Amazing Race Report from Ledbury Harriers, www.ledburyharriers.org.uk
Mudrunner Classic 2012 – The Debut Run (from an Easy Runners Perspective!)
Having won a club ballot place for the postponed Mudrunner Oblivion in April and not being able to partake in the rearranged Dirty Weekend, I felt like I had waited an eternity to run in my first Mudrunner event! …….and it was worth waiting for!
I woke at 7am to thick fog and evidence that we had had even more rain in the night. Perfect! Having laid out all of our race gear the night before, Mud Monkey Steve and I were soon on our way to meet Mud Monkeys Cliff and Barry in Ledbury with a plan to get to Eastnor by 9.45. Wrong! Barry had forgotten his trainers and so we spent half an hour steaming the car windows sat outside Cliffs house! Eventually we were back on track, and as we sped over the hill into Eastnor, the sun broke through and we joined the masses of entrants making their way to the start……a mere half mile warm up.
I was ready to go! However, all around me pre-race rituals were taking place which I found quite fascinating! Cliff disappeared to do a stint on toilet janitor duties and Barry sloped off to empty a Vaseline pot down the front of his shorts. I also spotted Duncan wildlife spotting against the hedgerow on the other side of the field. Everyone seemed to be consuming gallons of energy drinks and slurping gels – why was I the only one with a mug of tea?!
With lime green wigs and tutus in place the Mud Monkeys were off for a pre-race jog. I decided to conserve my energy and obtain some tattoos instead. With ‘Dirty Girl’ and ‘Never Stop’ on my torso there would be no stopping me! A quick photo shoot with The Harriers (who all were dutifully dressed in their club shirts – sorry Bruce, I was thinking of the washing!).There was still no sign of Mark or Jo who I had planned to tag onto as my running buddies – so I found myself heading towards the start line with Christine and her sister!……
It was nearly 11am and we were very close to the start line. I bleated to Christine that this was definitely Wave 1 and perhaps we should hang back? For the first time I was feeling rather anxious – (although keen to get going too!). Wave 1 had a positive and a negative – the positive was that the earlier wave I got in the less churned up and muddy the course would be. The negative was that it was likely I would be flattened by the stampede of runners and used as a stepping stone in the brook!
Before I knew it, the horn or gun had gone off and Wave 1 was on their way – with me sucked into the wings! I don’t know if it was adrenaline or fear that coursed through my body! Within 100 yards we faced the brook crossing – not nearly as cold as I had expected, but the first baptism of wetness for my new off road trainers. We were then heading across the fields, top athletes already breaking away and I settled into my pace, a loud voice in my head saying ‘Oh God – What are you doing’!
I set a goal of running to the first field off Clenchers Mill and allowing myself to walk as quickly as I could up the steep gravel track to the wood. It was there that Chris came past bouncing like a gazelle and continued his run nearly to the top. He was well and truly gone by the time I reached the summit. It was at this point that I would have appreciated a drinks station – but although it was in sight, I had a wood to run around first! Once in the wood, the pace picked up and the real mud made an appearance. There was a long downward stretch that I remember was very slippery – initially I made an effort to run tentatively – then gave in and just let myself hurtle along with those around me. Two bomb pits were waiting at the bottom – deep water and simply a mud slide to reach them. Others were sliding down on their rears but I took the two stride approach! The water ruts were a challenge and pure guess work. I soon learned that the middle of the track had less water but more mud, and the ruts were full of unforeseeable deep pockets that took me by surprise on several occasions.
I nearly negotiated one pit without using the rope to haul myself out – this was scuppered by an over-zealous male runner who barged past me in an attempt to run up the wall of the pit – only to skid out of control and fall back into me taking me right out. This left war wound number 1 – a graze to my right arm! A friendly runner threw me the rope to get out and a number of hands appeared on my backside to shove me up the bank! Much appreciated! My hands were now like two shovels of mud and I had a huge desire to see clean water and soap!
