When I heard about the new ladies only event “Pretty Tough”, I immediately thought what a wonderful opportunity this would be to get a team of ladies together to run for “Mud Is My Make Up” and experience the day together. With the team set up, disaster stuck and I injured myself the week previously at Nuclear Races, leaving myself unable to take part. My slot in the team was quickly filled, and roving reporter in the (muddy) field Lucy Tapper Howe (one of my wonderful team mates from the Judgement Day team challenge in December) reported back for me...Over to you Lucy...
I had managed my usual trick of cutting it fine and having passed petrol stations early on, thinking ‘I’ll get it later’, only to find none near to the event. So, with warning light on, I hoped that the event would come before the juddering halt and decided to worry about it later. Thankfully, finding the location was surprisingly easy. As soon as I drove up and into the car park it was clear that it was not going to be the usual ‘sprawl’ and that dashing from race start/finish to car (and welcoming DryRobe) would not be an issue. I parked up and made my way down to registration whereupon I spied my fellow Mudd Queens.
Once registered (which was all very easy and friendly), we made our introductions and started assessing whether or not we were in it for the ‘race’ or just for fun. I confess, I had not paid attention and so had not appreciated that it was a timed event or that there were prizes at stake! Blessed/cursed as I am with a crippling competitive streak, I was not sure how I would curb this, knowing it was timed. I needn’t have worried – it turned out that we were kindred spirits in this regard and confessed as much.
There then followed a long list of instructions and description of the course – so long that I hoped we would not be tested on it later or expected to remember it while we ran around. We were told we were permitted to dodge past the metal A-frame first time round if we were going for time at which point we collectively exchanged a look of horror – miss an obstacle?? We were clear that that was not going to happen, race or otherwise!
So off we went to collect our cup of pink dust, then up the bank for the warm up: squats, high-knees, press-ups and the like. A count-down followed and then we all had to throw our pink dust in the air, creating a massive pink cloud around the runners. Then wait for the rocket and we were off!
As agreed, we did not take up the invitation to miss out the A-frame but nimbly hopped over it on our way to the water slide, round one!
Water slides need to be fast and it didn’t disappoint. The reception was a filthy, black, stinky pool at the bottom before setting off around the course. We could see a single runner ahead of us and knew that she was in second-place. Already we couldn’t see anyone behind us but kept our foot on the gas nonetheless. We had decided we wanted to win as a team, and we were going to!
It was a course not short of mud, and muddy water, with stinging nettles providing an added threat. We did some wading, we did some squelching but we were all running as a pack of four (the fourth placed team member set the time for the team). We hopped over gates, we scrambled over branches. We ran up what felt like a never-ending hill (nobly led by Jules who by this stage was setting the pace for the four of us) – up the side of a muddy field until we could see what appeared to be an oasis of bluebells. Entering the shade, there was a sense of ‘phew – that’s over’, but in fact it wasn’t, and we were still climbing, in fact it got steeper before we had any hint of a (much-needed) downhill respite.
Then the rain came as we embarked on another ascent. We scrambled over rocks like mudclaw-wearing mountain goats, then climbed over a surprisingly tall wooden frame and were provided with Haribo Tangfastic assistance. We took a sip or two of water when it was offered but we were on a mission so the thoughtful offer of a banana was vetoed on this occasion (but not unappreciated)!.
We were greeted by a marshall on a quad bike every now and again, shouting encouragement as we leapt through hedgerows and yet more mud!
After what felt like a pretty long stretch of running (with I must say, some fabulous views – yes, I did actually notice!) we came to monkey bars. I for one had been willing another obstacle to present itself at this point but could have done with a chance to dry out from the dunking we had just had. We attacked them with Maggie (Mook) nipping nimbly across. Spurred on by my last two OCR successes, I gave them a good go but cursed my wet hands as I slipped off about ¾ of the way along – dammit!
We had wooden A-frames next, followed by some wooden walls which had become a little slippery but which we navigated nonetheless.
At this point in the run (with about 1.5k to go) the obstacles increased again which felt like a blessing. The last real challenge for us was the sloping ramp with the knotted rope. Pretty Tough’s ‘Everest’, both slippery and steep! For my part, I saw Jules going over practically upside-down! She had her legs hooked over the top and pulled herself over the rest of the way. It worked! I got close to the top but then reached a bit of a stand-still. There was a helpful marshall leaning over offering me his hand and after a bit of hesitation and an eventual leap of faith (which I was prepared to do because this was TEAM effort - we had been offered the ‘out’ of going through it instead of over – NEVER!) I threw my right hand at the strong man and allowed myself to be practically hauled up. Jules shouted ‘give me your leg’ and before I knew it, I was able to manoeuvre myself over the rest. For Donna and myself this was a great ‘we did it’ moment – I think both of us feeling that we may not actually get over it at all… But we had the last bit still to finish so no time to linger.
From there we took a quick scramble up the steep bank, ran around the back of it (more running?) before once again ascending the (now very slippery) metal A-frame and up the final hill to the top of the slide for the second time. This time we knew the black bog that awaited us and merrily launched down into the awaiting splash and stench! All that remained was the rat sewer pipes to finish and we were done! Team hug! High fives! Clear team winners and third place overall given that we very much ran ‘as one’.
I couldn’t have wished for a better team – we were all very well matched and ‘of a mindset’!
Lucy Tapper Howe, Donna Fox, Maggie (Mook) Godfrey, Jules Parke-Robinson
We enjoyed our well-earned glass of Prosecco, and team shots, then decided we had time to nip off to get changed (cars not far away), Thank heavens as ever for the DryRobe (albeit, I looked like a midget in Gandalf’s robes in mine), a cup of tea (bought for me by a very kind man), then medals and ‘prize-giving’. I suspect that the white tech t-shirt won’t remain white for very long but what a great atmosphere. I suspect that for many this may have been a first and that feeling is both hard to beat and infectious.
Overall result? Awesome to win the team event, a great day out, and a new bunch of lovely muddy friends (and Mud Queens). Free photos – up the next day too.
It was sad to miss Louise Fraser (migraine) and Fran (knee problem) but there’s always next time… And yes, we have already booked at the discounted rate offered!