It began with a discussion between my sister and I about going to a festival together and it all went downhill from there. One minute I was having a perfectly ordinary day, the next I was paying my hard earned money to join her running a 10km obstacle course around Wembley stadium in winter.
I don’t run. Okay, I dabble. I do the odd 5km when I’m bored, can’t get to the gym or am really stressed or angry. I am not a ‘runner’ so signing up for a 10k run, particularly an organised challenge with hundreds of other people, was kind of a big deal. In the lead up to the Survival of the Fittest I was already training for my ascent of Mt Rainier so I figured if I was mountain fit I could probably wing it with training; after all I only had to do a normal 5k twice, plus there’d be obstacles to break it up. It is funny the lies you tell yourself!
After waking at the crack of dawn on Sat 22nd November 2014, I put on my Striders Edge running gear and Arthritis UK vest (as we had decided to use the event as an excuse to fundraise) and I took the train to London. My sister and I met at the tube station along with hundreds of other participants. Wembley looked like something out of a Sports Direct catalogue.
After signing in and nervously watching other people suffer around the route, we joined our wave for a warm up and off we set! It started off simply enough: clambering over hay bales, crawling on concrete under obstacles while being soaked with a cold hose and running up the stadium steps and slopes. Then they threw in hurdles and cone carries, a water slide and more stadium stairs… I relished the obstacles as it gave temporary relief from the agony of running!
Entering Brent River park the fun began! Multiple river crossings (“don’t get water in your mouth” we were constantly warned), muddy sandbag carries, slippery muddy slopes, muddy ground, inflatable obstacles, monkey bars, 6ft high walls, oh and more mud! There’s something fun about being getting filthy on purpose!
The overwhelming thing about this event, and perhaps the sole reason I would do it again, is the incredible support I saw each person gave another. It restored my faith in humanity to see total strangers giving each other a leg up, helping them through the tough bits, offering a word of encouragement or even just sharing a smile. Does this type of event simply attract awesome people, or maybe it brings out the good in people in a show of solidarity? I don’t know but it was truly humbling.
After enjoying every minute of the 2 hours(!) it took us to finish the 10k route (we didn’t intend to do it fast and said we’d not leave the other behind) we approached the finish line, not before overcoming the brutal 8ft ‘Wall of Fame’! We crossed that line together, two sisters who’d never done anything like this together before, and honouring the work of Arthritis Research UK having raised over £500 in sponsorship prior to the event (sponsor us here www.justgiving.com/lexi-quinton).
If you’re considering a mud run, challenge or obstacle race like this then I would definitely recommend it, particularly if you train for it in advance. It is a great atmosphere and if you need at metabolic kick in the rear this will do it too!