Back for unfinished business

Exactly one year on from being defeated by a course for the first and only time in my long running career I was back in Dorking in defiant mood to take on the relentless, obstacle packed four 7k laps of the Nuts Challenge.

As a novice to OCR and long distance running in 2013 three laps/ 21k was all I could muster having struggled with several of the upper body tasks and suffering from leg cramps but 12 months on with my OCR count now into double figures, a couple of marathons and ultras under my belt and countless training sessions I was on the start line hoping to be competitive as well as finish.image

I then came close to blowing all that hard work and determination in a matter of minutes within the first 2k by getting caught up in a race at the front rather than using my own tried and tested tactics of going off steady then building up consistently.

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I’d been through the new part of the course then got a strong reminder of exactly why this course had beaten me previously as I went through a section no longer than 100m in length but with no fewer than 10 tough obstacles. I hadn’t even reached the 3k marker and I was completely shattered. It was a big reality check. I cut my speed, told myself I must run my own race, forget about the leaders and hope my endurance would pull me through as there was a hell of a long way to go.

Once in the right frame of mind I was able to enjoy what is without doubt one of the most testing courses there is and put into practice some of the new techniques I’ve been learning. I was feeling pretty good again and able to push on at a consistent, yet sensible pace.

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I finished lap one in a pretty speedy 53 minutes (all due to the fast early pace) then lap two seemed to fly by in a much more settled 65 minutes before the course started to again take it’s toll with a 78 minute lap but as much as every part of my body was hurting and the leaders were long gone I knew I would get this last lap done and I would achieve what I didn’t manage to do a year ago, something that has been eating away at me ever since. I was going to get around this last lap if it was the last thing I did.

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I truth, it actually didn’t end up being all that much harder than the lap before as my more consistent, steadier speed and the endurance base I have build up was now paying off and I found myself catching a few people finishing only 4 minutes slower than the previous lap to stop the clock in a time of 4 hours 39 minutes to finish 10th overall from the 67 tough nuts that completed the full 4 laps which gives an indication of just how hard this event is given that 211 started the race.
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This course really doesn’t play to my strengths as there are hardly any running sections with almost no let up of obstacles but I do this sport to challenge myself in every possible way and that’s exactly that 4 laps of the Nuts Challenge does.

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