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I’ve run a few 10k’s and decided it was time to look for a new challenge. I eagerly entered one of Rat Race’s Notorious night runs…not just content on taking part in an obstacle run, I chose one at night through the forest!
I received all the emails beforehand; parking pass, directions and of course the all-important safety information which included the words ‘hilly, steep, muddy, rough, dark.’ It was at this point I wondered what I’d let myself in for.
The day finally came…I made sure I had the mandatory head torch (with new batteries), change of warm clothes and plenty of water due to no shower facilities.
I arrived to a beautiful sunny forest, collected my race pack containing free technical t-shirt and numbered wristband, then waited for evening to fall.
When registering, I had chosen to run in the first wave so that I could start in a little daylight…and it gave me more time to complete the course.
At 5.15pm the first wave (that’s me) were called into the start area for a safety briefing…no time for backing out now! I happened to be standing between Robin Hood, Maid Marian and, strangely, a cow. Before I knew it we were off and running…I say running, but ten strides or so and I reached two stacks of straw bales which seemed rather high! A little scrabbling and I was over and on my way.
The route gradually worked its way into the forest and it wasn’t long before I had to turn on my head torch. Running along the narrow tracks through the forest seemed a little surreal at first, but soon found a steady pace and enjoyed the winding route (which was well marked with reflective tape).
There were many natural obstacles, tree roots, branches, ups and downs as well as a few that were man made to add that extra challenge. It is here that I will say if you don’t want to get muddy, this isn’t really a run for you.
There were nets to crawl under (through mud), a steep bridge, webs of bungee cord, beams to clamber over and under and the large, very sloppy mud pit to crawl through. There wasn’t much of a queue at obstacles and if anyone got stuck there always seemed to be a ‘helping’ hand to give a little push if needed.
Just over half way I came to ‘Spooky Forest’ which had been described in the briefing “follow the tape around the edge, or for the adventurous, cut through the middle of the dense section where there is no path”. I had opted for the track following the edge…followed by a small group of runners. Unfortunately I somehow lost the path (no surprise to those who know me) and ended up stumbling through the middle, still being followed! I lost count of how many bushes and trees I crawled and scrambled through before I caught a glimpse of the reflective tape again…phew!
The finish seemed to come quicker than I was expecting…running out of the forest to the finish area where spectators gathered. The only thing that stood between a rather muddy runner and the finish banner was a steep slippy slope with a rope! Climbing up was fairly easy with the right technique, but trying to jump off and land on your feet when legs are covered in cold mud is not so easy. A short run and I had crossed the chip timing mat…elation (I had made it round my first adventure run, and was still in one piece). I collected my medal and the important bar of chocolate.
The support from spectators was fantastic and the man at the end with the hosepipe was a welcome sight. The hardest part of it all was trying to clean off all the mud. Once looking a little more human I headed to the event village where there was a heated bar tent with live music, and a full catering van. Quite a few of the runners took tents and camped in their dedicated area…I decided on driving home to a warm shower and comfy bed.
The run was a fantastic experience with an amazing atmosphere, and for all levels of runners. If you want a run with a difference then try this one. I shall be returning next year!