Weirdly I always like to get to an event nice and early (at least an hour before we start), especially when you suffer from runners bum and need to go to the bathroom at least 500 times before you run. The time you get through registration and saying your hello's, before you know it, its time to run. So you could imagine the morning I had, giving myself half an hour to get up and out the door, this didn't give me enough time to wash, get ready and have breakfast (I am seriously going to regret this later), so as I woke up Dave and started to run out the door, I grabbed the only quick thing on hand (a banana), not my usual sustainable breakfast of oats, that would allow me to have enough energy throughout a short course race this of course in-conjunction with a couple of Vfuel gels (seriously if you haven't tried these, get on it - they are the best, no dodgy tummy or sickly sweet flavour).
About the SUCK..
Ok, you may have to be a little crazy for signing up to something that is called the SUCK, a 12 hour overnight event, nothing like an obstacle race, so going into the complete unknown. Maybe I signed up because of the bloody hand on the website or the fact that it had the words extreme in the title that makes you want to sign up to these things? Maybe as with most things, I am just damn stupid. I like to think its about testing my own strength, abilities and endurance, to see how far I have come and of course to find out if I can actually do it. It could be because I was brought up with my dad in the Marines. I will probably never really know why I want to do it, except that I really do love it.
What better way to start off your weekend by first heading up to Glengarry, thanks to Jenny and Paul for putting up with us for the night and for being such amazing hosts. It made it a lot easier to get to the event in the morning, and was such a great location. The bonfire and stars just added to the experience, plus the unexpected pasta dinner on arrival.
I think we took it for granted that we weren't that far away, so took our time getting up and ready and then realised we still had to get to the event, park and register, so what was supposed to be a nice relaxed morning, turned into something a little more frantic, especially as we weren't 100% sure on where we were going. Opps
We did actually make it with a little time to spare, but no one thought to mention about the hike to the event after parking, as we were in such a rush i ended up leaving half the stuff that I usually have in the car, which you only realise you've done when your on the hunt for it, when your half naked getting changed after the event.
Getting ready at the start line, we noticed that fashionable late Clem and Allyson from The Compound were not there yet, I think they just like the additional push by turning up late. I guess it works for them, as they always catch up, and it wasn't long until Clem had overtaken me and Allyson was soon after.
The Summit is a short 5km course with 36 obstacles, but I was conscious of the fact that I was running city2sea the following day as well as doing the stair climb, so I was really pushing as hard as I could have. I wanted to enjoy it and not stress about placing, also to minimise any possibilities of any potential injuries. This of course did not happen when I managed to roll my ankle not long into the course.
I went around again with the beautiful Compound Chicks, as well as Allyson, Clem and Michael P, as always having a little bit more fun with it. There is a definite change when you do go around again, as you are all experiences it and having fun with it, when you race on your own, your own your own and no one else to share it with ;( Now I try to enjoy it as much as possible, and race for myself and against no one else. I also felt a little guilty on the second lap, as Dave had a little visit to the first aid tent after he hit his ribs against one of the obstacles that was similar to the Sternum Checker at the Worlds. There wasn't a lot I could do, until he got checked out and cleared. Unfortunately with the rush of getting there in the morning, Dave heading off to first aid and me setting off for another run, I forgot the camera. It wasn't even forgotten in my bag that I took with me, but in the car, so I couldn't take any photos on the second round, instead I had to steal them for The Summit website ;( Hopefully it will help with the explanation of the obstacles.
Dave did catch up with us as the Spectators areas, apart from a little battered and bruised, everything seemed ok. Will have to keep an eye out, but it doesn't look like an broken ribs, the worst part would be, even if he had, there really isn't a lot that can be done about it. I was more worried that he would end up over doing and pushing a little too hard especially with the numerous amount of events we have over the next few months.
They weren't kidding, the first time I think I had a little panic moment trying to crawl under. It was such a weird feeling, but with the rush of people and the shock of the cold water, it was bound to happen. The cage really did seem like it just kept on going and I couldn't wait to get out. The next time round it wasn't as bad, as I juts kept myself up and went a little slower, so the water didn't have a chance to rush around me.
Climbing up a small side of a rocky/muddy face, with rope. A quick clamber up, plus it was easy enough to find your footings within the face.
Down a fireman's pole and into a foam pit, you may as well jump jumped in, as you couldn't really grip hold of the pole with your hands all wet and slippery.
A Frame Fury
The name probably says it all, climbing up 5 wooden beams which is set up and over an A Frame.
A few walls set up that you had to traverse along with a variety of difficulty levels, the expert one had no foot holds (wasn't quite ready to attempt this one), so I went with the one that was the most similar to what was at The Compound, remember to 'hug the wall' to stop any possibilities of imbalances.
This had about 5 hanging tyres that you needed to get across, the second time round was definitely a lot smoother than the first, feeling I had a little more control with momentum on the second attempt.
First impressions would be a log carry, but this was more of a tyre drag. I didnt even think about actually just picking it up and running with it until I saw some pictures.
Commando Cable Reels
Using the wooden blocks up the side, you needed to climb up and over the reels, I was grateful that they actually had some sort of foot hold so you could actually get yourself up and over. The second time round, Ponts (Michael) was saying about climbing up both sides, getting your foot hold on one side and then on the other, and walking up using both sides (this is so much easier to demonstrate then to explain), for me it was a little harder as I have smaller legs so the reach was a little longer, at least I got a good stretch with it, as I practically was doing the splits as I tried to clamber my way up. I love having these opportunities to get to try and do the obstacles, and to also get other peoples perspectives, that may help you over for next time.
Climbing up and over the tyre, which was probably made of about 4 tyres high. The next block of sections was all about the tyres.
Next up was the first set of tyre jumps, similar to the sternum checker, you needed to get up and over, try and hit it with your hips, or just try and jump over like any other wall. Not so simple, i'm afraid and would have to say I probably cheated on this a little as I actually climbed over instead of jumped over, getting a footing inside the tyre and using the wooden reel that was holding the tyres.
