Hey ho, let’s go… insane at Badass Mudder: On a very hot, humid Saturday morning my friend Tom and I took part in the Badass Mudder obstacle race at the River Lune, Lancaster.
We crashed over at friends, so had a pleasant 30 minutes drive through the country. When we saw the Badass sign with an arrow we knew we had taken the right road. It was £3 to park, but no one was collecting so we got a freebie.
We had bravely (or stupidly) put ourselves down for the elite wave, so we had to get there an hour and half before the 10:15am start to register. At the gazebo they were not quite ready so we had to hang around for 10 minutes while they sorted themselves out.
When they were ready, registration was a painless process, I gave my name, got ticked off, signed a waver I didn’t read and given a number. There was no timing chip, so I would have to rely on my trusty stop watch.
We had plenty of time to prepare so I stretched, jogged a little, hydrated myself and munched down a flapjack. The toilets were frustratingly back by the car park, so this required a number of short walks. I estimate doing an extra mile for all my toilet visits.
I decided to have a look at some of the nearby obstacles so that I could develop a strategy on how to handle them, while Tom, the social guy that he is seemed to be speaking to anyone.
“Which wave are you guys running in?”
“Wow, you look ready for this!” (said to a guy with a six pack who did win the race)
“Hey weren’t you in the promo video on the website?”
Because I am quite introverted I miss out on this, but I listened as it was a good opportunity to get insight from other runners, even if it is to just assess your competitors confidence level.
The organisers had an official warmup, then we got to the start line. As I was with the elites I decided to stay in the middle, so that the faster runners had clear space to run. There was a bit of messing about as one of the site staff threw smoke bombs at the feet of the start line, eventually we were off.
The starting pace was slow and I quickly decided to move myself to the front of the pack before I got stuck behind any lagards at the first obstacle. Tom said “See you late Whiskey”.
Obstacle races require upperbody strength, but I feel being able to establish a good lead through running is more advantageous as long as you are strong enough to work through the obstacles.
We went the following route – though I am unsure if all the mentioned obstacles actually were there on the day.
The first obstacle was a cargo net – going uphill. I used the spiderman crawl technique that I practiced in the gym. But others behind me overtook with a slight bend in the back. So I got up and found that the guy in front was doing all the work lifting the net for me, so I followed in his slip stream.
We continued running uphill. I looked over my shoulder to see much of the elite crowd walking up the hill already. Suddenly I became more confident that I would score a good position today.
The next obstacle relied on the natural features of the course using a small rock feature to climb over. I was very happy that I got to use some of my bouldering skills.
The leading groups had split into three. The first group had taken off and were virtually out of my sight, then there was the second group who had a good bit of distance from me, but with a bit more speed or a mistake on an obstacle could be caught. Then there was the third group which was being led by me. I estimate that I was about 7th.
This was the first teething problem of the event. I continued following the second group and noticed they had stopped, they turned around and asked me if I knew the course as there was nothing indicting clearly where to go. I was clueless, so we stumbled about a bit, trying to find some yellow flags to guide us back on path. More people caught up including Tom, so more of us were looking around.
Eventually one of the slower packs seemed to know where they were going, so we all quickly sprinted to get back on course. I was kind of pissed off as I had lost my position. I was going to sprint off to try and take back what I lost, but Tom talked me out of it, which in reflection due to the heat and hills was wise.
I jogged with him for a short time, until I got bored of the running pace and decided I had enough in me to overtake the weaker runners.
Despite all the liquid drank, I had a really dry mouth. My heart and lungs beat really hard during the race and it was tempting to walk.
However I believe that a strong mind with average heart and lungs is better than a weak mind with strong heart and lungs. My determination and willpower has pushed me through many hard training sessions. So I kept going and I am not sure if the conditions were making me delirious but I began shouting at myself – a lot.
“You better not be fucking walking”
Talking out loud motivated me:
- I chuntered away to the amusement of the runners nearby
- I swore
- I quoted 100 motivational YouTube videos to myself
- I was inspired by CT Fletcher, saying “fuck you” to every obstacles I got through
- I saw Steve Prefontaine giving it his all
- I heard Al Pacino give his inch by inch speech from Any Given Sunday
- I thought and spoke of anything to keep me going – at one point I started singing the Ramones – Blitzkreig Bop.
I approached an obstacle which was the back end of a truck filled with water, you could go under or over some pieces of wood. As I was roasting hot I decided to go under, still shouting away. I choked on a mouthful of nasty water and I thought – so that’s what watery sheep shit tastes like.
