2015: A Year in Review

2015: A Year in Review


So for a bit of a laugh/something to do I thought I’d pick one race/event/standout challenge from each month of 2015 to sum up the year and for me to look back on. It’s been a ridiculous year taking me through Florida, Austria, Ohio, and.. er… Bristol. If you fancy taking a look then check out my year in review below!

 

January: Walt Disney World Marathon

 
walt disney marathon
 

A belter of a way to begin the year – travelling to Disney World, Florida to run a marathon that took us through each of the 4 Kingdoms as well as the ESPN centre. We ran underneath Cinderella’s Castle, past an African safari, and essentially around the world in Epcot all while being greeted by various Disney characters along the way it was very easy to be swept up in the magic of it all in this incredible race.

I’ll never forget the moment I reached the brow of a hill as the sun was just coming up to see Robin Hood, Little John, and Friar Tuck waiting by the side of the road. With Hot Summer Night by Meatloaf playing on my mp3 at the same time this made for one of the greatest moments of my running life. I’ll also never forget the pain of the last 3 miles as a migraine set in and it became a battle to keep pushing while losing my vision and suffering immensely. Of course proposing to the love of my life that evening was the perfect way to top off the whole experience.
 

February: Devil Mud Run

 
dmr
 

Devil Mud Run turned out to be a great surprise – a race local to me built over some very hilly and muddy terrain, the organisers own the land so were able to build some really good obstacles into the hills and around the area. This was billed as non-competitive, yet was still a tough run (and we all know a win still counts as a win!!!), but great fun the whole way round – sticking in the mud on the downhill crawl, taking selfies with marshals en route, and jumping in the water right at the end. I was at this race with Chloe (obviously) and Paul Hayward who started in a later wave, so I accompanied him for a 2nd go round the course.

Side note: I also remember that we unfortunately saw a cat get hit by a car on the way to this run which made us a little late. A horrendous start to the day as we dealt with that but a fun race nonetheless!
 

March: The Suffering Legend

 
suffering race
 

The Suffering is just one of the best races out there, without a doubt. Such a grueling course, tough obstacles requiring a lot of strength, the reapers dealing out abuse and punishments, and by Christ those hills are relentless.

This was my second go at doing all 3 distances over the weekend and as brutal as it is I loved every second of it, I managed to get 1stplace in the 10k race somehow then ended up fastest legend overall for the weekend so pretty happy about that! Best memory from this weekend though was standing with Alex Money as we watched Chloe and Kirsten Herpe (who had run the distances together over the weekend), finish the final race – with miserable looks on their face and their bottom lips quivering, I think it was a muddy sponge to the face from a reaper that set Kirsten’s waterworks off, while Chloe just about held it together until we got to the car where an appearance from Rob Foulkes made her burst into tears. Still not sure if that was from seeing him or from the race.
 

April: Forest Warrior

 
forest warrior obstacle race wall
 

Another great surprise of a race, this was one I had been looking forward to since the moment it was announced, being fairly local to me again. Another chance to take on the human greyhound that is Rob Bowery, this was a great route through trails and hills in the Forest of Dean with all the walls, jumps, and carries that a person could want. Naturally I stitched myself up and managed to run about a mile off course so ended up coming in about 8th after running my tits off to make the places back up, but that final stretch of obstacles finishing with ‘the big one’ – a climbing wall, monkey bar, rope swing, cargo net climb sort of combo was just awesome and Forest Warrior have provided the best finishing obstacle each time I’ve done their races now.

 

May: Rat Race Dirty Weekend

 
rrdw

 

Always a good event, Dirty Weekend came around before I felt like I had put in any real preparation for a 20 mile obstacle race! Nevertheless when you’re getting stuck in to the race it still feels like it’s over so fast and leaves you wanting more, but even so the race felt harder this year with the water sections being a bugger. It was funny to compare this experience to last year where Chloe and I went along by ourselves, raced in the event t-shirt and generally did our own thing. This year however there were seas of green or yellow t shirts, groups of friends from not only around the UK but Europe too and was a great social event from start to finish. Funny how much changes in a year!

 

June: Superhuman Games

 
superhuman games
 
This was just an awesome day, not a race but series of fitness challenges throughout the day. I had my best-man-to-be Mark as my partner while Chloe created a girls’ team with Kirsten. The challenges were brutal, all-out 20 minute sessions with about 40 mins/1 hour between for recovery. It was boiling hot and from what I’ve seen everybody involved had an awesome day.
 
superhuman games
 

Check out my full report on it here for more info.

 

July: Ram Run/Dirty Dozen

 

bridge climb
 
 
Ram Run was a last-minute decision race when we found ourselves with nothing booked for the weekend. I’d heard a lot about it but for some reason wasn’t expecting much – it turned out to be a pretty awesome race, featuring the notorious ‘bridge of despair’ which is probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do in a race the second time I came to it – I have vivid memories of dangling from the bridge with two cramped legs and 0% energy in my body. I don’t know how I got myself onto the bridge but thankfully Jack Mason caught it on camera. It was tough but I ended up sneaking a 3rd place.
 
bridge climb

 

The following weekend was Dirty Dozen races in Usk, South Wales. I wasn’t fully recovered from Ram Run but enjoyed this one last year so was keen to hit those hills nonetheless! It was obviously hard going but I ended up in the top 10 which qualified me for the OCR World Championships which I hadn’t really considered going to before but little did I know was now on my way! I also ran around a second time with my good friend Laura Winter, with whom I had been training to prepare for this race.