Pushing yourself through a tyre tunnel, with the tyres above crushing you down. I always find that if I go length ways and then use my legs to propel myself along and through has always been the easiest option. The hardest part is getting through it initially but once you can get a rhythm you can just about squeeze through it.
The second tyre jump was definitely a lot harder than the first as it was a little bit higher. This is also the one that Dave managed to crack his ribs on, having some height here I think would have been advantageous as well as having that additional spring in your jump, which for me I don't have either.
A small net that you had to climb up and over, on the second round was another opportunity to practice all those things you don't normally have a chance too, including flipping over the top. I really need to start doing this more, although I haven't quite worked out if this is quicker or not. In theory it should be quicker as your not actually climbing over the top of it but flipping over it.
You had to weave yourself through a bunch of lines, of course you get taught the best way of doing it the next time round. Don't weave through it but roll under it, so once Allyson demonstrated, you went aarrggghh of course. This is also where Clem caught up with me, since he was so fashionably late.
Leap of Faith
Jumping over the a pit of water and trying to land on a net, you wanted to get as high as possible without landing in the water. This again is a lot easier said then done, if you landed in the water, it just made it that little bit harder to climb up, but once you got your footings, it was just like climbing any other normal net. Once on the top and you traverses along the net, you then made your way down another fireman pole.
Not quite the same as Mudderella, especially when you can see all the mosquitoes and midges flying all around the mud infested waters. Apart from the smell and the insects, you could easily run through the knee deep water and up and over the mounds.
Duck and Dive
Up and under the walls, no major high walls to jump over and you just rolled underneath (3 over and 3 under).
Barbed and Dangerous
Crawling under some barbed wire whilst crawling through all the mud. It wasn't that bad on the first round as there wasn't that many that have gone through it, the second time, the mud was a little bit more churned, there was definitely more mud involved.
Straight after crawling under the barbed wire, you hit the wall, so you were nice and wet and slippery. You did have a rope to help you up, and the Icebugs did hold there grip whilst getting up and over.
You had choice of a teeny tiny claustrophobic tunnel or a larger one that you could easily climb through, in which I choose the larger one. For some reason at this event, the smallest of fears were kicking in, not really sure why but I was just having those moments.
Walk the Plank
Balance across a plank of wood to the other side, over some more muddy water. First time round easy enough, second time round, actually slipped off at the end.
Cargo Hang Man
Lesson learnt and of course the second time I actually used my feet to get across, in which I did make it across (I should have done this the first time round, but now have definitely learnt my lesson).
A high wall that you had to get over, I found out later that most people went through the top section instead of going over the top. The hard part was getting back down, you couldn't jump (especially with a rolled ankle) as more than likely I would have rolled it again. The logs were a little too far apart for my short legs, so I had to hang and drop to each one. It was a lot more slippy than it was in the morning, so you had to hold on a little tighter.
Another balance beam, but it was a see sore as you walked down you needed to have that balance to push it down on the other side.
Across a wire crossing through the damn, you did have some additional hand holds so you could keep your balance. The only thing was that you could see where you were putting your feet so it would have been easy to misjudge and fall, but as long as you put one foot in front of the other you were fine. The second lap, saw a few more people at this obstacle so making it a little bit more difficult by bouncing up and down on the wire.
I think from now on I am just going to run on top of the tyres instead of through them, there doesn't seem to be any real rules on how you actually conquer these obstacles so for me it makes more sense to go on top, rather than try and find my footholes especially with little legs.
Burrow like a Beaver
Weirdly another freak out moment, when I didnt actually want to do this obstacle, especially if I couldn't see the end. Again not sure why I had that moment of doubt, so it took me a few seconds to compose myself, only then to realise you can actually see the other end and it wasn't that bad. However it did look that at some stage the centre will collapse inwards, horrible feeling so the best way through it, is to get through it as quickly as possible.
There seems to be an ongoing theme of water pits during this course, so you really just had to pretend that your tarsal and swing across using a rope above yet another water pit. After a few failed attempts at previous obstacles courses, I think I have eventually found my groove, hold on tight and keep your legs up, not forgetting to let go at the other end.
Oh how I hate monkey bars and these ones the bars seemed to be wider apart. I am hoping that I would have made it across if they were closer together, both attempts I fell off. Still need to work on these monkey bars (one day I will be able to get through it).
More muddy water, under the net and across the other side. There was no smooth or easy way to getting this done, maybe a commando crawl through it and keep your head up like a normal commando crawl, but I think it may have even been a little too deep to do this.
Really??? I hate this one, I think they should just ban it... We did have the option of going round, but with some hesitation I did actually go through it twice... Stupid obstacle, you can feel the zaps as you went ran it. Jen for some reason found this one a lot of fun, crazy women (not sure why anyone would find this one fun). It was like have little heat electric bolts going through you at any given time, plus it always got you on the same spot - the calves...
You had to get over the water with the tyres in the way, there really does seem like a lot of water in this race... Nothing like getting wet to make you feel nice and cold.
More water... not your normal water crossing, but this time you had to get across using the net. Another one that is designed to slow you down. No quick or easy way of getting around it, you just had to keep close to the side and hope that you got your footing in the right place.
Going past this one, my first thought was ice bath, especially as I saw both Allyson and Dave slowly getting in. Once I got to it I realised it was a pit filled with plastic balls, with the same principle as the ice bath, you still needed to duck under the centre section to get to the other side. It was weird feeling, as you almost forget that you can actually breath underneath the balls since its not filled with water.
Stupid waterslide, this for me was the slowest waterslide that I had ever been on, as it slowly took me down the slide, I keep getting stuck and then having to push myself down. The Volunteer at the bottom had to give me a push just so I could get off the slide. The second time was a little bit more fun, as I shared it with Jenny, we actually went down with some speed, the way it was supposed to be done.
I am sure I spent the majority of the course wet than dry and there seems to be water every where. However the course was a lot of fun and quite short. It would be good just to double it up and go round the course twice, 5km just wasn't enough. The obstacles held a definite mixture of difficulty levels that would test all abilities, and was held at great location, as always just wish the sun had shined for that little bit longer, but at the moment it seems that every time there is an ocr event on, the clouds want to cover any chances of the sun shining throughout the day.