Thankfully there was plenty of water stops, which I was grateful for to get rid of the shit taste, but also if I had got anymore insane from the heat I might have ran across the finish line with my underpants on my head.
Then there was a log carry. In the gym I had previously trained for this carrying ViPR on the treadmill, until one of the fitness instructors told me I wasn’t allowed to. I was kind of annoyed at that guy now, as this would have been the perfect place to overtake two other competitors.
On the way back down I caught Tom approaching the obstacle, as I was motivating myself I decided to pass on a bit of my magic.
“Come on Tom, this is right up your street”
And I get lost again
The layout of the course, continued to be a problem. I followed the route and realised it guided me right past an obstacle. Then later on I ran through a field with cows – only realising I took a wrong turn when I saw some of faster runners coming out of the woodland that I missed a turnoff. This could have been sorted with clearer signs and more volunteers.
These stupid cows where in the way of the course. I shouted at them, I swore at them, I clapped my hands aggressively. But they barely moved. One cow looked me straight in the eye and I thought:
“Shit, I’m going to be the first obstacle racer to die being stampeded by a cow”.
So I had to run around it.
I came toward the end of the course and it was quite relieving to head downhill onto the flat area. There were two water slides to help make your way downhill. I went head first as I wanted to get be as fast as possible. I lost control knocking out one of the tires, then coming to a clattering land where I rolled several times.
As I felt a twinge in my neck I heard some children who had observed the whole thing pissing themselves laughing… little bastards. I realised my neck was not broken so I got up slightly dazed. I was a bit more apprehensive going down the next slide, but this did not stop me going down head first again. I swallowed a load of washing up liquid and water on the way down.
I went much faster this time and I panicked
“Oh shit…” I screamed
I crashed to the bottom ending up on my back, slightly out of it, but I was in the perfect position to do a ‘kip up’ (see the video below for reference)
Unfortunatley it was nowhere near as cool as that, but I was on my feet. I was sprinting fast downhill with Fairy Liquid all over my eyes.
“Well least I don’t have to worry about cleaning myself when I finish” I shouted at some random spectators.
On the ground there were some final obstacles – a balance beam, jumps over bales of hay, walking through the river, then working back across the river under some obstacles. Based on the sheep shit incident I decided to just clean and press them out the way.
The final obstacle was the half pipe, this was actually a lot easier than it looked – especially considering I was so fatigued at this point. I sprinted towards it, then jumped up and grabbed the side. I was able to do a half-arsed muscle-up and I was at the top.
On the way down there was a cargo net, I worked my way down but kept getting my trail running shoe caught up in it, which meant the guy behind me was catching up. Towards the bottom I was stressing that I would lose my position – I lost my balance and fell on my back. At least I was off the damn net.
The race finished with the perfect opportunity for a good sprint finish, so I went through in style. My brother called me Forrest Gump because of my ability to run relentlessly. Today just like Forrest Gump I ran uncontrolabley – heading towards the wrong point. The spectators vocally told me where to head and I did a swift change of direction.
A quick jump onto a box and I was finished. I did a little pose for the crowd/cameraman then checked my watch. I realised it must have stopped at one of the obstacles, so I did not know my time.
The event did not have an official time display which would have been useful, but I worked out from when I started it took me just over 1 hour and 10 minutes.
I was told by a spectator that I was the 9th person to come through! I was exstatic.
Tom was about 10 minutes behind, – I saw his massive arms coming down the hill. As he got to the final obstacles I ran across and shouted encouragement. He finished round about 15th. An amazing result for us both. I was nervous that we shouldn’t have gone with the elites, but we proved that we belonged.
I saw one of the runners who had been near me most of the race. I apologised for my crazy rantings, he laughed and said that actually he found it quite motivating.
It was kind of anti-climatic the finish – as there was no timing chip, there would be not evidence of my time, there was not even people logging down times as runners came through. Other races usually have someone giving out medals (usually some hot girl), but I had to go find the guy who had all the medals. This added to an anti-climatic feel of finishing.
To be fair the medals were awesome. I was kind of pissed off when Tom told me that I had missed an obstacle, as I felt perhaps I had not earned the 9th place. But I rationalised that this would have been my finishing position anyway if I had not been led of course near the start – so the balance was restored.
Despite the confusion, the course was really enjoyable – beautiful scenary and challenging hills. Once they get over the various teething problems, this will be an amazing race. I already plan to do it next year – see you there perhaps?
More race stuff:
For a great book on Obstacle racing check out Spartan Up!