Double Suffering (with a tyre!)
The Stuffing double is a 5k and a 10k in the same day. That is a challenge in itself but it isn’t called the Suffering for nothing. The 5k is actually closer to 8k and the 10k is over 11k. They are both tough obstacle course races on a very hilly course with the added extra of the reapers. These are marshals who are there to dish out random punishments such as burpees, press ups, sit ups or anything else they feel like at any given time. There is also only 2 hours between the start time of each race.
I took several days in the lead up to the event contemplating how I was going to approach it. I’d ran a gruelling marathon only 6 days previous that had noticeably stayed in my legs until the middle of the week and I hadn’t trained since. I seriously considered just getting round each race with some of my team mates but my competitive side got the best of me as it almost always does and I opted to race the 5k as hard as possible and see what I had left for the 10k.
Then a couple of days before the event a discussion took place between myself and two friends who were also running the double (or triple in one case, that’s an added 10 miler the next day) and rather Crazily we decided we’d get Tarquin the tyre (my running group’s mascot) round all three distances so before I know it I’d agreed to run the 10k carrying a tyre!
I arrived in Rockingham to blue sky’s, it wasn’t warm by any stretch of the imagination but it could have been a whole lot worst for the first Saturday in March. As the warm up took place the organisers got the winner of the 10 miler from their last event, Alex Money up on stage declaring this was the man to beat. This got my competitive juices flowing even more as we headed for the start line. I already knew of Alex and was expecting a good battle and it didn’t disappoint.
As flares were lit to signal us off there was a mad rush to the first obstacle, a cargo net crawl just yards from the start. Once through this we were into our running and Alex moved to the front and took off. I knew I needed to stay on his heels as this race was shorter than most OCR’s I’ve done but the pace was faster than I usually set off at but as the majority of the early stages were obstacle free running I was still able to feel comfortable and relax.
I stuck on his shoulder until we reached some object carries where I found myself suddenly in the lead and to my surprise I’d began to create a gap. I knew the distance was going to be significantly longer than advertised but felt we must have been approaching the half way point when, for the first time, I began to tire as he hit the first of the hills. It didn’t take Alex long to regain his lead and I had to dig in to keep up. At this point both my calfs suddenly tightened and going through a thick bog of mud didn’t help matters one bit.
Back on grassy ground and cramp was beginning to set in. I took the decision to stop and stretch. As I did my best to rid of the pain I saw Alex move further and further away on a long hill climb. I knew if I was to have any chance to winning to had to push on but the gap was now at least a minute.
As I made my way to the top of the hill I almost accepted that second place was going to be the best I could hope for and I took several looks back but third place was still not in sight. A hill slalom followed and as I went down each hill I could see Alex going up the next one, his lead increasing every time. As I finally reached the last hill on the slalom I was greeted by some reaper with a huge pile of tyres. I was instructed to run up and back down carrying two of them. I bit of practice for the 10k I thought to myself as I plodded along.
Back into a short section of flat running before another hill climb then a slide and I was starting to feel good again. My calfs had loosened up and my energy was flowing. I scrambled up another cargo net and as the landscape once again opened up a was able to see Alex again, way in the distance. His lead must now have been two minutes plus. I was getting my second wind but thought it was too little, too late in all honesty.
As I reached the top of the hill and turned the corner back into the race village I saw Alex disappeared and wondered if this would be the last time I’d see him. There wasn’t far to go as I dunked my head under a plank laid across a skip full of cold water then waded through a long stream section. It was then that I saw the orange top of Alex again. I was surprised the lead had been cut significantly. As he clambered out the water and crossed the bridge I saw him look back at me. I knew the end was nearing but there was a good running section up next as I’d done this as my warm up so if he had anything left he’d push on from here.
I crossed that same bridge and entered the grassy field. The lead hadn’t extended. I was full of running and catching with my every stride. I then reached a tyre wall manned by a reaper. Alex was up and over as I stated my punishment of squats, press ups and star jumps. I then fly over the wall and back into my running. I felt completely refreshed and driven on by the thought of victory once more.
We were now into the final straight broken up by a succession of walls. With each one I got closer and closer. The reaper punishments weren’t over tho, one gave me press ups on top of one of the walls and then as I finally clawed the lead in we reached the very last wall side by side and were ordered to do 20 burpees. As I was doing them I recollected the wall that awaited to be the one that I struggled with back in November. I was however encouraged by the knowledge that I had a significant hight advantage over Alex and to my great relief I completed the wall first time giving me the lead at last.
Now just half a team of Rugby players wielding huge pads stood between me and the finish line. These boys meant business and were not holding back but after all my hard work I wasn’t about to let them affect the finishing positions. I knocked the first two flying, spun past the next two and fought my way through the last couple and the victory was mine.
I then had just over an hour before the next race. After collecting a few bits of merchandise for the win and having a photo on top of the sponsor’s Jeep car I returned to my own car for a change of clothes before heading back to the finish to cheer home my team mate, also called Alex, who was carrying Tarquin the tyre before it was my turn.
It was lucky I wasn’t taking the next race competitively as I was still in the catering tent looking for somewhere to put my hoody as I heard the race starting. I throw it down in a corner, grabbed the tyre and quickly caught the back runners. I moved through the field until I caught up my team mates Alex (who was also doing the double) and Lianne who was aiming for one of the top woman’s spots and then settled into my running with them.
It felt good to be racing pressure free for a change, not worrying about my finishing position and enjoying having other runners around me, helping each other out over obstacles and having a chat as we went. I was getting a lot of praise from my fellow racers and supporters for carrying the tyre which was becoming more of a challenge the further I got along the course.
The carrying tasks were twice as tough, the hills were doubly as hard and everything else was made more awkward. My arms and shoulders felt ok but my legs were getting heavier by the minute. The three of us reached the impressive Rockingham castle side by side but then the affects of the extra weight began to show as Lianne was able to push on in the final three miles in her quest to finish as one of the first few women as myself and Alex began to flag.
As I worked hard to keep Lianne in my sights I moved slightly ahead of Alex and found myself alone for the first time in the race. I was back on familiar territory taking on all the obstacles I’d encountered in the 5k but each one had to be negotiated in a different way when carrying a tyre. Although the going was getting tough I was enjoying every moment and able to make the most not racing for position by taking the side twice just for the fun of it.
It wasn’t long before I was back on the finishing straight climbing all those walls again. This time stopping to have a water fight with some reapers throwing wet sponges at me, something I’d not even noticed when being so focused on getting the win. The Rugby payers didn’t know how to approach someone running at them with a tyre to block their advances and I again came off best before crossing the line to complete a very successful and enjoyable day.