Facing the Reaper is something one would usually do when they’re about to die, but I had no intention of doing so on a crisp June evening, despite the fact that I was about to run a fearsome obstacle course in the PITCH BLACK.
Trusty LED Lenser atop my head, secured with a Mudstacle wrag, I accidentally arrived at the venue two hours early, having grossly overestimated how long it would take me to excitedly drive the 100 miles to the venue.
A small site meant that parking and registration was very simple. There was a single burger van, which I firmly believe was placed there with the specific intention of taunting me. Since we were pre-race, I had to congratulate myself on not succumbing to the burger envy I experienced.
I bedded down on a convenient mat and got talking to two ladies who had run the course earlier in the day, and who were to marshal the ‘Solstice run’ at midnight. They heaped praise onto the event and I told them to join the Mudd Queens, so it was a useful exchange of information.
I pretended to warm up, and pretended not to be nervous as we lined up at the start, which was hilariously and ironically delayed as some Marshals had gotten lost in the forest. Well, that bodes spectacularly well, doesn’t it?
Marshals located and in position, we were off, and I settled in to a steady pace – one that sat between ‘really trying hard’ and ‘not falling over’. Running in the dark is very, very weird, and since my teammates were considerably faster than I, I ran a lot of the race alone. This does make for a sort of horror movie-esque situation (and believe me, all of the forest-based scary situations ran through my head) but I felt strangely calm. It wasn’t long before a bunch of jubilant Muddy Kit types started to bob along just behind me, giving helping shoves out of ditches and extending hands when needed. The atmosphere remained really friendly and happy throughout, with marshals being superbly helpful.
Of course, with it being The Reaper, there’s always the risk that the man himself will come storming out of the woods to frighten you, but this dubious honour was not bestowed upon me. Unscathed and unscared, I could happily navigate the interesting and pretty dynamic obstacles (that required a shit-tonne of upper body strength). I genuinely thought I would fall off some of them, so naturally this means I had a great time.
I also LOVED the slide into the lake. Open water swimming in the dark was such a strange sensation, and the build up to the coolest obstacle on the course meant that I was pretty pumped by the time I hit the lake. Obstacle 40, or that ‘big wall with a few grips what looms out of the water and looks pretty difficult’ was as fun as it looked. Just the right amount of difficulty, just the right amount of marshal encouragement and coming just at the right moment, I loved it. It’s definitely something the team should be proud of.
What the team should not be proud of, however, is that HORRIBLE second cargo net that had me flopping about on the floor like the unfortunate by-catch of an unscrupulous trawling operation in the sea. I thrashed about like a trapped dolphin for what felt like hours whilst the photography merrily snapped away in front of me. Git. You can stop laughing now, because have you ever had to negotiate a sloppy, wet cargo net in the middle of the night with a headtorch on? It’s an actual nightmare. That happens at night. It’s literally a nightmare.
That aside, I actually had a ball stomping through the rest of the well-designed course. I think the distance came up a little short, but to be honest, I wasn’t that bothered because I was having vivid fantasies about my bed by about 8k.
After a breezy finish, I was told that I had come in as second lady (hurrah) and I had a photo with the elusive reaper before nailing a cup of tea, getting straight in my car and undertaking the biggest obstacle of all: the motorway home at 1.30 in the morning.
I wanted to die. I thought I might die. I cannot believe that I managed to get myself home and into bed. My dog was totally pissed off that I disturbed her at 4am, as she had apparently been assured that she was to have the bed to herself that night.
I don’t remember anything else about this night other than how dreamy my pillow felt.
- Inov-8 merino baselayer
- Nike hyperwarm baselayer (possible overkill, but I am a very cold person)
- UnderArmour heatgear leggings
- Knee length team socks
- Team tech tee
- LED Lenser H7R
- Mudstacle wrag
- Salomon Fellraisers
Free photographs, water, a medal and a frankly terrifying technical tee.
Really friendly team and an innovative, constantly evolving race. Completing the course in the dark really adds to what is already a cool concept. Make sure you have a bangin’ head torch if you’re going to attempt it – LED Lenser are my brand of choice because I use them for work, so I know they’re literally shit-proof. So in summary, I’m ready for more, Mr Reaper!