This one is also great for teams, just to get together and help each other along. A fun one for those new to obstacle racing with it not being too long, plus you receive an awesome medal at the end which is always a bonus.
Thanks to Fiona from Obstacle Racers Victoria for all the photos, and the ones that I kinda borrowed from Summit ooppss.
This has to be one of the most fun obstacle course runs that there is. If you are looking to have some fun with a bunch of amazing women, get down and dirty and do something healthy, then hit a winery, not to drink wine but to run an obstacle course.
If you are already familiar with obstacle courses, this one would be one of the easiest. Having a few additional harder lanes would have made it a little bit more challenging, but that really wasn't the point. Unfortunately I did hear people complain on the course, saying it was too easy, but I seriously think that they missed the objective. I was never given the impression that this was going to be hard, and the main objective would have been have fun and enjoy obstacle running, introducing new people to the great sport.
If you ever wanted to introduce your family and friends to the world of obstacle racing, then get them to do Mudderella, it didn't matter how young or old you were, how fit you are, or how many obstacle courses you have previously done. You can do this course with your best friends, gym friends, work friends, your daughter, sister, mother or even grand mother, this was really suited to everyone.
I had so much fun today with the beautiful ladies from The Compound, I loved meeting up with friends that I wouldn't expect to see there, finding that they loved the course, especially since they have never done one before. It would be great to see them at future obstacle runs and future Mudderalla events. I hope that my mum is over visiting next time, as I would sign her up in a second, I would hear the complaints until we had finished but I know that she would absolutely love it.
It was a real womens day, and with no men on course, you could just get through each and every obstacle without feeling that you were incapable, and there was a small feeling of accomplishment once you did a obstacle you used to be afraid of, I saw no one give up or use the by pass lane, I saw women conquer their own fears of heights and get up and over walls with a final leap of faith at the end. Even with grey clouds above, with segments of blue all you could see was an array of women, smiling, having fun and having the time of their lives.
The course was 8.6km which was a great distance for the amount of obstacles included, 5km would have been too short and 10km a little too long for those that had just started. Allowing for about an hour and half to finish it was the perfect amount of time to enjoy a morning outside of Melbourne's CBD.
Time to get down and dirty
The morning started off with a great warm up from enthusiastic fitness instructor Sara from Fernwood Fitness, St Kilda, ensuring that everyone was warmed up and ready to start out on course. There were a few grapevines thrown in as well as some high fives. Once finished we thought we had already started as everyone, did a jog around the corner, over some hay bails and then we huddled inside the actual start line. Oopps I guess we hadn't quite started...
After reciting the Mudderella pledge, we were off, with a jog for about 1km we hit the first obstacle, now it would not be called Mudderella for the precise reason that there will be mud at the very first obstacle. 'Down to the wire', had you crawling in a mud bath that would have gotten 100 times muddier thanks to the excess rain we received on Crown Oaks Day, 2 says prior. Hands, knees, belly were gonna get covered in mud as you crawled underneath wire fencing.
The biggest difference here was there was no barbed wire, so you could just crawl through, plus there was no risk of ripping clothes off as your scampered your way across. I think I did miss the barbed wire.
They were a little nicer to us for the next obstacle as we tried to clamber over some chest height hay bails covered in wet tarpaulin, just to make it nice and slippery. Also to ensure that we were not staying nice and clean, and with a squelchy run to the next obstacle 'Surprise Party' had us down some mud mounds and into the water, the uneven bottom had you tripping in the water, so you had no hope at trying to stay dry, unless you proceeded with caution. If anyone was trying to stay dry at this point, it wasn't going to happen.
Remember giving piggy backs as a kid? It used to be so easy just running around and playing, but when your an adult and weigh a little more than you used to, this got a little harder. 'Got Your Back' saw you give your team mates a piggyback, you also didn't quite get an easy ride if you were being carried, as half way you had to swap over.
'Step by Step' was next, accompanied by the song Step By Step by New Kids on the Block (for those old enough to remember NKOTB), had you going over the balance beams, up onto some wooden posts and back onto the balance beams and then it was up and over the wall.
The beams across the wall made the wall climb a little bit easier, it would have been good at this point to have an additional wall without any beams for those that maybe wanted to get up and over without the beams across, as it happened if you tried they got in the way, so you ended up bruising. To have a few extra walls would have been great too.
Not long until you were back on your hands and feet for the 'Break the Glass Ceiling' a cargo crawl that saw all sorts of techniques to get through it, from a commando crawl, to ducking down, doing a weird monkey swing with your arms straight above your head and walking underneath to walking backwards and crunching down.
By this point we had obviously got somewhat dry, so it was time to get wet again, going up a mud bank and then sliding down into a muddy pit pool, (best tactic here was to keep your eyes closed and your mouth sealed shut, otherwise you would find yourself swallowing the water). Wading through the water and up and over the other side, helping each other get up and over, as you slid back down into the next muddy pool.
Back on your hands and knees for Skinny Jeans, with some more mud, dirt and mud, that got you crawling through a tunnel and out on the other side into more mud. If you weren't careful, you found your team mates throwing mud at you as you exited the tunnel. No where to turn and no where to hide, you had to accept the fact you were going to get mud in your face!
'Dirty Downward Dog' had you in an awkward position, as you shuffled your way across another pool of dirty water, one wrong move and you would have been heading straight in. To make it a little more difficult there were some indents in the lines you were taking, so you could have easily slipped in, by misplacing your hands or feet.
'Disco Downunder' was just so much fun, with a smoked filled chamber, that you crawled through on your hands and knees, however it had a little twist as the music was pumping and the disco balls were illuminating inside, a couple of drinks and you could have your own little private party.
For a brief moment as we had finished obstacle 11 and only had 4 to go, we thought we had got off lightly with the mud, but it was just about to get 10 times worse with 'Aint No Mountain High Enough' with muddy mountains that slid down into deep watery pits! This would have to be one of the highlights of the whole course, women were just sliding everywhere, there was no room to be graceful, and if you had managed to keep your hair clean throughout the event, you were going to get it dirty now. The best thing was, you had to work as a team, helping each other up and over the obstacles, with a knee to climb on, or a hand on the backside for a quick push, there was no room for being shy as you bombed down the other side.
