The completion of the Coast to Coast marked the last of the really
stupid big events for the year. If you need a reminder, we completed the Dirty Weekend, The Wall, the Total Warrior Total Weekend , plus a few other bits and bobs, check out the event page and see all the lovingly crafted and promptly posted race reports.
When we were planning 2013 we decided it would be much more cost effective to get a year’s membership for Rat Race. Obviously we signed up for as many events as we could to get our monies worth.
Which was why we found ourselves getting up at daft o’clock one sunny Sunday day in late September to do our first ever Survival of the Fittest. A 10kish* obstacle course around Cardiff Bay. The Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest Series has been running a few years, taking place in Cardiff, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Manchester and London. There are two events in London on the same day, and because I live there and we’re
idiots keen to get our money’s worth, and suckers for free t-shirts**, and a medal***, we’ve signed up for both.
But first Cardiff.
God knows why but we booked an early wave but we did, and thus duly rocked up the requisite hour before to register. We watched the first couple of waves depart before giving the warm-up our usual damn good ignoring and setting off ourselves. First obstacle up were the hay bales, which were about 50 yards from the start line and then I can’t really remember what obstacles came in what order, as it was a while ago and I’ve slept since then.
The early part of the course, about the first two miles or so consisted of a couple of run out and back loops, which are a little annoying and a little unnecessary. The race is advertised as 10k. Now a lot of races refuse to give exact milage, such as Tough Guy and Tough Mudder. Others play a little fast and loose with the definition of a mile or kilometre is. I’m looking at you here Total Warrior and Grim Challenge, but at least with all of those races the actual mileage is not too far off what is advertised. Not so with this one which clocked in at just under nine miles, almost 50% extra.
Which is a tad unfair for those people who had trained specifically for that event and to be frank, just f;cking annoying to anyone else.
We were just coming up on the half way point, or so we though, when happily running along the duck board walkway that skirts the harbour, in front of a few hundred onlookers, I tripped. Or as Sean described it; I went down like I’d been shot by a Japanese sniper.
I landed full force on my left knee, swiftly followed by my right elbow, and then slid along the duck board ripping skin from both knees and elbows. All of which made the crawling and clambering obstacles a tad interesting.
It hurt a fair bit, to the level of wanting to vomit but not actually vomiting, but on we carried. It was fairly uneventful, apart from the distance. We knew that part of the course involved the Millennium Stadium, which was miles away. We eventually got there, trotted up and down a couple of the lower level stairways and then headed back to the race village for the finish.
One more adventure awaited us however. At the third to last obstacle, a series of wood pallets set on their sides to form zig zag tunnels. Fiona, crouched like a Tiger, misjudged the zig-zag, and ran head first, at speed, into a pallet. This almost knocked her out and six weeks later she’s still got a bump. A fellow competitor helped her out the tunnel and hung around until some martials appeared and called the first aid team. However, she decided she felt ok and off we trotted.
As we limped our way back, slightly dazed, Sean pointed out the irony that while he was getting plaudits from supporters and fellow racers, while it was us two that were actually slowing him up.
Only the bouncy castle obstacles, the wall and a final dunk await us. Sean bombed the latter, much to the amusement of the crowd, less so me.
Then over the line, medals and goody bag grabbed, we headed off in search of Sunday lunch.
Distance, ouchy-knees and light concussion aside, we enjoyed our first foray into the Men’s Fittest Series. It would be a great introductory event for anyone thinking about trying out obstacle racing. It’s not stupidly expensive, has a nice range of obstacles and no electrocution, which is always a bonus.
*Always pay attention to the ish, the ish is very important
** Yes, I know they are not actually free, just free at the point of delivery, but much like the complimentary drinks service on airplanes it’s equally easy to kid yourself
*** Regular readers might be asking just how many medals, or indeed t-shirts one person needs, the answer is of course N+1. Same was with bicyles