At the bottom of the wood I distinctly recall the very deep and very cold muddy trench. At one point the water was up to my shoulders and by the time I reached the marshall I was shivering and on the verge of hypothermia. He urged me to jump and promised he would grab my arm. Never trust a man! I jumped and he totally missed me! How I stopped myself from being totally submerged is a miracle. I opted to belly slide out onto the muddy verge, and once detangled from the brambles was on my way again, with war wounds number 2 (scratches to left legs!). From the neck down I felt as though someone was sticking needles all over my body – I was so cold!
The uphill climb out of the wood was a long slog. I took some smug satisfaction in following and overtaking runners with road shoes on who were struggling to stay upright let alone climb the hills. Needless to say they soon sped past me on the flats, so it was a relentless task!
Clare appeared behind me just before we exited the wood for the water station – looking very clean and fresh as a daisy! (I hasten to add that Clare had not started in Wave 1 and was making excellent time). The water station was like an oasis on the horizon and I allowed myself the indulgence of 2 cups – but again, there was no idle banter or chit chat and I was soon heading off to the next wood. I ignored the fact that this was only half way!
More mud, more water……and very smelly water too! I had now given up trying to be ‘clean’ and followed suit by making as much impact when entering the water sections as possible. I defiantly stuck to the designated route when others were taking detours around the muddy water sections – I also had a fear that the watching marshalls may disqualify me if I followed suit! I needed that T-Shirt at the end!
So more uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill, mud, water and sweat. Suddenly I was conscious that I had reached the field at the back of Eastnor Church – the homeward straight! However, the realisation of this was joined by a wave of fatigue – would I ever get there? Down past the pottery to the castle lodge – trying to keep my legs moving was becoming more and more difficult. People watching on the lane shouted encouragement so I felt obliged to at least resemble a runner and not drop to my knees! Colin and Cheryl were on the corner and provided enough motivation for me to at least run into the castle grounds and out of sight of the spectators!
I don’t know how to fully describe the ordeal of the last mud pit! A kindly (?) runner advised me to go straight through the middle. After 3 steps I was waist high in a thick glue like mud that resembled quick sand. The thought that I would be buried alive or at least lose my new trainers flashed into my mind! The marshall was yelling at me to climb to the side – I could not even move my legs! Sensible runners had kept to the extreme edges – I was faced with having to make at least 3 body flops to get anywhere remotely near the edge! I managed to make one dive, helped again by numerous hands around my legs. This was the most physically exhausting 5 minutes of my life – it was as though a death eater had sucked all of the energy out of my body! Eventually I reached the bank – only to have to then clamber across the photographer in order to avoid falling back in to the bog! Sorry!
More friendly spectators advised that there was only about 800 metres left to the finish. This nearly finished me off!! I could clearly hear and nearly see the field I had to get to – mustering the will power to reach it was a mammoth task!
I was desperate to see the brook again. I didn’t care if I had to lie in the cold water for half a day – I just wanted to reach the finish line! Eventually it was there, after a final run through more muddy water pits I was in the brook! Didn’t notice the cold – even kept running in the shallow! Beth was now overtaking me – huge smile and having an amazing time! On exiting the brook there were more spectators expecting a sprint finish! – I chugged on, nearly there! Rounding the corner the finish line was less than 30 metres away – with a momentary renewed vigour, I pulled out a sprint that Hussain Bolt would be proud of and overtook the runner in front!
On passing the finish line (2:03:03) I did suddenly feel faint with a sudden urge to vomit. This did not deter the marshall from posting my Mudrunner medal over my head! The nauseous feeling soon passed as I had a T-Shirt to acquire and the Tub of Love to experience!
All in all, an amazing experience……which I thoroughly enjoyed! Feedback has been that this was probably the most challenging conditions to date for the Classic, so I was delighted with my time (only 50ish minutes behind my Mud Monkey!) Highly recommended to anyone considering. Can’t wait until Mudrunner Oblivion…….. I may even include a few pre-race rituals!!