Its times like those that remind you of why you love the sport, the smiles of achievements and self fulfilment, that these amazing women achieved something today that they may have only ever dreamt of.
Once you crossed the finish line, you were congratulated with your own Mudderella purple head band and a glass of Moscato thanks to St Anne's Winery, where it was located.
The atmosphere in the village was truly electric, and not filled with usual male testosterone, women were laughing, smiling and cheering as they finished the course and others were getting ready to start. Up beat and funky music had you dancing, and not feeling embarrassed to act so silly. The temporary tattoos were a great addition, with the Mudderella logo and the word STRONG being tattooed on faces, arms or any place visible on the body.
The course map, also included a Spectators route that husbands, sons and fathers could bear witness to their wives, daughters and mothers achievements, take some amazing photos and cheer their loved ones on. There were also plenty of water stations that kept your hydrated on course, plus a few additional toilets that you probably wouldn't see at any other race, the bonus oranges also had some extra sweetness along the way. It was great to see that the organisers had really thought about who the participants were and what skill level they would be at and catered specifically to that. I can't wait for the next one and hope that I can persuade a few more OCR virgins to the sport.
I find it amazing how quickly an event comes around, when you initially sign up you are thinking that you will do more of this and that and then all of sudden D day is here, and you are not as prepared as what you hoped you would be. Today I was actually glad that I hadn't signed up for the 42km Ultra Beast, and after the days events I am actually glad I didn't. Incredibly these events can play havoc with you mentally, and if you are not prepared, can and will affect your overall performance on the day, as I discovered just during the Beast.
I have always loved Spartan races, as these ones truly challenge you both physically and mentally, and you can also pin point your overall goals and achievements over a period of time. Knowing the areas that you failed and then conquered are great milestones, however you need to remember WHY you do these things. I started doing OCR racers because of how much fun it was and the people around me, and somewhere along the way I lost sight of that and started to put more and more pressure on my overall performance, with this time round challenging me more mentally rather then physcially. I failed obstacles that I have never failed before and some took more out of me then anything else I could think of, the emotions started building and I completely lost my way, with inevitability causing me to breakdown on the course, more than once.
The great thing about doing these events, is seeing the familiar faces that share your overall goals, and whilst running or walking along people are there encouraging you every step of the way. Probably if it wasn't for this I wouldn't have completed the course, as I was an emotional wreck, which when you tend to be positive person, can take you by surprise.
Spartan Beast comprises of 20+ km with 25+ obstacles and the Sprint 7+ km with 15+ obstacles. Having done both, there were of course a few adjustments to the course, with the Beast going further out with some additional obstacles thrown in, the course was truly spectacular with some amazing views of the Valleys within Lake Dewar.
The Beast included some additional obstacles including an additional spear throw, kettle bell carry, skipping rope and additional hills. Thanks to Anthony Bailey recap video, which helped remind me of the order of the obstacles.
Spartan Beast 21km Melbourne - Hot Lap with the Elitess
Even if you're no good at obstacles on the course, a lot of obstacle races are trial running specific, this is one area that I need to improve upon, just getting out there and doing trials will help with a lot of things from increasing speed and endurance. The trials had a variety of terrains from hill runs, valleys, fields and rock river crossing. In true me style, I managed to twist my ankle as well as fall into the water during the river crossing. This happened quite early on, so was not leading well into a good course.
Carmo Net Crawl
Usually I can scamper straight through the multitude of cargo nets they seemed to have course, but this time I didn't take into consideration the hydration pack that consistently kept get caught in the net. Only a little bit frustrating, next time, either throw it to the side or put in your front, or just drag it in your hand.
Wall Climb x 2 plus the Hole in the Wall
There were a few climbs/or jumps, I still need to build up confidence just to run and jump over. There seems to be a variety of techniques that ppl use, instead of my way of run, stop, jump and then over (really not the most efficient way).
The hole in the wall is an interesting one, as basically you can't really jump up and over, but jump up and threw. I found some techniques to make this transition a little cleaner. Click here to view.
This was part of the Beast wave only and wasn't part of the Sprint run. Having practised this, and being taught by Richard Williams as part of the Highlander Project, I embraced the new way of actually holding the kettle bells, which did assist in the carry. You carried the kettle bells downhill then uphill on the way back (always the way).
After this was another Cargo Net, with the same thing happening with the hydration pack, really should have learnt from the first one.
Spartan Spear Throw or The Burpee Maker
I don't think I have actually ever completed the spear throw, and went in with the wrong attitude. Basically you need to throw a spear into the centre of a tyre thats dressed as a spartan enemy. The funny thing is, I know I can do it, but I set myself up to fail, which is not the correct mindset to be in. The good news was that the throw was actually not too bad, however I threw it too far to the right and missed completely. At least I knew that I can get it, I just need to adjust the position.
It was also good to the spear throw so early on, as usually its towards the end of the course. This was also not part of the Sprint run.
This was of course part of the Sprint, the main difference was that those doing the Beast you had to start at the button of a stupidly long hill, make your way to the top, pick up the sandbag, make your way back down, collect a washer and then make your way back up. The Sprint missed out on the first hill, and started at the top. This was definitely a calf killer, working your legs to the max.
Then it was a scurry to the first Toberalone, up and over another wall and then a set of 4 Toberalones.
By this stage my head space was just not in it, I am not even sure how much time had passed, so I had to refocus a few times in order to complete the rope climb. I know that I can do, so just trying to focus was key. It also helped that Richard Williams had caught up with me from a different wave and was cheering me on. All I wanted to do was get through it, my mind was all over the place, and I can feel myself diminishing and getting even more emotional.
This is another one that was only on the Beast course and not the Sprint. Trust me this sounds easier than it actually was. Not your normal skipping rope, but a thick short rope that you couldn't quite manoeuvre round, so it was literally taking it one skip at a time.
Again probably sounds easier than what it actually is, basically you a pulling a cubed shaped rock, so when your pulling it, it starts moving all around, and doesn't run smoothly and bumps along the path. Of course the path isn't smooth either, so makes it a little more unstable.
