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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.