What’s it this Mud Running all about?
We invited the guys from Mudstacle to our event in November to test drive the Shropshire Mud Run Series.
Last weekend Shropshire Mud Run returned for their second instalment of the year and we sent Nigel over to check out their 10km mucky natural course…
It’s Saturday and it’s far too early for my blurry eyes but I know I need to wake up as I have the delight of taking part in the second race in Shropshire Mud Run’s 2013 series. I drag myself out of bed, sort my bag out, which I not so cleverly left to the last minute (not like me), get my breakfast down my neck and I’m away… Bomere Lake here I come!
112 miles later and I found some well positioned sign posts, which guided me straight to the car park (fields). I guess now would be the time to do the standard weather report for the day: It was partly sunny with a bitter cold air, which made me head straight for the catering gazebo, which had COFFEE. Ah, sweet black coffee.
The venue was set on Bomere Lake, Condover near Shrewsbury, and I was surprised to find I was one of the first to arrive… I’m a tad keen and don’t like to be late. As I huddled myself around my coffee, I strolled down to the lake cabin where registration was clearly marked out and was smooth as a baby’s bum.
As more people started to arrive the vibe picked up and the local DJ started pumping the tunes. It had the vibe of a small scale localised mud run; everyone seemed to know one another and were happy and cheerful to be there (even if a few had been out the night before…. Naughty). This didn’t seem to matter much and if anything made the atmosphere better, I’m sure we have all experienced the difference between the big league and little league events and to me now there is not much in it, as they both share common ground.
It turned out that at least half the field were part of the Ultimate Fitness Experience Boot camp that is run in nearby Shrewsbury by the organisers – Personal Trainers Simon & Tom. These chaps were easy to spot, as they had kindly put their names on their jumpers, either to help us know who they were or to remember who they are… either way they were smashing chaps and full of energy; cheering and geeing everyone up ready for the start and the warm up.
The warm up was fun and cosy with all 300 odd runners bunched together jogging on the spot, lunging, squatting and all manner of things to get our blood pumping. The start time was 10:30 and, being that there was only one wave, we were all starting together. To me this meant there was the potential for mayhem, so off to the front of the pack I went.
All together now 10….9….8….7….6….5….4….3…..2…..1…. the air horn blows (well almost, slight technical issue so shouting GOOO works too) and we were off. Take note Spartan, the race started on time (little league 1, big league 0)… nothing personal or bitter about that
I made a quick dash with the other forerunners up the road, down toward the car park and into the MX track. I had a small lead. I felt pretty good but knew it couldn’t last, as we hit more of the MX track’s super sticky energy sapping mud. I have never experienced mud like it. Still out in front for now and following the well marked out course along the hills and undulations of the track. This was a real challenge and parts of the track you doubled back on yourself so got a chance to see the rest of the field… Still smiling and having a right laugh slipping and sliding, which was great to see.
Out of the track and into the lovely fields and woods that surrounded the venue, this really was a quality location. I love running through narrow wooded areas, plagued by uneven terrain, tight lanes and high and low level natural obstacles… concentration levels were through the roof!
Next in line were some smelly bogs. We were told that due to these being SSSI (Specific Sites of Scientific Interest) that the course was limited to where it could be laid and we were to stay strictly in the marked areas. The bogs ranged from ankle, to knee, to waist deep, so stepping outside of the market areas probably wasn’t the best idea – who knows how deep everywhere else was!
It’s worth mentioning that this was a completely natural race with no man made obstacles, which doesn’t fully suit me and showed as I slipped down the ranks into about 10th. I was maintaining that position nicely though and was having a blast, even if I was alone now… queue the lonely music.
After clambering out of the bog we were greeted by a water station, sip sip sip no gulping now. These guys really had used the best of the terrain; we went up some more hills and back toward the event centre and the MX track in reverse! I couldn’t wait for that. At least I had distance markers every kilometre to keep me company. That was a nice touch but I couldn’t work out if it was a good or bad thing for me… answers on a postcard people?
Whilst traversing the MX track in reverse, it was a pleasure to see so many spectators dotted about cheering everyone on and it was a real boost to dig deep and get out the mud with little more than 2km left. I headed back down the hill to the start/finish line and, rather like my ramblings in this review, the end was nigh. The last part of the course was a dip into the lake, up and over the jettys (this was optional due to the green algae, which was explained to all runners at the start) and then FINISH.
To sum up my experience of the Ultimate Fitness Experience Shropshire Mud Run, the course was great and surprisingly challenging. It was in a superb location and the course was very well marked. The organisation was second to none and all staff and marshals were brilliant and full of enthusiasm.
My favourite thing about this run was the balance between fun and competitiveness, something that I guess is quite difficult to achieve. In my opinion they had something for everyone, which showed in their prizes for runners. This obviously had the top 3 male and female finishers and fastest team, but also had rewards for best fancy dress and muddiest runner. This combination made for an amazing event. So well done guys, it was a blast, keep up the good work with 2014′s race calendar. They’re due to have five races in the Shropshire Mud Run Series and if it was anything like this one they I suggest you get signed up and have a pop, as I had a brilliant time…..
Ramble over thanks for reading
Find out more about Shropshire Mud Run here: www.shropshiremudrun.com