Dirty start

Dirty Weekend 2014

Posted on May 23, 2014 · Posted in General, Personal

When thousands of people all gather in the grounds of a stately home (Burghley) in Peterborough for a Dirty Weekend, you might expect bodies clambering over each other, the odd bit of swinging, some water sports and a fair amount of pounding, grunting, groaning and a massive climax. In this case, that’s exactly what you got!

ankles twisted and feet blistered, legs scraped and shirts torn. We loved every single second of it.

20 miles, 200 obstacles, 6000 participants, all pounding their way round the worlds largest obstacle course, makes for a very eventful and Dirty Weekend.

Only into its second year, Rat Race ‘Dirty Weekend’ on 14th May, is already attracting participants from across the globe. Covering 20 miles, across fairly level, off road ground and including 200 obstacles, ranging from good old crawls through mud, a world record attempt and a 5m jump into the depths of a lake as well as many more, this truly is a must for all adventure race enthusiasts. But this is a big race that requires Pit Stops where gummy bears, water, nuts, bananas are all there for the taking. So then it was that your instructors Eddy & Dave, once again set themselves the task of completing this mammoth of all adventure races.

Before we go flying into the race itself, I feel the need to highlight some of the rather memorable factors building up to the race. No, were not going to talk about the training Eddy and I did for this race, there was none! I would simply like to mention there are a few essentials for a race like this. One of them being race kit. This year, we had decided to complete the race in quite stand out attire, Eddy, Hawaii shirt and hat, myself a quite loud Hawaii shirt. A very VERY loud Hawaii shirt. But what I really wanted to mention was the face palm moment , when Eddy remembered what he had forgotten. In this case his running trainers! Yes, possibly the most important piece of kit that you could choose to take with you to an event like this, your trainers! Yes?
Well as it was, we were over half way down the M1 when, ‘I’ve forgotten my trainers’, Eddy exclaimed! It was rather louder than this, with a few exclusives.


Okay, you get the picture. So we made it down and at this point, you are probably hoping I start to tell you about the actual race. After all, it is the race you are hoping to read about. It is probably relevant to tell you that Eddy resolved his trainer crisis by deciding to borrow a pair of size 9’s from a friend and fellow racer we met down there. This is very relevant as Eddy is a size 10!

Does anyone else think running 20 miles in trainers too small for you would be an issue?

The RaceDirty Weekend 2014 start

So its just before 8am on a dry but currently overcast Saturday morning. By this time Eddy and I are bouncing around with a group of other runners in Wave 1, the so called Ninja wave.










GO Dirty Weekend 2014 leading start

We are off, I set off like the clappers, this is purely for the photo shoot opportunities. Has to be done! Leading front and centre!
Okay to the first obstacle; some simple straw bales, several rows of them, throw, roll, leap over them, just get over as fast as possible. Then its ease of the gas and slow down, we need to set a pace that will cover 20 miles and going like the clappers probably won’t achieve that. Eddy and I had decided to run this together, no matter the pace. At this point it did mean that a few people (Ninjas) were already running off into the distance. It wasn’t long though until more and more obstacles started rolling in. Once we had negotiated the first wall, slipped though some tyres (I say slipped, 6’4 doesn’t tend to slip anywhere) clambered through a couple of cars, we were then confronted by the first of the days water. It was COLD. Now I personally, all that I am confident in water, seem to cold shock very very easily and its not bloody nice. Eddy of course is just BOOM BOOM BOOM, into and at everything like a shot. After transiting through 40m’s of icy cold water and just as my body temperature had started to accept the cold, we got out. I was rather pleased about that.

Dirty Dave water
I should have probably added that there was a certain amount of running between these obstacles, which would actually be better described as, ‘a lot of running’.

Anyway, out we got and more running. Still feeling okay at this point but certainly noticing the lack of training. Passing for a mile or so across the general landscape, the kind you might expect to find at your average stately home, we were then into the first woodland section. As well as natural obstacles including, well placed fallen trees to jump over and duck under, this also included a lot of nettles. YES the stinging kind. Dirty Eddy Leap

Onwards we went though, winding our way through the woodland, in anticipation of one of last year’s more memorable obstacles which involved a clamber through thick mud on your belly. And there it was, but this year it was different. More mud, wetter, deeper and all together a little soul destroying! Escaping the other side, there was no option to dust of this year, we would just have to wait till the next water obstacle to clean off a little.
Dirty Dirty Dave

So we set off, now into the middle stage of the race, did I mention running?

