With the New Year looming, a lot of people and looking for a challenge to push themselves and nowadays there are a lot available. I’m sure you’ve seen lots of pictures of people competing in various obstacle races, from Tough Mudder to The Spartan. The vague premise is you run somewhere between about 5 and 20 miles and occasionally tackle some kind of monstrous obstacle.
My brother (hello, Josh) is obsessed/addicted/ doesn’t shut up about these races. Naturally being a caring sharing kind of guy (he is the floating head at the bottom of the picture taking a picture) he was very keen to get his friends and family involved.
Without too much research, myself and some others signed up for a race 3/4 months in the future, thinking it was so far away we could train etc etc. I don’t know about the others, but I promptly forgot until the day before the race and then proceeded to try to create an excuse that would wash. I failed on that one.
The nice thing about these races is that people of all ages and abilities come along to have a go, some even in fancy dress ready for fun. The reality though is that these races are hard. I’ve competed (using the term loosely) in three and have swam in rivers, dragged a breeze block along and been flung over 12 foot walls… these races are no walk in the park!
The run itself is challenging and I wanted to give up about once every minute, but when you go as a team the others pull you through. Even if you don’t have a team, other people are really encouraging and will help you with the obstacles.
The racers are a lovely community and many work the circuit throughout the year, so they get to know each other. It’s a sport where people help each other in a sportsmanly way as opposed to being over taken by the urge to win, which nowadays is beautiful.
If you make it through the race there are medals (or in the case of Dirty Dozen Races a bobble hat) and usually a t-shirt. I think that’s the part that can trigger the addiction. As an adult it is so rare to feel that sense of achieving something and to be given a reminder to keep and a t-shirt to wear for the world, that it almost makes it worth while.
The disclaimer here is don’t expect to be able to walk normally for the next couple of days, you will have used muscles that you never knew you had!
Overall if you’re thinking about doing one, I’d say go for it but take a team with you (if you can find one!) and be prepared to be push through your limits!