After a 5hr car journey on Sunday you would think I would have had plenty of time to sum up in my head how I feel about Rat Race, Dirty Weekend.
But there is no easy way to sum up what we did at the weekend.
Completing the course has meant more to me than I can begin to explain. So grab a snack, it could be a long one.
Dirty Weekend was full of unknowns. It was the first time I’d completed such a long distance OCR, the first time I’ve come up against obstacles of that size and the first time I’ve felt so under-prepared for a race. It had been a battle to even get me to the start line, with ill health, surgery and countless injuries.
But after 8 weeks of intense training, it was time to take on my biggest challenge to date.
Dirty Weekend feels more like a festival than your standard obstacle course race. Over 6000 people took part during the weekend and when we arrived on Friday evening the events village had a buzz of excitement and anticipation pulsing through it (as did my stomach!)
Lots of carbs, a nervous night’s sleep and two pre-race poops later, we were stood on the start line at 8am. This was it, all the talk, worrying and training had brought us to that moment and there was no backing out.
I was nervous as hell, but being surrounded by 12 of the Warrior Fit team (and 2 of my favs from the Race Fitness team) definitely helped take my mind off of it. We all had our different battles to fight, the countdown began and we were off.
Running my own race
I LOVE training as a team, but when it comes to racing, I prefer to run my own race. Dirty Weekend was all about finishing it and having fun, so steady pacing was key. A couple of miles in and I was muddy, wet and felt comfortable in my running groove. Well, as comfortable as you can feel after having been stung by a shit load of nettles whilst clambering over them on cargo nets strung from the trees. (Rat Race are ridiculously ingenious in their evilness!)
Dirty Weekend is famous for its 200 obstacles in 20miles and trying to explain (and remember) all 200 would be a challenge in itself.
I could tell you about the bubbles, space hopper races, COUNTLESS nets, brutal GIANT walls (that seemed to get bigger every time), dark tight tunnels and endless mud, but you could get that from the race map. Dirty Weekend is a huge physical challenge, but it’s the mental barriers you have to push past that prove to be the most rewarding.
Like overcoming fears and jumping off a platform over 40ft tall.
Or having to dig so deep you are telling yourself out loud “you’ve got this”. I remember getting to my marathon time (4hrs 22minutes) and thinking, from here on in is uncharted territory. I ended up running for an extra 1hr and 8 minutes past that point. At times I wanted to cry with exhaustion, cry with happiness but most importantly there were times where I had the BEST FUN! (FYI I managed to hold it together whilst running, I wasn’t going to waste good hydration on tears)
Then it was was there. The end. I could see the massive slide in the distance, all I had to do was conquer the travelator, climb 5 stories up a metal frame and slide down the other side. Easy after running 20miles right?
Never has a photo encapsulated a race more for me than the one above (not just because it has an awesome unicorn in the background obvs). Dirty Weekend had been one massive uphill battle for me. I was close to pulling out so many times. After my surgery and injuries I’d lost so much faith in my body. I also lost a lot of confidence in what I was capable of.
Crossing the finish line I ran into Jamie’s arms and burst into tears. Happy tears.
I’d done it. After everything, I’d done it.
And this is the thing about taking on challenges like Dirty Weekend, it puts you in the toughest situations possible but completing something like that changes you. You feel more confident in what you can achieve (on and off the race course) but most importantly for me, I’ve restored my faith in myself.
But this was not a journey I made alone. The support I’ve had from Jamie, Wise Man Steve and the whole team has been incredible. Completing something like this together creates a bond like no other.
So where from here? Well we’ve already signed up for Dirty Weekend 2018, obvs. 2017, after all was just the warm up.
Currently: Nursing an unsettling amount of under-boob and crotch chafe
Training this week: A full week of recovery
Adventure so far this week: Still riding the Dirty Weekend buzz
Ps. I couldn’t write about Dirty Weekend and not mentioned my two heroes of the weekend Tim and Nicola. Tim completed the course not once, but twice. Yes: that’s 40miles and obstacles with Nicola pacing him the whole way. It was a privilege to be a part of something so incredible. There’s still time to sponsor him if you have any spare pennies.