Onwards we went, more water obstacles, balancing while crossing over canoes, then more running. I think by now we had tackled our first inflatable obstacle then quick stepped past some guys with big kick pads who I think were trying to knock us to the ground! Continuing on we would also pass several other obstacle zones that generally involved, climbing, clambering, jumping, ducking, dragging ourselves through mud, trench, water, over a wall or some metal frame with well placed tyres.

Dirty Eddy Canoe

Then it came, one of last years memorable obstacles, for all the wrong reasons, returned. A 200m swim crawl through murky, sludge filled water. From there you are no sooner out of that water before you are life vest on, back in the water. This time clambering over in the water obstacles. To escape the water this year, we had the pleasure of Olympic Rings, which instantly brought back memories of Gladiators and Hang Tough. Well actually, it more specifically brought back memories of Jet (just google Gladiators and Jet guys). After this was the outstanding edition of a 40m water slide, which took us through, more water obviously.  Thinking that was the end of the water zones, for now anyway, we were then faced with a 5m high tower (it was maybe 3m) which we had to clamber up for the right to jump off. Whether it was 5m or 3m, it was high! No matter how many times I have jumped into water from this height, there is always a little judder until you take the leap.

Dirty Jump

After this, and having discarded the life jackets, well, we started running again. By this point we were at around the halfway point, notably marked by the next Mammoth of an obstacle.
Yes Rat Race, in their infinite wisdom, include in their itinerary of world beating obstacles, 125m of Monkey Bars. Now this should be a particular favourite of mine accept they never seem to get the bar diameter suitable for this obstacle and certainly length. Last year too wide, this year to narrow. Like I said normally a particular favourite of mine I was off like a shot with Eddy in tow. The narrow grip was quickly starting to cut into my hands though and after 60m and a couple of pauses, we had swung far enough to dismiss the rest of the obstacle (there is a non monkey bar option). We were then hit with the next obstacle straight away, 100m or so or cargo net to crawl under. Another record attempt? I don’t know but it was hard, especially by now as cramp was really starting to raise its head. Not finished with that, we came out to a stack of about 8 or 9 high stacked bales and were not talking about the little square ones, we are talking BIG.

So, we’ve negotiated all that, guess what, yep, we did a bit more running. Well, we say that, I seem to remember hitting around the 13 mile mark when things slowed massively. Actually they had probably slowed for me after sapping all my energy tackling 60m of Monkey Bars. By this point Eddys size 10’s squeezed in size 9’s were starting to let him know. The ever developing blisters were starting to remind him which piece of essential kit is essential. But we were in this together and that is how it was. This was actually a good thing because it was around this point that I felt so drained of energy, and not in the knackered way, I started to get very light headed. Team work prevailed and with Eddy’s encouragement we reached the next PIT STOP. What a pit stop it was, we feasted on everything we could. At this point I was possibly most thankful to get some salt into me, the cramp was playing havoc. Certainly whatever amount I did eat, it did the trick, within 10 minutes I felt fresh as a daisy again (all be it a daisy that had been trodden on).

Dirty Eddy + Dave team

So we now entered the final stages, this seemed to be a big mix of running, oh and by now a bit of walking (quite a bit). In true Rat Race style the last few mile markers seemed a little bit closer together than the earlier ones. This really does work to give you a bit of a lift, especially when you are saving energy for the monumental climax. It was a Dirty Weekend after all!
As we passed the final mile marker we could see Burghley House in the distance and a bit of buzz started. I felt a quick sprint was in order as this was the first time we had seen a bunch of spectators all in one place. That was quickly toned down by, can you guess, more water. Then onto a few more minor obstacles before the final surge up and around the hill that marked the Finish Line and the absolute King of Kings of BIG obstacles. Three 9ft walls stood one on top of the other in a tiered system. Jump up one, clamber up the next, drag yourself up the final one to find yourself on your own podium. Quick snap from the photographer, then down the other side for a dash across the finish line. Eddy’s blisters seemed to be a distant memory as he went belting across the finish line in emphatic style.

 Dirty Eddy Finish Dirty Dave Finish

So we had done it, having ducked, dodged, ran, walked, swam, crawled and tumbled around the course, our bodies were battered & bruised, ankles twisted and feet blistered, legs scraped and shirts torn. We loved every single second of it.

4 hours, 38 minutes, top 10% finish, Eddy 519th, Dave 521st. Next year we might train!

Thank you for reading, see you there next year.
We would like to thank Rat Race for another brilliant event.
Please check these links for more picture/videos/information ► facebook.com/RatRaceDirtyWeekend / Dirty Weekend

David iCan Atkins – iCan Fitness