Monkey Bars / Rings
Next up was another water crossing and time to get cold again. Another Wall Climb and then it was over the Fire Pit back over some more Toberalones.
I am little bit more comfortable with this obstacle, the only issue was actually trying to get my legs up onto the rope. Its amazing how quickly mentally and physically you start to drain, and doing such simple tasks such as getting your legs up onto the rope seemed to be a difficult task.
My usual technique went out the window, as I clambered across the rope. They also usually have a ribbon so you know when you are at the end, so you just continued going until you pretty much hit your head on the next container, resulting in slipping off the end of the landing. Things were definitely not boding well for me at this stage.
Spartan Throw No. 2
This was on the Sprint course too, was a little bit busier than the Beast throw. Again I missed, can't even remember if I got close, and by the stage I felt I had the world on my shoulders and I just wanted it to be over. So back over to do the 30 burpee penalty. On the Sprint lap, still missed, but as no-one was around took this opportunity to actually spend some time practicing. Of course practicing I managed to get 3 in a row (typical), but again I knew I could do it, I just needed to relax and not beat myself up about it, and then it was onto another Wall Climb.
At least this one you didnt have to think about, all you need to do is pick up a tyre and drag it around the course. Simples...
This one I used to struggle even to pick it up, but with some handy tips from some amazing people, I can easily pick up and carry a 35kg deadball, to be fair, its not that far to carry, but still I should be proud that I can actually do this now.
It was at this stage when Dave and Michael came back to meet me and support me through the rest of the course, to have the support through the rest of the course, is just what I needed, I was pretty much feeling at my lowest point, and was slowly getting through each of the obstacles without much thought or feeling. It was hard not to break down after seeing them, but having them there really did help me get through to the end.
After this it was another freezing Water Crossing and then it was onto another Wall Climb and through another Hole in the Wall.
Deadball Over Wall
Yep another burpee penalty for me, more frustratingly I practice with a heavier weight and I still just bottled it. All I had to do was get the ball over the wall onto the other side, should have been easier enough. Even the second time round, there was a wobble at the top and luckily it went over. Then it was back through some more Toberalones
Yep another burpee penalty was acquired here, and it was also the point when I just lost it mentally, it was such a horrible feeling, that I couldn't actually control my emotions. I just wanted to finish and never see another obstacle course again, everything that has been happening at work and at home, just came flooding over me. It was not a great place to be, especially when you just want to be positive and happy about everything. Luckily for me it was one of the last obstacles before the end.
Wall Climb and Cargo
Another burpee penalty acquired I got cramp at the top and fell off. I wasn't allowed to attempt it again. I would have had climb up and over the top then across a cargo net and down the other side. The second time round, it was just too busy, so we opted for the burpee penalty instead.
Oh wow, was not expecting just to break down right at the end, all the emotions of everything came rushing over me again, and poor Adrienne just hugged me until I stopped crying. I lost everything on that course including my own confidence, spirit and positivity, I lost why I loved the sport and everything about it, but was reinforced when your friends that you have made along the way, just come together and remind you why you do love this sport, because of the people.
I was not ready to go and do it all again, and was really ready just to stay behind and support everyone else. With some much needed persuasion from Dave, I did go out and do it again, but this time I took my time and enjoyed the journey. Reminding me of why I do love this sport and will continue to love this sport, even when you have to fight through your own inner demons. I know that things will get better, one step at a time.
A collection of photos from Muddy Hell Photos Inverse Tyre Wall are available on the Enduro24 Facebook page.
It would not have helped that it was cold and wet, but the first step was signing up in the first place and then getting through the course. Everyone has had their bad days and everyone has those demons, it how you conquer them that makes you stronger.
Unfortunately, I do still have them too, in which cost me 120 burpees in today. Still hitting those demons and moments of self doubt. However, I will conquer these demons and will keep trying and one day I will do it, it may not be tomorrow but eventually I will get there. I know this as I had these same thoughts and feelings when it came to the rope climb and walls. I can do them now, probably not in the quickest and smoothest of movements and again this will come, but I can DO IT. So if I can do it, so can you, all you need to do is give everything a go, it doesn't matter if it doesn't work out the first time, but keep on trying and you will be able to do it.
The Muddy Hell course is a tough course and I sort of got confused as it was a different set up from when we did it in January. Being Winter it was a lot colder and wetter then of course the Summer, so it takes a lot more out of you when you when you are cold and wet, your energy levels do drop a little bit more than normal.
It didnt take long for me to start to lag behind at the start but soon caught up again at the tunnels, as always it usually takes me a little while to get settled in as the nerves start to diminish and adrenaline takes over. I was happy to get over the walls, not as smoothly as I liked but considering 6 months ago Dave was helping me up and over, I was happy to be able to do them. There was of course the tyre squigger, when you pretty much get wedged in-between some tyres, at this point trying to get through it, I was more worried about kicking someone in the head as I squeezed, moaned and groaned my way through. Another obstacle that I was dreading was approaching and I did fail on 6 months ago was the under and overs, an A Frame in which you have to go under and over (they had put a safety net underneath this time, to maybe self consciously I felt a little safer).
For some reason the course came and went in a blur, there were other obstacles where doing alternative training kicked in, by doing the Heavy Haulers Good Friday appeal and learning the correct technique of pulling tyres, I found that this technique subconsciously came in.
Some parts did seem a lot harder just because it was wet, surfaces were slippy so I found that I had to slow down and concentrate rather than try and rush through it, otherwise this is were I would have made some more mistakes. Just concentrating on the balance beams with the incline and decline, plus a few other wood obstacles found that you could quite easily slip off. Which did happen on wall traverse costing me 30 burpees and the last wall, I did eventually whilst gritting teeth, but I did have another 30 burpee penalty, I I did fail it twice. I still need to work on my grip strength especially with my age old nemesis the monkey bars and rings, they both cost me another 30 burpees each. The burpees do start getting harder and harder the more you do, but that is the penalty for failing an obstacle. With the fails of course there were some triumphs too in which my biggest achievement would have been the rope climb, I find it amazing that 6 months a go when I attempted that same obstacle I failed dramatically and after some great coaching from Clem and Allyson from The Compound, I hope that the next time I do this course, I will be able to conquer the obstacles those that cost me those dreaded burpees.