 

dirty dozen race
 

She smashed it too – have a read of her whole journey here.

 

August: Austria

 
austria

 

Not a race or event, but instead a holiday/stag-do to Mayrhofen in Austria. I travelled to the Alps with Mark where we spent to week running/trekking some silly distances up some crazy mountains and peaks. We ate a lot, we drank a lot, we ran a lot. It was one of the best weeks of my life.

 

austria
 

Read about the whole experience here why not?

 

September: Devil Mud Run

 

dmr
 
Round two of Devil Mud Run! The course had been expanded slightly to add in a tyre carry up and down another hill. This was a highlight simply due to the fact that getting to run the course again was a pleasure, it really is a decent route and I had a great time. I managed to win (a non-competitive race) again which of course is a nice perk, as well as take another selfie in the woods section with the same marshals as in March, sweet!
 

October: OCR World Championships

 

ocrwc

 

What can be said about the OCRWC that hasn’t been already? To put it simply – the race was just an incredible mixture of tough obstacles, tougher hills, and personal challenges for everyone involved. I went into it feeling fitter than I ever have done before and felt like I ran as strongly as I physically could, but was knocked back by that one bastard obstacle – the Platinum Rig. The team event was one of the best things I’ve ever taken part in, and the whole weekend itself was unforgettable – definitely over too soon.

 

ocrwc
 

Check out my full experience here.

 

November: OCRAUK UK Champs

 

ocrwc
 
 
I went into this one with a bit of scepticism, I thought it would end up being a carbon copy of the much-celebrated OCRWC and be a bit slap dash. It turned out I was very wrong, as while there were a couple of similar obstacles – this was a challenging and draining course in its own right. I hadn’t done any running or specific training since the OCRWC due to a calf/ankle niggle that didn’t seem to be repairing so was a little worried about how I’d do- telling myself just to enjoy it. When the race began, however that was out the window and it was a case of run as hard as my legs would carry me. I could feel my endurance waning towards the end but I got through and incurred no penalties this time! Wahey!
While many people struggled on the ninja rings, one part that sticks out for me was the half-pipe near the end – my legs were drained and I was cold & wet and each time I ran up the bloody thing I could feel how slow I was going and couldn’t quite catch the top. I could feel myself getting frustrated, with myself and with those around me trying to encourage me, I felt like I was talking myself out of such a simple obstacle. Thankfully John from Icebug’s jolly face was also shouting along, except he was telling me to try the other side of the ramp that everyone else was telling me to try. I thought I’d give it one more go, caught the lip and dragged myself on top. The relief (and emotion) I felt here was ridiculous, all that effort to overcome that I usually find so simple. Nice moment.
 

December: Rudolph Rampage/Seven Sins Immortal

 

reindeer runner

 

These races were a particular worry as my leg injury hadn’t seemed to have improved at all, I had been trying other methods to help it but still wasn’t running at all. Rudolph Rampage came along aided by a couple of pain killers/anti-inflammatories. I know this route from doing the race before so was ready for the first 3k or so to be purely uphill. I strangely found myself leading the pack for the first 3k pretty much until we hit the peak – I could really feel not only where I haven’t been doing hill training but where my legs were so sore from training that week! Nevertheless I seemed to be running fast and strongly, and speeding my way through the trails in my Irocks (and reindeer costume) was just pure joy – I’d missed running so much. I kept pushing no matter how I felt (and how bad my lungs & heart felt), always feeling the next running approaching. I managed to hold my position for 2nd place, finishing the race feeling like I was going to die – in the best way possible. I was so happy with this result considering I have not ran, let alone train hills recently!

 

seven sins tunnel
 
Seven Sins Immortal was I race I was dreading, not due to the horrendous course that we had decided to do twice – once in reverse then as normal – for the ‘Immortal’ challenge, but simply because I had a flipping leg problem that wasn’t better and hadn’t done any proper running in ages! The morning began as every race does – everybody discussing how they’re not ready for it, have eaten/drank too much recently, and will probably just take it steady – of course this gets thrown out the window when the race begins. Mo Farah Rob Bowery went off like a rocket from the start and I did my best to chase him, always thinking that if I can keep that little white beacon that is his head in my sights then I’ll be doing ok. He kept pulling away and I was very surprised to find that not only was I actually in second place, but I was closer to him than 3rd place was to me. Rob is not only an athlete but a great sportsman so allowed me one of his energy gels at the halfway point (tasted gross) to keep me going. 
 
I can’t stress enough how disgusting these hills are, having been torn to shreds by runners the day before it was boggy the whole way round, the inclines and descents coming thick and fast. Dragging my body up the hills was pure struggle but did my best to not let up at any point, my leg feeling ok but every single other part of my body feeling miserable. I probably wouldn’t recommend a 14 mile race off no training normally..
I was so happy to finish this race in 2nd place, I gave it everything I had – not letting myself slow up or give in even when the hills just kept coming (and never ending). These two races rounded off the year perfectly, and it was very encouraging to see that if I can race this well coming off an injury, when I’m back to full strength I might be dangerous in 2016! Only one way to find out.
 
 
judgement day startline