So as Dante*said “I’m not even supposed to be here today”.
The plan was simple and the plan was good. The plan was to not run Total Warrior this year, instead I was going to head to Cape Cod to eat lobster, drink beer and listen to the sweet music of Jumbo Brown. Not necessarily in that order. Indeed the aim was to do all three in a concurrent fashion. Then like the best laid plans, work got in the way and a call had to be made between not going to Boston or going to Boston, flying home and then jumping straight on a plane to Ghana.
With what promised to be quite a large hangover.
So not being an idiot, I cancelled my BA tickets and booked only slightly less expensive rail tickets to Penrith for a weekend of mud, beer, more mud, some mild electrocution, mud, beer, barbed wire, hills, mud and beer.
I appreciate that the last part of that sentence may not, in some people’s opinion, support the premise that I am not an idiot. However, Sean couldn’t run so it only seemed right that I took his place, it also means I’m the only member of Tough Gaffs to have completed every single Total Warrior Race.
B to the Oom!
Anyhoo. A little about Total Warrior. Now in it’s third year and located in Shap, Cumbria, it consists of a 10km obstacle race on the Saturday and 10m on the Sunday. Basically the same obstacles with a four mile fell run thrown in the middle. It is not compulsory to do both the 10k and the 10m, in fact less than 4% of those that compete over the weekend do so. Obviously the first year we signed up for both , after than doing anything less than both would be, well, wrong.
The first year was good, as described by my very short race report. Obviously not swayed in anyway shape or form by us winning some awesome medals, though we are suckers for a medal, but the consensus was that it needed to be tougher. The second year was awesome, so much so I was inspired to write not one but two lengthy reports, one on the10k and one on the 10m, plus a general overview. For those not inclined to clicky linky, the gist is that the course was greatly improved, with better use of the natural landscape, five more obstacles and some nice tweaks generally. The only complaint was that the completion t-shirt was the same on both days. Whereas in year one the 10kers got a cotton shirt and the 10milers got a technical version, only fitting as they paid more and put more effort in. Did I mentioned most of the extra four miles is mainly up?
So what was 2013 like?
Even better, states your reporter happily. Many of the obstacles remained the same, a couple had been removed, including the tyre walk and the hay bale mountains but the new additions were great as were the tweaks made to the remaining hazards.
Such as making the initial ‘Leg it’ double the distance, it’s great at stringing out the field and that, plus the longer gap between waves, meant that there were no queues on the course. The cargo crawl remains a scramble up the hill but now you have to take a log with you. Not stupidly hard but it makes it more challenging, especially if you have a wayward log. There’s also an ice dip, but no need to fully submerge, which needs to change. What was nice was that directly after the ice-wade you had to negotiate your way down a steepish slope, which had a constant head-on breeze, making you that little bit chillier.
The trenches, a favourite from last year, seemed to have even more grit in them plus a very happy marshall hosing people down as they made their run up the very muddy mound. There were a few more moguls thrown in earlier in the course too plus a great new obstacle, the name of which I can’t remember, that came after Slideway and took fitness, or team work to get up. Consisting of large, slippy, wooden slope, you needed to make it about 10 – 12 foot up it to grab a short rope before hauling yourself up to the top.
Or you could clamber up your teammate, manage to grab the rope by your finger tips and then still need the help of a fellow warrior to haul yourself over the top. At this point, you’re pretty near the finish, well geographically anyway. To complete there was the small matter of the log carry, now double in length, a river swim, another haul up a muddy bank, a final trot back up the hill, dragging yourself over the ‘Final Climb’, a quick fall off the Monkey Bars and you’re done. Water, kendal mint cake, energy bar, buff and most importantly a beer, are thrust into your happy, sweaty, muddy paws along with a t-shirt.
We finished this year in just under two hours, the winner came round in just under one, which is impressive. That, thanks to the increased stagger on the waves, plus extra waves being added, meant that we were finished before others had even started, which was novel. So we settled in to the beer tent and commenced the arduous but necessary step of re-hydrating and re-carbing for the next day.
Unlike the course, there was significant queues for beer, food and the toilets, but nothing too horrendous. It must be difficult for organisers to accurately judge the demand. Obviously they know how many people have entered but not how many will show, how many supporters they will bring or how many locals will turn up to attend. This year the weather was great so lots of the 4,000 competitors seemed to hang round and have a bit of a dance on the handily placed logs.
It was a great day and another great event. Apparently some of the competitors complained that it wasn’t as long as a Tough Mudder.. Well no, the 10k race is advertised as a 10k, not a 10 – 12 mile event as Tough Mudder is. You still get more obstacles for your fee and if you fancy the extra distance, well if only there was a longer version of the course. Oh wait, there is, run the Sunday, which is still cheaper than Tough Mudder and way more fun. Imnsho.
Mini rant over, 10 mile report to follow.