If we did it solo we could run together and help each other through it, however both being quite stubborn, we probably would have had some sort of argument along the way especially as we got tired or hungry. Neither of us where ready to conquer it solo, however now we know what is involved we will be doing it solo next year.
As a team of two, you got to have some breaks whilst the other person is on course, depending on how fast the other person is, your break didn’t really last long, you could probably sneak in a quick power nap. Due to my accident I had to stop after my third lap, whilst Dave powered through another 4 laps in a row, as I tried to rest and recovery. This is also an additional benefit of doing it in a team, you could rest if you needed too, or if you another team member got injured. Of course if there is four or you in a team, you get a longer recovery / rest period.
There is no point walking away from a 24 hour endurance event, if you have learnt anything. The Dos and Donts on what we should and shouldnt do. Please remember is what helps us, this may not be the same for you and your overall lessons may be different. However everyones tips are greatly appreciated and will always help for future events.
There are going to be a few items that helped with the whole experience including:
Not having camped since school, we needed to pick up pretty much everything equipment wise to prepare us for the event. First stop a Tent!
We picked up a cheap 4 person dome tent from Kmart $45 which did the job, but you could understand the tent envy when you compared ours. The tent was supposed to be a 4 man tent, which would have been a stretch to sleep 4 people in it. We did have enough room to have one sleeping bag, all our dry gear and food though, there was enough room to get changed if you crouched down. he tent served us well, for what we needed it for, but will probably get another one for next year. The next one will include the vestibule, as we will be competing as solos.
Kmart and Aldi were our go to shops, our cooking set which was fantastic was and picked up from Kmart $7, it comprised of two little pots and a little frying pan. We also got up some thermos flasks from Aldi $7.99 each, one we had continuously filled with hot water and the other one with hot chicken soup, they worked really well and now get used for Daves work everyday!
The camping stove Dave found in a cupboard at his work and it was on its way out. It did what it needed to do though and then we threw it away. We now have time to invest in a descent stove that is also light weight. We purchased a set of 4 gas canisters from Coles. Initially we first thought that 4 would not be enough, but only used 1, so 1 pack is definitely enough. This of course, depends on how much time you will be spending cooking, we only used it to heat up water and had some toast.
BACK UP TORCHES
Since Kmart was serving us so well, we picked up a couple of back up head torches @ $5 each (it didn't really matter if we lost or broke them, it was just good to have some sort of back up). We didnt end up using, so cant give a review on how they worked, but they were good for 'just in case' purposes.
At the time picking up a $5 dome light from Kmart seemed like a good idea, it would have been better to have a light that we could hang from the top of the tent (novice camping mistake - adding this to lessons learnt). The dome light will be modified and re-used next year.
SLEEPING BAG AND MAT
Warmth was as always our biggest concern and I really do feel the cold, so we picked up a colder temp Summit sleeping bag with hood from Kmart $49, I still found myself with my thermals on, as well as a fleece blanket (Coles $10). We also used a gore-tex sleeping bag cover that the Marines use and that has accompanied us around the world (sorry no price on this one). The camping mat was to make it a little bit more comfortable especially with my back ($10 Kmart) worked well in insulating the body from the cold floor.
We picked up some 60 litre tubs (again from Kmart) $10 each (had a better seal on it) to store our event gear and dry clothes. We had already sorted the clothing into different bags for quick access (this was a tip found on the Going Long Site) and would recommend doing this again, especially if you are in a team.
We purchased a ground sheet with the idea that we can use it outside to roll out on (we didn't think about the night dew), so didn't use it too much as it was too wet. It we had thought about it, we would have pegged it above the tent just to have some extra covering.
HOT WATER BOTTLE
I ended up walking around everywhere with the hot water bottle underneath my top (this is were having a thermos flask comes in really handy), just having all these little things made everything a lot more comfortable and enjoyable.
Aldi had a sale on winter gear, so we also picked up some warm, thick socks $7.99. Good idea to double on socks (just to stay extra cosy). Dave wore his Aldi Ski Compression pants $16.99 throughout the whole night while he ran the course. It is worth just keeping an eye out on these types of Aldi sales, as unfortunately they had ran out of a lot of stuff for me. So I got some thermal plus pants from Katmandu $59.68 (I bought a pair for Dave too, but he didn't use them). I wore them during the night, underneath another pair of my post race comfy pants. Also happy to bring along my fake UGG boots for that extra cosiness.
We also got lucky that there was an 2XU warehouse sale happening at the town hall, were we picked up some compression socks $5 each, Tri hat $5 and a few pairs of 2XU gloves at $5 each. Having Dave's Snowboard jacket kept us warm during our change overs, it was good to have something warm too put on straight away.
HEAD LAMP / STROBE LIGHT
For my birthday Dave bought me a good quality LED Lensor head torch, this would have been fantastic if it wasn't for my rookie mistake (I forgot that we had already used it for previous night events), so it ran out of battery. We also got a smilier set for Dave to have.
We didn't realise we also needed to wear a strobe light during the night too, so we picked up a couple of dog lights from ebay $3.19 each which worked all night. I just attached it to my wetsuit zip and Dave attached it to his hat.
How I wish we had invested in some of these sooner, it would have saved my shins so much pain, bumps and bruises. These are highly recommend and are really comfy to wear, you hardly noticed wearing them. Also having the extra support with the compression socks underneath allowed for some additional protection. I also think that this may have helped with minimising the amounts of cramps I usually have in my carves. Thanks goes to Clem and Alyson from the Compound for these.
We only paid a few dollars for these from Rebel Sports $2.99 and included a lanyard, I just had it around my neck underneath my wetsuit. This was also an essential True Grit requirement.
FIRST AID BAG
Yep we had a bag with all the essentials, from pain killers, deep heat, heat packs, KT Tape, scissors and a small first aid kit which included bandages etc. Also in there was some antiseptic powder, just in case we had a major cut and needed to get it cleaned to minimise any possibility of infections especially getting wet and muddy. Happily nothing was required!
