In the buildup to the event, I was battling with 3 different niggles - my left calf and quad as well as my right glute. I took advice and completely rested, only running a few miles earlier in the week.
Did I feel ready? No
Did I feel as thought I had trained hard up to that point? YES!
Two weeks before the event, I was sent a shopping list, which included:
- 2kg of flour
- 6 ping pong balls
- 20 cups
- A full deck of cards
- A set of chopsticks
- A football
Thoughts were rushing through my head…what do I need these supplies for!?
A week later, my questions were answered. An 11 page document was released, informing us all of the rules and challenges to be performed after each lap. The lap was counted as ‘completed’ when both the running and obstacle/challenge had been completed.
After looking at the obstacles, they didn’t look THAT bad. Some were technical, some were more strength-based and others seemed just pot luck - a nice combo.
The race started at 6am (finishing at 6pm), with a briefing at 5:30am. The night before, I had eaten my heart out and placed all of my food/equipment ready for when I had finished each lap. I read the rules and had prepared everything for the next day.
I started off the morning with 3/4 of a bagel, with chocolate spread…nom nom!
The first lap absolutely flew by. We were feeling very strong, albeit a tad tired from the early morning start. We were taking it very slow, to conserve energy. By 6:50 and jumped straight into our first challenge - ‘Squareway to Heaven.’
After completing 13 tricep dips, 11 jumping jacks, 14 pushups and 3 squats, sipping some electrolytes and having a handful of salty popcorn, we escaped to complete our second lap.
Stupidly, I forgot to start tracking the lap until about 0.5 miles into the lap so I had to add on an extra 1/2 mile at the end! Unfortunately, only 5 miles counted but the extra millage was…fun.
The second lap was another lap that went really quickly. 10 miles, after training really hard for the past few months, just feels like a walk in the park. We always knew that the first 2/3 laps would be the easiest but we were conscious to take it slowly - after all, this was a challenge foremost, and a race second.
By the end of the second lap, we were already ahead of our schedule. I was starting to get a bit hungry so started to eat a chocolate croissant but it tasted awful. I shoveled it down, knowing I would need the carbs.
Our pace for the second lap was quite consistent with the first. We came back to complete our ‘Spring Break’ obstacle. Standing 6ft away from 6 cups, positioned in a pyramid, I had to throw 3 ping pong balls so that they bounced off a wall and into 3 separate cups. Once I got the knack, it was great but the last ball was pretty tricky and took quite a few attempts.
Our second lap was actually slightly longer than the others. Only 5 miles counted per lap but the challenges also leaked into the running sections. At the start of the lap, we had to draw 5 cards.
One card was to be drawn at each mile. If the card drawn was black, we had to run back 0.2 miles. If the card was red, we could continue. After pretty heavy reps in the first lap, we hit luck and only drew one black card - success!
We actually were in a really good ‘groove’ for our third lap. It was faster than our second, despite the longer millage. My leg was starting to hurt and after taking it off after 2.5 miles, I found that I actually had started to develop a blister on the end of my stump….a tricky balance was struck. Do I continue and risk damage to my leg or do I take it easy? I decided to take the semi-sensible choice and put on a blister plaster and take it slowly. From this point on, our laps were slower and I was so conscious of my leg, often taking it off and checking it/readjusting. Nevertheless, we continued. For the third lap challenge, we had to bear crawl for 300m with 2kg of flour on our backs and then take that flour on the run with us for the 4th lap….ouch!
We started off with lap 4, with 2kg of flour on our backs, thinking it was absolutely fine! We even said at mile 2 ‘You know, I can’t even feel this flour.’…….I think we jinxed it! Suddenly, everything felt heavy and the miles started to get harder. We walked some of the lap and I could feel the extra weight on my stump. I stopped a few times to readjust, while eating a soreen bar. We came in from lap 4, after 20 miles of running, feeling really positive but the hunger and tiredness were starting to kick in. We were way ahead of schedule and we knew that to hit our target (30 miles, with 35 miles as a ‘stretch goal), we had about 8 hours to accomplish this - we were feeling great!
For the challenge, we had to complete 30 medicine ball push-ups, using a football/rugby ball.
