as you headed for the finish. Once past them, I heard someone shout my name, broke into a wincing kind of run and crossed the finish at last!

I caught up with my patient friends who had hung around getting cold, waiting to see me come in. Ian had managed to lose one of his trainers in the last water obstacle and was standing barefoot on the grass. We snapped a couple of pictures and then, shivering, decided we’d better head to the cars for some warm clothes.

With me limping and Ian barefoot we made a right pair and just about got to the car as it started to rain. So there was no hanging about and I went off to find my car and get out of my wet gear and into some warm socks and dry shoes. Everything I was wearing was soaked and very muddy.

Giving my feet a rough clean with some wet wipes I was able to review the damage and saw that my ankle was quite red and swollen, but it didn’t look too bad. So it was home quickly, into the shower and ice pack on my ankle while I soaked my muddy gear.

I then spent the rest of the afternoon with my foot up on a chair in the farm kitchen watching Beth get on with the week’s baking. I felt very guilty not being able to help, but was very grateful when they invited us to stop for dinner as it meant I didn’t have to stand on my feet and cook.

Back home, I got out the ice pack again before bedtime and managed to sleep with my ankle propped up on a couple of pillows.

Today the swelling and bruising has spread, but after a bit of stumbling around, I managed to get enough movement to be able to drive to work, where I got it strapped up by one of the staff at the gym.

Right now I’m feeling rather foolish. Foolish for pushing on in a race that really didn’t matter. For thinking I could get away with it. I’ve reset my expectations about how quickly I’ll bounce back from this. I’m hoping a couple of weeks, but am prepared to sit out any serious running this winter if I have to.


1 Comment »

  1. […] refreshed, revitalised and ready to enjoy the off season were scuppered by a silly fall during the Newcastle Stampede which had me finishing the best part of a 10k with a sprained […]


    Pingback by 2012 – a review of my training and racing year « The Scribbler — 30 December 2012 @ 19:26 | Reply

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