The below list are the requirements from the True Grit website. We were initially questioning whether on not we should take a wetsuit, thank goodness we did. Wetsuit, hat, gloves, beanie, race belt (we did not have, but have put it on the list for next year), suncream are all highly, highly, highly recommended. I cannot stress enough that is gets COLD... There is no way around it and I am so pleased I did purchase the wetsuit.
We also had all the suggested items for your camp, even though we didn't use all of them (blister pack, band aids, vaseline). It was good to have.
This equipment must be carried by each individual and NOT transferred from competitor to competitor. This will be checked and you must have this gear to participate:
I cannot believe the day is finally here I think my prescription diazepam (valium) may have helped with my overall nerves otherwise I believe a lot more time would have been spent on the toilet. We had enough time in the morning to grab a coffee, get some cash and explore the streets of Windsor before checking out of the Windsor Terrace Motel.
Then it was time to head off to Lower Portland, we got there in good time. This way we weren't rushing around with the tents, getting set up after being allocated our 'camping spots' and working out what we were actually going to do. The 3 x 3 camp spots allocation were large enough especially as we had two of them 6 x 3 (we actually struggled to fill the second allocated section). At this point you could tell whom did it last year, as their tent set ups were quite spectacular, tent envy was happening! Our team of four neighbours had their own kitchen, bedrooms and changing rooms all set up. It was quite amazing especially compared to our $49 Kmart tent, ground sheet for our little camping area with its own camping stove and of course the Mace Fitness Roller.
Quite glad we did get there earlier, as:
At 1pm we had our group briefings, outlining the course, rules, health and safety etc. Also we got given our timing chips. Our numbers were allocated at the registration tent, it was only because I saw people queuing that we thought we best do the same which was lucky we did so.
Its not ever day that you find you have the opportunity to test out Tough Mudders newest obstacles, for us this was a great honour, as our obstacle racing obsession started with Tough Mudder so it was great to be a part of it. The newest obstacles have already been launched in America, so we had already seen some You Tube footage and were getting set to prepare ourselves for the worst, especially the new Arctic Enema (submerging yourself in Ice) and Cry Baby (a tear gas chamber).
The purpose of the day was to test the obstacles and provide some feedback on how they can make it better, or what works and what doesn't. However in true Tough Mudder style we still got wetter, muddier and worked harder on a 2.5km course then we do any other mud run.
With most Tough Mudder obstacles they are designed to test your skills, mental strength, physical abilities, team work and sheer determination to get you through to the end. One of the best things about it, is that you have to help each other, you would have to be super human to get through this course on your own, and having the help from fellow TMs is a great bonding experience, people from all walks of life are helping you complete your own mental game to get through to the end, even with a short 2.5km course, everyone still pulled together to help each to get through it. This is one of the reasons why we got hooked, the fact that strangers help each other, you are all in it together, there is no turning back you just have to keep moving forward and get to the finish line together.
This was only a short course with a small selection of obstacles to test, which included:
Kiss of Mud 2.0
Arctic Enema 2.0
Funky Monkey 2.0
Hold ur Wood
Tough Mudder back to Melbourne in October at its newest location Broadford and from the looks of things there will be some mountains to climb with one of the hills 29% gradient - which is going to hurt. 21kms of mud, sweat and tears - all I can say is BRING IT ON TM...
This is the first time we have done Operation Blackhawk in Nagambie, a two hour drive from home, although we have gone to a few different Operation Blackhawk events mainly at Wonga Park. This one is a little different to the ones we have done at Wonga Park. It is quite amazing that the team travel around Australia producing these events, and each one is so different, how they all pull together and get everything done is amazing, the hard work and effort that they put into each one, and the personal touches. This really does draw you back time and time again to these events.
We were also part of the OCR elite team (scary thoughts), and sometimes I do wonder why I signed us up for this (trying to gain that confidence that you are in fact good enough to be part of the team is just a little scary). Even with the sickness feeling in the pit of your stomach and the start and the self doubt that I shouldn't be part of this team. I do have to scythe best part of it, is that you get to go first, you don't have to worry about queues or getting held up, you can race against yourself and just keep going. I am lucky that I always have my support by my side, cheering me on and keeping me going.
There was a burped challenge for any obstacle not completed and I am proud that I only had one penalty, which of course was the monster wall at the end of the course. Dave just made it look so easy, pretty much running along the side of it, its as quite amazing really (there is a little sip of jealously there).
Unfortunately there was a slight change of location, so the layout of the course was a little difficult to navigate, but given the teams limited time scales of the change of location, they did a fantastic job with what they had, and still included all the major obstacles.
Since we spent two hours driving there and completed the course in order 1 hour (yeah, all I wanted to do), especially as apparently it on average takes about two hours to complete (this maybe a little different because of the different course). We hung around and helped out, Dave spent about 6 hours on the wall, helping people get over it (which was gave them a massive boost and sense of achievement, especially those that had their own self doubt (too heavy, they just can't do it or those that a scared of heights). I just handed out flyers, helped with the kids run and took some photos. It was the least we can do to help out.
After a nice early start with the alarm going off before 5am and a 2 hour drive ahead, you do have to question your own sanity. Why do we do this again, why do we get up at some silly time and drive to somewhere new and why do we put ourselves through it. I am not sure if it is because we are addicted or the fact that we really truly enjoy what we are doing and the feeling of achievement at completion. Really just having that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach at the start of ever race should be enough to out you off doing it again, the pre race nerves that the thought of being not far from a bathroom just fills you with fear, but somehow you get through it. The adrenaline pumps and you have started the race, there is no more time to think about how you are feeling just that fact that you just need to get on with it.
I also have to say that the people we have met along the way have been amazing, for some reason we always have the preconception that there was some sort of elitism happening, but how wrong were we. Everyone is so great and willing to help, cheer you on and take some time time out to give you some great advice. The comradery is unreal, you just can't explain how amazing everyone is.