I started lap 5 while eating a banana. Our plan was to just get out there as soon as possible. If that meant we had to start with walking while eating and then run when ready, so be-it. For our 5th lap, we had to run the course backwards (the route, not actually backwards). Given that our loop was a hairpin course, it didn’t affect us but by lap 5, I was really starting to feel the blister on my stump.
By the time we had returned, we still felt okay to continue. We felt now that we were on the home stretch. Looking at what we had accomplished in the time, we felt as though 40 miles was in our sights!
Each lap, I had been filling my water bottles and drinking throughout. I was munching my way through my Smoky Bacon Pringle tube and eventually, had my first gel. I started to snack on vegan sausage rolls and actually, didn’t feel hungry at all. I felt full of energy but just in discomfort, due to my leg. Our obstacle for lap 5 was ‘Spring Into Action.’ Essentially, we had 5 minutes to perform as many step ups as possible - we knew that we needed 181+, otherwise we would have to perform jump squats at each mile, during the next lap. We powered through them and made our way up to 200!
We jumped out for our 6th lap, knowing that we were going to smash our initial goal!
Buzzing from not needing to complete any jump squats on this round, I started to feel as though I had trained my nutrition well. I wasn’t hungry and I felt full of energy (considering I had already run a marathon by this stage). My leg was really causing me difficulties and kept getting very stiff. It went through waves of being extremely uncomfortable and then suddenly, it would relax and I could run again - it was very strange.
By the end of the 6th lap, we were really motivated to finish, while being very happy with the progress that we had made.
Our 6th challenge was a strange one called ‘Concentration' - here is when the core training kicked in.
A whole pack of cards had to be tipped onto the floor. While in the plank position, using only chopsticks, you had to turn over one card at a time until 3 pairs had been found. If you didn’t find a pair, you had to flip over the card and try again with different ones.….ouch!
By the end of lap 6, we had both realised that we hadn’t dealt with our hydration fully. We were both incredibly dehydrated. I wanted to get straight back out but my friend was really struggling.
After suggesting that we had 4 hours left to complete 2 laps, we decided to just walk the 7th lap, taking bottles of water with us and just hydrating as much as possible. As well as water on lap three, we also had to make a dough, with the flour from earlier and carry that with us on the lap. With the amount we needed to hydrate, we didn’t think it would be possible to run but after walking a few miles, we decided to run the rest, so we could get back. We kept it up and ran back, feeling just ready to finish.
Our 7th challenge was ‘Up and Under.’ As an amputee, this challenge seemed impossible, so I took the adaptation, to do it indoors with my eyes closed, throwing the ball instead of kicking!
By the time we had completed the obstacle, we had about 2 hours to complete the lap and the last challenge. The 8th lap was somewhat different as we had to take a different course - running the 5 miles in only a 50m space (that’s 168+ lengths of 50m). Surprisingly, this lap actually seemed the fastest. It felt great that we were so close to the finish line and we knew we had lots of time to complete. We both relaxed a bit, enjoyed some fruit pastels and started talking about how it would feel to finish. The time flew by and we had then 30 minutes to complete the last challenge.
The last challenge involved TMHQ (Tough Mudder HQ), where we had to guess 3 facts about 3 cards that were drawn. If we were correct, TMHQ completed burpees, if we were wrong, we completed squats - simple.
After running 40 official (41 unofficial) miles, we performed the 30 squats and submitted our results!
Learning points from this challenge:
- Smashing your goals FEELS INCREDIBLE
- Training actually helps! (I did know that already)
- Running 40 miles as an amputee in one go, actually isn’t good for your stump (but good for your mind)
- Hydrate more throughout the race
- Salty popcorn works wonders for me
- My nutrition was on-point! Within the race, I had one gel, a whole tub of Pringles, 3/4 of a battenburg cake, a kendle mint cake, a handful of vegan sausage rolls
- Completing a challenge with a friend, strengthens your friendship tenfold (that is if you don’t eat each other from hunger or kill on another during the race)
Would I do it again? YES
Has it motivated me for when physical events arrive? YES
Teacher of Mathematics from Basingstoke
Age group: 25-29
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