Bog trotting – Brutal 10k Bagshot Surrey
A couple of mudstacle running friends have been badgering me for ages to give one of these a try. Last week I finally relented and gave it a go.
I’ve always been put off the idea of these ‘extreme’ events by the thought of their gimmicky nature and the presumption that they are inhabited by hoards of Rambo wannabes shouting their way around the course.
This pre-conception was not helped when I looked at a couple of videos of the larger ‘Tough Mudder’ type events and saw footage of groups of ‘lads’ walking from obstacle to obstacle, ready to parade their manliness.
Fortunately the series that I went along to turned out to be a much more normal and friendly affair, with the 500 competitors being made up of a good mix of men and women of all ages and abilities…and a good scattering of cani-cross dog runners.
A slightly more relaxed atmosphere than most regular club runner road races greeted me; with not a lot of the usual warming up going on that you’d expect to see at a road 10k.
There appeared to be a fair few families there either running together or showing support and very few of the ‘hero’ types I had feared there might be.
The only unnecessary concessions to the soldier assault course image was a stall who would put a touch of camouflage makeup on anyone wanting it and the pre-race warm up which involved the usual exercises, but with a shouty Sergeant Major type asking the runners to sit in a puddle to get in the spirit.
I chose to ignore this; but then I am a notorious misery guts.
Anyway, as the saying goes; ‘when the flag drops – the bullshit stops’ and so it was with a blast of the hooter that we went charging off down a puddle strewn forest road towards the first big water splash. 500 runners into a 20ft wide thigh deep puddle with an uneven tank track riddled bottom is never going to go well…and for some it didn’t.
The course was made up of two 5k laps of a forest course, that could be at the kindest described as ‘undulating’ but more realistically as ‘ridiculously hilly’.
We’re talking steep hills where walking was the only option for most mortals and clambering was necessary for a good portion of the field.
Surfaces ranged from gravel forest road, to sandy and muddy for both the ups and the equally steep and challenging downs.
There were a few flat bits, but these were either a couple of hundred yards of rest to the next uphill, or a good excuse for the organisers to route you through a swamp.
There was nothing deeper than waist deep, but the challenge of attempting to run a 50 yard section of thigh deep water with an uneven bottom was quite entertaining to do and to watch.
Any advantage the dog accompanied runners may have had being dragged up the climbs looked cancelled out by their canine friends dragging them recklessly through the muddy waters (or if a little dog, by needing a carry).
From a racing point of view, I entered the event with no real expectations of a result or time, as for myself and another friend this was also being undertaken as a challenge to our contamination OCD anxieties, particularly for my friend P whose blog can be seen at mymindmythoughtsmywords.wordpress.com .
Once the hooter went my competitive head kicked in though, and I raced pretty hard for the whole event.
Considering a reasonable 10k time for me is in the low 40’s, my time of 1hr 10min should indicate the toughness of the course. The fact that the winning time was a relatively slow 48mins did at least reassure me that I hadn’t been slacking too much, and hadn’t already lost all of my marathon fitness.
So was it a good event? Yes; well organised, friendly and I enjoyed myself.
Would I do one again? Yeah, why not. It certainly made a change from another parkrun or long run.
Recommended? Yes. If you’re in the area it’s a definite and if you don’t mind a drive then you won’t be disappointed.
Check them out at http://brutalrun.co.uk/