The very first obstacle course we did was Tough Mudder and the only reason why we did it was because some friends said about doing it. They didn't do it but we did, the thought of doing 21kms of obstacles as well as electricity was a scary thought but we are always up for anything new. This would have to be the start, we did it on the Sunday which overall was a little quieter then Saturday, there were no queues and the pit area was just alive with excitement and nerves, everyone looked just as nervous but had a little excitement too. Our wave time was called and the first thing you had to do was to climb over a wall to get into the pit area. (Seriously it hadn't even started yet and I already struggled with the first obstacle). The MC was amazing, getting everyone pumped as they cheered on, reciting the Tough Mudder pledge and with a few more high fives and cheers the horn sounded and the smoke cannons were unleashed as we ran through and we had started. No turning back now, we just had to get it done. It started off with a nice job around Phillip Island race track and then the first obstacle the 'ICE bath'. A few swear words did elapse my lips as your whole body just goes numb from the shock and the ability to control your muscles and functions were slowly depleting. It was an effort just to climb out. The sun was shining and instead of complaining about being cold, you needed to look at the positive, you could no longer feel your muscles so you could not really feel running (it became effortless), soon you dried off and you just carried on going.
The other reasons is to be able to test yourself, without trying how do you really know you can do? Can you get over that wall? Or rope traverse? Crawl under barbed wire? or just finish a race? There is an amazing feeling of accomplishment when you can get through these things, having a can do attitude rather than just giving up. The ability to just keep going, give it 110%, hurt, cry but still just get on with it.
I can't remember every single obstacle that we did but the ones that most definitely stand out the most would have included the mud mile and the half pipe, as it was so wet and slippery just trying to get up and over was a hard enough task but people that you never have met before gave you a boast, pulled you up and helped you over. Without the help of others, I am not sure we could have done it. Dave of course cleared the half pipe effortlessly, but it took me two attempts to get up, you literally just had to run as fast as you could and hoped that the people at the top caught hold of you to give you a boost up and over.
The adrenaline boost and almost shocked feeling when you complete it, you can't really explain. You walk around in a daze and shock, feeling that what you just did wasn't even real and that the whole thing happened to someone else. You don't even feel the bruises that come along later, the mud has dried on your skin, you have to seriously scrub in the shower as the mud gets into places that you didn't think was possible, there were times during TM that you actually feel like you added a few extra kilos as the mud accumulated in your underwear.
This I doubt would be selling it to anyone, but when we finished having a shower, we headed to the hotel spa where the bruises were proudly on display, more people with similar bruises would join us and there was an understanding on what you all went through, you have something in common as you reminisce about the days events, and you realise how strong and determined some people really are. One of the girls we were talking to tried the hall pipe 8 times before she got, at one point she said that she just stood their and cried, but she did it eventually. The sheer will power and determination not to give up is just unreal and inspirational. Your body and mind is already fatigued but you just keep going. I just have remember this when doing True Grit, that we are all capable of achieving the impossible.
The stories that we have heard along this journey have been emotional and inspiring from weight loss, to broken backs, from young to old, it is amazing what people can achieve.
This of course was the start of our obstacle races in January 2013 and we have never looked back, we have come so far since that TM day, I have overcome fears and obstacles that I thought I could never do, we are fitter and stronger then ever before. My skin is not at its best and seem to be continually covered in bruises and scars, my hair has turned into rats tails with the amount of muddy tangles that it has had to endure, my hands are turning into man hands, filled with calluses, but I would not change it for the world, even the unflattering obstacle racer shots, when all ideas of looking like a health nut go out the window, as you look warn and battered, but the moment either catches that smile or that moment of sheer concentration and grit. The pain that you are experiencing but you are just determined to get through it without giving up, or that moment of exhaustion and excitement when you reach the finish line.
You become part of community, where you can share your highs and lows, there is a connection between people that can never be taken away, you share experiences and give each encouragement. Every obstacle race is a new milestone, where everyone celebrates your achievements.
I had the pleasure today to join the girls from the Compound Chicks doing Miss Muddy. It was a great opportunity to be part of an awesome team as well as practice some more obstacles, at the end of the day the more training I can do for the 24 hour endurance event the better.
Miss Muddy is a fantastic starter course, given females the opportunity to test and play around and obstacle course without feeling overpowered by men. There is so much vibe to the atmosphere and everywhere that is there is there to have fun and give it their all, no matter what your fitness abilities.
It was a great opportunity for me to run without Dave too, since I use him for my rock and probably rely upon him so much during certain obstacles, that I didn't have any trust in my own abilities to actually do some of the obstacles. Climbing walls, monkey bars and the rope are all things that my head gets the better of me, however with enough practice the monkey bars are becoming a lot easier, the rope will always be a challenge as having the opportunity to practice climbing a rope are limited (usually to obstacle courses). Miss Muddy, however did not have this obstacle to challenge myself. The next one would be the walls, without a leg up, I haven't quite mastered the art of running, jumping and getting over. Thanks to one volunteer whom had the patience to actually show me how its done, I actually did it, on my own. To try and celebrate your very own victory on your own is quite funny, with no video evidence nor having Dave watching, I just had to have my very own happy dance (similar to one that I did when I did the rope at Spartan).
I have to hank Allyson from The Compound to for encouraging me to push beyond my own limits. The fought of traversing along a walls without using your legs was a scary prospects (but with a little encouragement, I actually achieved it, it really does amaze me how team encouragement really gets you to achieve things that you didn't think you were capable of achieving).
The course was filled with all abilities that truly inspired and motivated you, it really goes to show that when you want to do something and to achieve it, you really can, no matter how old or young, size doesn't matter or even your own fitness abilities. Everyone gets together and motivates each other to keep going and to have fun.
World recommend doing this course for fun, or as your first obstacle course, it was loads of fun.. The obstacles included:
Although there a few areas that we need to improve upon including our overall running capabilities especially up hills, overall we did it without any issues. Including the ROPE climb!!! I actually conquered my own innate fears of climbing a rope and actually did without help! Although the start was sloppy, it did get there in the end. The whole day was a great success and as always look forward to the next Spartan event.
Keeping you posted on the OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) journey. Letting you know about courses, events and general health and fitness.