This event could have gone one of two ways.
One: The half a dozen colleagues (and my Mum) who I managed to rope in with me could have loved it, and I would feel smug for having found a few more people to drag along to various running events through the year. (As if they’d stop at just one – we all know how addictive running can be!)
Two: They could have hated it, and never trusted me again. Very possible.
How I managed to convince them in the first place, I don’t know. Running 10k through waist-high mud and ice-cold water and up hills in the middle of January doesn’t sound hugely appealing on paper. The event website didn’t entirely help my cause:
‘The Women’s race is set for the coldest and wettest time of the year so you can be assured of all the elements contained in a true Brutal race. We have a fantastic Brutal course which is designed with two x 5km laps, which allows runners to get the maximum sogginess, mud and climb available. The climb on the course comprises of short sharp hills, the wet will be in abundance with many large and long water areas and the mud will make even the lightest trail racers feel like lead.’
Especially when a couple of said workmates had never run 10k before, so would have to train for the event beforehand – pushing through the early ‘why am I doing this I hate running everything hurts LUCY YOU SUCK!’ stages without pulling out.
Luckily, I was sensible and signed them up and got their money before I sent them the link to the event website.
We lost one along the way, but last Saturday we were 6 strong, and felt suitably badass (and a bit concerned) when we clocked the temperatures – -3 the night before, with highs of 5 degrees that day. Ouch.
The event had a great atmosphere, with loads of people in fancy dress and war paint. Luckily, there were plenty of Brutal newbies, so we didn’t feel out of place! There were also tons of portaloos, and the registration and bag drop process was quick and painless. The warmup was great, led by one of the military guys (though we couldn’t hear him very well, and instead just copied what the people around us were doing).
Can’t take credit for this photo – check it out on Twitter.
Within a kilometre or two, we were into the first water section. My initial reaction was ‘so much for waist high!’ and also, ‘holy ****, COLD!’
The water sections were iced over at the start, and had to be broken up by a Range Rover before the runners set off; when we reached them, there were still huge chunks of ice floating past us (I’m talking a cm thick and up to a foot square). Despite the cold, we were having a great time! Being a women-only event, it was all rather civilised – people moved aside to let the faster runners past, helped each other through the obstacles and chatted and laughed (and screamed!) along the way.
Then we reached the mud. By the second lap we actually looked forward to the mud, as it was warmer than the water! However it was also very soft and deep, and if you stepped in the wrong place you would disappear up to your hips or higher. Might have made that mistake… But at least we didn’t face plant!
The army guys were brilliant at motivating us along. On the second lap, one of them headed over for a high five before shouting ‘You own this course! This course doesn’t own you!’ (Pahaha). One of my friends got a ‘DECIMATE THAT HILL!’
… Adding those to my mantras!
I’ll admit, we didn’t manage to get much of a rhythm going on this course. When we weren’t wading through water or mud, we were making our way up stupidly steep hills in the woods, over tree trunks and through rough undergrowth. It was hard work, but was broken up in the first lap as there were loads of 5k runners – we found that we had to stop and wait at most of the obstacles for the crowds to clear. Definitely appreciated the forced breaks, but if you’re going for a good time, be warned – there were lots of bottlenecks.
After the last muddy section of the loop, you think you’ve made it – and then you turn the corner and see what looked like a river ahead of you. It was deep, wide, and extremely cold. (The momentarily-can’t-breathe kind of cold).
After that, it was just a few metres to the finish line, where they announced each runner as they came through. Lovely touch! They had water, squash and bananas for us at the finish – and volunteers were peeling the bananas for us as we were so cold and stiff!
It’s worth noting that there are no changing facilities at the event – people were just getting changed in the car park. Believe me, you’ll be so eager to get into some warm dry clothes that you won’t care by the time you get back to the car!
Overall, we LOVED this event – and are already looking for others to sign up for! If you’re interested, you can find more information on the Brutal Run website.
If you need more motivation, the medal and tshirts are brilliant: