A Dirty Weekend Away
Another Unplanned Expedition Miraculously Pieces Itself Together!
“Squeak, squeak, squeak, squeeeak!” Nope, not vermin sneaking into my sleeping bag. It was about mile 12 of the Rat Race Dirty Weekend obstacle course, and the friction energy between my hands and the metal bars of the “World’s Longest Monkey Bars” was being released in screaming bursts of sound (and heat) energy with each swing. Although there were bigger, more spectacular obstacles throughout the 20-mile course, this one left a lasting impression. Hands torn and bloodied, people were dropping like flies.
At about the 80-90m mark, the skin on my right hand gave in and a thick flap of skin tore away. Perhaps it was the knowledge that there were still another grueling 8-miles of obstacles to go, but I had a momentary lapse of determination and decided that was enough monkeying about for me, leaving the last 30m of bars unfinished as I motored on.
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Before GoPro Battery Failure
Why Not To Buy A GoPro At The Last Minute
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A “Borrowed” Summary Of The Course
Thanks, Muddy Race.
As I clambered over the next obstacles, blood dripping from my hand, The words of Eric Thomas sounded in my head: “You already in pain, you already hurt! Get a reward from it!”… Of 200 obstacles, the monkey bars would be the first & last I didn’t complete 100%.
“Don’t cry to quit! You already in pain, you already hurt! Get a reward from it!”
– Eric Thomas
Being told later that only 2 people completed the entire length was a bitter-sweet moment: On one hand, I could pat myself on the back for almost completing them. On the other hand, I could kick myself in the butt for not pushing to reach the lofty accolade of top 3 monkeys! 😉
However, I wasn’t there to win (this time) 😉 – I was there to support Children With Cancer UK; test myself; complete the challenge; meet some champion characters; and have a good time. For all of these objectives the weekend was a huge success.
PREPARATIONS VS RESULTS
Training For a 20-mile/200-obstacle Assault Course:
Although I might look relatively fit, I haven’t run for more than 15 minutes at a time in the last 12 months. I’ve played rugby league for 15 years, but haven’t laced up the boots since a 9-a-side competition a year ago. I’ve never run 20-miles in my life, and my excuses could go on… But instead, I decided to prepare the rig for the challenge.
“Just three times that run, over some rougher terrain, with a couple hundred obstacles in the way. I think I’m ready!”
1. A Run Around The Park:
Two weeks before the event I checked whether my legs and brain would cooperate and remember how to run. Seeing as it was my first run in almost a year, I figured I’d just jog around the park a few times, see how the body agreed with it, and walk home when I was cooked.
I’m not a huge technology advocate, I think it usually stifles real-life (as I sit here writing, there is a glorious sunny afternoon passing me by outside, for instance). However, using MapMyRun on my phone was an awesome motivator! Every mile it would turn the music down in my earphones and give me a little pep-talk: “You have run 6.4Km, your current split time is 4minutes 50seconds. (keep going, champion!)”
Stretching down in the park, I started feeling pretty confident. “Just three times that run, over some rougher terrain, with a couple hundred obstacles in the way. I think I’m ready!” I thought, optimistically.
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With a 20-mile charity obstacle course run coming up, I thought i better see if I still know how to #run around. this felt pretty comfortable. fairly relaxed first hit out. I don't mind running. 🙂 It's the second time i've been for a run since moving to #London over a year ago hah. Is 20miles of #obstacles a tall ask in a few wekks? Nah, no dramas! 😉 #RatRacer #RatRace #obstaclecourse #training #Wimbledon #UK #charity #ChildrenWithCancerUK Www.whatshouldbazdo.com/event/dirty-weekend-at-burghley-rat-race/
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Day 39 (yesterday) of #YogaEveryDamnDayWithBaz: #yoga time after a 10.5Km run. About my third time running in the past 2 years. It's not 20miles, but felt pretty easy. #preparing for #RatRace #DirtyWeekend think it might be the #yoga helping me out for lower back pain. #YogaEveryDamnDay #whatshouldbazdo #Wimbledon #park #sunset Day 21 final spinal! Seated spinal twist. Sorry it's late 🙂 @estherjoyyoga @curvesomeyoga @yogabrohamburg #seatedspinetwist #everybodyisayogabody #thisyogican #yogaeveryday #yogachallenge
2. A Few Chin-Ups Rocky Style:
Next was obstacle training. With 200 obstacles to get over, under, or through I simply started doing what I could, with what was available, where I was!
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
If I were at a school teaching, and the kids were playing on the monkey bars at lunch, where was I? Teaching by example, of course – Teaching them how to climb properly! And If I happened to go exploring and find a train bridge out of the boundary of the walkway, I would climb to it. Problem solved – I was doubly ready!
3. Mini Conundrum #005: “How To Train For Anything?!”
My flexibility has never been great, and I suffer from a mild functional Scoliosis. As a result, I would often feel lower back pain and tightness from just 15 minutes continuous straight-line running. This doesn’t seem to give me much trouble anymore.
I credit the recent 6-week #YogaEveryDamnDay Challenge for increasing my flexibility & alleviating this debilitating running roadblock. Thank you all for that excellent Mini Conundrum decision, guys & gals! – You’re making great choices for Baz so far. ;D
Thanks also to Bikram Yoga Wimbledon for being my main source of yoga during the challenge.
The Race Results
Not Too Shabby. Even If I Do Say So Myself!
- 4hours 44minutes to run 20-mile (32Km), negotiate 200 obstacles, and get through people traffic.
- 431st finisher of over 4,500 runners.
- 18th in my Wave of 250.
- 374th male to complete of around 3,400
- AND A FEATURE IMAGE IN THE PAPER IN MY UNDIES!
Next To Nil Camping Preparation:
An hour before boarding the train at Waterloo, I flung my backpack open and threw in a few essentials: running clothes; a hoodie; undies; a small borrowed sleeping bag; my yoga mat; and a new, half-charged GoPro (which I couldn’t really afford). Glancing at my watch, I hurried out the door, bound for a weekend camping; running around half nude; and taking on a monster 20-mile obstacle course in the English countryside.
The spectacle put smiles on everyone’s faces, and a mood of togetherness and camaraderie between all the competitors set the tone for a great weekend ahead.
I knew I was unprepared, there was no denying that. But I also knew from past experience that with the right positive attitude, something good will come from any sticky situation. And if I’m going to be perfectly honest, I think I love the thrill of not knowing what awaits.
- Traveling LIGHT: Being unprepared means you probably haven’t packed all that you want, or need. Looking on the bright side, it’s easy to carry stuff you’ve left behind!
- Traveling FLEXIBLE: Perhaps the biggest drawcard of unpreparedness is the ability to change your mind at any time. Nothing is booked, the possibilities are endless. You could literally end up anywhere – and that is OK.
- More INTERESTING: Not only is going into the unknown more interesting, but you become more interesting looking to others as well. People start thinking, “Why is this bloke carrying ALL his stuff around now?!”
- Increased STRESS: May sleep in a wet ditch; Increased likelihood of discomfort; Tired; Problem-solving to be done; deprived of relaxation time.
- Forgetting important STUFF: As you lay shivering at 1am, trying to warm yourself with “hot breath”, sometimes you regret not packing some proper gear.
- An UNCHARGED GoPro: This begs the question: If you can’t Instagram it, did it really happen? Not having a charged device may result in the weekend being erased from the memory of everyone you know! 😮
- PERSONAL CHARITY EFFORT
Being a last minute operation, my sponsorship fundraising efforts fell quite a bit short of what I’d like to have raised… However, because I left things so late, I was required to pay more for my entry fee, so at least the personal contribution was worthwhile. There is ALWAYS a silver lining, if you look hard enough.
There is ALWAYS a silver lining, if you look hard enough.
- POSITIVE ATTITUDE = POSITIVE OUTCOME
Turning up to the event without a campsite or a tent, carrying only a small sleeping bag & a thin yoga mat, I knew my impeccable charm was going to be necessary to get through the cold nights. Just in case the charm was insufficient, I spent the first two hours searching for a spot under a tree with thick foliage to shelter from the incoming rain, and a shrub or mound of dirt to act as a windbreak.
The search revealed a few plausible shelters: under a bridge in the town; In a hidden corner of the big top tent; and, if the rain got really heaving, inside a port-a-loo. I may be looking forward to a very uncomfortable night, but I was quite confident that I wouldn’t die.
“Somebody is interested in everything, anything you can be interested in, you will find others will.”
– Alan Watts
The Undie-run proved to be a great start to the weekend. Even though we didn’t give the record too much of a scare, the spectacle put smiles on everyone’s faces, and a mood of togetherness and camaraderie between all the competitors set the tone for a great weekend ahead.
As the daylight began to fade, food was on my mind. Something to fuel up on for tomorrow’s big obstacle run before I found some place to sleep. Luckily, “somebody is interested in everything, anything you can be interested in, you will find others will.” With a common interest for meat and potato stew, I struck up conversation with Ian, a fellow hungry champion. After asking why I was still carrying my backpack around, he invited me back to meet the other absolute champions at the campsite for a couple pre-race beers, and a place to lay my sleeping bag out of the rain. #Safe!
I’d bought a one-way ticket to Cambridge for the weekend, in the hope of meeting someone from London with a spare seat. Alas, this didn’t happen. There is always a silver lining though, if you are willing to look hard enough for it. An exciting new task was at hand!
Hitchhiking kind of happened when you guys sent me to Austria, but it wasn’t done properly with the thumb out. So, I figured I’d give it another crack. If it failed, I’d walk to town and buy a train ticket back to London. With nothing to lose, it was a “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” situation.
Making a “LONDON” sign from a leftover piece of paper in the event entry tent, I latched it on the back of my pack, walked to the entry gate and waited. Within 15 minutes, I met one more friend for the weekend: Jess was heading to London, via her parents house. She had come to the Rat Race Dirty Weekend by herself as well, like an absolute champion. We bonded over mud race comparisons; were given showers, lunch and afternoon tea at her parents place; and traveled back to London: rested, showered, and with full bellies!
My first proper hitchhiking attempt was a smashing success! 🙂