X Runner: How not to behave when you fall in a lake

X Runner was important to me, as it was the first race where my mum came to watch me. I didn’t think I’d put in a particularly stunning performance owing to a bit of a back injury, but I was going to give it a good shot.

Set in the absolutely stunning grounds of Osmaston Manor in Derbyshire, X Runner was a pretty slick outfit, with a well laid out course and registration area. The atmosphere was a weird mixture of relaxed and electric, and the weather was totally on our side, with loads of sunshine.   Before the race day, X Runner had done a great job of briefing runners about cold water shock, which was a real and present danger on the course, with tonnes of water obstacles at the end of each 5k lap.

The Course

The course began with a couple of tame hay bales, twists and turns around the spectator area and then a brief dip in a spring before a thigh-busting ascent into the forest. After realising that I probably wasted more energy huffing, puffing and walking up the hill than I would running it, I resolved to do better on the second lap.

The forest trails started with some cool runs over massive log stacks, which slowed the pack considerably. There were some decent bursts of running with the odd spider-web, log pile and wall dotted about in the woods. Anyone who thought they might be making good time had their hopes dashed by the most insane mud I have ever seen. It was dark, gloopy and in places, up to my waist. I managed to navigate it pretty swiftly the first time, passing through droves of people trying to extricate their trainers from the sink holes… on the second lap I wasn’t so lucky, stacked it in a sort of awkward slow-motion and ended up having to commando crawl through it. Conveniently, a cameraman was on hand to document the whole process. No, you can’t see the pictures.

The level of difficulty wasn’t particularly high in terms of technical obstacles, but mental grit was tested when the water obstacles loomed. The first was a steep slide into a deep lake, which I didn’t really attempt to think about before I threw myself down. Oh my ACTUAL god, it was so cold I think my brain froze and fell out of my ear. That’s my excuse for allowing all rational thought to be overtaken by my urge to gasp and flail, taking on a couple of gulps of probably fetid water. Oh well, what’s a little Leptospirosis amongst friends? Astonishingly, I managed to coordinate my legs into some sort of paddle, and hauled myself out of the lake, gagging and coughing and wondering why the hell I bother. I didn’t have much recovery time though, as I then had to throw myself into the water again to swim to a remote pontoon where spectators waited expectantly to watch us complete the monkey bars and swim to the opposite side. Delighted to once again submerge myself and float along in the dignified manner to which I’d become accustomed, I flopped into the lake and scrabbled over to the pontoon. The monkey bars were actually ladders, which made for uncomfortable hands, and I swung off them at the halfway point, once again landing in the water. Totally over it by this point, I had to get out, jump over the pontoon then get back in and swim towards my mum, who of course, was filming the whole thing.

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why I will never be a Bond Girl

The problem with lap races is that when you near the finish point after your first lap, you think, “nobody will notice if I just give up. I can run over the finish in a blaze of glory and everyone will be none-the wiser.” Then you strap on your lady balls and carry the fuck on. After a slightly faster second lap, the water obstacles didn’t seem so daunting, and I even managed a celebratory air punch after completing the monkey bars the second time around. Then it was just a swim, a wall and a couple of cargo nets before I could nestle into my Dryrobe and enjoy a hot pork sandwich with my mum and the dogs. In all, not a bad way to spend a morning.

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The Goods

Technical tee shirt, medal and some water (I think), by that point I was pretty much hating on water. Results still have yet to be posted online, so I’ve almost given up hope on ever hearing back on that promise.

The Kit

  • Salomon Fellraisers
  • More Mile trainer socks
  • Under Armour Heatgear tights
  • Inov8 merino baselayer
  • Decathlon neoprene rash vest
  • Nike Pro Hyperwarm long sleeved top
  • Inov8 Wrag
  • Kooga fingerless rugby gloves

For most of the first lap I was cursing my rash vest, because I was hot, but I was incredibly grateful for it at the end of the laps due to the intense nature of the water obstacles. Everything else was bang on. Not sure if the Kooga gloves were a bit big for me, but that’s pretty much every sports manufacturer in the world’s fault for not making delicate lady hand sizes readily available.

The Verdict

This is another one of those courses that gives an excellent all round experience of what an obstacle course can be like. It’s great for fun runners, although I doubt it’s challenging to seasoned OCR types. The organisation was brilliant, and the website is pretty easy to use, but I would have liked to have had the results published even just so I have a personal goal to beat if I ever did it again. The perfect race to drag non-OCR mates to.

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